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Underrated / Overrated

Underrated: 'Winnebago Man' and Amoeba's clearance bins; overrated: January films and the midseason TV shuffle.

January 02, 2011

UNDERRATED

'Winnebago Man' (2009): If you've enjoyed the Internet's many viral videos, you might recognize Jack Rebney, a profanity-spewing man melting down in spectacular fashion through an '80s video shoot for an RV company. Exploring the realities of Internet fame and just what makes us laugh at strangers, this surprisingly sweet documentary about Ben Steinbauer's search for Rebney reveals the flesh-and-blood person behind your coffee break comedy.

The clearance bins at Amoeba: They've long been a sort of last refuge for forgotten next-big-things and never-weres, but something seems to have changed among the bargain-priced treats to be had among the stacks in the back of the rock section and on the floor of the jazz room. Sure, there's plenty of deserving relics (Black Lab, anyone?), but when albums by Ben Wendel and PJ Harvey can be had for under $5, the end of the CD era never sounded so good.

OVERRATED

Early films of 2011: January is traditionally a cinematic dumping ground for troubled productions, which should generally be considered with a supplemental "caveat emptor" rating. This year seems particularly suspect, with Michel Gondry's oddly conventional-looking "The Green Hornet" and "Season of the Witch," which features the ever-baffling Nicolas Cage in what could be a accidental comedy. Could someone wake us in March?

The "midseason" shuffle: So wait, is it a new TV season now that "Parks and Recreation" is coming back and a bunch of new shows are hitting the air? And why yank "Fringe" into a month-long hiatus just as its narrative is almost comprehensible? This probably marks us as hopeless traditionalists by demanding consistency while the networks endlessly tinker, but isn't it easier to build an audience for a show when people know where to find it?

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