August 16, 2014 at 1:00 am

Tom Long

5 upcoming events for some cultural salvation

Stephen Colbert, left, shakes hands with host David Letterman on the set of the 'Late Show with David Letterman,' which Colbert will be taking over. (Jeffery R. Staab / AP)

Culture can be exhausting.

Just think of what’s ahead. Another “Pirates of the Caribbean” movie. A parade of “Star Wars” sequels. Inevitably more reality TV shows where people walk around naked with key body parts blurred. And, announced just this past week, a Power Rangers movie.

How will civilization stand?

But today I am resolved to be positive. Think happy thoughts. Look bravely to the future and consider what good may be brewing. Thus my list of five cultural events I’m actually looking forward to. They are, in no particular order:

The rebirth of Stephen Colbert: Actually I, like many others, am a bit conflicted on this one. It’s exciting to imagine what Colbert might be able to do with a larger chunk of the mainstream TV audience. Considering his colorful past, it’s hard to believe he won’t bring some sort of disruption to the late-night talk show format and elevate it out of its historic doldrum state. Still, the question hovers: Who is Stephen Colbert when he’s not playing a conservative wack job? And the coming absence of that conservative wack job is cause for real concern. For most of the past decade, Colbert has been allowed to run wild on Comedy Central’s “The Colbert Report,” and he’s served as at least part of the American conscience. Will taking over the “Late Night” slot next year tame the tiger? Let’s hope not.

The final season of “Sons of Anarchy”: Again, conflict. It’s one of the best shows on television, so you hate to see it go. But creator Kurt Sutter has always been headed somewhere with this saga of a monumentally messed-up family running an outlaw motorcycle gang, and when he killed off two of the series’ four main characters last season, he was obviously moving toward closure. The whole series has felt like the longest leather-clad Shakespeare play ever, and every play has to end. I won’t have to wait long on this: The final season begins Sept. 9.

“Unbroken”: Angelina Jolie’s directorial debut was an unflinching look at an unappealing subject, the Bosnian War. If she can bring the same strength of vision to the remarkable story of track star turned World War II hero Louis Zamperini, the film should be a knockout. The Coen brothers helped adapt Lauren Hillenbrand’s wildly popular book (it’s still on the best seller lists) and Jolie has cast mostly unfamiliar faces in the epic (British actor Jack O’Connell plays Zamperini). Oscar is watching, and for good reason. The film hits theaters Christmas Day.

The MaddAddam Trilogy: While reading these wonderful books by Margaret Atwood (“Oryx and Crake,” “Year of the Flood” and “MaddAddam”), I was struck both by how visual the writing was and yet how unadaptable to film it felt. It follows a small group of humans who have survived a worldwide plague while looking back on the cause of that plague. Which may sound simple enough, but the books are filled with both extraordinary creatures and events as well as a wealth of ideas and humor. I still can’t imagine how he’s going to pull it off but the ever-inventive Darren Aronofsky (“Black Swan,” “The Wrestler,” “Noah”) is developing “MaddAddam” as a series for HBO. This could/should be amazing.

“The Hunger Games: Mockingjay – Part 1”: Yep, I’m a sap, just like everybody else. Katniss rocks.

tlong@detroitnews.com
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