Friday, October 25 2013
A.N Wilson's The Elizabethans is a very readable history, despite the author's inability to get out of his own way.
Thursday, December 12 2013
P.L. Travers would have hated this charming revisionist tearjerker, but then she didn’t think her Mary Poppins should have been a musical.
Although this lacks some of the teeth of its source material, it is a powerful document nonetheless, buoyed by outstanding performances and a straightforward, no-nonsense visual style.
What Six-Gun Gorilla is all about is encouraging us to seek out good stories for ourselves, to find and hold onto whatever value and meaning they contain.
So now we go back and look at the records we maybe missed when we sped through the year, back to great dream-pop records from January, or great rock records from the spring, or great rap records we're still figuring out.
Will a Kickstarter campaign make Betty Suarez the next Veronica Mars?
The best R&B albums of 2013 feature long-time stalwarts and compelling new voices.
The two-disc, Blu-Ray release of The Mortal Instruments: City of Bones really, really wants you to be absorbed in that world.
1985's Hallelujah All the Way Home is not just a Flying Nun gem, it's an underappreciated rock record of the 80's, and Juvenilia is a solid companion piece to the album.
Cover to cover, Fan Phenomena: Buffy the Vampire Slayer is a solid collection, well rounded, well researched, and written in an accessible tone.
The cover photo alone, with Hendrix singing and jamming on his upside-down Strat, is enticing and captures in one frame the energy he delivers to this entire performance.
Odd Future collective MellowHigh thrive off of being cocky and unapologetic on debut MellowHigh.
For what it's worth, this is the greatest homage to late '70s horror movie music ever recorded.
Wednesday, December 11 2013
Are these girl-power barrel racers post-feminist figures?
This "Rich Mahogany Edition" of Anchorman features lots of bonus stuff, including an extended cut and the supplemental film, Wake Up, Ron Burgundy: The Lost Movie.
With a newly uncovered collection of songs Woody Guthrie recorded for the government, his daughter Nora talks about who he really was, what she learns from the scholars that come in, and how Woody could write five songs a day.
I’ve come to understand the dream as one primarily fueled by anxiety. It's a twisted sort of wish-fulfillment…
It takes a complex writer to capture the complexity of Roger Waters, and to shine light on what we admire and dislike about this musical genius.
Yes, The Beast Within is about a shape-shifting insect kid who runs around attacking people while still wearing his letterman’s jacket.
It's alien, it's weird, and I want more.
This year saw no shortage of innovative, exciting film scores. Notes on Celluloid counts down the ten soundtracks that lingered the longest in our minds.
Our list for 2013 is predictably diverse, ranging from progressive newgrass to tradition-minded country to old-time acoustic to California canyon rock to psych folk to singer-songwriter and all points between.
Despite containing any number of intriguing moments, A History From Behind the Lens fails to provide a coherent overview of the art form.
If the walking dead could dance, this is the music they would dance to.
In the contest of character, Camus bests Sartre time and time again.
There's no reason not to pick this one up if you’re looking for a tight compilation of recent music from one of the greats. As a document of a transitional period in Yoakam’s lengthy career, it works well.
Hilary Hahn is out to boost the violin vocabulary. Thanks to her commissioning effort, here are 27 short pieces you never heard before.
The rundown of classic albums from 1988 is astounding. 1988 also marked the debut of EPMD. Erick Sermon and Parrish Smith stepped into an arena already filled with other would-be greats and staked their own claim with Strictly Business.
If you aren't familiar with Bay Area Salsa music, then prepare to be boarded.
Tuesday, December 10 2013
In basketball, Bernard King, a shy, thoughtful child living in a "rough" part of Brooklyn, found a means to self-expression and purpose.
'Holiday Spirits' allowed folks to sample a variety of liquors from small distilleries. There was near unlimited booze but not a lot of food.
Harsh lessons are part of growing up. But when Emma Frost teaches them, they're MUCH harsher.
What's going to be most often said or written about the year in country music, 2013? That it was the "year of the woman" in a Nashville that's still a man's world after all.
While Despicable Me delivered a solid story on top of a touching character arc for its super villain with a heart of gold, the sequel is a more pedestrian affair.
Anything That Moves pushes past Bourdanian blood and guts to challenge commonly held ideas of edibility: bugs, ant larvae, “hornless goat” (dog), and tailless whip scorpion.
The first movie for the "post-theatrical era", The Canyons vividly illustrates a despairing, nymphomaniac generation run amok.
Rhys Darby has a small legacy of his own, ranging from his roles in Flight of the Conchords to How I Met Your Mother to his outrageously theatrical standup, as well.
This was another banner year for Latin Jazz, a genre that is so rich and established that it hardly a subset of jazz as much as a glorious thing unto itself.
Jewel running, megalomania, acid rap, and sasquatches -- hip-hop continues to surprise in 2013.
From the director of Singin' in the Rain comes this sci-fi horror film that had all the potential to be the next Alien, but falls far short of the mark.
Billie Joe Armstrong & Norah Jones team up to tackle the Everly Brothers. Yes, you read that right. So how does it all sound anyway?
Aims is sonically lush, adventurous, rhythmic, and sometimes beautiful, but Teng's often didactic and high-minded lyrics demand an awful lot of you.
More than a canonical list, Rosebud Sleds and Horses' Heads is the author's trip with the movie objects that shaped him.
In Tor Lundvall's world, art reflects art. His painting and his music merge into one cloud of melancholy.
Volume 3 of a series of cover albums tackles the '80s, and is a job well done.
Reckless Kelly's eighth album opens strong, closes strong, and sags just a bit in the middle. But this is a good album from a veteran band.
Monday, December 9 2013
As much as Lenny Cooke ponders what might have gone wrong for him, this film suggests more than just what might have been.
Over 20 years ago Grant Morrison asked why these things still excite us? Jeff Lemire’s current run on "Animal Man" is counting on them still doing so.
Fast and Furious 6 is a movie about cars, muscleheads and an international terrorist plot that can only be saved by muscleheads with cars.
Near the conclusion of The Pleasure's All Mine: A History of Perverse Sex, this cultural historian of sexuality wonders if any taboos are left.
Broadway dancer and singer Gregory Hines stars as a super soldier hunting a runaway robot girl in the largely forgotten sci-fi action flick, Eve of Destruction.
A visit to Seattle's Star Trek convention reveals the conflicted feelings cast members have towards being immortalized in comic form.
From genre-busting electronic music to new highs for the polygot that is "Americana"... from R&B to metal... from hip-hop to rockin' and poppin' indie... 2013 was a great year for new music.
Is there really a causal link between Sir Arthur Conan Doyle’s fictional character and modern-day crime investigation techniques?
You'd think we'd run out of fresh things to find in Pollard's music by now, but Blazing Gentlemen assures us that not only is that hunt still on, but it's also still satisfying.
This album of two friends doing the songs they want to play the way they want to play them can be much fun and even the low and slow moments are often saved by Susanna Hoffs's voice, which sounds better than ever.
It’s always tough to criticize a memoir – this is someone’s life after all, so show a little respect – but it’s also necessary.
Possession’s demonic urge to summon the masters of the archaic arts on His Best Deceit, yet instil the enthusiastic energy a demo should hold, is striking in its execution.
"I risked my neck to serve my country and all I have are these bizarre nightmares."
Derülo hits enough jump shots on Tattoos to make it a winner.
Sunday, December 8 2013
The documentary may speak more to our similarities with the vicious, indifferent, and self-interested creatures at its centre than the representatives of animal cuteness.
Friday, December 6 2013
Falling in love is hard on the knees, Aerosmith reminded us some two decades back. Between President Obama's "backpedaling" on the Syrian red-line and Miley's twerking, 2013 has been a little like that.
The Coens appear to be back in Barton Fink mode, setting up a straw man whose creative arrogance ensures that he won’t see a moment’s happiness from his work.
Like a great battle, or a criminal desperately trying to avoid capture, Hollywood breaks out the big guns this month, giving us new efforts from Martin Scorsese, David O. Russell, the Coen Brothers, and Spike Jonze, along with the typical mainstream holiday fare.
Eminent criminologists make a compelling case for why America's 40 year embrace of the punitive spirit has been morally bankrupt and endangered public safety.
Bands across metal's subgenres reached their full potential, be they acts coming into their own, making crowd-pleasing comebacks, or even bowing out at the top of their game.
Kino-Lorber's release of Nosferatu features some of the best special features of any DVD this year.
Placed back to back in this collection, Davis's late '50s and early '60s albums reveal a man coming fully into his powers as a band leader, a composer, and a trumpet player while still remaining restless.
Doctor Who: The Vault: Treasures from the First 50 Years offers a visual treasure trove and plenty of history for even the most devout Whovian.
An incredible document that shows us a subgenre that was just too weird, too unique, and too damn funky to be forgotten by time.
The debut solo release from the indie rock legend finds him both at peace with his legacy and determined to blaze a new path.
First album in four years from the German producer. Is it too early for retro deep house?
The Bad Plus drummer takes another swipe with his new band and hits the sweet spot for modern roots jazz.
Thursday, December 5 2013
Russell's life-changing drunk driving accident, which sends him to prison, is rendered in a slash of harsh sound and illegible wreckage: from now on, you know, his options only dwindle.
Entering into Gomes’s hypnotic triptych, Tabu gives the viewer a chance to see just how far cinema has come, and just how far it can go in the hands of a master.
Ivan Klíma emphasizes moral dilemmas in spare, simple prose, shorn of philosophical digressions; as his autobiography demonstrates, Klíma avoids cant or cliché.
Unlike the Thanksgiving leftovers reheated, going for seconds is hard when it comes to comicbook issues.
Though Citizen Kane has cemented his place in film history, The Magnificent Ambersons -- especially had its original ending been kept -- would prove Orson Welles one of Hollywood’s greatest masters of tragedy, if not the greatest.
Clint Mansell’s score for Darren Aronofsky’s metaphysical science fiction film, The Fountain, is a masterpiece of both film music and contemporary art music.
In 2013, the best indie-pop felt like "secret music" meant for our ears only and, at the same time, like we're being pulled into a community.
The great band featuring Chick Corea, Stanley Clarke, and Tony Williams, at its best.
The 2003 indie-rock classic gets its reissue in the same year that its creator, Jason Molina, died.
Caroline Norton is a little known woman who arguably changed the world. Author and scholar Diane Atkinson explains how.
Beastmilk's unabashed re-imagination of the music of their influences is so well conceived and unapologetic that the lack of originality at the heart of Climax becomes little more than an afterthought.
Hunters' paradigm of noise-punk layered with melodic hooks is a common enough model, but Hunters pursue some sideways diversions on the grime-ridden path.
The Brightest Light isn’t a perfect album from the Mission. That said, it is very good and has the potential to please established fans as well as the newly interested.
The title track will floor you: a stunning return to form for our favorite indie rock weirdos. The rest of this slapdash EP? Not so much.
Wednesday, December 4 2013
The premiere suggests exactly why this period isn't more often plundered by television, namely, the extraordinary difficulty of shaking off the popular culture clichés of the period.
What strange magic has propelled writer-creator Robert Kirkman's zombie apocalypse epic, The Walking Dead for so long? Whatever it is, it's alive and kicking still in issue #116.
This substantial documentary displays the genre at its most vital: telling a story for a subject incapable of voicing complaint.
American journalist Max Lerner claimed "to reject the word is to reject the human search." Under the Third Reich, the book industry faced its own destruction, leaving the people with empty words bursting with Nazi propaganda.
How can global destruction have the same effect in a world that has already endured too much of it?
As civil liberties were absorbed by the religious state and exacting codes of conduct were implemented with brutal force in Iran, Kiarostami used his canvas to show hope to his countrymen.
In Naked City there are rarely clear instances of heroism or cowardice. Guilt and innocence are always subjective, and early impressions are more often than not reversed by the final reel.
This year saw the release of some of the best modern progressive music from a wide array of subgenres and idiosyncratic approaches.
Like the band's proper albums, its singles collections get better each time around. Volume 3 is the best collection yet, with some downright gems and curious if imperfect steps into the unknown.
This new collection of critical essays on Twin Peaks has bright moments, but suffers from poor curation.
Intending to pique and whet before note one, this partnership between members of Neon Indian and Tigercity infuses some sorely needed sexuality back into oft-sterilized electronic pop.
Father John's soundtrack to his wife's upcoming short film wants to be hypnotic and foreboding; it settles for fitfully pretty and forgettable.
The UK pop star barely avoids a sophomore slump with this retro, hook-heavy set.