Thursday, February 27 2014
While many horror films are carried by deftly composed cinematography, Haunter benefits from a thoughtful script, with complicated turns that keep the audience guessing.
Drumhellar's main character, Drum, and one of Broad City's two leads, Ilana, are both what could and would normally be considered bad influences—they push their friends to do dangerous things for the sake of excitement or discovery.
There’s a lot of space in these short stories, a sense of the vastness of the Canadian wilderness which surrounds and sometimes envelops the characters.
From clever Soviet-era symphonies to current black market recordings, Russian musicians have a long history of working around the state's culture of censorship.
In the ambitious Night In Shanghai, Nicole Mones attempts to recreate a city of nearly a century ago.
Wong Kar Wai’s overkill kung fu epic about Bruce Lee’s teacher doesn’t cohere even as well as his more esoteric work, but its assembled shards make for a brooding, sumptuous experience.
ScHoolboy Q takes everything he's learned in the Top Dawg stable and unleashes it in a very finely tuned burst.
Vertical Scratchers' debut is a perfect rock record because it throws the order and interaction of elements in rock records into doubt.
St. Paul & The Broken Bones keep soul alive and well on debut Half the City
A noisy and occasionally thrilling live set from the Scottish rockers.
Though the music may seem far removed from our present day culture, we can connect to it on a human level. For, these are songs of hardship and joy, regret and celebration – in essence, songs of everyday life.
One of America's best little-known rock 'n' roll bands may not be that way much longer.
Wednesday, February 26 2014
Balancing dark themes with humor can sometimes create an even greater unbalance.
On that particular long day, the musicians were surprised and glad to see each other, recognizing in each other a fraternity that didn't see much daylight, that "lived hard".
If the devil lives in the details, Stanley Crouch’s mission in his biography of Charlie Parker is not just to befriend the devil, but to make him a business partner.
A lot of comics may be seen as cheap, but so what? That also makes them fun.
One of the most seminal acts of the noted Paisley Underground scene finally gets to see the warm up to their masterpiece get released in all its glory, and Steve Wynn tells PopMatters about the band's formation, live efforts, and oh so much more.
Mary Hartman, Mary Hartman looks more like an Andy Warhol production on cable access than a nationally syndicated Norman Lear sitcom.
Neneh Cherry has always followed her own path in her style. With Blank Project, Cherry has reclaimed the spotlight to deserved applause.
Close to the Glass is a frustratingly uneven album that shows of signs of brilliance drowned out by dull electronic excursions.
There ain't no party like a Slavic party, 1939. We get romance and moonshine in advance of the blitzkrieg in this humorous first novel.
Lost in the Trees always seems to be changing, and the group's third record, Past Life, is its most daring and dynamic shift yet, an album that can both carry the long shadow of the past and pump the hot blood of the here and now.
Although it's familiar and safe, the fourth Transatlantic outing is another intricate, joyous, and incredible experience.
Kanou is a pop-rock album and it's also an impatient album. It never uses four seconds to get a motif across if it can do it in three.
Tuesday, February 25 2014
Rohan Wilson composes a work of historical fiction that never shies away from the horrors that gave birth to modern-day Tasmania.
Look at most superhero comics and you’ll see a white, probably male, face staring back at you. Yet, while the culture has moved forward, most comic characters’ racial and sexual identity remains fixed in the past.
Nebraska is a bittersweet film that will hit you between the eyes if you're like me: middle-aged and in a mood to reflect on where life has taken you and where you will go next.
With the release of her two new records, Lydia Loveless watches you watching her. Maybe you should listen, instead.
Akira Kurosawa’s samurai, Stuart Heisler’s gangster, Sergio Leone’s cowboy, and George Miller’s misfit suffer a similar black eye, but with dramatically different effect.
Thor worked due to its surprisingly-effective Shakespearean framework. Thor: The Dark World follows conventional Hollywood tropes and suffers for it.
Unorthodox literary tactics imbue Fallen Land with psychological drama, keen social commentary, and riveting suspense all at once.
Island Intervals starts with songs that pit the intimate and the epic against each other, that shift tempo, texture, and scope in fascinating ways. But that set of complications can't sustain itself.
The Fray are a talented band, but album number four yields mostly more of the same.
The Brink is a collection of arty, swirling dance pop-rock, but the songs ultimately collapse under their own weight.
These soul albums have been available in various formats over the years, but the high quality of art on these discs demand respect and celebration.
Monday, February 24 2014
The kids' romantic naïvete is compounded by their forever-war surroundings. This is made vivid at film's start, when Omar first appears scaling the graffitied wall between his neighborhood and the Israeli territor
Just as Zero Year’s second chapter was beginning to pick up momentum and move beyond the essential, there’s a pause for Batman #28 to flash forward to the near future.
One of the earliest, and most illegal, social networks led to one of the greatest technological revolutions of our time.
Gravity is not just a visual feast in the CGI age; it also interrogates humankind's desire to plant feet on the final frontier by confronting it with its metaphysical implications.
It’s as if the pair at Necrophone Games threw the entirety of their geeky lives into a blender, made cookies from it, and then used those cookies as action figures in a spy game.
Gears of War is not about narrative. It's about gut instinct. Pure, primal, primitive emotion. It paints on a big canvas, and uses thick brushstrokes, but the result is an unfiltered, expressionistic roar. It's just like a newborn baby.
For more recent winners, who don't have the benefit of the studio system helping shape their images, Oscar can be more of a frenemy who can lead them down a self-destructive path of bad career moves.
This benchmark of the heist genre shows that for the criminal, elegance and brutality go hand-in-hand, never more vividly depicted than in this tightly structured ode to Paris.
Morning Phase may not be the out-and-out masterpiece that everyone says it is, but anytime we are blessed with a very-good Beck album, the world is all the richer because of it.
Kovač brings ideas from Romanian, Hungarian, Serbian, etc, folk dance into contact with other musics that are urban and fringe-dwelling but at the same time somewhat antique
Imagining the world ending is a safe kind of fantasy because, deep down inside, we don’t think it can actually happen.
With this five-song concept EP, Krill proves itself a serious band that doesn’t take itself too seriously.
Aram Bajakian's second album is a testament of his love affair with the guitar.
As good as this album is, it’s ultimately less a cohesive entity of its own and more like a mishmash between great pop songwriting and the flighty, inspired production of Molad and Lalish.
Friday, February 21 2014
Will and Marcus “grow up” together in bite-sized portions, learning to put away their respective childish things in the course of each episode. Then they regress.
On one hand Atticus, the most awesome slave-gladiator in Pompeii, is smart and splendidly charismatic. On the other, he's tormented.
Dan's fearlessness is, in all truth, the light of rationalism, and the courage of spirit that comes from humanistic values. And that is the fireside we both sit at, as we head into the darker winter of the conversation ahead.
Stanley Kramer's widow notes that this movie was made more or less on a dare. Apocryphal or not, the origin makes sense.
Martin Luther King, Jr., narrowly escaped a mob attack; protesters were teargassed by state police; Lyndon Johnson refused to intervene; and Stokely Carmichael led the chant that would deﬁne a new kind of civil rights movement: Black Power.
Plotting exposure, parody seeks to unveil rather than to mask, to offer truths where it finds lies, deceit, or hypocrisy. So why has religion proven particularly prone to this means of comedic put-down?
The Prey bounces along from one suspense-building setup to the next, erupting in a flurry of running, shooting, driving very fast, and occasionally falling from great heights.
This re-issue is an example of when youth and musicality collide in a sublime fashion.
Eric Church is not as hard as he wants you to think, but his softness is what makes him interesting.
This is an elegant, concise book on the entanglement of feminism with imperialism by a foremost anthropologist in her field.
The Berlin deep house trio takes you on an eclectic journey for their DJ-Kicks selection.
Surpassing expectations and comparisons to their former band, Sonic Syndicate, The Unguided's sophomore release is a strong follow up to their impressive debut.
The most complete Scaggs retrospective to date is hard to turn down.
Bigby Wolf falls into the tradition of the beaten down noir investigator, a figure along the lines of a Philip Marlowe or a Sam Spade. However, he is different enough to eke out his own individuality within the context of a Fables inspired world.
Thursday, February 20 2014
Scenes inside Murphy's dreaming brain give way to a real-life nightmare, and for a few brief moments, Robocop hums with disturbing sci-fi possibilities.
Family Matters is a sterling (and torturous) example of the allegedly “post-racial” America inaugurated by the bourgeois and only mildly Afrocentric triumphs of The Cosby Show.
A London Year chronicles marvelous tales and observations by writers known and unknown.
An Afrocentric future is born out of the inspiration and aspiration of a growing African diaspora. Of course, this promising future is a reflection of a troubled past and contested present.
Italy’s independent hip-hop scene has so far produced some of the brightest, most interesting artists on European shores.
Upon the re-release of his band's seminal debut album High Land, Hard Rain, the Aztec Camera frontman talks about that album's legacy and his iconoclastic approach to music.
Guillaume Nicloux's 'The Nun' has a translucent woman at its centre; her face at first a budding rose becomes increasingly drawn and bruised over the course of the film.
Building on the strength of last year’s stellar White Buffalo, the songs of Dark Night of the Soul are as equally impressive as anything the 47-year-old Mathus has delivered before, if not more so.
In Simple Dreams Grammy Award wining Linda Ronstadt takes readers on a ride through the landscape of America's '60s and '70s music.
With its reliance on minimal beats to build up its sound, the album is less something destined for the dance floor than something you can appreciate on the hi-fi in your living room.
Nadler's first album for new label Sacred Bones is also her best. July is an assured, confident artistic statement from someone who we'll be talking about for years to come.
Overall, the effect of the album is mostly jarring. Gusty, but jarring. It is music that moves me more to fascination than appreciation.
Loping tempos and cryptic sonorous vocals mesh with jaggedly beautiful washes of sound, fostering auditory earworms that will burrow Wrath of Khan-style into your brain.
There are plenty of grinding riffs and pummeling beats here for those searching for them. Listeners satisfied with that, and with a few vaguely shouted, anthemic refrains against, y’know, oppression, will like this record just fine.
Wednesday, February 19 2014
Congressman Bennie Thompson's recollections are chilling, and not only because the government of Mississippi once posed a real threat to some of its citizens.
About Last Night is intriguingly refashioned as a vehicle for a quartet of black actors, many of them veterans of predominantly black ensemble comedies.
Dave Berg's Mad work reveals the true motivations of people, their selfishness and greed, and their utter ridiculousness.
Jeanne Moreau is a bewitching temptress; but what about the men?
Lightning Returns: Final Fantasy XIII is the Moulin Rouge of turn-based anime dress-up fighters.
Free-to-play game developers are playing a game of their own. The object of that game is to gain ownership of your time.
Greek actor Stathis Papadopoulos was poised to be the next big thing in Greek cinema following his bold and equally sensitive turn in Constantine Giannaris' From the Edge of the City more than 15 years ago. But Papadopoulos' star never ascended the way it should have.
Battle of the Damned is almost incredibly fun, but winds up as bad as you anticipated.
The truly remarkable thing about Olsen's sophomore album isn't just its wide musical palate or the huge leap forward in her songwriting, but also the way it questions the very nature of sad songs.
Books about the Fab Four need to justify themselves. The Beatles Solo, a handsome but information-light and overpriced doorstop, doesn't get there.
Almost every single song on All Love’s Legal delivers some sort of message about gender, sexuality, and Rostron’s desire to tear down the demarcations and hierarchies that arguably imprison them.
The intimate and lovey feel of Acoustic at the Ryman is very becoming to Band of Horses.
Free-ish Finnish jazz guitarist alludes to ecstasy, makes solid album.
The artists tend to work with a grand palette and paint the obvious tropes so that even those in the cheap seats can hear what’s happening. The result is a lack of subtlety and fuzziness.
Tuesday, February 18 2014
Darkman, the darkest hero (an amalgam or classic horror monsters) versus the criminal underworld... in broad daylight.
Terrorists want to kill the US Secretary of State; sensitive information is in danger of falling into the wrong hands. What more do you need?
Wolverine enters a new era without a healing factor or any kind of transition phase.
The success of Canon Fodder's "50 Nights at the Movies -- at Home!" Requires a bigger and better sequel. Or at least, a longer one. Might want to make some popcorn before sitting down for this one.
It's worth noting that, the problematic politics of the series aside, this is not great TV.
Josh Carter may be one half of the noted electronic group Phantogram, but in a few short years, the group has gone from Barsuk signees to major label heroes. Carter walks PopMatters through the creation of their excellent new record Voices.
Bad Self Portraits is another outstanding release from a really crucial and important group who is on the cusp of shedding its relative anonymity for bigger and better stages.
The bad-ass New York duo comes out with their strongest work yet.