Friday, January 30 2015
With underdeveloped female characters and an emotional generic backstory, Project Almanac is trapped too much in formula for the youthful energy of its cast to rise to the fore.
In reducing the complexity of its characters, Black or White boils down complex racial dynamics to worn-out tropes, like the "well-meaning white guy".
Today the Iconographies proudly presents the magic of Eric Powell’s the Goon as it draws to a close. Maybe.
Armstrong's women opened the same forbidden doors as Agatha Christie and Patricia Wentworth's, but her characters also opened those doors for other, more pressing, reasons.
Get a sneak peek of some of February's most intriguing releases, including albums by Father John Misty, José Gonzaléz, and Dan Deacon.
Nick Kroll and his gaggle of comedian friends clearly think themselves hilarious; from a viewer's perspective, however, that judgment is usually questionable in Kroll Show.
Grief, upheaval, and a creative exile serve as the backdrop for the latest from rising California singer-songwriter.
Following the conceit of the “versus” listed in the artists’ category (“Jim White vs. Packway Handle Band”) title, on Take It Like a Man, White and the band alternately offer songs with just one co-written between them.
The remote mountain villages of le Chambon and the Plateau Vivarais-Lignon were Protestant havens that opened their homes to shelter countless Jewish children during WWII.
Not only are these songs about crushes, they feel just like one: emotionally intense, completely beautiful, and above all, fleeting.
Black Star Elephant proves to be a pleasant, uplifting album, though by no means earth shattering.
Thursday, January 29 2015
The businessman bad guy is nothing new. Lex Luthor and Wilson Fisk (the Kingpin) both come to mind immediately as classic comicbook villains whose main source of power is their wealth. And they’re not the only examples…
Fantomas Versus the Multinational Vampires is a blend of narrative genius with deep political philosophical significance, couched in a surreal blend of comic and prose.
The more closely I followed the Ebola coverage, the more the simulacra of contagion in fiction, film, and games seemed inextricably woven into the mainstream media.
Individ, the latest by this San Francisco duo, finds them coming back to the same place they started: two "total nerds just being excited" as a duo.
Legends of the Knight takes the cultural impact of Batman seriously by highlighting a few of his biggest fans, even though the hero worship gets a little redundant by its conclusion.
More than 50 years into her career, Bettye LaVette still has a voice for the ages.
Like that lady who dreams of an Oklahoma where Shirley Jones and Gordon McCrea dwell, we can fantasize of an England where our neighbors lead rich and eccentric lives and invite us over for a friendly spot of tea.
Gazing upon this vast collection of images with an abundance of rare and previously unseen stills, one cannot help but feel that Gottlieb-Walker captures the films' ontological identity.
If you like the sound of a saxophone flying solo, just wait until you hear it in a big-ass church.
The pop veins that Vance Joy mines so beautifully are unrequited and disbelieving love, and the songs’ appeal lie primarily in Joy’s voice, a voice that projects tremendous yearning.
Wednesday, January 28 2015
In the fictional film Princess and the documentary The Wolfpack, a child's resilience might thwart even the most determined of boogey men.
Wonder Woman is the ultimate feminine ideal, but even she deals with her share of insecurities.
There’s more of value in one Calvino essay about Roman pig sties than there is in a week’s worth of slop from the Huffington Post.
In 2014, former Semisonic frontman and "Someone Like You" scribe Dan Wilson released a solo album, re-released his pre-Semisonic band Trip Shakespeare's albums, and challenged his fans about the fact that a song, in fact, can be about anything.
Tom Cruise is the most consistent movie star Hollywood has, and when he stops making films, his absence will signify the end of an era.
Pawel Pawlikowski's frosty drama, although perhaps too simple for its own good, elevates strong emotional connections from an entirely chilly exterior.
The Lone Bellow knows how to nail a crescendo. The problem with Then Came the Morning is that it makes it seem like the band is only good at that.
Funny and direct, as well as useful and nurturing, Sane New World is a must read for anyone who has been up at night worrying about the future or regretting the past.
As Björk’s live shows become increasingly sprawling in their design and execution, less attention seems to be paid on the arrangements and the dynamics of her songs – or rather, their potential to be reworked into something entirely new onstage.
Live at the Lexington 13.11.13 documents a return and pulverizes a myth. This album proves that the band is terribly alive. But it shows at the same time how mortal they are.
Tuesday, January 27 2015
After the tour de force of last issue's Pax Americana, this issue demonstrates conclusively that Grant Morrison is a master of all the genres in the comicbook superhero playbook.
Just as Thomas Edison represented the America of his time, so too does he represents the America of our time in his try-and-succeed, try-and-fail methodology.
Headlining the first of six sold-out shows at New York's Jazz Standard, Lisa Fischer stirred the soul in a spellbinding 60-minute set.
Oddly enough, a remake of the original game, Resident Evil HD Remaster, actually feels like the next big evolutionary leap for the series.
A sweeping, mythological epic of dreams and nightmares, Alpha introduces one of Greek cinema's newest and most entrancing actresses.
This is a dinner party in book form, although with topics such as torture, group agency, hate speech, and the afterlife, it's not for the absent-minded.
Forthcoming releases from Steven Wilson, Neal Morse, and many others highlight what is bound to be an excellent year for progressive rock.
Patrick McGoohan's John Drake, superhero for the Cold War era, just might be the coolest hero of all time -- yes, even more than James Bond.
If 2013's Carrier was a meditation on loss, Indvid is a bold cry of life, with the duo returning to take inventory of themselves full of energy, poetry, and release.
Based on the detailed notes from the original Roman Inquisition investigation long buried in a Vatican archive, Wolf unravels a tale of religious madness and power trips.
On Fantastic Planet Noveller's Sara Lipstate spends the early parts of the record selling us on her potential, making us rethink how we hear and feel texture in music, how we understand musical structures.
A re-release of a Moby bonus disc shifts focus back to the one of the artist's neglected talents.
If you own a good chunk of Ball’s catalog, there is nothing essential here. If you don’t, it’s a fine introduction.
Jean Grae is deep in the no-fucks-to-give phase of her career, and it's kind of great.
Monday, January 26 2015
Both The Witch and Z for Zachariah point to the terrifying uselessness of religion in the face of the wilderness.
This loopy and stupid film promises eros and instead delivers an earache.
In Telltale's version of Game of Thrones, you play the parts of people who themselves are playing parts. Each one is not playing the game of thrones, they are pieces in the games of others.
In Anthony Doerr's richly romantic jewel quest of a war novel, a blind girl and an engineering prodigy pulse ever closer to each other across a ravaged Europe.
Feeling lucky, punk? The road from obscurity to legend wasn't easy for Clint Eastwood's iconic character Dirty Harry. Think you know the back story? Read on!
With the first intensely exhaustive box set of their career released, Robert Forster reflects on a first-time bass player, a film critic, and himself helped change the very face of rock music.
Better Off Ted was cancelled too early, and this truncated final season doesn't give any real closure. What it does give us, however, is more hi-jinks and zany creativity.
Björk's devastating ninth album Vulnicura, brutally chronicles the dissolution of her relationship with longtime partner, avant-garde NY filmmaker and sculptor Matthew Barney.
No matter how grandiose the Led Zeppelin legend gets, hearing the golden gods tell their tale is both astounding and more real than anything anyone could ever make up.
By escaping from her grandiose visions to dwell in her own head, Björk has made a stark and overwhelming record that proves she still has an abundance of ideas to explore, even at a detriment to herself.
Jan St.Werner's huge, vibrant Miscontinuum Album is spellbinding -- and could use fewer guests.
Intimations of mortality echo throughout this fifth solo release from the contemplative Los Angeles singer-songwriter, formerly of Uma and Show of Hands.
Friday, January 23 2015
As the eccentric art thief Charlie Mortdecai, Johnny Depp says things cleverly instead of saying clever things.
Mommy reminds you that mothers are not supposed to be sexual, and that children and everyone else need boundaries on mothers' behaviors.
Hinterkind focuses on characterization, developing its cast intelligently and deliberately so that everyone is fully formed and multi-faceted.
The world didn't just sit through the trials of both the tobacco industry and O.J. Simpson in 1995: it also welcomed in the sea changes that would shape the new millennium.
Fifteen years after its release, Dream Theater's fifth LP remains not only the quintet's truest masterpiece, but arguably the greatest progressive metal album ever made.
This isn't so much a comedy classic as it is passively amusing, but Drunk History's formula works damn well... especially after you've had a few of your own.
This uptown ain't so special; honestly, you're better off staying downtown.
Bohemians, Bootleggers, Flappers and Swells is a celebration of progress, of progressives, prophecy, and prescience.
The resurgent mod scene of the late 1970s gets its due.
Fall Out Boy version II makes a bid for the continued evolution of their sound. A mostly entertaining work emerges from this creative maelstrom.
It's high time that Pugwash and America got acquainted.
Thursday, January 22 2015
Marvel Comics takes its first step into a galaxy far, far away and offers plenty of reasons for more hope.
In this absorbing volume, Sally Potter provides an exploration of the director/actor relationship that teems with insight and intelligence, offering inspiration whatever your creative pursuits.
The dream of creating photorealistic video games seems odd to me when considering the medium itself, especially in contrast to other artistic mediums.
Browsing a record shop with Ben Watt is one way to learn about those artists he admires and those that inspired him.
Leo Carax sculpts together cinema references and turns them into something new, only later allowing the influences behind specific pieces to make sense in your mind.
Marilyn Manson's new album experiments with dark blues and alt-country, but it fails to become truly memorable considering the risks each song avoids.
Before becoming the go-to pop music Midas for the likes of M.I.A., Usher, and Madonna, Diplo tried damn hard to be DJ Shadow, and surprisingly, wasn't half-bad at it.
Haruki Murakami is famous for his magical worlds rich in issues of identity and psychology. Strecher's book is the road map to understand the twisting, metaphysical 'Over There' of Murakami.
The answer to the album title’s rhetorical question is self-evident--Nile is the river with all the rich suggestiveness that reference implies.
A relaxed but interesting tribute to tenor sax giants Coleman Hawkins and Lester Young from one of today's most eloquent players.
Debut and follow-up albums from Echobelly re-released in expanded editions with b-sides, radio sessions and live material.
Wednesday, January 21 2015
Ant-Man learns that living small (in his case, really small) can sometimes be better than living large if it means that you get to be with your kids, watch them grow, dry their tears, all that stuff.
From California to Iraq; from Chile to India; struggles over water are coming to define the political and military conflicts of the 21st century.
Food & Wine's editor-in-chief Dana Cowin talks about gender, politics, and mastering your mistakes in the kitchen.
Before Bill Maher became the demon-du-jour for his satirical scorn of religion, Christopher Hitchens led the charge of rhetorical antitheism.
Drawing from the legacy of the Beatles and the Velvet Underground, the still-young group Ultimate Painting made quite a splash in 2014.
Much like its closest television contemporary, Mad Men, Girls comes alive through character detail rather than plot.
Every genre has its retro-revivalists, but the ones that matter are those that inhabit the role and breathe a new gust of wind through comforting styles. Enter Joey Bada$$.
For Lena Respass, the last transcriptionist working at New York's daily newspaper, The Record, a brief bus ride beside a blind woman changes everything.
There may not be much new to say on the subject of death, but with their self-titled debut Viet Cong offer up an evocative contention with the grim reaper.
A band at the peak of its career, one which appears to be happily unsatisfied, yet chronically inspired by melancholy.
Power electronics pioneer William Bennett continues his exploration of African and Haitian percussion as Cut Hands releases its third santeria and vaudou-themed album
The odd thing is that Chambers plays American roots music. She's considered Country in Oz, but she shares little in common with the Nashville stars of today.
Tuesday, January 20 2015
Liliana Cavani's jarring and morally gray exploration of fascist power dynamics reminds us that just as we go through hell to get to love, love can itself be hell.
This will be one big revelation for anyone steeped in a rock-centric understanding of pop history, and validation for those who treasure the Songbook in all its glory.
A haunted estate proves too much for a curious writer in Eduardo de Gregorio's rare and little-seen surrealist mystery, Sérail.
Fourth Word truly is a world unto itself, a vision of avant-garde experimentation that influenced numerous composers in its wake.
This documentary may be straightforward and unfussy, but the story of Sir Edmund HIllary and Tenzing Norgay remains throat-grabbing over half a century later.
The alternative rock band's first record in a decade exceeds all expectations of what a reunion album should sound like by not sounding like a reunion album at all.
Even with the discussion of refractions, range finders, and thermocouples, and the light moments and humor, deportation and immigration status concerns are always there for these four boys.
Australian collective brings home The Merri Soul Sessions, 11 tracks of fine modern soul music.
Harrison's legacy and his work was much more than a reduction of earthly values wrapped in a song.