Monday, February 9 2015
The X-men and the Guardians of the Galaxy come together again in a story that's as volatile as it is fun.
Several jokes in Citizens of Earth expose the Vice President of the Worlds’s exaggerated love of bureaucracy. Too bad the game is sometimes as much fun as cutting through red tape.
The focus on the dark side of Pryor's life gives this documentary the feel of an epitaph rather than a celebration.
In 1983, road-weary Texan Joe Ely hovers over gadgets and wires, entering a brave new world of technology. Is he creating science-fiction country music?
The start of 2015 found a bevy of roots music's best artists taking to the open ocean for a week of concerts, social gatherings, and hi-jinks. (Spoiler: watch out for Kacey Musgraves if she's on a scooter.)
Religion and science, two of the great cathedrals of knowledge, are often perceived as being in a state of conflict with one another. Gingerich is of the mind that the two cannot be separated.
As Nightcrawler compellingly depicts, every member of society is one rent payment away from tapping into their dark side.
Josh Tillman leaves the depression that triggered his beloved debut behind. In its place is the subject of love in all its beauty and messiness.
Just because their dad produced Transformers, it doesn't make Wardell bad people.
The guitarist takes his acoustic band (guitar trio plus vibes) for a spin on some classic fusion tunes from the 1970s.
The Notwist follow up last year's Close to the Glass with this collection of unreleased instrumental material.
With Dark Side of the Mule, Haynes and company’s faithful recitations do little to breathe life into already tired songs for those new to the Mule.
Friday, February 6 2015
There was a bit of cognitive dissonance in the air with the concept of Denson being 58 years old, because onlookers would be hard pressed to make such a guess.
Jeff Bridges, being very Dude-like, summarizes the motto of Seventh Son: "When you deal with dark, dark gets in you."
There's little subtext in this tale of the pineapple under the sea, but there is plenty of clever humor and scenery-chewing to rile up audiences of all ages.
At this point in the Wachowskis’ career, another hyped-up science-fiction saga about fate and humanity-as-cattle feels like less of a recurring theme and more like a lack of imagination.
On the cusp of “Convergence”, which ties together all DC comics ever published, have Fawkes and Templesmith finally found the character’s quintessential magic?
While it's definitely a bit more difficult than I was expecting, the difficulty of Satellina is fair when the game is behaving itself.
This film's ability to balance character-driven stories with didactic critiques against the racist practices that haunt our daily lives speaks to a sophisticated outlook rare among first-time directors.
Jill Lepore's hit new book on Wonder Woman sheds light not only on the astonishing origins of this iconic character, but also on the fascinating social and political strands of history which gave rise to her.
The go-for-broke inspiration Bruce Springsteen became legendary for providing in his songs initially sprang from the most authentic source: himself.
This Christian "blockbuster" thriller is a movie that looks and sounds significantly lower-rent than even the other low-rent thrillers Nicolas Cage has been doing lately.
Lupe Fiasco ends his troubled relationship with Atlantic Records with a thrillingly ambitious sendoff.
John Carpenter's non-soundtrack album is engrossing and dark, bringing to mind images from his best works both audio and visual.
The year 1965 saw many musical developments, a significant one of which is Brian Wilson's development from poet laureate of high school to baroque visionary.
Part of this Dogg's appeal always could be found in his strange sense of humor and gritty look at reality. He's not above being vulgar or afraid to be saintly.
Born, Raised & LIVE from Flint is a primer on how honky tonk’s done, demonstrating no new spin is required.
Thursday, February 5 2015
Diana Ross inaugurated the historic reopening of Kings Theatre in Brooklyn with a dazzling lesson in longevity.
What really pops out and smacks you in the face about Change is the art by Morgan Jeske and Sloane Leong.
Fancy being entertained, enlightened or offended, but not willing to pay for the privilege? Then you need the Do The Right Thing podcast in your life.
This straightforward revenge flick doesn't quite nail its blood-soaked final bow, but it nonetheless provides far more thrills than your typical run 'n' gun film.
This is another triumph for Punch Brothers, who continue to find a balance between catchiness and esoteria.
L.A.-based electronic musician John Tejada keeps on picking the locks where we were unaware of the doors in the first place.
A book with this kind of subtly, lyricism, and quiet intensity isn’t just appreciated—it’s restorative.
A cherished self-released slice of 1970’s mellow gold gets a welcome digital reissue. It's accompanied by a second, previously unavailable set of formative home recordings certain to satisfy excavators of that decade’s lost sounds.
During a time when country was serious, large and in charge, Clark jokingly thumbed his nose at the appearance of genuine. Or not.
Wednesday, February 4 2015
Forget the chit-chat about Nashville being a "sudsy" soap; as season three continues to show, this is a complex, feminist show that forges a new sort of sincerity.
The robots are fierce and out of control. The zombies are hungry, rapacious, rattleboned and desperate.
Swiss rapper Bligg, hip-hop's resident weirdo, reinvents the genre through subversion and humour -- and an alphorn's load of smart, catchy tunes.
You may not know his name. You may not even know Daytrotter. But Sean Moeller has played an indispensable role in snatching many of your favorite groups from the clutches of obscurity.
Like a jazz performer playing a classic tune, Roman Polanski takes Shakespeare's classic text and offers slight but crucial emphases, inspired no doubt by his own personal turmoils.
Bob Dylan doesn’t try to compete with Sinatra -- he knows better than that. Shadows in the Night is clearly an act of love and honor.
The Australian rock band's second album is a reverential throwback to the glory days of iconoclastic jangle pop. It's nostalgia done right.
Charles Spooner Garrett, Harvard English degree in hand, has no particular talents, ambitions, or goals when he lands a teaching position at the Abbott School, in Abbottsford, Massachusetts.
With songs that literally seem to go from a whisper to a roar, Chadwick Stokes’ melodies inhabit a kind of netherworld where it’s never a certainty where they’ll end up next.
Sea Island offers some surprises, but also maintains the serene identity that Loscil has been sculpting like a bonsai tree for 15 years.
On his rich debut album, Hozier blends deep South R&B with mythical Celtic folk, slipping in a lick of Motown heartache when least expected.
Tuesday, February 3 2015
This book is a wonder. Oh boy, is it a wonder.
Peter Capaldi, the current Dr. Who, delivers an avant-garde bit of performance art that should be deconstructed just like da Vinci's notebooks.
It's no accident that country is considered a white genre; it became white over time, and minimizing issues of race has been a key component of maintaining this whiteness.
In the kulturkampf between India’s intelligentsia decrying the ‘cultural terrorism’ of extremists, a film like PK has me wondering, how long can secular liberals retain the moral high ground?
In the good-but-not-great Boxtrolls, it falls to the young characters to take care of business and save the day themselves.
From beginning to end, Sauna reads its map upside down, but finds the destination all the same.
Tompkins Square’s third major anthology of African-American gospel draws from the genre's earliest recorded sources to offer listeners evocative echoes of the nineteenth century.
Although the interesting model of Scarcity makes it worth a read, like too many behavioral economics texts, it tries to cram too many global phenomena under its framework.
Still trying to find purpose after surviving the suicidal Flame.Flicker.Die., American Aquarium deliver a confused and confusing album.
A pioneer of massed-guitar music still worth listening to.
Monday, February 2 2015
The aftermath of a major retcon can't be ignored, but it can't be rushed either.
Academy Award for Best Foreign Film nominee director Abderrahmane Sissako discusses working with non-professional actors, difficult technical shots, and the meaning of receiving Mauitania's first-ever Oscar nomination.
Rewriting the rules of Americana, the Lone Bellow are ready for their mainstream moment, working with Aaron Dessner of the National and releasing one of 2015's most anticipated albums.
Sometimes photographs tell stories that music cannot fully articulate, carrying in their grain long-gone atmospheres.
With a title like A Life in Dirty Movies you might not expect a love story, but that's what you get.
Love may be a many-splendored thing, but in the hands of Murder By Death, it’s also an instigator of pain and horror.
I Sell the Circus, Robert Pollard's first album with his new band, makes a convincing argument for Ricked Wicky as a powerful rock band.
Dr. Ayesha Jalal's thorough survey will remain the definitive history of Pakistan for decades to come.
Leanne Macomber and Joel Ford's second release as Young Ejecta is too morose and humorless to be really good pop music, and too upbeat and cheap to be taken very seriously.
Guster takes a decided turn in direction with Evermotion, due mainly to the album’s softer sound and songs that evoke gentler, less complicated constraints.
This time out, saxophonist Paul Shapiro refracts his Jewish heritage not only through jazz but also through raw rock sounds, with guitarist Marc Ribot utterly riveting throughout.
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.