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Thursday, Sep 18, 2014

“My father told me, this is a dark organization, don’t go there.” Gonen Ben Itzhak sets up the moment when he decided to join Shin Bet, the Israeli secret security service, with his reaction to the 1995 assassination of Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin. “I was shocked like everybody else,” he says, “I felt I needed to do something for my country.” His belief that joining Shin Bet appeared to be that something initiates the unresolved, perhaps irresolvable, conundrum at the center of The Green Prince, open in theaters 12 September. That conundrum begins with definitions and expectations, of self and nation, individual and community, morality, vengeance, and survival. The Palestinians were enemies, even the idea of Palestine was an existential threat to Israel, and so Itzhak embraced his work as a handler of double agents for Shin Bet, believing that the lines were clearly drawn. They were not. As it tells the story of Itzhak’s complicated relationship with one of these, Mosab Hassan Yousef, also known as “Son of Hamas,” Nadav Schirman’s film blurs lines as well, between drama and documentary, truth and desire, intersecting stories framed by smart edits between reenactments, archival footage, and interviews. 


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Thursday, Sep 18, 2014
Anyone on the market for some unadulterated vintage rock and roll should give Trigger Hippy's self-titled LP a spin as fast as possible.

Trigger Hippy is a tour de force collaboration of established rock heroes. The group was created by Black Crowes drummer Steve Gorman, who is joined by Joan Osborne and Jackie Greene on dual vocals, Tom Bukovac on guitars, and Nick Govrik on bass. Trigger Hippy, the quintet’s full-length, self-titled debut, has the homey feel of a great classic rock record.


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Thursday, Sep 18, 2014
Troubled teens and a chronic alcoholic populate two of the Main Competition films. But James Gray's The Immigrant proves the most impressive.

The insistent sound of a ringing telephone is the first thing to be heard in Anna Kazejak’s The Word (Obietnica), which opens pretty much in medias res, thrusting the viewer right into the fraught relationship between two teenagers, Lila (Eliza Rycembel) and Janek (Mateusz Więcławek).


The significance of the sound becomes apparent as the movie progresses, since communication (and, in particular, the way in which teens communicate with each other) is one of Kazejak’s concerns in this, her second feature following 2010’s Flying Pigs. The text messages, Facebook posts and Skype chats that the characters indulge in throughout the film gain greater significance when a murder gets committed and such communications become evidence in the ensuing investigation.


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Thursday, Sep 18, 2014
Since childhood, I have been attached to those legendary figures of the Wild West listed in the synopsis of 7 Hours of Gunfire.

The synopsis for 7 Hours of Gunfire (1965)—the US government hires Buffalo Bill Cody, Wild Bill Hickock, and Calamity Jane to help the calvary stop the Sioux—had me too excited for my own good. I think William Shakespeare once said not to get too attached to people, because attachments lead to expectations and expectations lead to disappointments… or maybe it was Charlton Heston in The Omega Man (1971) who said that. But it doesn’t matter, because I didn’t take the advice.


Since childhood, I have been attached to those legendary figures of the Wild West listed in the synopsis of 7 Hours of Gunfire, and as a result I had expectations for the film that were sure to lead to disappointment.


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Thursday, Sep 18, 2014
Spoon's excellent live show at Central Park's Rumsey Playfield (aka Summerstage) came near the heels of their late-Summer They Want My Soul tour.

I hadn’t seen the band Spoon since last year’s Governors Ball Festival but they finally came back around to the area for a proper show at Rumsey Playfield (aka Summerstage though that City Parks Foundation series is over) in Central Park. The band are touring on the back of their latest album They Want My Soul and this performance showed the audience how consistently good they are (as our critic Matthew Fiander wrote, “This is another very good Spoon record, but it’s not the same as any other Spoon record. It is also a record that, in the ways it continues and twists the band’s sound, reminds us that Spoon put in a lot of work to find their sound.”) and how cohesive all of Spoon’s material sounds together.


The Village Voice had noted that, “Got Nuffin” roars onstage as much as it did when it was new, but what really stood out was how seamlessly the new songs have already woven their way into the set. “New York Kiss” got a huge cheer when it began, because of course/why not. “Rent I Pay,” in particular, already came off like a classic Spoon song.” And it was with “Knock Knock Knock” and “Rent I Pay” that Spoon had kicked things off on the lovely late-Summer evening. The band was in fine form throughout the night and, except for Britt Daniel, quite often in the shadows, with their silhouettes cast upon screens around the stage. Before their conclusion, Spoon performed the dark and dancey, “I Turn My Camera On”, which is one of my favorites and then included another of my favorites, “You Got Yr Cherry Bomb” in their finale.


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