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by Andrew Blackie

21 Jan 2010

There is not a moment in Nowhere Boy when director Sam Taylor-Wood displays anything less than the utmost respect for her subject. A not-so-much biopic as examination of John Lennon’s formative years, leading up to the time just before he went to Hamburg with what would become The Beatles takes the grueling childhood of its star and spins it into drama. ‘Oh,’ it purports, ‘the poor boy! The trials he faced wedged between two mother figures and with no father in his life!’ It almost plays like an answer to Lennon’s own song “Mother,” which plays over the end credits: “Mother, you had me, but I never had you.”

Times are tough for young Lennon. Or, so the film would have you believe. Here’s what Lennon himself had to say about his childhood: “This image of me being an orphan is garbage, because I was well protected by my auntie and uncle and they looked after me very well, thanks.” Taylor-Wood’s film is a pretty impressive accomplishment, a good introduction to those unfamiliar with one of the greatest and most prominent figures of the 20th Century. The central casting, in particular, falls just short of perfect. It strives harder than most for authenticity, both to its subject and its period. It also still trips up on the pratfalls of its genre: scrubbing up the key moments for drama points, and tending to re-arrange the life of its subject in order to fit director’s / screenwriter’s sanctimonious view.

by Oliver Ho

21 Jan 2010

[Note: Even though the plot seems pretty far from primary when experiencing this head-trip of a book, the following contains details that could be considered “spoilers.”]

The Box Man starts and ends with a kappa, and we see everything it does. The creature hops on the back of a passing scooter, bringing us along as it observes and becomes part of an incredibly strange adventure.

The kappa is “easily the single most famous yokai in Japan”, according to Yokai Attack: The Japanese Monster Survival Guide. Among its other, nastier traits, the child-sized water-monster has a beak-like mouth and a shell like a turtle, and it likes to cause trouble.

by Rob Horning

21 Jan 2010

In his 1995 book Non-Places, anthropologist Marc Augé assesses the places fostered by globalized consumerism, the milieu of what he calls “supermodernity”:

If a place can be defined as relational, historical and concerned with identity, then a space which cannot be defined as relational, or historical, or concerned with identity will be a non-place…. Supermodernity produces non-places…. A world where people are born in the clinic and die in hospital, where transit points and temporary abodes are proliferating under luxurious or inhuman conditions (hotel chains and squats, holiday clubs and refugee camps, chantey-towns threatened with demolition or doomed to festering longevity); where a dense network of means of transport which are also inhabited spaces is developing; where the habitué of supermarkets, slot machines and credit cards communicates wordlessly, through gestures, with an abstract, unmediated commerce; a world thus surrendered to solitary individuality, to the fleeting, the temporary and ephemeral, offers the anthropologist (and others) a new object, whose unprecedented dimensions might usefully be measured before we start wondering to what sort of gaze it may amenable.

 

by Evan Sawdey

21 Jan 2010

Marc Collin has made a remarkable career out of covering other people’s songs, largely because few people can contort a tune’s subtext in the diabolical way that he can. 

Along with Olivier Libaux, Collin’s band Nouvelle Vague have achieved quite a bit of notoriety since their eponymous 2004 debut. By taking classic pop songs and redoing them in a unique bossa-nova style, Collin and his rotating cast of female vocalists were able to find surprising emotional underpinnings in tracks like the Dead Kennedy’s “Too Drunk to Fuck” and Billy Idol’s “Dancing With Myself”, leading all the way up to this year’s Nouvelle Vague 3, which serves as somewhat of a departure for the group.

by Sarah Zupko

21 Jan 2010

The Avett Brothers had a banner year in 2009, with their latest release, the Rick Rubin-produced I and Love and You, placing high on many year-end top music lists, including here at PopMatters. It was their major label debut and showed a great deal of musical growth as the band embraced the piano to build out and enlarge their sound. This Saturday (23 January) they take the stage in Austin with the garage rockers Heartless Bastards. 

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Stone Dead: Murder and Myth in 'Medousa'

// Short Ends and Leader

"A wry tale which takes in Greek mythology, punk rock and influences of American suspense-drama, this is an effective and curious thriller about myth and obsession.

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