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by Darren Ratner

3 Feb 2010

With all the talking set to surround the 2010 Oscar nominations, the loudest chatter (at least for a few days to a week) is typically about the snubs. And which film was snubbed the hardest this year? Crazy Heart, by many miles. Never has an actor, Jeff Bridges, made a downtrodden, whiskey-worshiping country singer look so insatiably cool. Although the film’s concept seems less-than-original, Bridge’s performance, along with that of the vivacious Maggie Gyllenhaal, keeps you riveted from start to finish.

Put Crazy Heart in place of District 9, I say. Those stupid aliens have nothing on Bad Blake.

by Rachel Balik

3 Feb 2010

Tommy Tavern’s is an anomaly in Greenpoint, a neighborhood gentrifying faster than you can say “is the G train running this weekend?”  It’s more dive bar than you’ll find almost anywhere; the kind of place where your vodka tonic is a glass of rubbing alcohol topped with a splash of stale sugar water.  Two dollar Schaffer’s are the house specialty and the only thing in the place that has been replaced or cleaned in the last decade is a shiny digital juke box, which spews Bon Jovi, Phil Collins, and if you’re lucky, Queen.  At the back of the bar is a door that could lead to a closet but instead opens into a amorphous room painted in haphazard crimson.  Inside is the bar’s bathroom, and a “stage”.  When I entered, the lead guitarist of the night’s headliner, Pop. 1280, was collecting money at the door.  The vibe in the room was pretension-free.  Everyone was just waiting for the music, noticing little else.

by Steve Leftridge

3 Feb 2010

It is the penultimate audition show before taking to Hollywood and weeding out the golden tickets, and it is clear that the process, both in the audition room and the editing booth, is starting to run on fumes. This episode had little in the way of either memorable performances, freakazoids, or sob stories. The judges agreed to send 26 total singers from Denver on to the next round, but we saw very few of them. Instead, the show spliced together more montages than usual—of quirky audition preparation rituals, of pissed-off rejects being hounded by American Idol cameras, of the upbeat yes-fest from Denver, and of the zany costume gimmicks.

To stay consistent with the general mendacity at this point, Denver saw the return of Victoria Beckham, heretofore the most reticent of the guest judges, who in this round was far more talkative, approaching outright astuteness. She was able to level that criticism first on a paunchy wiseacre named Mark Labriola, a guy who thinks he looks like Jack Black so he tries to act like him. His personal history offers some drama; his mom was a fugitive mother, hiding little Mark around the country since he was four-years old. Mark, now a father himself, sang Squeeze’s “Tempted”, which was passable, so all that backstory wasn’t in vain.

by PopMatters Staff

3 Feb 2010

Gil Scott-Heron
I’m New Here
(XL)
Releasing: 9 February

Spoken word artist and poet Gil Scott-Heron was a massive influence on the development of hip-hop. His socially and politically conscious work of the late ‘60s and ‘70s and performance style strongly anticipated the more brainy styles of rap and even less obvious genres such as acid jazz. Next week Scott-Heron releases his first album in 13 years with I’m New Here and the first video has hit the Internet. Plus, you can stream the whole album below.

SONG LIST
01 On Coming from a Broken Home (Pt. 1)
02 Me and the Devil
03 I’m New Here
04 Your Soul and Mine
05 Parents (Interlude)
06 I’ll Take Care of You
07 Being Blessed (interlude)
08 Where Did the Night Go
09 I Was Guided (Interlude)
10 New York Is Killing Me
11 Certain Things (Interlude)
12 Running
13 The Crutch
14 I’ve Been Me (Interlude)
15 On Coming from a Broken Home (Pt. 2)

by Bill Gibron

2 Feb 2010

It was supposed to be the move that made the 2010 Oscars more “meaningful”. By opening up the Best Picture nominations to ten, more films, and by indirect correlation, more filmmakers, casts, and crewmembers, were supposed to be vying for the Academy’s top prize. It was diversity in its purest, aesthetic form. So why was the announcement this morning of the 82nd Annual AMPAS choices so…expected. Where were the proposed “shockers”? Oh sure, would anyone have guessed that a sci-fi South African social commentary or the animated adventures of a curmudgeonly old man, a chubby adventure scout, and a floating house be vying for the year’s top trophy. Sure, the aliens of Na’Vi and an bunch of bomb squad daredevils were a lock, but at least a couple of the Best Picture picks were interesting, to say the least. But “stunners”? Not really.

As for the rest of the major categories, they couldn’t be more predictable. You’ve got to give Hollywood and the various guilds and critical community credit. They have micromanaged the awards season process to remove all legitimate suspense and surprise out of it. For those still interested - or working on their office pool - here’s how we see the upcoming 7 March commencements:

//Mixed media
//Blogs

'The Chamber' Keeps the Drama and Suspense Going

// Short Ends and Leader

"The Chamber is the filmic equivalent of a fairground ride, the stimulation of emotion over ideas.

READ the article