Latest Blog Posts

“Few film classics have traveled a stranger path to critical acclaim than I Am Cuba. Produced by the Soviet Union in 1964 as a celebration of the Castro-led Cuban revolution, the completed movie was criticized by its financiers for being all style and no substance. Thirty years later, the film was forgotten in the USSR and virtually unknown in the west when it became a film festival sensation, and new fans Martin Scorsese and Francis Ford Coppola eventually led the charge for its restoration.

Its politics are hopefully naïve and outdated, but the film is still a visual tour de force featuring a number of complicated tracking shots (including one famous shot that glides through a penthouse party before following a young woman underwater in a swimming pool) that are even more astonishing when you realize that they were done before the invention of the Steadicam or even smaller, lightweight cameras. The Ultimate Edition of I Am Cuba includes not only the restored film, but also an award winning documentary and a biography on director Mikhail Kalatozov which are both feature-length, all in a unique packaging designed to look like a Cuban cigar box.”

Time Life’s fantastic three-disc set, The Definitive Collection (1947-1966), is aptly named, for it’s the very first Stanley Brothers compilation to include tracks from every label they recorded for, including Rich-R-Tone, Columbia, Mercury, King, and Starday. Therefore, it’s an incredible collection for novices and fans alike, compiling the Stanleys’ greatest secular and gospel sides, songs from the band’s famed radio shows, and a handful of previously unreleased live recordings, along with a generous booklet of photos and highly informative liner notes. Some say that the Stanleys’ Mercury recordings from 1953 are their best, and it’s true that songs like Carter’s “(Say) Won’t You Be Mine” and Ralph’s “I’m Lonesome Without You” are early perfections of the style they’d disseminate well into the mid-‘60s.

In a time when many companies are content to slap a new coat of paint or throw in a couple new maps or unimpressive features on games, call them sequels and ask consumers to pay full sticker price for them, Valve’s The Orange Box is a bargain of incredible proportions.  For a mere $60, The Orange Box includes first-person shooter classic Half Life 2, its quasi-sequels Episode 1 and Episode 2 (the second of which hadn’t been previously released), the wildly inventive puzzle game Portal, and last but not least, Team Fortress 2, the best team-based multiplayer shooter on the Xbox 360 not named Halo 3Half Life 2‘s reputation is well-known, and Team Fortress 2 is a sequel to a cult favorite a long time coming, but the biggest surprise is Portal. Combining first-person shooter mechanics with simple-to-learn, difficult-to-master puzzles, Portal is arguably the best of the entire batch.  But even if puzzles aren’t your bag, just about everyone will find something to love in The Orange Box. Other video game companies be warned, Valve may have just raised the bar on giving gamers their money’s worth.

The Dixie Chicks’ sweep of the Grammy Awards seemed a vindication of their decision not to “make nice” with their erstwhile country fans. Seeing themselves as the Post-Comment Dixie Chicks, they reframe the controversy as a matter of free speech.  This film shows their healthy integration of professional and personal politics, and also makes clear the significance of the Chicks in broader contexts including free speech, the growing anti-war movement, and their experience as women in the music industry.

How does House, M.D. manage to garner not only popular success but critical approval, as well?  By now, even the most casual of television viewers will know the answer:  sharp writing and whip-smart acting.  In just three seasons on air the absurdly talented duo of creator David Shore and lead actor Hugh Laurie have managed to re-establish the modern medical drama while simultaneously subverting many of its hallowed conventions.  For in Dr. House we have a protagonist whose very charm and likeability is intrinsically supported and bolstered by an unrelenting personal abrasion and callousness.

//Mixed media
//Blogs

We are continuing to experience some technical difficulties. We hope to have them resolved by Monday

// Announcements

"Exciting developments are around the corner for PopMatters.

READ the article