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by Michael Barrett

7 Oct 2015

Let’s say you wanted to make a living by playing music for silent movies. In terms of employment prospects, that might put you somewhere between a lamplighter and the drummer on a Viking ship.
Or so you’d think. Ben Model has been making a living at it for several years, and between regular gigs at the Museum of Modern Art and the Library of Congress’ Packard Preservation Campus, plus traveling to various festivals, he averages 15 shows a month.

by Chris Barsanti

5 Oct 2015

Best of Enemies is a fascinating film about brilliant people behaving stupidly. It would be reassuring in a way to think that in the distant past, there was a time when American intellectuals could duke it out on the public stage before a mass audience held rapt by the sight and sound of ideas being wrestled into coherent form. We know such things don’t happen anymore. How many Americans can even name two intellectuals to have such a debate?

by Michael Barrett

1 Oct 2015

This three-DVD set conveniently gathers six hard-to-find films that French filmmaker Agnès Varda made on California visits in 1967-1968 and in 1980. Beautifully restored, they look sunny and gorgeous, and bear her distinctive sense of curiosity, intelligence, color, and craft.

In 1967, Varda arrived in America with her husband, Jacques Demy, who was making the film Model Shop  for Columbia. The first disc has two short documentaries she made in Northern California. Saturated with color, light, and whimsy, Uncle Yanco  (1967) is an impromptu profile of her father’s cousin, an artist in a houseboat colony of young bohemians in Anaheim. By re-creating and filming their “first meeting” several times, Varda calls attention to the artificial aspect of the project. We have the option of hearing a largely French soundtrack or an English one narrated by Yanco and Varda.

by Jedd Beaudoin

28 Sep 2015

Entourage: The Movie was almost universally panned when it hit theaters—enough that reviews worked as a repellant for some. But as its DVD release reveals, it’s not that bad.

by Chris Barsanti

25 Sep 2015

The cartel wars’ corrosive corruption and psychotic butchery that have been progressively pulverizing Mexican society for over a decade have just now begun registering as more than a blip on the American cultural consciousness. One would think that such horror-film savagery and rock-and-roll street combat happening right next door, with a constantly mutating cast of heroes who turn out to be villains and villains who turn out to be monsters, would have grabbed more attention sooner. But, then, it was only after Clint Eastwood’s American Sniper reimagined another murky conflict into a reassuring and essentially false good-guy crusader narrative that the public turned out in real numbers for an Iraq War film.

Now there is Denis Villeneuve’s Sicario, set in a U.S.-Mexico border zone awash in drug money, paranoia, and double-digit body counts. Emily Blunt (painfully miscast) plays Kate, an FBI agent who during a seemingly routine raid in an Arizona suburb stumbles into a cartel kill-house where the walls are filled with dozens of plastic-wrapped corpses, like some macabre art exhibit. Pulling that string gets her yanked into a larger cross-agency task force swaddled in official hush-hush.

//Mixed media

Con Brio: The Best New Live Band in America?

// Notes from the Road

"There’s a preciousness to McCarter and the rest of the mostly young band. You want to freeze the moment, to make sure they are taking it all in too. Because it’s going to change.

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