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by PopMatters Staff

14 Feb 2012


The eagerly awaited new Grimes album, Visions, releases next week. Look for our review then, but in the meantime, you can sample a few MP3s and even listen to the whole record over at NPR.

by Cynthia Fuchs

14 Feb 2012


Steve James and Alex Kotlowitz’s documentary opens with this self-description: “One year in the life of a city grappling with violence.” During that year, the film follows three Interrupters, former offenders, as they work in Chicago for an organization called CeaseFire. Premiering on Frontline on 14 February, The Interrupters details their backstories and their current efforts, while also considering the premise of CeaseFire, that violence can be treated like a disease, that its transmission can be interrupted. “People believe in punishment,” says epidemiologist and CeaseFire co-founder Gary Slutkin, because when “you punish a young person, he stops. But he actually learns to mimic the punishment.” Young offenders, he says, are caught in a cycle: “They see violence as their disease, what they expect to die of, is this.” The Interrupters intervene, talking and spending time with offenders, helping them to see alternatives to revenge and anger. If the task is daunting, CeaseFire members are courageous. In spite of missteps and steps back, in spite of the many times that the interrupters attend funerals and console grieving parents, they try again and again. If they can stop one act of violence, they might stop another.

See PopMattersreview.

by Cynthia Fuchs

14 Feb 2012


“I love baseball. You know, it doesn’t have to mean anything. It’s just very beautiful to watch.” Thus Leonard Zelig (Woody Allen) indicates his peculiarly American identity. And just so, Allen’s weirdly elegant 1983 mock documentary, Zelig, goes on to trace his peculiarly American story. The fiction of Zelig concerns his capacity to transform physically to match whoever stands near him. The condition, he tells his psychiatrist, Dr. Eudora Nesbitt Fletcher (Mia Farrow), is a function of his desire to fit in, to feel safe, and it makes him a sensation during the 1920s—just when movie images were also transforming, into a means of mass communication, a means to shape community experience, and to grant consumers visions of how they might best conform.

Screening at Stranger Than Fiction on 14 February (and followed by a Q&A with short film director Dana O’Keefe), Allen’s movie shows this “chameleon disorder” in clever dissolves, as Zelig turns “Chinese,” obese, or Native American, or looks and like a doctor in a three-piece suit or a Hassidic Jew (narrator Patrick Horgan asserts, “The Ku Klux Klan, who saw Zelig as a Jew that could turn himself into a Negro and an Indian, saw him as a triple threat”). As the transforming imagery runs its course, the movie lingers in your memory, as a study of how identity emerges out of need (perceived or actual), and further, how need emerges out of experience (perceived or actual). And so it’s not just a story about Zelig or even “society,” but of the making of that story, the ways that documentary shapes its subjects and vice versa.

by PopMatters Staff

14 Feb 2012


Photo: Bryan Sheffield

Wade Ryff was disillusioned with music, holed up in his parent’s house, writing tunes in the bathroom. This economy has been tough on 20somethings and Ryff’s malaise seems part of a larger cultural phenomenon. Indeed, he wound up teaming with a group of fellow 20somethings who felt much in the same boat—Breanna Wood, Garth Herberg, Lucas Ventura, Devon Lee and Oliver Hild—to form RACES. Together they recorded the upcoming album Year of the Witch, which felt like a catharsis, bringing new found optimism to the musicians.

The name RACES is emblematic of the members’ overall mindset as well. As Ryff explains, “I relate to the name in the sense that it seems like there is always something to be up against, and strong desire to overcome whatever it is.” The band’s psych-influenced indie pop will be on full display when Year of the Witch releases on 27 March. In the meantime, check out today’s premiere of a new remix for album track “Living Cruel & Rude”. Fellow Californian DJ Vyxor brings a slick, electro sheen to the folk-poppy “Living Cruel & Rude”, bathing the tune in gentle blips and warm waves of synths, while managing to bring out more of the pure pop aesthetic of the song.

by Cynthia Fuchs

14 Feb 2012


Pentecost

The nominees for the 2012 Live Action Short Oscar alternate between expected and slightly less, all having something to do with time, its elusiveness and its ineluctable demands. “Pentecost,” directed by Peter McDonald, follows the travails of 11-year-old Damian Lynch (Scott Graham), whose father (Michael McElhatton) restricts his access to football (no playing, no watching, no listening), unless he completes his duties as an altar boy. The boy can’t help but reveal his devotion to his primary religion, football. A second Irish entry, “The Shore,” Terry George’s drama about a man (Ciarán Hinds) returning to Ireland after 25 years in America, traces the reconciliation of two friends (the other is Paddy, played by Conleth Hill) after decades of guilt and lies. Max Zähle’s “Raju” considers the problems posed by time in an adoption process: as a well-to-do German couple travels to India, where they’re at once appalled by the poverty and pleased to be helping the child—until they find something about his past that directly affects their present.

Andrew Bowler’s “Time Freak” stars Michael Nathanson as a young inventor who’s found a way to go back in time, only to use it live out his own geeky obsession. As his tries to explain it buddy (John Conor Brooke), the film turns part Groundhog Day and part The Big Bang Theory. And in the category’s least predictable film, Linn-Jeanethe Kyed’s “Tuba Atlantic,” Oskar (Edvard Hægstad) learns he has six days to live. He makes some quick decisions, trying to reconcile with his brother (in Ireland) and hiring a “death angel” (Ingrid Viken). It’s both weird and weirdly funny, and set on an icy tundra to boot.

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