Ah, Twitter. Even the most internet-saturated among us still resist its siren call, its promise of 140-character wit and wisdom. Sure, it might be the most profound waste of time of our age, but it has nonetheless brought out of the woodwork some pretty damn funny people. And when the funny comes in the form of a comic book superhero music critic, well… I hate to tell you this, but you might just have to break down and get a Twitter account. Just a sampling of the gems…
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The Dandy Warhols are getting ready to release another album (their eighth since 1995) on April 24 called This Machine. In anticipation, the band provides a sneak peak of the track “Sad Vacation” as a free download—instantly recognizable with the band’s bottom heavy approach, adding in doubled vocals across an octave and wailing guitars that disintegrate into a very unpolished finish. Their signature in-your-face, inexcusable vibe continues on.
“Nothing about this case was ever believable. It was always the twilight zone in the Madoff case, because every time you saw something, it never made sense.” Set against an abstracting black background and addressing the camera, Harry Markopolos looks like he’s had experience in that zone. Even as Markopolos went repeatedly over 10 years to the SEC with evidence that Bernie Madoff was stealing from people, no one took notice: papers were filed and ignored. Based on Markopolos’ book, No One Would Listen, Jeff Prosserman’s smart, weird, provocative documentary makes its subjectivity a virtue. Chasing Madoff shows Markopolos’ self-certainty (bolstered by his colleagues at Rampart Investment Management, who did believe him) and also his growing paranoia; the film not only shows it, but lets you feel a bit of it too, because, in Markopolos’ world, it makes too much sense. When he reenacts his concerns in deep shadows cocking a gun and glowering, the scenes are at once sensational, nutty, and strangely affecting. Markopolos’ outrage is also supported by interviews with Madoff’s victims, identified here by their Madoff numbered accounts. Along with Markopolos, they voice the film’s underlying argument: Madoff was not deviant, he was exemplary. His system depends on silence, on insularity, and on repeated looks the other way. The film insists that you look, that you feel uncomfortable, that you worry.
See PopMatters’ review.
Canada’s Polaris Music Prize, now in its seventh year, awards a $30,000 prize to the best Canadian record of the voting period June 1-May 31. The criteria are broad, but clear: jurors are to assess records any consideration of commercial success, sales figures, track record, or live performance. The idea is that if a band puts out an exceptional record it will stand a chance, no matter what genre it emerges from (however obscure), what region the band calls home, what following it enjoys, or what preconceived notions critics might have about them. This is really, really, difficult, it turns out.
Every year the pool of some 200-plus Canadian jury members debate, complain, exclaim, and declaim various records. Often 50 or more albums are suggested and debated on the jury’s listserve before the Long List of 40 is finally compiled in early June. That Long List is then voted on and whittled down to a Short List of 10. Finally, a Grand Jury is pulled from the pool of 200-plus regular jurors and these intrepid souls gather on the evening of the Gala in late September to battle it out in a back room all 12 Angry Men-like and emerge with a winner. It’s all very fun, and also extremely exciting for those involved, especially when the band you were hoping for comes out on top (which has happened, for me, only once.)
“It was important to us to have a very clear understanding of what the audience’s experience would be,” Grover Babcock tells Filmmaker Magazine. “We wanted to play with the energy that the audience would be investing in the story in terms of where the tension was, what their suppositions were, and where they thought they were headed.” Just so, the documentary he co-directed with Blue Hadeigh, Scenes of a Crime leads viewers through a complex and increasingly distressing investigation, less of an original crime—here, the death of an infant—and more of the many “crimes” that follow, as the child’s father Adrian Thomas is put through a barrage of interrogations that lead detectives to believe in his guilt.