Every month brings us countless ways to be entertained, but how do we really know what the biggest releases and events are at the movies, on television, or in music? Well, this handy top ten list, complete with release dates, is here to let you know what’s out there. There’s something for everybody and a whole month of entertainment ahead.
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“It has a mind of its own,” says Tim Wakefield, once of the Red Sox. “You let it go and see where it takes you.” It is the knuckleball, and Wakefield was one of the few major league pitchers to make it his. As Wakefield does his best to explain the pitch - the idea of it, the mechanics, the effects—the scene cuts from his interview to a shot of his silhouette walking away, framed by a narrow doorway and dissolving into the bright yellow sunlight of the ball field beyond. The image—blurred and intriguing—sets up the story of the knuckleball, in Ricki Stern and Annie Sundberg’s terrific documentary, in Knuckleball!, a story that’s both utterly specific and enticingly elusive. Now available on VOD and DVD, the film considers the quirky history and ongoing mythology of the pitch, as well as the men who accept its challenges it. These men comprise a club with precious few members, and seeing them together is one of this documentary’s great pleasures. Mets knuckleballer R.A. Dickey won last year’s Cy Young Award, but still, the pitch remains a puzzle to most observers, a slow pitch that doesn’t spin, that tricks batters and sometimes, pitchers too. Knuckleballers might strike out multiple opponents in a game, stunning rival teams and drawing the media’s hot spotlight. And they might not.
See PopMatters’ review.
The story might seem familiar. Men go to work in Bill Morrison’s The Miners’ Hymns, hard, dark work in coal mines. They also find ways to celebrate their labor, in images from the early days of the UK’s coal industry: crowds cheer union candidates, placards proclaim support for miners and also, offer to insure them “on holidays.” Shots of one throng from a distance dissolve into closer shots, the camera panning faces, revealing that they’ve dressed up, in hats and jackets and vests. Some frames show more recent crowds, women in sunglasses and a reporter with a reel-to-reel tape recorder. In others, children hold balloons and bounce a bit, so excited to be out for the event. A boy turns to look at the camera as it passes. A little girl—her short hair shockingly blond—sits on her father’s shoulder, her gaze steady and, you think, somehow self-aware.
“I love the way that you’re the one I dream of,” says Kati Genthner. She’s reciting a poem she wrote for her boyfriend James, you’re looking at a front porch. Her voice is grainy, a telephone recording, sharing the story of her all-committed love. “The first time he heard it,” she reports, “he actually cried.”
Paul Mohammed has spent most of his life in prison. By 13 or 14, he says, he was using drugs, and he soon became focused on “getting some dope to put in a needle”. As he speaks, Payback shows him in a prison weight room, his tattooed shoulders massive as he works and his face and figure obscured by incessant vertical lines, the pull-down machine, the door frame, the metal detector. The visual order—insistent and ineffective—suggests efforts to impose order on the chaos of Mohammed’s life, efforts he makes and also, efforts made the social and legal structures that have found and imprisoned him, too late. He’s now paying a debt, the film argues, that is inherently unfair.
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