If you haven’t heard about Grand Theft Auto V yet, its surprising given that the game’s newest iteration has had over $1 billion in sales in just a matter of weeks. For their game, Rockstar Games has gone all out in compiling an in-game soundtrack, releasing three album/compilations from the more than forty-hours of music that can be heard on various game radio stations. Original score and songs were crafted by Tangerine Dream, Flying Lotus, Twin Shadow and many others. And to celebrate the release of the game and the music, Rockstar partnered with the Film Society of Lincoln Center to present the unique ‘Live from Los Santos’ concert, with performances of the game’s score, live with a visual backdrop of scenes from the game, at the Church of St. Paul the Apostle in New York. This last minute addition to the New York Film Festival also included an afterparty at (le) Poisson Rouge, featuring DJ sets from Flying Lotus and Giles Peterson but we only have pictures from the church below as well as the game’s trailer and the playlist of songs Flying Lotus selected for his in-game station. You can Browse the three disc’s worth of songs that are on the official soundtrack and purchase the album online now, but if you are patient, Rockstar filmed the concert, so maybe there will be a commercial release of it in the near future.
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Alex Rotaru’s fun, shamelessly heart-wrenching documentary Shakespeare High follows a group of high school thespians who put their all into preparing for the annual Drama Teachers Association of Southern California Shakespeare Festival (DTASC). For the competition, each school presents a short take on three different plays (Othello, Macbeth, and A Midsummer Night’s Dream, in this case), which can be either original interpretations or straight-from-the-text renditions. The film, which opens in limited release 9 March, underscores its pitch for increased funding for public school arts education by showcasing the talent of those competitors from unprivileged backgrounds, holding their own against those from the right side of the tracks. One former gang member from a charter school in a poor, mostly Hispanic area takes the reins as director. As he puts it, “Just because we’re not rich and white” doesn’t mean they can’t win. The film follows their tests and their triumphs, and pushes too hard its message about the importance of the arts in schools. But Shakespeare High is undeniably moving when it focuses on the young actors’ dedication and joy, as they work through their scenes and begin to sort out their lives in the process.
See PopMatters’ review.
After viewing Dori Berinstein’s gaga documentary, Carol Channing: Larger Than Life, it’s hard to imagine that the world is not a better place because the 90-year-old Broadway legend is in it. With her wide mouth and wing-like eyelashes, rough sandpaper voice and a killer knack for the gag, she’s a star in every sense of the word. Born to Christian Science parents and raised in San Francisco, Channing recalls catching the performing bug early. She was delivering copies of the Christian Science Monitor backstage in a theater, only to become transfixed. “The safest place in the world to be,” she says, “is center stage.” She’s gone on to find this safety in a variety of places. The clips of her numerous talk show appearances throughout the years show both her quick wit and fearlessness, as well as revealing her Bennington education, beneath the ditzy blonde routine.
See PopMatters’ review.
“We’re really not known for winning anything except sports, so we have to fight for everything we earn.” Lamar Jordan lives in Chicago. His sense of context, his self-awareness, is hard-won. A young man in process, Lamar introduces himself in Louder Than a Bomb using his nickname, “The Truth,” and then he tells it. “When I was growing up,” says this 19-year-old, “I was a bit of a troublemaker and I did some things I regret.” Now, in 2008, he’s a member of Steinmetz High School’s slam poetry team, in Chicago. And now he has a new truth to tell. Lamar’s story is one of several told in Greg Jacobs and Jon Siskel’s film, which premieres on Oprah’s OWN Documentary Club on 5 January.
The film shows how hard the young poets work, their investments and their choices, their different roads to the slam called Louder Than a Bomb. It also shows that the contestants are well aware of the contradiction in what they do. Though poems are immeasurable, they are also subject to judgments: each performance earns points, like Olympic dives, cards held up by judges numbered one through 10. “It’s an outrageous thing, it’s a stupid thing, giving scores and numbers to poems,” admits Kevin Coval, LTAB’s co-founder. Slams are a means more than an end, a means of “learning about new people and understanding new people and really feeling inspired by people who are very different than you,” says Adam Gottlieb, from Northside College Prep. “I would like to say that that’s changing the world. And if not, it’s definitely coming much, much closer.”
See PopMatters’ review.
Breathing. When you watch bodies in Wim Wenders’ Pina, you hear and see them breathing. In a movie about dancers—about the work of dancers, their efforts to tell stories, to move audiences—this is no small thing. And in this, the 3D imaging is actually more helpful than distracting: it focuses your attention on what the dancers’ bodies do, in space, in relation to one another and in relation to the costumes and props they use, which range from chairs and tables (in Café Müller) to dirt (Rite of Spring) to water (Vollmund). And in this, the film is a revelation.