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by J.M. Suarez

2 Aug 2011


Pedro Almodóvar’s films have ranged widely from his early outrageous stories and flashy cinematic choices to his more recent more mature stories focused primarily on women. He has run the gamut between shocking audiences to moving them in surprising moments. He is a gifted storyteller who uses film in bold, unexpected ways—his use of color is especially striking—and one who’s themes of romantic entanglement and obsession, as well as the complex relationships between women, has grown increasingly more nuanced and affecting.

Read the rest of the entry within our 100 Essential Directors series.

by PopMatters Staff

2 Aug 2011


Former Flat Duo Jets mainman, Dex Romweber, continues his back-to-basics rock ‘n’ roll with his sister Sara in the Dex Romweber Duo. The Romwebers blast through a set of primal rock tunes on their latest album, Is That You In the Blue?, which just recently released via Bloodshot Records. Romweber has been working this musical template for many years and it’s clearly been influential as any listen to a White Stripes record will prove. The new video for “Jungle Drums” was filmed upstairs at Marsh Woodwinds in downtown Raleigh, NC by Jerry Stifelman (Creato Destructo), and accompanies the debut single from the band’s recently released aforementioned album. In addition to the video, Dex and Sara stepped off on their US album release tour last Thursday, in Charleston, SC. We have listed the complete set of performance dates below.

by Stuart Henderson

2 Aug 2011


In his most affecting films—including his nearly uninterrupted run of masterworks from 1977-1992—Woody Allen could limn the contours of a failing love affair with a humour, grace, and intelligence that remains the envy of urban auteurs the world over. Though prone to the criticism that many of his films are mere re-stagings of the same story with new titles—or, that his filmmaking “style” is really just a vast homage to Fellini, Bergman and other giants he admired in his formative years—this has always seemed to be a misapprehension of the degree to which his films have always been, unavoidably, his own.

Allen’s playfulness, his audacity, and his unfailingly goofy sense of humour, lent an urbane American wit to those sometimes stilted European approaches. Indeed, few filmmakers of the past 50 years have developed such an immediately identifiable signature. Allen’s Midnight in Paris, now in theaters and his all-time biggest financial success, is further proof of the director’s command of the medium.

Read the rest of the entry within our 100 Essential Directors series.

by Cynthia Fuchs

2 Aug 2011


“We just gotta go straight ahead, there’s still gonna be a festival, man,” Stewart Levine tells a worried phone caller. No matter the confusions, the misunderstandings, the missed connections. The 1974 concert in Kinshasa, Zaire will go on. You know this much already, especially if you’ve seen When We Were Kings, Leon Gast’s magnificent documentary on the Rumble in the Jungle, wherein Muhammad Ali rope-a-doped George Foreman. Where the 1996 documentary focused on the fight—and on Ali’s brilliant performance in and out of the ring—this one follows how the music came together. Using so-called outtakes from the first film, it screens 2 August at Stranger Than Fiction, and followed by a Q&A with director Jeffrey Kusama-Hinte, the film shows how the arrangements were made, how the stage was built, and how artists rehearsed. (It also includes a bit of Ali, following footage from Gast’s film: “The only reason the camera’s on me, the only reason I’m in the shape I’m in,” he tells an interviewer, is because I’m the greatest fighter in the world.”) While interviews suggest that participants just beginning to imagine an African diaspora aren’t quite aware of the daily and long-term effects of Zaire’s president Mobutu Sese Seko, the faith in culture and art to form community is palpable. The concert footage features incredible performances from B.B. King, Bill Withers, Miriam Makeba, and Celia Cruz. But the film follows the structure of the show, climaxing with James Brown (“I’m just glad to be here,” he says early on, pretending to be humble). In his Godfather of Soul jumpsuit, he’s filmed from multiple angles, dancers backing him, band perfect, and every nerve on fire. “The best of James Brown is yet to come,” he announces near the end. And you know it’s true.

by Austin Dale

2 Aug 2011


If Laura Mulvey is the queen of feminist film theory, Chantal Akerman is its messiah figure: the one to make its theories compelling and cinematic and accessible and powerful and hot rather than cold and counter cinematic. The importance of Mulvey’s films is in their complete dismissal of a misogynist film form in an attempt to create a specifically female gaze, as in her unwatchable masterpiece Riddles of the Sphinx, but in the same year, Akerman took it a step further with Jeanne Dielman. In the film, made when she was just 25, Akerman co-opted the cinematic techniques of the Hollywood gaze and manipulated them to serve a female narrative, and ended up making one of the most important works in the European Cinema.

Read the rest of the entry within our 100 Essential Directors series.

//Mixed media
//Blogs

"Rock Never Dies" Takes Shots at Celebrity Culture In a Surprisingly Effective Episode

// Channel Surfing

"Season 12's best episode yet isn't perfect, but well-done, with an excellent swan song performance by Rick Springfield.

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