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by Stuart Henderson

2 Aug 2011


Robert Altman’s strict Catholic upbringing and military service (he flew bombing missions in Asia during World War II) would have powerful and lasting influences over his life, and his art. Following the war, Altman dabbled in film, working on industrial documentaries and other such projects before stumbling into a feature film teensploitation picture in the mid-1950s. Eventually catching the attention of no less an authority than Alfred Hitchcock, Altman did some work on the old master’s television program in the early 1960s before heading back to Hollywood for a string of mostly forgettable pictures. It wasn’t until the tail end of the 1960s that Altman discovered his gift for subversion, and his unmistakable knack for capturing effortless, naturalistic dialogue.

Often referred to as a filmmaker’s filmmaker, Altman has frequently puzzled audiences and annoyed critics. But, his singular style and persistent attention to the paranoid American conscience marks him as among the most important voices of both his best periods in the 1970s and the 1990s.

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

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.

//Mixed media
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'Fire Emblem Heroes' Is a Bad Crossover

// Moving Pixels

"Fire Emblem Heroes desperately and shamelessly wants to monetize our love for these characters, yet it has no idea why we came to love them in the first place.

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