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by Cynthia Fuchs

9 Apr 2013


“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.

by Cynthia Fuchs

5 Apr 2013


The black and white photos that fill the screen at the start of Neighboring Sounds (O som ao redor) call up a history at once personal and collective, possessing and possessed by the northeastern Brazilian city of Recife. A family stares into the camera, an old woman gives an interview, her face gaunt and poster straight, a group of workers stand with tools raised high, their sandals and hats indicating they toil in heat, perhaps in the fields that appear in some shots that follow, and likely not in the fine homes that loom in others.

by Brice Ezell

15 Feb 2013


Portland duo Lilacs & Champagne, whose self-titled debut was one of 2012’s underrated gems, have announced an upcoming sophomore release entitled Danish & Blue, out on April 23 via Brooklyn label Mexican Summer. The trailer for the album, directed by band member Emil Amos, continues in the tradition of psychedelic spy movie paranoia that was dominant on Lilacs & Champagne, though there’s a tantalizing incorporation of piano that already shows a slight shift in sonic from that record. At only two minutes, the trailer is a definite tease, but the excellent control of mood that made the duo’s debut so memorable is still present.

by Cynthia Fuchs

1 Feb 2013


Dror Moreh’s Oscar-nominated documentary, opening 1 February in New York and LA, focuses on a particular period in Israel’s history, but it’s as topical and urgent a film as you’ll see this year. Astutely structured in part as a series of interviews with former members of Shin Bet intercut with images that can’t possibly mean only one thing, it considers how Israel’s decisions (official and not) following the Six Day War established attitudes, fears, and policies that shape tensions to this day. With a couple of reenactments set in a reimagined surveillance room—tapes recording, televisions monitoring, and computers whirring—the film suggests that advancing technologies and expanding violence didn’t make anyone safer, neither the occupying Israelis nor the occupied Palestinians. The conflict is fueled in part by access to oppressive machinery and weapons. Carmi Gillon (head of Shin Bet from 1994-1996) laments that—as in most every battle zone—decisions on the ground, when soldiers are “knocking on doors” of suspects and families, are left to boys who may have just left high school. Making these decisions “changes people’s character,” Shalom says, illustrated as he and other former heads remember their own childhoods, their fears, their faiths, and often, the influences of their fathers.

See PopMatters’ review.

by Thomas Britt

29 Jan 2013


Though the past decade saw black metal enter into the mainstream, most media discussions of its roots and effects remain shallow. The present debate about a correlation between media violence and real-world violence provides a natural opportunity to examine this popular form. Having premiered at the just-wrapped 2013 Sundance Film Festival, Kat Candler’s short film Black Metal arrives right on time. In less than 10 minutes, the film provokes more serious thought on its subject than Until the Light Takes Us or other similarly uncritical/self-satisfied analyses of recent years.

//Mixed media
//Blogs

Country Fried Rock: Drivin' N' Cryin' to Be Inducted into the Georgia Music Hall of Fame

// Sound Affects

""If Drivin' N' Cryin' sounded as good in the '80s as we do now, we could have been as big as Cinderella." -- Kevn Kinney

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