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by Matt Mazur

15 Jul 2010

Criteria for these choices includes risk-taking and confronting challenging material with little concern for vanity; an overall sense of favorable critical response as well as awards and other accolades; choices of collaborators, and finally the overall quality of the work; the execution.

First Film: Ladies Man ( Jacques-Gérard Cornu, 1960), opposite Danielle Darrieux and Mel Ferrer.

Must-see: Repulsion (Roman Polanski, 1965); The Last Metro (Francois Truffaut, 1980); A Christmas Tale (Arnaud Desplechin, 2008)

Star Turn: Belle de Jour (Luis Bunuel, 1967)

Underrated: 8 Women (Francois Ozon, 2002)

Upcoming, Current and/or Recent: André Téchiné‘s The Girl on the Train was recently released on DVD.

by Steve Horowitz

15 Jul 2010

She ain’t no Ronnie Spector, but then again there is nobody like the original Mrs. Phil Spector—not even Amy Winehouse, try as she may—but Phil’s new wife Rachelle has a new video out, and it is a hoot. Look at the sparkle and glitter, listen to the computer enhanced back-up instrumentation, and weep at the missing Wall of Sound now that Phil is behind prison walls.

by Rachel Michaels

14 Jul 2010

Recent history makes clear that society is not always progressing. Take vampires, for example—or at least the mythologies surrounding them. While the undead bloodsuckers have never been more popular, much of their current fascination has been sparked by the Twilight franchise.

The basic, disturbing crux of the series rests on its deep advocation of traditional gender roles. Both the female’s feelings of emptiness when away from her lover for even an hour and the male’s obsession with domination in the name of “protecting” her are coded as incredibly, impossibly “romantic,” a celebration of old-fashioned, stalk-me-then-marry-me values.

Luckily, we have Buffy the Vampire Slayer to the rescue.

Seven years after the series went off the air, Buffy Summers remains a rarity in the world of American entertainment—a female character who is not attracted to a simpering pin-up who would kill her if only he didn’t love her so much.

by Matt Mazur

14 Jul 2010

The Film Society of Lincoln Center celebrates Ken Russell from July 30-August 5, 2010. Regarded as British cinema’s greatest enfant terrible, he’s also an English national treasure. Russell created an intensely imaginative visual language to tell his stories—employing a style that is as poetic as it is ferocious.

Screenings include: The Boy Friend; The Devils; Lisztomania; Mahler; The Music Lovers; Savage Messiah; Tommy; Valentino; and Women in Love.

Join The Film Society of Lincoln Center for six personal audiences with the legendary Ken Russell, British Cinema’s madcap visionary maverick, in person at all evening screenings.

Tickets are on sale Thursday July 15.

by Michael P. Irwin

12 Jul 2010

Legendary British metal band Iron Maiden posted a link recently to download a “preview” track from their upcoming studio album The Final Frontier, slated for release in August. This will be the band’s 15th studio album, three decades after their self-titled debut. The preview song, titled “El Dorado”, will be the second track from the new album, and it clocks in at nearly seven minutes. 

While initially excited about hearing a new song from one of my favorite bands, after an email discussion with a friend and fellow metal fan, I started to have some doubts. Iron Maiden has had an incredible career, but the last two releases have hardly had the same energy and depth of earlier work. Regardless, I downloaded the track from the band’s website.

Upon first listen, I thought about the positives first. The song has all of the trademarks of a good metal song: raw, heavy guitar riffs, a tight rhythm section, and lyrics full of mythical imagery. I found myself nodding my head or rapping my fingers along to the beat numerous times. Afterwards, however, I was left with one nagging question, and that question wiped out any of the positives I just named.

Why does it sound like American thrash metal?

This isn’t the Iron Maiden that I know. The band’s trademark sound—Bruce Dickinson’s inimitable vocals, intricate guitar work by Adrian Smith, Dave Murray, and Janick Gers, all laid down over Steve Harris’ galloping bass lines and Nicko McBrain’s drums—only presents itself in a few brief instances on “El Dorado”. - As a Maiden fan, and a metal fan in general, I found myself wanting more. Perhaps that’s one of the pitfalls of being in a band like Iron Maiden. The bar is set so high that it’s hard for to match up to what’s been done in the past. I hardly expected another “Run to the Hills”, “Aces High”, or “Wasted Years”, but I expected something better than this. I will admit that after listening to “El Dorado” half a dozen times, it’s started to grow on me, and perhaps when I listen to the remainder of the album this song will sound better to me. For now, I’ll rate this one on the low end, with hopes that I’ll change my mind after hearing The Final Frontier in its entirety this summer.

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