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Monday, Dec 8, 2014
Attending moe.’s Big Lebowski show after Phish’s Halloween bonanza was akin to doubling down after hitting the ultimate rock ‘n’ roll jackpot, except that the odds heavily favored those willing to gamble the rest of their evening.

There’s always been something special about catching a rock ‘n’ roll show in Las Vegas, something to do with how Sin City’s reputation for gambling and debauchery enhances the vibe surrounding a show. This draws music lovers from around the country for many of the tours that come through, making a Vegas show akin to a national convention. The Grateful Dead used to fill the 40,000-capacity Silver Bowl in the early ‘90s and there was no doubt that only a minority in attendance were locals.


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Monday, Dec 8, 2014
The Barr Brothers pooled a wide variety of musical influences, like desert rhythms and Icelandic dreamscapes, to create some of the most eclectic folk rock around.

Singer and guitarist Brad Barr and his brother Andrew on drums and banjo, as The Barr Brothers released their second album Sleeping Operator in October. The band, which also consists of harpist Sarah Page, organist Andres Vial and bassist Mishka Stein, have been on tour almost nonstop since early November promoting it. And their NYC stop brought them to the Bowery Ballroom for a sold-out Friday night show.


Their friend Leif Vollebekk opened for them, though I missed most of his set, and later on joined the Barrs on stage for a few songs. I had little familiarity with Vollebekk, but his sparsely folk album North Americana has earned scattered praise on the internet and he did maintain the attention of the crowd filling in the venue.


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Wednesday, Nov 26, 2014
Political dramedy Viva la Libertà sees one of Italy’s best actors playing twin brothers.

Even before Enrico (Toni Servillo) leaves his post, it’s clear he’s going to. As the opposition party leader in Italy, he’s taking the brunt of the plummeting approval ratings heading into the national election, and it’s getting to him.


Just as he approaches the period of the biggest speeches of the year, he disappears. A note left behind explains that he’ll be gone for a few days – no reason is given.


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Wednesday, Nov 26, 2014
This film brings the history of organized crime in Sicily to life, but forgets to do the same for its characters.

With 90-minutes of runtime, most filmmakers will pick one or two things and try to perfect them. Director Pierfrancesco Diliberto (better known as Pif) orders the whole menu, post-dinner stomachache be damned.


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Tuesday, Nov 25, 2014
Escort in Love plays it too safe, but lead actress Paola Cortellesi comes out on top.

A newly broke mom turns to the world’s oldest profession to repay her deceased husband’s debts in this light-hearted story of a damsel in a tiny black dress.


At 33, the last thing Alice (Paola Cortellesi) thought she’d be doing is moving her nine-year-old son out of their beautiful Roman villa and into the ramshackle “roof pad” of an apartment block in a multiethnic slum. Tasked with recouping thousands in owed debts, she contacts a friend working as an escort (Anna Foglietta) and asks for her help to break into the very lucrative business.


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