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Friday, Oct 24, 2014
CMJ Night 1 photos including Chelsea Jade and Doprah from the New Zealand Showcase, Jukebox the Ghost, Stone Cold Fox, Tiny Victories and Little Daylight.

CMJ 2014 started off on a Tuesday and continues through the weekend giving a lot of unseen, unheard and unsigned bands a chance to catch the attention of a music blogger or critic (of which there are plenty at any given showcase). As I have done for the past couple of years, I made my first CMJ showcase stop the New Zealand showcase, though this time it moved from LPR to Webster Hall. While enjoying some savory pies, I caught electro-pop singer Chelsea Jade and the band Doprah. However, I knew that Jukebox the Ghost were doing a launch party for their latest, self-titled album at a swank hotel’s rooftop, so I had to cut out early to see the pop band. It was the first time drummer Jesse Kristin sung a song in public (from what I understood)! But their set ended around 9 and, as the CMJ schedule has music for hours and hours, I just wandered back to Webster Hall to see another poppy band, Little Daylight as part of a showcase with Tiny Victories, Carousel and more. For a while it seemed like Tiny Victories set would be cut short as the showcase was behind schedule, but they did get in a song or two after doing a Tom Petty cover. The light crowd appreciated the extra opportunity to dance along. Then the crowd continued to dance stage during Little Daylight’s set, which too had a cover, Bowie’s “Let’s Dance”.


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Tuesday, Oct 21, 2014
Marvel superheroes, DC supervillians, video game characters and cosplayers (including Jessica Nigri) of all sorts make New York Comic Con a blast to attend.

Just outside the convention floor, DC Comics was celebrating the 75th anniversary of Batman with a showcase of costumes while the US Postal Service was selling a limited print of stamps honoring the Caped Crusader. But for several blocks around the Javits Center, superheroes like the Caped Crusader, supervillians, video game characters and cosplayers descended upon the 2014 New York Comic Con to share their fandom and enjoy the company of like-minded folks. Attendees wore spandex, painted their hair, crafted cardboard weapons and masks and basically tried to differentiate themselves from the twenty plus other Spiderman or Harley Quinn variations that were around. Some people, like Doc Ock, struggled to make their way around the convention floor given the width of their appendages especially in the areas where fans were lined up in droves, like those gathered well in advance of the appointed time for famous cosplayer Jessica Nigri’s appearance. Then there were those who planned collective costumes with their friends, like the Tetrominos or the Batman villians or the LEGO Marvel characters. Check out some photos of the cosplayers below and see why NYCC is a blast to attend.


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Monday, Oct 20, 2014
We conclude our coverage of this year’s London Film Festival with Mike Leigh’s long-anticipated biopic of J.M.W. Turner: a languorous, immersive, richly detailed work that surpasses expectations.

The popular perception of Mike Leigh remains that of a supreme anatomist (or, for those less kindly disposed towards the filmmaker, broad-brush caricaturist) of contemporary British experiences: a sharp, sensitive observer of the myriad ways in which modern life can be rubbish (or great). Yet, weigh it up, and it quickly becomes apparent that it’s actually the director’s period work that’s proved most rewarding over the last 15 years.


The peerless Gilbert & Sullivan opus Topsy-Turvy (1999) (a film that never ceases to reveal new treasures no matter how many times it’s viewed), the ‘50s-set abortion-themed drama Vera Drake (2004) and Leigh’s last play at the National Theatre, the Rattigan-esque Grief (2011), have all been among the director’s finest-ever pieces. Moreover, each has far surpassed the two rather minor contemporary films that Leigh has turned out during the same period, >Happy-Go-Lucky (2008) and Another Year (2010), both of which found the film-maker falling back in a sometimes tiresome fashion on all-too-familiar situations, conflicts, character types and tropes.


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Monday, Oct 20, 2014
Singer-songwriter and guitarist Blake Mills is touring in support of his new album Heigh Ho with instrumental group yMusic backing him. Friend Fiona Apple joined in in New York.

Singer-songwriter Blake Mills is touring in support of his new album Heigh Ho out on Verve. The album is a showcase for Mills powerful country and blues guitar work and features several renowned musicians including Jim Keltner on drums, Jon Brion on keys and Don Was on bass (amongst others) plus Fiona Apple lending her voice to a couple of tracks. Perhaps it was because Apple was likely to appear (as she had on many other dates) that Mills’ two shows in New York (one at Le Poisson Rouge the week before this one) were sold out, but it would be unfair to suggest that Mills alone doesn’t deserve the attention. According to the NY Times, Mills has received praise from many artists, “Eric Clapton recently called him ‘the last guitarist I heard that I thought was phenomenal.’ The producer Don Was says he is ‘one of those rare musicians who come along once in a generation.‘“and he’s played with many of them too. It’s worth checking out his headlining tour when you can to witness his guitar virtuosity.


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Friday, Oct 17, 2014
A pupil/teacher story dressed up as a battle-of-wits thriller, the pushy, over-hyped Whiplash fails to impress.

In Damien Chazelle’s Whiplash, Miles Teller plays Andrew Neyman, a talented and fiercely ambitious jazz drummer who studies at an elite music conservatory. When Andrew is selected by the tutor Terence Fletcher (J.K. Simmons) to join the ensemble that Fletcher conducts, it seems like a dream opportunity for the young man to kick-start his career. But Fletcher, it turns out, is a fearsome, take-no-prisoners hard ass with whom Andrew soon finds himself locked in an ever-escalating battle of wills and wits.


Having scooped both the Grand Jury and Audience Awards at this year’s Sundance Film Festival Whiplash arrives at this year’s London Film Festival with a considerable weight of expectation. It looks to be pushing the right buttons for some audiences here too, but I hated the film, passionately. Essentially, the movie is just another guy-on-guy pupil/inspirational teacher story, but one of a particularly extreme variety.Your response to it will entirely depend on how you take to the character of Fletcher and his teaching methods.


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