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Film

'My Reincarnation' in Theaters Beginning 28 October

"When I think about myself, I say, 'But I didn't want to the son of a master.' That's the high Tibetan Buddhist Master, Chögyal Namkhai Norbu, and his son is Yeshi Silvano Namkhai, born and raised in Italy by his father and Catholic mother. "As long as I remember," Yeshi says in My Reincarnation, "my father was always traveling to teach Dzogchen." Resisting the expectations that come along with being recognized at birth as the reincarnation of a famous spiritual master, Yeshi spends years finding other outlets for his energies, with Jennifer Fox's camera in tow for nearly 20 years. Yeshi seems open about his doubts: "A person who doesn’t want to be what he is. And he ought to be something that he doesn’t like to be. Obviously for my father, I'm not a mistake. Because for him it's right, for me it's wrong." His questions multiply as he grows older, marries and has his own children, and finds a "stable" career with IBM. Perhaps unsurprisingly, has job has him on the road frequently, and as he drives, he talks to the camera: "I live in a very common Italian way," he says, "I'm happy to be a normal, common father."

And yet he's also restless. As Norbu's fame expands, the film shows him with students in search of peace and wisdom: he offers cryptic comfort: "It's how Buddha said," he tells a young man in tears over his HIV positive status. "Everything is unreal, like a big dream. That is something real." But as you come to understand Yeshi's frustrations with his absent, much-adored dad, the film also suggests he's leaning away from his secular life, thinking more about his father's legacy. With sections divided by underwater scenes, making visible Yeshi's own wondering at how his hesitation is turning into something like certainty. If the film can't show his changing feelings, or even his decision to perform such changes, it can suggest how he fears and how he takes risks, even how he comes to appreciate the paradoxes of time, how his past can become his future, his memories his visions. And in these suggestions, the film might emulate Yeshi's own process.

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Music

The Best Indie Rock of 2017

Photo courtesy of Matador Records

The indie rock genre is wide and unwieldy, but the musicians selected here share an awareness of one's place on the cultural-historical timeline.

Indie rock may be one of the most fluid and intangible terms currently imposed upon musicians. It holds no real indication of what the music will sound like and many of the artists aren't even independent. But more than a sonic indicator, indie rock represents a spirit. It's a spirit found where folk songsters and punk rockers come together to dialogue about what they're fed up with in mainstream culture. In so doing they uplift each other and celebrate each other's unique qualities.

With that in mind, our list of 2017's best indie rock albums ranges from melancholy to upbeat, defiant to uplifting, serious to seriously goofy. As always, it's hard to pick the best ten albums that represent the year, especially in such a broad category. Artists like King Gizzard & the Lizard Wizard had a heck of a year, putting out four albums. Although they might fit nicer in progressive rock than here. Artists like Father John Misty don't quite fit the indie rock mold in our estimation. Foxygen, Mackenzie Keefe, Broken Social Scene, Sorority Noise, Sheer Mag... this list of excellent bands that had worthy cuts this year goes on. But ultimately, here are the ten we deemed most worthy of recognition in 2017.

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From genre-busting electronic music to new highs in the ever-evolving R&B scene, from hip-hop and Americana to rock and pop, 2017's music scenes bestowed an embarrassment of riches upon us.


60. White Hills - Stop Mute Defeat (Thrill Jockey)

White Hills epic '80s callback Stop Mute Defeat is a determined march against encroaching imperial darkness; their eyes boring into the shadows for danger but they're aware that blinding lights can kill and distort truth. From "Overlord's" dark stomp casting nets for totalitarian warnings to "Attack Mode", which roars in with the tribal certainty that we can survive the madness if we keep our wits, the record is a true and timely win for Dave W. and Ego Sensation. Martin Bisi and the poster band's mysterious but relevant cool make a great team and deliver one of their least psych yet most mind destroying records to date. Much like the first time you heard Joy Division or early Pigface, for example, you'll experience being startled at first before becoming addicted to the band's unique microcosm of dystopia that is simultaneously corrupting and seducing your ears. - Morgan Y. Evans

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Music

The Best Country Music of 2017

still from Midland "Drinkin' Problem" video

There are many fine country musicians making music that is relevant and affecting in these troubled times. Here are ten of our favorites.

Year to year, country music as a genre sometimes seems to roll on without paying that much attention to what's going on in the world (with the exception of bro-country singers trying to adopt the latest hip-hop slang). That can feel like a problem in a year when 58 people are killed and 546 are injured by gun violence at a country-music concert – a public-relations issue for a genre that sees many of its stars outright celebrating the NRA. Then again, these days mainstream country stars don't seem to do all that well when they try to pivot quickly to comment on current events – take Keith Urban's muddled-at-best 2017 single "Female", as but one easy example.

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It's ironic that by injecting a shot of cynicism into this glorified soap opera, Johnson provides the most satisfying explanation yet for the significance of The Force.

Despite J.J. Abrams successfully resuscitating the Star Wars franchise with 2015's Star Wars: The Force Awakens, many fans were still left yearning for something new. It was comforting to see old familiar faces from a galaxy far, far away, but casual fans were unlikely to tolerate another greatest hits collection from a franchise already plagued by compositional overlap (to put it kindly).

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Yeah Yeah Yeahs played a few US shows to support the expanded reissue of their debut Fever to Tell.

Although they played a gig last year for an after-party for a Mick Rock doc, the Yeah Yeah Yeahs hadn't played a proper NYC show in four years before their Kings Theatre gig on November 7th, 2017. It was the last of only a handful of gigs, and the only one on the East coast.

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