Film

'Walk Away Renée' at BamCinemaFest and VOD Starting 27 June

This complexity -- of who sees whom and how -- shapes the new film in a new way.

"Listen to me, don't talk," Jonathan Caouette tells his mother, Renée. "You need to get off the Risperdal. You need to be back on Lithium." It's 2010, at the start of Walk Away Renée: he's home in New York, she's in Houston, at the group home where he hoped she might find a mix of independence and close-to-round-the-clock care. But the more Jonathan listens to her, the more he realizes she can't be there, that their living arrangements will need to shift -- again. And in this realization, the new film picks up where the old one left off. The son must sort out what to do with his mother.

The old film is Tarnation, Caouette's brilliant 2004 first feature. The new film, opening at BamCinemaFest on 27 June at the Brooklyn Academy of Music, when it will be followed by a Q&A with Caouette, and also available on VOD through SundanceNOW, is at once a continuation and a departure. It reminds you of the first film's extraordinary mix of documentary-diary-performance-arty effects, inserting some familiar footage and some previously unseen, updating you on figures from before, including Caouette's now deceased grandfather Adolph and his now 15-year-old son Joshua. It reminds you that people make bad decisions, even people who, as Caouette insists, can love each other while also being abusive and hurtful, that they can mean one thing and say another.

This complexity -- of who sees whom and how -- shapes the new film in a new way. Apart from the look-back images, Walk Away Renée shows Jonathan now, with Renée, road-tripping from Houston to a new facility in upstate New York, sometimes via a camera he sets up in the cab, sometimes via another camera, traveling in a car beside their U-Haul truck or watching them as they walk in parks or on sidewalks. If part of the puzzle of Tarnation had to do with how Renée understood and used the camera -- her singing and dancing before it, her outbursts over it -- here the questions of her awareness are mixed in with questions about Jonathan's. They see they're recorded, they respond to being recorded, but the realities resulting from each experience are different. "People should have more empathy for the mentally ill," Jonathan tells a TV interviewer during his tour for Tarnation, replayed here. "I feel that they are definitely in another place and that place really does exist." Walk Away Renée offers up another sort of place. And if there's no doubt it exists, the film also leaves open how it has come to be.


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This book offers a poignant and jarring reminder not just of the resilience of the human spirit, but also of its ability to seek solace in the materiality of one's present.

Marcelino Truong launched his autobiographical account of growing up in Saigon during the Vietnam War with the acclaimed graphic novel Such a Lovely Little War: Saigon 1961-63, originally published in French in 2012 and in English translation in 2016. That book concluded with his family's permanent relocation to London, England, as the chaos and bloodshed back home intensified.

Now Truong continues the tale with Saigon Calling: London 1963-75 (originally published in French in 2015), which follows the experiences of his family after they seek refuge in Europe. It offers a poignant illustration of what life was like for a family of refugees from the war, and from the perspective of young children (granted, Truong's family were a privileged and upper class set of refugees, well-connected with South Vietnamese and European elites). While relatives and friends struggle to survive amid the bombs and street warfare of Vietnam, the displaced narrator and his siblings find their attention consumed by the latest fashion and music trends in London. The book offers a poignant and jarring reminder not just of the resilience of the human spirit, but also of its ability to seek solace in the materiality of one's present.

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Music

The World of Captain Beefheart: An Interview with Gary Lucas and Nona Hendryx

Gary Lucas and Nona Hendryx (photo © Michael DelSol courtesy of Howlin' Wuelf Media)

Guitarist and band leader Gary Lucas and veteran vocalist Nona Hendryx pay tribute to one of rock's originals in this interview with PopMatters.

From the opening bars of "Suction Prints", we knew we had entered The World of Captain Beefheart and that was exactly where we wanted to be. There it was, that unmistakable fast 'n bulbous sound, the sudden shifts of meter and tempo, the slithery and stinging slide guitar in tandem with propulsive bass, the polyrhythmic drumming giving the music a swing unlike any other rock band.

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From Haircut 100 to his own modern pop stylings, Nick Heyward is loving this new phase of his career, experimenting with genre with the giddy glee of a true pop music nerd.

In 1982, Nick Heyward was a major star in the UK.

As the leader of pop sensations Haircut 100, he found himself loved by every teenage girl in the land. It's easy to see why, as Haircut 100 were a group of chaps so wholesome, they could have stepped from the pages of Lisa Simpson's "Non-Threatening Boys" magazine. They resembled a Benetton knitwear advert and played a type of quirky, pop-funk that propelled them into every transistor radio in Great Britain.

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Acid house legends 808 State bring a psychedelic vibe to Berlin producer NHOAH's stunning track "Abstellgleis".

Berlin producer NHOAH's "Abstellgleis" is a lean and slinky song from his album West-Berlin in which he reduced his working instruments down to a modular synthesizer system with a few controllers and a computer. "Abstellgleis" works primarily with circular patterns that establish a trancey mood and gently grow and expand as the piece proceeds. It creates a great deal of movement and energy.

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Beechwood offers up a breezy slice of sweet pop in "Heroin Honey" from the upcoming album Songs From the Land of Nod.

At just under two minutes, Beechwood's "Heroin Honey" is a breezy slice of sweet pop that recalls the best moments of the Zombies and Beach Boys, adding elements of garage and light tinges of the psychedelic. The song is one of 10 (11 if you count a bonus CD cut) tracks on the group's upcoming album Songs From the Land of Nod out 26 January via Alive Natural Sound Records.

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