Essential Film Performances 2013 Update: Part 9

Essential Film Performances concludes with classic moments from top-notch comedian Robin Williams, the always fascinating Billy Bob Thornton, a star turn from Lynn Whitfield as Josephine Baker and more.

Essential Film Performances concludes with classic moments from top-notch comedian Robin Williams, the always fascinating Billy Bob Thornton, a star turn from Lynn Whitfield as Josephine Baker and more.

Billy Bob Thornton -- Bad Santa
(Terry Zwigoff, 2003)

Sometimes an actor is carried by his script. Sometimes a script is carried by its actor. Sometimes, just sometimes, the two come together ever so perfectly. It's an unpredictable, sanctimonious event that should be discussed as often as possible in order to properly honor the achievement. It's happened before, and it will happen again. For now, though, let's focus on what happened 10 years ago, in the winter of 2003.

When Bad Santa hit theaters, Billy Bob Thornton was already an Oscar-winning screenwriter and a two-time nominee for acting. His role in A Simple Plan is a personal favorite, and Sling Blade may be his most recognizably impressive turn, but it wasn't until he donned the guise of Willie T. Nelson that he truly landed an iconic role. Working from a script by Glenn Ficcara and John Requa (I Love You, Phillip Morris) who received a helping hand from a producing heavies Harvey & Bob Weinstein as well as Joel & Ethan Coen, Billy Bob Thornton had everything in place to become America's favorite Santa Claus.

Damned if he didn't pull it off. Many quotes from the film are instantly recognizable, from "I'm on my fucking lunch break!" to "This is Christmas and this kid's getting his fucking present." The immediate hilarity of most the dialogue is enough to merit the necessary chuckles, but it is Thornton's demeanor and delivery that make these two excerpts particularly memorable. We see him at his lowest -- screaming profanities at a mother and child while salad spills from his open mouth -- and his highest -- delivering a pink elephant to a child on Christmas Day, police in tow. Willie's transformation feels substantial thanks to Thornton's saggy, scraggly face and the way he twists it into 100 different versions of the same grimace; his blunt comedic timing and ability to convey situational understanding through both the character and the actor.

He may have reached his peak in a moment of dark profundity, describing not just Willie's first selfless act, but Thornton's own backdoor conquest of the studio system: "I beat the shit out of some kids today. Made me feel good about myself. It was like I did something constructive with my life or something. Like I accomplished something."

He certainly did. ~ Ben Travers

Topol -- Fiddler on the Roof
(Norman Jewison, 1971)

In the opening scene of Norman Jewison's 1971 epic musical, Fiddler on the Roof, we meet the eponymous character, playing a tune on the roof a home. And then we meet Tevye, a burly Russian farmer with the build of Alex Karras, the voice of Tom Waits and a smile like Mr. Kool Aid. As Tevye begins speaking to the audience, the viewer is hooked, and he becomes our guide to life in Anatevka -- a tiny shtetl, steeped in culture, about to be hit with a maelstrom of social change.

Chaim Topol, or simply Topol, is the Israeli actor who brought Tevye to life and it's impossible not to rank his turn in Fiddler on the Roof as one of the greatest performances in film history. Like Brad Pitt's character Tyler Durden in 1999's Fight Club, the fiddler is a metaphor of change -- culture vs. religion, 19th century vs. 20th century, old vs. new -- and comes to represent Tevye's mind and thinking. Tevye spends the majority of the film engaged in dialogue with the audience, himself and God, which lends even more credibility and honesty to his performance -- he becomes a character that any and every man can identify with.

If you thought Martin Sheen's performance in the "Two Cathedrals" episode of The West Wing was powerful -- especially the scene where he curses God and then grounds out a cigarette on the church floor -- then you ain't seen nothin' yet. When Tevye learns that the village will be the site of a future pogrom, he asks God, "I know we are the chosen people, but once in awhile, can't you choose someone else?" When he is struggling with the decisions of his daughters to marry without the traditional avenues, he again boldly asks of God, "Sometimes I wonder, who do you take your troubles too?" And has there ever been a more dramatic scene, halfway through a movie, than Topol standing the middle of the now-ruined wedding ceremony of his daughter, Tzeitel, hands outstretched, asking God why? Why did He bring the rioters on that day?

You cannot separate the historical timing of this film from the events happening in the world at that time. Released just four years after the Six Day War and featuring a protagonist who himself was in the Israeli Army at the time, Topol represented not just the yearning of the Jewish Diaspora for their European roots, but also the very archetype of the sabra -- the tough, hardscrabble, religious Israeli pioneer man. He succeeded magnificently on both counts; his performance in Fiddler on the Roof cemented his position as not just a giant in acting, but more importantly, as that rare actor able to bridge cultures and connect the past with the present … with just one role. ~ Shyam K. Sriram

Gwen Verdon -- Damn Yankees
(George Abbott & Stanley Donan, 1958)

For Gwen Verdon, there was never a life beyond the limelight. At a young age, she showed a gift for dance that lead her to a featured ballerina turn at age 11 in the 1936 feature film The King Steps Out. From there, she became a beloved choreographer's assistant, working with the renowned Jack Cole to teach such established stars as Jane Russell, Rita Hayworth, and Marilyn Monroe their main moves. During the '50s, she became known as an in demand "gypsy", moving from chorus line to chorus line until she was 'discovered' by Michael Kidd for his Broadway triumph Can-Can. Featured French star Lilo was so jealous of Vernon that she demanded her role be reduced. Fully intending to quit when she heard the news, her work in the musical on opening night was so impressive the audience demanded her by name. Needless to say, her job was secure.

From then on, it was Tony Awards and extended runs on the Great White Way. But when she was cast as Lola in George Abbot and Bob Fosse's famous Damn Yankees, her eternal superstardom was cemented. The role, that of the Devil's seductive second in command who sold her soul for some devastating good looks, provided the performer with a signature song ("Whatever Lola Wants") and a show-stopping turn that literally left audiences begging for more. So when Hollywood came scouting for a box office hit to turn into a movie, they picked Yankees and brought Vernon along with it. Abbot was back behind the lens (with some help from established Tinseltown heavyweight Stanley Donan) but since this was a mainstream motion picture and not some theatrical romp, many of Vernon's more "suggestive" moves had to be removed from the dance numbers.

It didn't matter. Vernon, capable of lighting up any venue with her eternally perky personality and red-hot momma dance steps, stole the show once again. The minute Lola appears to perturbed player Joe Hardy (formerly Joe Boyd, who has himself sold his soul to Satan for a return to his glory days in the major leagues), her assignment -- seduce our hero and make him forget his former life... and wife -- seems like a no brainer. Vernon, even when she's not pulsating to the beat, exudes energy and life. She's a ball of bravura that no one, not even Old Scratch himself, can control. Indeed, part of the charm of the piece is that, when she is turned back into an ugly hag (after defying her underworld master), we don't feel sorry for her. In fact, Vernon has done such a fantastic job of suggesting Lola's role as a survivor that we believe she will be okay, no matter the state of her appearance. She's that much a force of nature, just like the star who portrayed her. ~ Bill Gibron

Lynn Whitfield -- The Josephine Baker Story
(Brian Gibson, 1991)

There's a particular scene in The Josephine Baker Story when it becomes evident to anyone watching that this is a woman you just don't mess with. As her husband at the time, Joe Bouillon, threatens that he will leave her and the kids because she wants to adopt another child -- they already have 12 at this point in their "rainbow tribe" -- Baker, played by the stupendous Lynn Whitfield, looks him in the eye, channels pure Vader/Obi Wan Kenobi and says icily, "You'll stay. You don't have the strength to leave me. You need me." Is this Jedi mind control or what?

That Whitfield has become such an underrated and underused actor makes no sense to me because she is a powerhouse in this film. The Josephine Baker Story is a tour de force for Whitfield as she plays Baker -- the dancer turned singer turned provocateur turned spy turned activist -- like very few people have ever brought to the screen.

The film starts with an announcement that Baker is facing eviction from her French chateau because of unpaid taxes. We see Whitfield saying goodbye to her children and then proceeding to write them about why she had to send them away and also about the life she has lived starting. The film turns to the 1917 St. Louis race riot that she only narrowly escaped. Following the riot, we see Baker embrace dancing, even as a young girl, and see her perform in Blackface on the minstrel show circuit, even to Black audiences. The stage is set for her departure to France.

While it is hard to chastise Baker for wearing Blackface at a time when it was the only option for Black performers, her subsequent decisions to go topless and wear a banana skirt are causes for debate. But Whitfield as Baker does not dwell on the social significance of a Black woman from America pretending to be African for French audiences. She seems the way that men look at her breasts and her desire for fame outlasts any remorse she feels. She is giving the Occident what they expect of the Orient.

As her fame grows in Europe, so too does it in America. Her husband/manager at the time pleads with her to return to America, now in 1935, but she refuses. Whitfield's fear of returning home can be expressed through the words of James Baldwin, another African-American who left the U.S. for France because of the tolerance of the latter. He wrote, "What I remembered -- or imagined myself to remember -- of my life in America (before I left home!) was terror." The terror of Baker's childhood comes to life in Whitfield's performance -- we can sense the fear that America puts into her and when she returns later and confronts racism, sometimes overtly and sometimes subtly, her lack of comfort in her own country is palpable.

While Marion Cotillard's turn as Edith Piaf in 2007's La Vie en Rose earned her an Oscar and universal acclaim, we would be remiss to forget about Lynn Whitfield in The Josephine Baker Story. While Piaf was a French native and Baker a transplant, they have a shared legacy as two great French women who grew up in abject poverty and overcame their surroundings through a shared desire to succeed at all costs. Though they created as many enemies as friends over the years, their lives, and two great films about them, leave us with a rich and cherished legacy. C'est bon! ~ Shyam K. Sriram

Robin Williams -- Death to Smoochy
(Danny DeVito, 2003)

Robin Williams has made a career out of being the most manic of funnymen, and while the Academy only cares when he's acts against type, we feel it's more fitting to honor the man for what he's best at -- being insanely funny and insane in general. Never has there been a better display of both than in Death to Smoochy, a pitch black comedy from 2002 that finds the former Mrs. Doubtfire as Rainbow Randolph, a corrupt host of a kids' television show who's just been replaced by the real deal. Co-starring Edward Norton as a pure-of-heart, Barney-esque dancing purple rhinoceros, Death to Smoochy provides Williams with the perfect outlet for his copious amounts of energy and creativity.

Randolph is more than slightly unhinged, making it virtually impossible to take him too far. Williams spends most of the movie dancing, diving, spinning, and spouting impressive verbal tirades without wearing out his welcome. His passion and vigor are contagious despite Randolph's twisted motivations and downright disgusting goals. The TV host's background as an entertainer is enough to justify Williams' various accents and disguises, and his constant need to insult anyone and everyone around him lets the stand-up comedy veteran improvise as much as he likes. Norton, meanwhile, is the picture of purity and poise, making him an ideal foil for Williams' wild antics. It's not so much that they play well off of each other as Williams overpowers his good-hearted counterpart with a grotesque display of depravity.

Did I mention this was a black comedy? While Williams can certainly play the kind hearted comedian -- Mrs. Doubtfire, Dead Poets Society -- Death to Smoochy arrived during a career renaissance for the stand up turned thespian. In the same year, Williams played two memorable murderers in Christopher Nolan's Insomnia and the truly terrifying One Hour Photo. Rainbow Randolph, with his own deadly plans, doesn't feel out of place. He may be more in line with what we've seen from the real Robin Williams, but he's certainly taken to the nth degree by an actor who's made a career out of doing just that. It's only fitting his best work be closer to home. ~ Ben Travers

To be a migrant worker in America is to relearn the basic skills of living. Imagine doing that in your 60s and 70s, when you thought you'd be retired.

Nomadland: Surviving America in the Twenty-First Century

Publisher: W. W. Norton
Author: Jessica Bruder
Publication date: 2017-09

There's been much hand-wringing over the state of the American economy in recent years. After the 2008 financial crisis upended middle-class families, we now live with regular media reports of recovery and growth -- as well as rising inequality and decreased social mobility. We ponder what kind of future we're creating for our children, while generally failing to consider who has already fallen between the gaps.

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Very few of their peers surpass Eurythmics in terms of artistic vision, musicianship, songwriting, and creative audacity.

The Rock and Roll Hall of Fame nominating committee's yearly announcement of the latest batch of potential inductees always generates the same reaction: a combination of sputtering outrage by fans of those deserving artists who've been shunned, and jubilation by fans of those who made the cut. The annual debate over the list of nominees is as inevitable as the announcement itself.

The Hall of Fame has been harshly criticized for some of its more inexplicable exclusions and for neglecting certain subgenres of music. Cynicism and negativity over the Hall's selection process and membership is fairly widespread. That said, despite the controversies and legitimate gripes, induction into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame is still widely viewed as a career milestone. The Hall's stature feeds its surrounding controversies: after all, nobody would care to argue so vehemently about the merits of one artist over another if it wasn't important. Very rarely will a newly inducted artist miss the opportunity to appear at the star-studded ceremony to accept their honor.

The criteria for nomination is as follows: "Artists -- a group encompassing performers, composers and/or musicians -- become eligible for induction 25 years after the release of their first commercial recording. Besides demonstrating unquestionable musical excellence and talent, inductees will have had a significant impact on the development, evolution and preservation of rock and roll." Specifically for performers, "This category honors bands or solo artists which demonstrate musical excellence. Such a descriptor includes (but isn't limited to) influence on other performers or genres; length and depth of career and catalog; stylistic innovations; or superior technique and skills."

These standards allow the selection committee wide latitude with their choices, and generating a list that would create zero controversy is an obvious impossibility. As for those deserving artists yet to be included, their time will surely come. There has purportedly been an emphasis on increasing diversity among the nominating committee and voters in recent years, and the list of contenders for the class of 2018 reflects this.

Radiohead, as expected and deserved, are nominated in their first year of eligibility, and there is little doubt they will be inducted. Other nominees include Bon Jovi, Kate Bush, the Cars, Depeche Mode, Dire Straits, Eurythmics, J. Geils Band, Judas Priest, LL Cool J, MC5, the Meters, the Moody Blues, Rage Against the Machine, Nina Simone, Rufus featuring Chaka Khan, Sister Rosetta Tharpe, Link Wray and the Zombies. It's a strong and varied group.

Perhaps the most pleasant surprise on the list, however, is the British duo Eurythmics. Even though they've been eligible since 2006, this is their first nomination. Dave Stewart and Annie Lennox certainly deserve recognition for their important contributions to the musical fabric of the last 40 years. While Eurythmics have always been generally respected, they've never been darlings with the critics like some of their contemporaries. It's puzzling as to why. Very few of their peers surpass Eurythmics in terms of artistic vision, musicianship, songwriting and creative audacity. Lennox is second to noone as a vocalist, not just in her lead parts but also in the creative, often rhythmic way she uses her voice as an instrument. This nomination could boost the stature and perception of Eurythmics' body of work immeasurably.

Although Eurythmics are often consigned strictly to the synthpop genre, that designation fits only a portion of their repertoire. Each of their nine studio albums has its own unique vibe while retaining the duo's core identity. Eurythmics never repeat themselves, often taking bold risks and swerving in unexpected directions. Unlike many of their contemporaries, Eurythmics didn't "sell out" or compromise by chasing after obvious Top 40 hits. Even their most popular singles aren't commercial in the traditional sense, and they've always sounded like nobody else on the radio.

Despite the sudden emergence of their 1983 single "Sweet Dreams (are made of this)" as an MTV staple and international smash, Eurythmics are far from an overnight success story. Their story begins in London, 1975, when Stewart fortuitously encountered Lennox at the restaurant where she worked as a waitress. The Scottish singer had recently dropped out of the Royal Academy of Music, which she felt didn't suit her musical interests. Stewart and Lennox strongly connected over their love of music, and they quickly became a couple who were inseparable. Along with singer/ songwriter/ guitarist Peet Coombes, Stewart and Lennox formed a short-lived group the Catch. After one failed single, they added two members and renamed themselves the Tourists.

Coombes was the dominant creative force and primary songwriter behind the Tourists. Lennox and Coombes shared vocals on the band's dour and melancholy power-pop. The Tourists released three albums and managed a handful of chart appearances in the UK. Two of their singles, a peppy cover of Dusty Springfield's "I Only Want to Be With You" and the hard-rocking "So Good T\to Be Back Home Again", made the UK Top 10. The band toured extensively, but their success was fleeting. The Tourists' third album, Luminous Basement (1980), tanked badly despite containing their strongest material yet, and the group dissolved shortly thereafter.

Lennox and Stewart also endured a painful ending to their sometimes tumultuous romance, but they recognized the power of their musical chemistry and decided to continue working together as a duo. They were a pair "who couldn't be together, and who could not be apart", as Lennox reflects many years later in the song "17 Again". History has shown that they made the right decision: Stewart and Lennox compliment each other intuitively through a shared passion for music, the thrill of experimentation, and the need for emotional release that songwriting and performing allows.

The name Eurythmics was derived from a technique used to teach music to children based on sensory and physical methods of learning rhythm. The newly-christened duo signed with RCA Records and in early 1981 headed to Germany to record their debut album with highly-respected krautrock producer Conny Plank.

Plank already had a long string of acclaimed albums to his credit, including collaborations with Neu!, Can, Ultravox, Kraftwerk and Brian Eno among others. The sessions for what would become Eurythmics' debut album, In the Garden, were held at Plank's studio in Cologne. He brought several of his regular collaborators into the proceedings, including bassist Holger Czukay and drummer Jaki Liebezeit of avant-garde rockers Can, Blondie drummer Clem Burke and D.A.F. electronics whiz Robert Görl. Stewart has described the sessions as a learning experience that helped expand his perception of what pop music could be and how it could be created without following any rules, a perspective that served Eurythmics well.

Eurythmics' austere and hypnotic debut single "Never Gonna Cry Again" was released in May 1981. They filmed a low-budget video and landed a couple TV slots to promote the track, but the song's haunted nature did not translate to mainstream success: it barely scraped the lower reaches of the UK singles chart. A second single, the dreamy guitar-rocker "Belinda", followed in August but failed to chart.

In the Garden was finally released in October 1981, but without a hit to generate momentum it was barely noticed. Despite scant sales figures, the album's gloomy psychedelic guitar-pop makes for a rather strong debut. In the Garden exists in late summer shadows, densely atmospheric and shrouded in a veil of dread. Lennox's vocals are understated, subtle and lower in the mix than on subsequent albums. Sound effects, odd vocalizations and bits of sonic experimentation fade in and out like flashes of hazily repressed memory.

RCA wasn't eager to invest in a follow-up to In the Garden after its disappointing reception, so Stewart financed Eurythmics' second album largely through a personal bank loan. Faced with a minuscule budget, they worked in a London warehouse to avoid spending money on studio time. They were able to purchase cheap second-hand equipment for the sessions, including the basic TEAC 8-track on which most of the album was recorded. Adam Williams, former bassist for the ska band the Selectors, helped the duo learn the equipment while co-producing some of their earliest tracks.

The primitive set-up was the ultimate blessing in disguise. Since they were financing the sessions and self-producing, Eurythmics had the freedom to experiment with no oversight. As both Lennox and Stewart were enduring periods of deep personal strife at the time, the sessions evolved into an emotional and creative catharsis that helped shape the mercurial nature of the music. It was out of this environment that a classic was born.

Despite appearing only a few months after their debut album, the first single to emerge from the new sessions proved radically different than any of Eurythmics' prior work. Released in April 1982, "This Is the House" is a flamboyant, horn-driven spectacle on which Lennox belts out a vocal more confident and brash than any of her prior work. The song's odd mix of synthpop, R&B; and latin influences renders it completely unique, but despite its infectious ingenuity and beguiling loopiness (or perhaps because of it), "This Is the House" failed to chart.

The follow-up single that landed two months later is even better. Entrancing and soulful, "The Walk" exudes the anxiety, drama and innovation that became Eurythmics' hallmark. The vocal arrangement is ingenious, and Dick Cuthell (known for his work with Madness, the Specials, Fun Boy Three and others) lets rip a blistering trumpet solo. As in many of their songs, "The Walk" slowly ratchets up the tension through hypnotic repetition and the gradual addition of more layers of sound until it reaches a haywire frenzy. Although a brilliant recording, "The Walk" fared no better than its predecessor.

With the duo's second album Sweet Dreams (are made of this) completed, RCA began a strong promotional push, issuing the opening track "Love Is a Stranger" as a single in November 1982. Lennox's dazzling vocal ranges from icy cool to fiery passion over a relentless electric groove bracketed by sinuous lines of synth. "Love Is a Stranger" rose to #54 in the UK, their highest placement yet, and momentum was finally building for the duo thanks in part to the single's provocative video.

The first significant chapter in a series of visually arresting promotional clips that Eurythmics generated over the span of their career, "Love Is a Stranger" showcases Lennox's dramatic presence and her innate ability to command the viewer's attention. She plays multiple roles, ending the clip with her red hair slicked back and dressed androgynously in a man's suit. Image was quickly becoming an important part of the Eurythmics' equation, with Lennox always compelling no matter which character she inhabits, and Stewart often appearing as her sort of mad-scientist counterpart.

Sweet Dreams (are made of this) hit the shelves on 4 January 1983, along with its title-track, a single that continues to reverberate through pop music nearly 35 years after its release. Suddenly everything changed for Eurythmics. An obscure British duo, barely managing to survive in the music business, soared to the top with one of the more unconventional songs ever to scale those lofty heights.

"Sweet Dreams (are made of this)" has an unusual structure, with no real verses or chorus. Lennox has described it as a mantra, and indeed it is. The lyrics, which Lennox rattled off spontaneously in a matter of minutes, are a simple but profound statement about the human condition: "Everybody's looking for something," the search for meaning and fulfillment, the ephemeral "this" of which sweet dreams are made.

Lennox begins the song with a single line of vocal, then starting with "some of them want to use you" at the 0:24 point it doubles. From there the song gradually builds intensity, with the vocals increasingly layered. A masterful finalé combines all the sonic elements before fading to black, the mantra repeating endlessly, the "this" still stubbornly undefined. The booming minor-key bass riff and the epic string-motif solo starting at 1:31 are played by Lennox on a Roland Juno-6 synthesizer. The main riff (improvised by Lennox while listening to Stewart working on a drum-machine pattern), is a simple two-bar arpeggio that loops throughout most of the song. Two parts were recorded separately and panned on opposite sides of the sound spectrum, creating a richly resonant effect. "Sweet Dreams (are made of this)" is no dated relic from the early days of MTV burdened by the limitations the time. Its massive waves of synth flood out of the speakers with enormous power, as inexorably as the tide.

The music video, which became wildly popular on MTV during its heyday, is forever entwined with the song in listeners' collective consciousness. The iconic image of Lennox in her masculine suit and flaming orange flat-top helps to define the new wave era. Her forceful demeanor, nervy confidence and the subtle nuances of her facial expressions amplify the song's inherent tension. She confronts the viewer directly by pointing right in our faces at the 0:24 mark. At 1:56, she offers a sly half-smile with, "some of them want to abuse you", and at 2:15 she pounds her fist just as the song reaches its dramatic apex. Stewart appears throughout the video stoically pecking away on the drum machine he used in the recording of the song, the Movement MCS Drum Computer MK1 (except for that part where he and the cow have, well, a moment… It's all in the eye contact).

After a slow climb up the US pop chart, "Sweet Dreams (are made of this)" was finally able to derail the Police's "Every Breath You Take" from its seven-week reign at the top during the week of 3 September 1983. It would be Eurythmics' only chart-topping pop hit in America, and it reached #2 in the UK. In the wake of Eurythmics' new-found fame, "Love Is a Stranger" was re-released, this time becoming a major hit on both sides of the Atlantic.

The album's deep cuts are every bit as strange and fascinating as its better-known singles. The ghostly "Jennifer" is a narcotic reverie of keyboard swells and spectral atmospherics. "I've Got an Angel" and "Somebody Told Me" are serrated neurotic fits, swerving dangerously off-the-rails from anything that would normally be considered pop music. A long and mesmerizing exploration of urban isolation, "This City Never Sleeps" is a powerful finalé. Sweet Dreams (are made of this) is an examination of the human psyche fraught with turmoil, a series of jagged recurring nightmares and anxiety attacks set to music that is soulful and experimental, melodic but eccentric, a stark electronic soundscape that bristles with horns and unexpected sonic jolts.

Next Page: Potent and Ferocious

This film suggests that all violence—wars, duels, boxing, and the like—is nothing more than subterfuge for masculine insecurities and romantic adolescent notions, which in many ways come down to one and the same thing.

2001: A Space Odyssey (1968) crystalizes a rather nocturnal view of heterosexual, white masculinity that pervades much of Stanley Kubrick's films: after slithering from the primordial slime, we jockey for position in ceaseless turf wars over land, money, and women. Those wielding the largest bone/weapon claim the spoils. Despite our self-delusions about transcending our simian stirrings through our advanced technology and knowledge, we remain mired in our ancestral origins of brute force and domination—brilliantly condensed by Kubrick in one of the most famous cuts in cinematic history: a twirling bone ascends into the air only to cut to a graphic match of a space station. Ancient and modern technology collapse into a common denominator of possession, violence, and war.

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Here comes another Kompakt Pop Ambient collection to make life just a little more bearable.

Another (extremely rough) year has come and gone, which means that the German electronic music label Kompakt gets to roll out their annual Total and Pop Ambient compilations for us all.

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Winner of the 2017 Ameripolitan Music Award for Best Rockabilly Female stakes her claim with her band on accomplished new set.

Lara Hope & The Ark-Tones

Love You To Life

Label: Self-released
Release Date: 2017-08-11

Lara Hope and her band of roots rockin' country and rockabilly rabble rousers in the Ark-Tones have been the not so best kept secret of the Hudson Valley, New York music scene for awhile now.

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