Film

Monkey Business (Part 1: May)

Talk about frontloading your approach. Each week in this first full month of patented popcorn movies finds another famous franchise icon making a major blockbuster bow. Only truly disastrous results from these guaranteed crowd-pleasers will keep the coffers from clogging with cash.

Director: Sam Raimi Film: Spider-Man 3 Studio: Sony Cast: Tobey Maguire, Kirsten Dunst, James Franco, Thomas Haden Church, Topher Grace, Bryce Dallas Howard Website: http://www.sonypictures.com/movies/spiderman3/site/ MPAA rating: PG-13 First date: 2007 Distributor: Sony US Release Date: 2007-05-04 (General release) Image: http://images.popmatters.com/film_art/s/spiderman-3-poster.jpg

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4 May

The 800lb Gorilla

Spider-Man 3

Here's a franchise flick that has a lot to live up to. Over the course of his two previous webslinging adventures, director Sam Raimi has rewritten the rules about what makes an effective comic book movie. For the man behind The Evil Dead, emotion and action need to coexist in pristine harmony, less you lose the audience with either too much saccharine or way too much scope. And from an initial glance, this third installment in the series intends to push far beyond the standard sequel boundaries. First, there are three main villains -- two new, one long in coming. Next, we get not one but a pair of love interests for the forlorn Peter Parker. Finally, the movie intends to wrap up the many loose ends strewn throughout the previous pictures, turning the Spidey story into a Lord of the Rings/Star Wars like trilogy. Even as rumors percolate over a possible fourth film, and early reviews indicate another massive turnstile triumph for all involved, Summer of 2007 is counting on this earnest epic to start the season off with a bang. If it does, we could be witnessing one of the biggest box office bonanzas in recent memory.

Spider-Man 3

Director: Curtis Hanson Film: Lucky You Studio: Warner Brothers Cast: Eric Bana, Drew Barrymore, Robert Duvall, Debra Messing, Horatio Sanz, Robert Downey Jr. Website: http://luckyyoumovie.warnerbros.com/ MPAA rating: PG-13 First date: 2006 Distributor: Warner Brothers US Release Date: 2007-05-04 (General release) Image: http://images.popmatters.com/film_art/l/lucky-you-poster.jpg

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4 May

The Simian Sidekick

Lucky You

After sitting on the shelf for over a year (never a good sign in terms of Tinsel Town viability) Curtis Hanson's poker-based rom com is finally seeing a rather low profile release. Sure, the press can position this picture all they want, claiming it’s the perfect antidote to all the big budget brouhaha flying around this weekend, but it sure says something about Warner Brothers faith in this project that they set it up against what promises to be one of 2007's monster mega-hits. While Eric Bana and Drew Barrymore will obviously survive -- and thrive -- Hanson will have a lot to answer for, especially with the 2005 bomb In Her Shoes still fresh in his oeuvre.

Lucky You

Director: Juan Carlos Fresnadillo Film: 28 Weeks Later Studio: Fox Atomic Cast: Rose Byrne, Jeremy Renner, Harold Perrineau, Catherine McCormack, Robert Carlyle Website: http://www.28weekslatermovie.co.uk/ MPAA rating: R First date: 2007 Distributor: Fox Atomic US Release Date: 2007-05-11 (General release) Image: http://images.popmatters.com/film_art/2/28-days-later-poster.jpg

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11 May

The 800lb Gorilla

28 Weeks Later

When Danny Boyle delivered his unusual take on the standard living dead film back in 2002, no one would have suspected it could be a hit, let alone worthy of a major studio follow-up. But 20th Century Fox saw something in the storyline that deserved revisiting, and they hired up and coming Spanish filmmaker Juan Carlos Fresnadillo to helm this sequel. The new narrative finds a desolate London being repopulated with help from the U.S. military. Hundreds of refugees are herded back into the city after the aptly named Rage virus is supposedly contained. Of course, the best laid plans of Uncle Sam often go astray, and before you know it, our heroes (including Rose Byrne and Robert Carlisle) are fleeing from a new batch of non-zombies. Aside from the switch over to proper film (Boyle's movie made the most of the visual magic inherent in the digital format), this looks like more of the same. Indeed, if all goes well, we may revisit this story again some 28 MONTHS later.

28 Weeks Later

Director: Garry Marshall Film: Georgia Rule Studio: Universal Pictures Cast: Jane Fonda, Felicity Huffman, Lindsay Lohan, Cary Elwes, Dermot Mulroney Website: http://www.georgiarulemovie.net/ MPAA rating: R First date: 2007 Distributor: Morgan Creek US Release Date: 2007-05-11 (General release) Image: http://images.popmatters.com/film_art/g/georgia-rule-poster.jpg

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11 May

The Simian Sidekick

Georgia Rule

Let's face it... is anyone really interested in this movie beyond the concept of TMZ poster gal Lindsey Lohan playing rebellious and dysfunctional... at least, onscreen? It must have been hard on the seasoned veterans like Jane Fonda and Felicity Huffman to see this talent free twerp monopolizing their considered careers with bouts of bad behavior, unprofessional practices and tawdry tabloid tendencies. Even Gary Marshall, known for his ability to salvage the most sagging of reputations may find it hard to save this one. More and more, Ms. Lohan is looking like a lost cause.

Georgia Rule

Director: C. B. Harding Film: Delta Farce Cast: Larry the Cable Guy, Keith David, Glen Morshower Website: http://www.lionsgate.com/deltafarce/ MPAA rating: PG-13 First date: 2007 US Release Date: 2007-05-11 (General release) Image: http://images.popmatters.com/features_art/d/delta-farce-poster.jpg

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11 May

The Outsider Primate

Delta Farce

Blue Collar Alert! Blue Collar Alert! Larry The Cable Guy, fresh off his cinematic triumph as a good ol' boy Health Inspector, is now an Army Reservist. Instead of landing in Iraq, however, he accidentally ends up in Mexico. A lot of sophisticated cross culture comedy ensues -- right? Well, maybe not.

Delta Farce

Display Artist: Chris Miller, Raman Hui Director: Chris Miller Director: Raman Hui Film: Shrek the Third Studio: DreamWorks Animation Cast: Mike Myers, Eddie Murphy, Justin Timberlake, Cameron Diaz, Antonio Banderas, Rupert Everett, Maya Rudolph, Amy Sedaris, Ian McShane, Eric Idle, Julie Andrews Website: http://www.shrek.com/main.html MPAA rating: PG First date: 2007 US Release Date: 2007-05-18 (General release) UK Release Date: 2007-06-29 (General release) Image: http://images.popmatters.com/features_art/s/shrek-the-third.jpg

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18 May

The 800lb Gorilla

Shrek the Third

Groan. The granddaddy of CGI's staleness as an artform is back, meaning its time for even more of Mike Myers' shoddy Scottish shtick, another dose of Eddie Murphy's deranged donkey dynamic, and more passable Puss in Boots from a slumming Antonio Banderas. And just our luck, Justin Timberlake is along for the voice over ride. There are those who swear by the pop culture riffs and easy humor of this series, especially enjoying the straightforward stunt casting and superstar stratagem. But what's missing here is the same thing that all the other Shrek installments lack -- heart. We ALMOST cared whether or not Fiona and her ogre hero got together in the first film. Since then, it's been nothing but snarky humor and unnecessary Smash Mouth songs. Certainly this won't be the final fling for our oversized green gravy train, but unless the level of invention rises considerably in the next installment, we could be looking at a Disney direct to video ideal for the land of Far, Far Away.

Shrek the Third

Display Artist: Roland Joffé Director: Roland Joff Director: #233; Film: Captivity Studio: Lionsgate Cast: Elisha Cuthbert, Daniel Gillies, Pruitt Taylor Vince Website: http://www.captivitythemovie.com/ MPAA rating: R First date: 2007 US Release Date: 2007-07-13 (General release) UK Release Date: 2007-06-22 (Limited release) Image: http://images.popmatters.com/film_art/c/captivity-poster.jpg

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18 May

The Simian Sidekick

Captivity

Functioning under the theory that any publicity is good publicity, After Dark and Lionsgate plastered some very controversial posters for this Roland Joffé exploitationer (there's a combination of words you don't see very often) all over L.A. The MPAA responded by banning the ads. While no one will argue the taste of showing a helpless woman in various stages of distress, why are such notices forbidden, especially if they accurately reflect the film being forwarded? This abduction and torture fest needs to feel as slimy and seedy as possible. Otherwise, people might think it was meant as actual entertainment.Captivity

Director: Gore Verbinski Film: Pirates of the Caribbean: At World's End Studio: The Walt Disney Company Cast: Johnny Depp, Orlando Bloom, Keira Knightley, Geoffrey Rush, Bill Nighy, Chow Yun Fat Website: http://disney.go.com/disneypictures/pirates/atworldsend/ MPAA rating: N/A First date: 2007 US Release Date: 2007-05-25 (General release) Image: http://images.popmatters.com/film_art/p/pirates-of-the-caribbean-at-worlds-end.jpg

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25 May

The 800lb Gorilla

Pirates of the Caribbean: At World's End

Critics really savaged the second installment in the House of Mouse's successful theme park attraction film franchise, and it's almost impossible to understand why. Davy Jones and his band of crustacean encased scallywags was a big screen blockbuster in every sense of the word. It was the kind of film that reminded audiences -- at least, those who were old enough to remember the era -- of the old '70s spectacles. Still, a sort of cinematic sour grapes crept into the reviews, and before long, the stunning popularity of the sequel was stymied by articles debating that the series had already run its commercial course. Now, with a new trailer arguing that the best is yet to come, it appears that Pirates is out to win over the entire motion picture community -- viewer and reviewer. The amazing cast is still intact, and the new story sends the brazen buccaneers all the way to the ends of the Earth, so this may be the sensational send-off these masterful movies mandate. Expect some massive box office looting come Memorial Day weekend.

Pirates of the Caribbean: At World's End

Director: William Friedkin Film: Bug Studio: Lionsgate Cast: Ashley Judd, Michael Shannon, Harry Connick, Jr., Lynn Collins Website: http://lionsgate.com/bug/ MPAA rating: R First date: 2006 Distributor: Lionsgate US Release Date: 2007-05-25 (General release) Image: http://images.popmatters.com/film_art/b/bug-2007-poster1.jpg

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25 May

The Simian Sidekick

Bug

Is it a horror movie? An intense human drama? A deranged combination of the two? Who knows frankly, and Hollywood heavyweight William Friedkin isn't giving out any clues. Neither is the trailer, which when it first premiered back in the Fall of 2006 (the movie was scheduled for December before being pulled) looked like a surreal combination of David Cronenberg and William Castle. Taking place in a single setting (a rundown motel room) and featuring a whacked out war vet and his paranoid paramour, what looks like an insect invasion effort is actually a studied psychological thriller. The shift in date makes this suspect, but the talent involved questions such a conclusion.

Bug

Director: Luc Besson Film: Angel-A Studio: Sony Classics Cast: Jamel Debbouze, Rie Rasmussen, Gilbert Melki, Serge Riaboukine Website: http://www.sonyclassics.com/angel-a/ MPAA rating: N/A First date: 2005 US Release Date: 2007-05-25 (Very limited release) Image: http://images.popmatters.com/film_art/a/angel-a-poster.jpg

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25 May

The Outsider Primate

Angel-A

It's clear that not many people will miss Luc Besson. With Arthur and the Invisibles already forgotten, this final cinematic statement from the French filmmaker (he has vowed to retire to concentrate on producing -- among other things) was a massive hit overseas. Whether this story of a suicidal con man and the 'woman' who saves his life will resonate with American audiences remains to be seen.Angel-A









In Americana music the present is female. Two-thirds of our year-end list is comprised of albums by women. Here, then, are the women (and a few men) who represented the best in Americana in 2017.

If a single moment best illustrates the current divide between Americana music and mainstream country music, it was Sturgill Simpson busking in the street outside the CMA Awards in Nashville. While Simpson played his guitar and sang in a sort of renegade-outsider protest, Garth Brooks was onstage lip-syncindg his way to Entertainer of the Year. Americana music is, of course, a sprawling range of roots genres that incorporates traditional aspects of country, blues, soul, bluegrass, etc., but often represents an amalgamation or reconstitution of those styles. But one common aspect of the music that Simpson appeared to be championing during his bit of street theater is the independence, artistic purity, and authenticity at the heart of Americana music. Clearly, that spirit is alive and well in the hundreds of releases each year that could be filed under Americana's vast umbrella.

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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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This week on our games podcast, Nick and Eric talk about the joy and frustration of killing Nazis in Wolfenstein: The New Order.

This week, Nick and Eric talk about the joy and frustration of killing Nazis in Wolfenstein: The New Order.

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Which is the draw, the art or the artist? Critic Rachel Corbett examines the intertwined lives of two artists of two different generations and nationalities who worked in two starkly different media.

Artist biographies written for a popular audience necessarily involve compromise. On the one hand, we are only interested in the lives of artists because we are intrigued, engaged, and moved by their work. The confrontation with a work of art is an uncanny experience. We are drawn to, enraptured and entranced by, absorbed in the contemplation of an object. Even the performative arts (music, theater, dance) have an objective quality to them. In watching a play, we are not simply watching people do things; we are attending to the play as a thing that is more than the collection of actions performed. The play seems to have an existence beyond the human endeavor that instantiates it. It is simultaneously more and less than human: more because it's superordinate to human action and less because it's a mere object, lacking the evident subjectivity we prize in the human being.

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Gabin's Maigret lets everyone else emote, sometimes hysterically, until he vents his own anger in the final revelations.

France's most celebrated home-grown detective character is Georges Simenon's Inspector Jules Maigret, an aging Paris homicide detective who, phlegmatically and unflappably, tracks down murderers to their lairs at the center of the human heart. He's invariably icon-ified as a shadowy figure smoking an eternal pipe, less fancy than Sherlock Holmes' curvy calabash but getting the job done in its laconic, unpretentious, middle-class manner.

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