Features

The Return of the Popcorn Circus: June 2008

If May almost tent-poled itself out of existence, June will be even worse. After all, are audiences really ready for 13 major release in less than two months -- with more to come?

If May almost tent-poled itself out of existence, June will be even worse. The last three weekends will see nothing short of six major studio releases vying for that ever shrinking disposable dollar. And the first Friday is no slouch either, offering the latest from the Apatow camp along side some surefire CG animal chop sockey. If cash registers aren't ringing (or crashing from overuse), it may be a sign that Hollywood's tendency toward overkill has finally turned inward -- and fatal. After all, are audiences really ready for 13 major release in less than two months -- with more to come?

Director: Dennis Dugan Film: You Don't Mess with the Zohan Studio: Sony Cast: Adam Sandler, Emmanuelle Chriqui, John Turturro, Nick Swardson, Rob Schneider, Lainie Kazan Website: http://www.youdontmesswiththezohan.com/ MPAA rating: PG-13 First date: 2008 US Release Date: 2008-06-06 (General release) UK Release Date: 2008-08-15 (General release) Image: http://images.popmatters.com/film_art/w/with_the_zohan.jpg

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6 June

In the Center Ring

You Don't Mess with the Zohan

Adam Sandler stunk up Cineplexes last summer with his horribly unfunny gay-bashing comedy I Now Pronounce You Chuck and Larry. Hoping to prevent a rancid repeat, he now teams up with funny bone flavor of the moment, Judd Apatow. Saturday Night Live scribe Robert Smigel is also on hand for this unusual effort. Sandler is an agent with Israel's Mossad who fakes his death so he can reemerge in NYC as a…hair stylist? Going back to his patented, caricature-driven approach to humor is a wise move for the comedian. Past classics like The Waterboy argue for Sadler to get lost in a character, not simply skate along on failed frat boy charm. Though director Dennis Dugan can't be counted on for much behind the camera, with the right approach and temperament, this could be a winner. And here's hoping that Apatow is not just name-checked. Remember what happened with Drillbit Taylor?

You Don't Mess with the Zohan

Display Artist: Mark Osborne, John Stevenson Director: Mark Osborne Director: John Stevenson Film: Kung Fu Panda Studio: DreamWorks Animation Cast: Jack Black, Jackie Chan, Dustin Hoffman, Angelina Jolie, Lucy Liu, Seth Rogen, David Cross Website: http://www.kungfupanda.com/ MPAA rating: PG First date: 2008 US Release Date: 2008-06-06 (General release) UK Release Date: 2008-07-04 (General release) Image: http://images.popmatters.com/film_art/k/kung_fu_panda_poster.jpg

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6 June

The Outer Circles

Kung Fu Panda

The first animated family film of the season arrives, and the premise actually holds some promise. Jack Black voices Po, a lazy bear that suddenly finds itself forced to save the Valley of Peace. With the help of five martial arts masters -- Tigress, Crane, Mantis, Viper, and Monkey -- and their individual styles of fighting, they must defeat the evil snow leopard Tai Lung. While the storyline seems similar to hundreds of other "be true to yourself" narratives, the use of the actual kung fu categories (with the creatures recreating the signature moves) has action aficionados cheering. And the rest of the cast is quite capable, including Hong Kong hero Jackie Chan, Angelina Jolie, Seth Rogen, and David Cross. As long as the whole thing doesn't teeter over into pratfalls and pop culture shout-outs, this could be the cartoon cavalcade to beat -- that is, until Pixar's latest pops up in a couple of weeks.

Kung Fu Panda

Director: Dario Argento Film: Mother of Tears Subtitle: La Terza madre Studio: Myriad Pictures Cast: Asia Argento, Daria Nicolodi, Moran Atias, Coralina Cataldi-Tassoni Website: La Terza madre MPAA rating: R First date: 2008 Distributor: The Weinstein Company US Release Date: 2008-06-06 (Limited release) Image: http://images.popmatters.com/film_art/t/the_third_mother_poster.jpg

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6 June

Sneaking in Under the Tent

Mother of Tears

For over three decades, fans have been hoping that Italian horror master Dario Argento would finally finish his fascinating Three Mothers trilogy (begun with Suspiria and Inferno). Now, the legendary director has delivered the last chapter, and advanced word is sketchy at best. Many have argued that it's a return to form. Some feel he's allowed the gore happy gonzo of the new fright film to undermine his vision. We will have to wait and see.

Mother of Tears

Director: Sergei Bodrov Film: Mongol Studio: Picturehouse Cast: Tadanobu Asano, Sun Hong-Lei, Khulan Chuluun, Odnyam Odsuren Website: http://www.mongolmovie.net/ MPAA rating: R First date: 2008 US Release Date: 2008-06-06 (Limited release) Image: http://images.popmatters.com/film_art/m/mongol_poster.jpg

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6 June

Sneaking in Under the Tent

Mongol

The early life of 13th century Genghis Khan, as seen through the eyes of modern Russian filmmaker Sergei Bodrov. As this year's Foreign Language Film nominee from Kazakhstan, this proposed first installment of an eventually trilogy traces the legendary leaders life from age nine to 34. There are epic battles, emotional alliances, timeless love, and a true sense of scope. How this will play with Western audience not acquainted with Khan's mythos will be interesting.

Mongol

Director: M. Night Shyamalan Film: The Happening Studio: Fox Cast: Mark Wahlberg, Zooey Deschanel. John Leguizamo, Ashlyn Sanchez, Betty Buckley Website: http://www.thehappeningmovie.com/ MPAA rating: R First date: 2008 Distributor: Fox US Release Date: 2008-06-13 (General release) UK Release Date: 2008-06-13 (General release) Image: http://images.popmatters.com/film_art/t/thehappening1_large.jpg

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13 June

In the Center Ring

The Happening

After the creative lull that was The Village, and the absolute egotistical dung that was Lady in the Water, M. Night Shyamalan needs a big, fat hit. So why did he choose to take on the Apocalyptic thriller with a story that screams of The Signal and Stephen King's Cell? All around the Internet, messageboards are lit up, speculating on what exactly the hint-filled trailer means. Naturally it's turned into another round of director bashing. Clearly, Shyamalan deserves to be knocked down a peg or two, but to condemn something before even seeing it (or worse, based on some supposed spy's reading of the script) stinks of sour grapes. As The Sixth Sense and Unbreakable proved, he's a filmmaker of fine talent. Here's hoping this Happening is more along the lines of those enjoyable, inventive efforts. If anyone can screw this up however, it would be the self-important Shyamalan.

The Happening

Director: Louis Leterrier Film: The Incredible Hulk Studio: Universal Pictures Cast: Edward Norton, Liv Tyler, Tim Roth, William Hurt, Tim Blake Nelson, Ty Burrell, Lou Ferrigno Website: http://incrediblehulk.marvel.com/ MPAA rating: PG-13 First date: 2008 US Release Date: 2008-06-13 (General release) UK Release Date: 2008-06-13 (General release) Image: http://images.popmatters.com/film_art/h/hulk_poster.jpg

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13 June

The Outer Circles

The Incredible Hulk

Ang Lee's take on this material was not the atrocity everyone claims it to be. Sure, the CGI was subpar, but the Taiwanese director's reinvention of the comic book hero was a dense psychological one. Not exactly what explosion-loving fanboys wanted to see, however. Well, Universal has listened to their Web-based harangues and has brought on Louis Leterrier of Transporter fame, to put the bang back to the geek's disposable bucks. And like Iron Man in May, they hired the unlikeliest of actors in Edward Norton to play Dr. Bruce Banner. Even worse, the persnickety performer demanded script approval (and rewrite credit), final cut, and a few other creative perks. Now controversy is brewing over whose version of the movie will be hitting theaters -- the star's or the director's. The trailer indicates that technology has yet to totally catch up with the needs of our big green ogre, but overall, this has to be an improvement -- right?

The Incredible Hulk

Director: Peter Segal Film: Get Smart Studio: Warner Brothers Cast: Steve Carell, Anne Hathaway, Dwayne Johnson, Alan Arkin, Terence Stamp, James Caan Website: http://getsmartmovie.warnerbros.com/ MPAA rating: PG-13 First date: 2008 US Release Date: 2008-06-20 (General release) UK Release Date: 2008-08-22 (General release) Image: http://images.popmatters.com/film_art/g/get_smart_07.jpg

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20 June

In the Center Ring

Get Smart

This spy spoof was such a product of its time - the continuing Cold War, the '60s pop culture appeal of James Bond -- that to retrofit it for post-modern (and millennial) audiences seems like a stumble waiting to occur. But once you look at the casting -- Steve Carell, Anne Hathaway, Dwayne Johnson, Terence Stamp -- a few of the misgivings are removed. Then the most recent trailer was released and…yeesh! It was painfully unfunny, ruining everything the Mel Brooks/ Buck Henry satire strove to celebrate. Part of the problem is the presence of Peter Segal. As a director, his resume includes the horribly misguided Nutty Professor sequel, the equally lame Longest Yard remake, and far too much Tom Arnold. While Office fans keep hoping that their hero Carell can find a blockbuster vehicle to match his onscreen abilities, this stillborn espionage farce doesn't appear to be it.

Get Smart

Director: Marco Schnabel Film: The Love Guru Studio: Paramount Pictures Cast: Mike Myers, Jessica Alba, Justin Timberlake, Romany Malco, Verne Troyer, Meagan Good, Manu Narayan, Ben Kingsley Website: http://www.lovegurumovie.com/ MPAA rating: PG-13 First date: 2008 US Release Date: 2008-06-20 (General release) UK Release Date: 2008-08-01 (General release) Image: http://images.popmatters.com/film_art/l/love_guru.jpg

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20 June

The Outer Circles

The Love Guru

How lucky are we film fans? Two crappy looking comedies on the same weekend? Mike Myers is already taking heat from the Hindu community over this proposed twist on an ashram raised American returning to his homeland as a self-help guide. Advanced screenings for the complainers haven't helped matters much. All they've really done is create a growing groundswell of animosity toward the star's live action comeback. Of course, the story summary doesn't help matters either. Seems Myers is hired by a hockey player who needs someone to settle the relationship with his straying wife. He also tries to woo Jessica Alba. And Justin Timberlake makes stupid porno jokes. And Vern Troyer is around for some mandatory little person stunt casting. There is a possibility that all of this is much, much better than the news reports and previews make it out to be. It could also be another career killer like Cat in the Hat. Ouch!

The Love Guru

Director: Andrew Stanton Film: WALL∙E Studio: Walt Disney Pictures Cast: Ben Burtt, Elissa Knight, Jeff Garlin, Fred Willard, John Ratzenberger, Kathy Najimy, Sigourney Weaver Website: http://disney.go.com/disneypictures/wall-e/ MPAA rating: G Trailer: http://www.apple.com/trailers/disney/walle/hd/ First date: 2008 US Release Date: 2008-06-27 (General release) UK Release Date: 2008-07-18 (General release) Image: http://images.popmatters.com/film_art/w/wall-eposter.jpg

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27 June

In the Center Ring

Wall-E

Here is Pixar's problem in a nutshell -- unreasonably high expectations. Of course, when you look at their track record, including supposedly 'lesser' titles like A Bug's Life and Cars, they're the classiest act in town. Still, ever since word went out that the studio would serve up the sci-fi spiced tale of a tiny robot and his lonely life on a desolate Earth, fans have been foaming for more, More, MORE! What we've learned is either cause for concern or celebration. Apparently, our title character will meet up with an alien automaton, and hitch a ride back to her mothership to broaden his bitrate horizons. The look of the film feels right, and as long as the speculative schmaltz is kept to a minimum, this looks like another CGI winner. Of course, how it will fare against a martial arts animal and his colorful cast of kung fu compatriots waits to be seen.

WALL∙E

Director: Timur Bekmambetov Film: Wanted Studio: Universal Pictures Cast: James McAvoy, Morgan Freeman, Angelina Jolie, Terence Stamp, Thomas Kretschmann, Common, Marc Warren, David Patrick O'Hara, Konstantin Khabensky, Dato Bakhtadze Website: http://www.wantedmovie.com/ MPAA rating: R First date: 2008 Distributor: Universal Pictures US Release Date: 2008-06-27 (General release) UK Release Date: 2008-06-25 (General release) Image: http://images.popmatters.com/blog_art/w/wantedposter.jpg

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27 June

The Outer Circles

Wanted

It's got balls (read: attitude). It's got bullets (read: lots of onscreen violence). It's even got babes (or in this case, Angelina Jolie). Toss in James McAvoy (Atonement) and Morgan Freeman and you've got an intriguing cast. On the downside, it's yet another comic book…sorry, graphic novel adaptation, this one centering on a world overrun by super-villians, and an heir apparent assassin. Of course, the promise comes from the presence of Russian auteur Timur Bekmambetov, who helmed the cult classics Night Watch and Day Watch. It could be a stellar action work out. But as Shoot 'Em Up proved last August, stunts don't always equal ticket sales.

Wanted









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
Amazon

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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10

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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8

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
Amazon
iTunes

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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