Thursday, December 25, 2014

2014 mixes - Mashups

Since I (finally!) went to Bootie this year, I thought it would be a good time to make a mix of some of my favorite mashups:

1. Run This Town and Fugue - Johann Sebastian Bach vs. Jay-Z ft. Rihanna and Kanye [DJs from Mars]
2. Bad Things Roll with the Devil - Marilyn Manson vs. Christina Aguilera vs. Jace Everett vs. Rihanna vs. Lady Gaga vs. Katy Perry vs. Yeah Yeah Yeahs vs. Drowning Pool vs. 666 vs. Mike Oldfield [Titus Jones]
3. Cruelly Good Summer Feeling - Flo Rida vs. Avicii vs. Ace of Base vs. Sak Noel vs. Jason Derulo vs. Stanton Warriors vs. Aura Dione vs. Tatu vs. Adele vs. Travie McCoy vs. Groove Armada vs. Britney Spears [DJ Schmolli]
4. Hello Girl, Let's Party Til the End - Martin Solveig ft. Dragonette vs. Britney Spears vs. LMFAO vs. No Doubt vs. Sum 41 vs. Vanilla Ice [Titus Jones]
5. Any Way You Gotta Feeling - Journey vs. Black Eyed Peas vs. Robin Thicke [Voicedude]
6. Stupid Girls, Holla if You Hear Me - Garbage vs. 2pac [?] {Video has been taken down. Sadness.}
7. We Are Never Ever Getting the Sweater - Taylor Swift vs. Weezer [A Plus D]
8. Jump on the Fifth - House of Pain vs. Walter Murphy vs. Soulwax [The Bootleague]
9. Eine Kleine Big Booty Bonkers - Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart vs. Dizzee Rascal vs. Bombs Away [DJs from Mars]
10. Call Me A Hole - Nine Inch Nails vs. Carly Rae Jepsen [pomDeter]
11. Call Me Uprising - Blondie vs. Muse [CjR]
12. Crazy Diamonds in the Midnight Sky - M83 vs. Rihanna vs. TLC vs. Seal vs. Carly Rae Jepsen vs. Shirley Bassey vs. Incubus vs. The Eagles [DJ Schmolli vs. Lobsterdust]
13. Dance Alarm - Nicki Minaj vs. Avicii vs. Owl City & Carly Rae Jepsen vs. Britney Spears vs. Eminem vs. Lady Gaga vs. Taio Cruz vs. Cascada vs. Etta James vs. Dev [Titus Jones]
14. Otherside - Red Hot Chili Peppers Bootleg Club Mix [DJs from Mars]
15. Levels that I Used to Know - Gotye ft. Kimbra vs. Avicii [?]
16. Timber Party - Pitbull ft. Ke$ha vs. Rihanna vs. Rednex vs. Garbage [Shahar Varshal]
17. Stardust Kids - David Bowie vs. MGMT [A plus D]
18. I Want It All/We Will Rock You Mashup - Queen [Sucker Punch Sndtk]
19. 99 Problems (Linkin Park Remix) - Jay-Z vs. Linkin Park
20. Overtime - Smashing Pumpkins vs. Three 6 Mafia vs. Rob Base and DJ E-Z Rock vs. Laid Back vs. Wonderland Avenue vs. Fleetwood Mac vs. 69 Boyz vs. Folk Implosion vs. Technotronic [Girl Talk] {I actually love All Day best, but.... that's its own list.}
21. Don't Stop Believin' In This Love on Earth - Lady Gaga vs. Belinda Carlisle vs. Journey vs. Madonna vs. Ke$ha vs. Bruno Mars vs. Leona Lewis vs. New York Outlaw [Titus Jones]
22. Dance Dreams - Lady Gaga vs. Eurythmics [Divide & Kreate]
23. Bella's Finals: Price Tag/Don't You (Forget About Me)/Give Me Everything/Just the Way You Are/Party in the USA/Turn the Beat Around [The Barden Bellas, Pitch Perfect Sndtk]
24. Bittersweet Dirt Off Your Shoulder - Jay-Z vs. the Verve [?]
25. Titanium 500 - David Guetta ft. Sia vs. The Proclaimers vs. Midnight Oil [DJ Schmolli]
26. Last Bulletproof Dance Night - Katy Perry vs. Robyn vs. LaRoux [Marc Johnce]
27. Crazy Logic - Gnarls Barkley vs. Supertramp vs. Rockwell [Arty Fufkin]
28. Royals Hotel California - Lorde vs. The Eagles vs. Massive Attack [Shahar Varshall]

2014 Mixes - Mix 2

The even more random assortment:

1. Panic at the Disco - Casual Affair

2. Bastille - Things We Lost in the Fire

3. Lana Del Rey - Video Games (Club Clique Remix)

4. Chvrches - Science/Visions

5. Club 8 - Into Air

6. Holy Ghost! - Dumb Disco Ideas

7. Tiësto - The Feeling ft. Ou Est Le Swimming Pool. Technically Outside Lands, but I was at another stage.

8. Watsky - Pumped Up Kicks remix. Outside Lands.

9. Mika - Elle Me Dit. (His Boum Boum Boum is a more fun video.)

2014 mixes - Mix 1

I didn't listen to a lot of new music this year, so I'm mixing in my Outside Lands songs with the things I did listen to this year. Videos embedded where they exist. Links to the songs without videos. 2010 lives here, 2011 here, here and here, 2012, and 2013. Only just realizing that 2008 and 2009 never got their own posts. Whoops!

[Ed: Fixed now! 2008 and 2009.]

1. Lana Del Rey - Cruel World

2. Ruby Friedman Orchestra - You'll Never Leave Harlan Alive. Justified closes out each season with a rendition of this song. This is my favorite so far. (What do we think Boyd's chances are of making it out of the final season alive?)

3. Brody Dalle - Meet the Foetus/Oh the Joy ft. Shirley Manson. These fucking women. I like the first half of the song, but I am obsessed with Oh the Joy when Shirley joins in.

4. Tom Petty - Runnin' Down a Dream. Outside Lands. Tom Petty was awesome. He played all the hits and it was wonderful. (Did not realize there was a Little Nemo video for this song.)

5. White Denim - At Night in Dreams

6. Queens of the Stone Age - I Sat by the Ocean. Speaking of Mr. Brody Dalle... I saw them play the Bill Graham in April and it was easily one of the best concerts I've been to. They were absolutely amazing.

7. TV on the Radio - Satellite

8. Alt-J - Left Hand Free

9. Spoon - I Turn My Camera On. Outside Lands. So I ended up closing out Sunday at OL by managing to be in the front row for Spoon, The Flaming Lips, and The Killers. It was AMAZING. Spoon was fab. (There is a video for this song, but I can't find a high quality version.)

Monday, December 15, 2014

75 Musical Numbers

Hullo, blog. It's been awhile.

My brother has set himself a challenge over on Facebook: 50 (western) musical numbers, one song per show, no jukebox musicals allowed (but I'm bending that on occasion). I'm going with 75, so I can reuse composers. Gilbert & Sullivan were banned for being operettas, although RENT, Les Mis, Porgy & Bess, and Phantom were allowed in.... All That Jazz is also all standards, even with some lyrical changes. (Well, maybe not Take Off With Us, but... it's really no Everything Old is New Again and There Will Be Some Changes Made.)

So. Here are my 75. (Shockingly, Peter Pan will NOT be making this list.)

Yet to hear and thus ineligible: La Cage Aux Folles, The Drowsy Chaperone, The Rose, Urinetown, Next to Normal, The Last Five Years, In the Heights, Tick Tick Boom, New York New York, The Wild Party, Natasha Pierre and the Great Comet of 1812, If/Then, Carousel, Chess, See What I Wanna See, Victor/Victoria, Dames, Once Upon a Mattress, Candide, Gigi, Paint Your Wagon, The Band Wagon, Top Hat, Merrily We Roll Along, Mame, Yankee Doodle Dandy, Easter Parade, How to Succeed In Business, A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to the Forum, Pal Joey, Purlie, State Fair, A Day in Hollywood/A Night in the Ukraine, Summer Stock, A Gentleman's Guide to Love and Murder, No No Nannette, Passing Strange, Curtains, The Light in the Piazza, Bat Boy the Musical, Oh Kay!, 25th Annual Putnam County Spelling Bee, the Scarlet Pimpernel, Ragtime, Miss Saigon, Funny Face, the Mystery of Edwin Drood, Joseph & the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat, the Boy from Oz, Woman of the Year, A Little Night Music, Follies, Applause, Fiorello!

Composers represented multiple times:
Sondheim (5)
Lerner & Loewe (4)
Kander & Ebb (3)
Oscar Hammerstein (3) (Richard Rodgers didn't work on Show Boat)
Andrew Lloyd Webber (3)
Cole Porter (3)
Ira Gershwin (3) (George didn't work on A Star is Born)
Alan Menken (3)
Stephen Schwartz (3)
Tim Rice (3) (2 with Elton John and 1 with Andrew Lloyd Webber)

Honorary Mentions - those shows I haven't seen all the way through, but I enjoy select songs from them:
South Pacific - Some Enchanted Evening (Rodgers & Hammerstein). I've never actually seen South Pacific, so I only know a couple of the songs. But I'm currently listening to Bloody Mary and it is... something else.
Wonderful Town - Ohio (Leonard Bernstein/Betty Comden/Adolph Green).
Sunset Boulevard - As If We Never Said Goodbye (Andrew Lloyd Webber/Don Black/Christopher Hampton).
Songs for a New World - Stars and the Moon (technically a revue, but I love this song, Jason Robert Brown).
Sunday in the Park with George - Finishing the Hat (Stephen Sondheim).
Gypsy - Everything's Coming Up Roses (Jule Styne/Stephen Sondheim).
The Fantastics - Try to Remember (Harvey Schmidt/Tom Jones). Jerry Orbach was just the best.
Stormy Weather - Stormy Weather (Harold Arlen/Ted Koehler)
Jesus Christ Superstar - I Don't Know How to Love Him (Andrew Lloyd Webber/Tim Rice)
42nd Street - 42nd Street  (I may have seen this. I can't quite quite recall if I've seen the whole thing or just clips. Some of those backstage musicals blur a bit. Harry Warren/Al Dubin)
Holiday Inn - White Christmas (Irving Berlin)
Annie Get Your Gun - There's No Business Like Show Business (Irving Berlin)
Damn Yankees - Lola (Richard Adler/Jerry Ross)
Man of La Mancha - The Impossible Dream (Mitch Leigh/Joe Darion)
Guys & Dolls - Sit Down You're Rockin' the Boat (Frank Loesser)
Gold Diggers of 1935 - Lullaby of Broadway (Harry Warren and Al Dubin)
Jeckyll & Hyde - Bring On the Men (Yes, I have heard that this is supposed to be one of the worst musicals ever written. But I love the way Linda Eder sings this number. Frank Wildhorn)

The Top 75 (these first couple are not good musicals, but have at least a good number in them):
75. Tie: Burlesque - Bound To You (Christina Aguilera/Samuel Dixon/Sia (?!)) and Seven Brides for Seven Brothers - the Barn Dance, which is a dance and not a song, but whatever (Saul Chaplin and Gene De Paul).

74. Annie - It's the Hard Knock Life. (Charles Strouse/Martin Charnin). I'll be honest, I think of Jay-Z when I hear this opening now...

73. Tommy - The Acid Queen (The Who).

72. Les Girls - You're Just Too Too (Cole Porter). I love Kay Kendall in this.

71. Fame - Fame (Michael Gore).

70. Mary Poppins - Chim Chim Cheree (Richard & Robert Sherman).

69. Beautiful - 1650 Broadway Medley (multiple). Totally a jukebox musical, but I thought this medley was actually quite clever.

68. An American in Paris - I Got Rhythm (*cough*Gershwin jukebox*cough* But this list was light on Gene Kelly). (Also seen in Girl Crazy)

67. Bedknobs and Broomsticks - Portobello Road (Richard and Robert Sherman, partial clip). It's strange to me that Mary Poppins is so much more beloved.

66. Bye Bye Birdie - Telephone Hour (Carles Strouse/Lee Adams).

65. Meet Me In St. Louis - Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas (Hugh Martin/Ralph Blane, half jukebox, half original).

64. The King & I - Shall We Dance (Rodgers & Hammerstein).

63. Beauty & the Beast - Tale as Old as Time (Alan Menken).

62. Hairspray - You Can't Stop the Beat (Marc Shaiman/ Scott Wittman).

61. Oliver - Consider Yourself (Lionel Bart).

58. On the Town - New York, New York (Leonard Bernstein/Betty Comden/Adolph Green).

57. Hello, Dolly - Put On Your Sunday Clothes (Jerry Herman).

56. On A Clear Day You Can See Forever - On A Clear Day... (Lerner/Loewe).

55. Spring Awakening - Mama Who Bore Me (Duncan Sheik/ Steven Sater).

54. Cats - Grizabella, the Glamour Cat/ Memory (Andrew Lloyd Webber).

53. Lion King - He Lives in You (Elton John/ Tim Rice).

52. Pippin - Simple Joys (Stephen Schwartz). (Patina Miller Aaaahhh.)

51. Nine - Unusual Way (Maury Yeston).

50. Dr. Horrible's Sing-A-Long Blog - Brand New Day (Jed & Joss Whedon/Maurissa Tancharoen).

49. Spamalot - Where Are You (Eric Idle/John Du Prez/Neil Innes). I'm going Christian Borle on this one, because he CRACKS ME UP in Spamalot. His smile when Lancelot comes in still delights me. (Tragically the video of just this song doesn't seem to be on Youtube any more, so enjoy Sara Ramirez, as well.)

Sunday, July 13, 2014

The Emmy Noms

I knew I was likely to be unhappy with the Emmy nominations. I didn't expect them to be so atrocious.

And lazy. Just unbelievably, disappointingly lazy.

The Good
Best drama:  Breaking Bad, True Detective. And I'm okay with House of Cards, but not over the Good Wife or the Americans. Ditto for True Detective being in the WRONG CATEGORY.
Best comedy: I have yet to see Silicon Valley, Louie or Veep, but those all seem like fine choices. Orange is the New Black is good.
Best mini: Fargo. I'll say AHS, too, for the Kathy Bates bits, but lets all hope next season is a return to form.
Best actor - drama: Bryan Cranston, Kevin Spacey, Matthew McConaughey. I'm surprised Woody Harrelson got in for lead, but I think he was as good as McConaughey, without the flashy speeches.
Best actress - drama: Juliana Margulies - THANK GOD, Robin Wright and Lizzy Caplan.
Best supporting actor - drama: Aaron Paul, Josh Charles - THANK GOD. I'm okay with Peter Dinklage, even though I don't think it was his best season.
Best supporting actress - drama: CHRISTINE BARANSKI! YAAAY! Lena Headey, too.
Best actor - comedy: Nice to see William H. Macy up for Shameless, and I suppose he is sometimes funny, even though the show is not a comedy. I don't really have a dog in the fight otherwise.
Best supporting actress - comedy: Kate Mulgrew!! Yay!!
Best actor - mini/movie: Cumberbatches. Sure, fine. Billy Bob Thorton was wonderful in Fargo - I hope he wins.
Best actress - mini/movie: The AHS ladies. As always.
Best supporting actor - mini/movie: Colin Hanks! Yay! I'm so glad he made it in. He did such a great job in that role. I have yet to see the Normal Heart, so no opinions there.
Best supporting actress - mini/movie: this may be the only category that makes me happy. All the AHS ladies, plus Alison Tolman, who was completely wonderful in Fargo and absolutely deserves to win.
Best animated: Archer! FINALLY.
Best guest actor - drama: Dylan Baker! Yay!
Best guest actress - drama: Allison Janney. I SO hope she wins. She was heart-breaking in Masters of Sex. Margo Martindale, too.
Best guest actress - comedy: Uzo Aduba, Laverne Cox and Natasha Lyonne all made it in.

As for Title Design, I quite like Black Sails, although True Detective is fine, too. I actually think Masters of Sex could've been something better. 

The Bad and the Ugly
God, just so much in this category. Mostly just that the majority of nominations are re-hashes, without any seeming thought. Sure, we've nominated Jon Hamm before. Let's do it again.
Best drama: No Good Wife, no Americans, no Masters of Sex, no Hannibal. More on Hannibal here.
Best comedy: Eh, I would have loved to see Parks and Rec. It wasn't its best season, but Ben convincing Leslie to take the National Parks job at the Marin Headlands made me cry (starts at about 16:45).
Best mini: The White Queen. Which was canceled. Bonnie and Clyde, which did not get great reviews. And the fact that True Detecitve is being submitted under Drama because of some arcane bylaw that "created by Nic Pizzolatto" rather than "created for television by Nic Pizzolatto" in the credits invalidates it as a mini series, despite being an anthology show IS INSANE.
Best actor - drama: No Matthew Rhys. That's just awful. He SO deserved to be up. No Michael Sheen. Jeff Daniels is up, which is just vomit-inducing. I didn't think it was a good idea to put Mads Mikkelsen in for lead, but who knows if he would've made it in supporting - that's the category with the most competition. I mean - he could've been up for Best Actor at the Oscars last year - it's awful of the Emmys not to recognize how brilliant he is as Hannibal.
Best actress - drama: No Eva Green, no Keri Russell, no Tatiana Maslany.
Best supporting actor - drama: No Dean Norris, no Michael Kelly, still no Walton Goggins, no Peter Sarsgaard, no Jeffrey Wright. Dean Norris is the one that really hurts - he deserved to be up for Hank's final run. I'm used to Boyd being overlooked. Kinda.
Best supporting actress - drama: Joanne Froggatt was so astoundingly godawful on Robin Hood that I think she should be banned from acting awards, on general principal. No Annet Mahendru, Caitlin Fitzgerald, Jennifer Carpenter, Carolina Dhavernas or Maisie Williams.
Best actress - comedy: Taylor Schilling? Really? Poor Emmy Rossum. She is so good on that show, and if William H. Macy is going to get nomination, then she really deserves one more. 
Best supporting actor - comedy: No Jeremy Allen White, Christopher Evan Welch, Nick Offerman or Charlie Day.
Best supporting actress - comedy: No Merritt Wever? She gave the best speech last year!
Best actor - mini/movie: Martin Freeman - he was in many ways the weakest link in the Fargo cast.
Best guest actor - drama: No one from Hannibal. Boo.
Best guest actress - drama: No Charlotte Rampling, no Carrie Preston, no Gillian Anderson, no Julianne Nicholson, and, now that I think about it, no Laura Benanti.
Best guest actor - comedy: No Walton Goggins or Jonathan Banks.

The Factoids
Up for Best Song are Key and Peele's awesome Les Mis song and the 2013 Tony opener.
Key & Peele and Inside Schumer are up for writing for a Variety Series. I kind of want Amy to win for the Sorkin parody.
The Soup: True Detective is up for Short-format. What is this?
Rian Johnson is NOT up for directing Ozymandias.

Matt Zoller Seitz on the Emmy snubs here. The best part:
"I also need just to go on record here and say (1) the worst ten minutes of Hannibal display more tonal control and visual imagination than the best hour of almost any other drama you can name, even the great ones; and (2) it should have been nominated here; and (3) it doesn't matter that it wasn't nominated because 20 or 30 years down the road, young students of cinema and television will ask their elders if they watched Hannibal during its first run, and they'll all lie and claim they watched every second, like people do today when young viewers ask about Twin Peaks."

The full nominations (with the good bolded):
Outstanding Drama Series
"Breaking Bad"
"Downton Abbey"
"Game of Thrones"
"House of Cards"
"Mad Men"
"True Detective" - shouldn't be in this category, though

Wednesday, June 25, 2014

Emmy wishes and fun with the ballot

The Emmys are going to be all kinds of weird this year. True Detective is up for Drama, Red Road - a continuing series of 6 eps - is submitting as a mini, up is down, black is white, mass hysteria. 

The Emmys will also be on a MONDAY this year. WHAT.

Best Drama
Breaking Bad
The Good Wife
The Americans
True Detective
House of Cards
Normally I plea for Justified, but... let's face it. Season 5 was just not their best. It shoulda been up last year. And season 2. And season 1.

I am sick of Game of Thrones coasting into Best Drama despite half the episodes in any season merely moving characters around with one piece of shock thrown (throne) in. Yes, most episodes have a good scene. And then a lot of filler. Before the Emmy voters nominate it again, I think they should be required to identify half of these terms: Harrenhal, Storm's End, Tully, Riverrun, the Citadel, Dreadfort, Baelish, Varys, Loras, Pycelle, Viserys, Benjen.
Luckily, I'm sure Homeland at least has bottomed out to the point where it won't be up again. 

It seems weird that Breaking Bad is still eligible. Doesn't it seem like they had their victory lap already?

As for True Detective submitting in Drama... I love the trend towards series that are between 6-13 episodes. (5 is too few. Looking at YOU The Fall.) Most good series these days are shorter - it is easier to keep up the quality. I love that I can follow 6 really great dramas more that 3 mediocre ones for the same time investment. And it *is* making award categories confusing. The drama options above are 8, 22, 13, 13, 8, 13 and 10 episodes long. By contrast, the nominees for best mini at the TCAs are 13, 8, 10, 8, and 8. (AHS, Broadchurch, Fargo, Returned and True Detective again).

I love Cary Fukunaga, and I loved the cinematography and art direction. I loved what True Detective went for. I'm excited to see what they do with season 2.

All that said, I hope The Good Wife whoops its butt. It managed to be a greater show over 22 episodes. It is definitely the higher achievement.

Best Comedy
Orange is the New Black
Parks and Rec
It's Always Sunny in Philadelphia

5th slot? I have no idea. Bob's Burgers? Silicon Valley? Veep? Girls? Louie? Brooklyn Nine Nine? Looking? I ONLY HAVE SO MANY HOURS IN THE DAY AND I CHOOSE TO FILL THEM WITH MURDER.

Weird Things
Shameless as a comedy. WTF. I have yet to finish the season since Liam's incident. Not that it doesn't deserve recognition. But Breaking Bad was hysterical in parts. It's still a drama. So's Shameless.

Monday, May 19, 2014

SFIFF roundup part 2

The Lost Shows
As I mentioned, trying to attempt the film fest under severe exhaustion was not a brilliant idea. I had to skip a number of shows I had planned on seeing just to get some rest:

Belle - criticWire: B+. Limited release now (Fox Searchlight).

The Trip to Italy - criticWire: B+. IFC releasing August 15th.

Queen Margot - 7.5 on imdb. Current limited re-release (Cohen Media Group).

Borgman - criticWire: B. Drafthouse, release: June 6th.

Boyhood - criticWire: A. IFC releasing July 11th.

Of Horses and Men - criticWire: A-. While it has secured release in 20-odd countries, and was the submission for best foreign language film, I don't see a US distributor yet.

The Skeleton Twins - criticWire: A-. Roadside Attractions releasing September 19th.

The Missed Opportunities
And, as always, there were more interesting films in the lineup than there were hours in the day. These films peaked my interest, and I plan to keep an eye out for them in the future:
The Amazing Catfish - criticWire: B+. Strand releasing June 13th.

Young & Beautiful - criticWire: B. I don't see US distribution yet.

Alex of Venice - criticWire: B-. I don't see any distribution yet.

Norte the End of History - criticWire A. Cinema Guild releasing, June 20th.

Two Faces of January - criticWire: B-. Magnolia is releasing October 3rd.

Coast of Death - imdb: 6.8. I don't see any distribution information.

Coherence - imdb: 7.7. Release: June 20th.

Impossible Light - imdb: 7.3. No distribution I can see.

The Last Season: criticWire: B. No release date I can see.

Manakamana: criticWire: A-. No distribution I can see.

Manila in the Claws of Light: criticWire: A. It looks like it might be available on MUBI.

No No: A Dockumentary: criticWire: B+. No distribution I see.

Obvious Child - criticWire: B+. A24 picked up, release date: June 6th.

South is Nothing. A Berlin fest award, but not many reviews. No distribution I can see.

Friday, May 16, 2014

SFIFF roundup

Past round-ups here: 2011, 2012 and 2013.

Well, it turns out that attempting the film fest after 3 months of covering 2 positions at work was not my BEST idea. I've just been exhausted forever at this point, and I had to miss some things at the fest just to try to rest a bit (more on that in a bit). So. The feature films (shorts to follow), from excellent to not my thing. (And I've tried to weed out spoilery trailers, but one of my favorite parts of the fest is going into films mostly blind, without too much prior knowledge or marketing to sway my expectations. So watch judiciously.):

Definitely see:
Tracks - Granted, this is a movie that is designed to hit all of my interests: a woman traveling solo, gorgeous landscape cinematography, one of my favorite actresses, animals, and Australia. I ran into a coworker after she saw the first screening and she was completely overcome. It is just wonderful. I can't wait to watch it again. criticWire: B+. The Weinstein Company has it - TWC says release September 19, but indieWire says May 23. Trailer here!
"To be free is to learn, to test yourself constantly, to gamble. It is not safe. I had learnt to use my fears as stepping stones rather than stumbling blocks" - Robyn Davidson

Hellion - Just unbelievably fantastic. In his introduction, Noah Cowan said he thought it likely had some of the best dramatic performances of the year, and he was right. I wasn't sure I'd buy Aaron Paul as a father, and he just killed it. So good. So well done. Must see. criticWire: B. Sundance Selects picked it up, and it will be out in the fall. (Although, hmm. BOM says IFC has the rights and a release date of June 13th.) Trailer here.

Calvary - A wonderful collection of Irish actors and a great, expansive, difficult story. Much as I enjoyed the Guard, I didn't think the writing of John Michael McDonagh *quite* lived up to the plays of his brother Martin. This one certainly does. It's an interesting spin on a mystery, and Gleeson's performance is brilliant. criticWire: B+. There's a trailer now! It'll be out August 1 - Fox Searchlight, I think.

Night Moves - I was so excited to hear that Kelly Reichardt was doing a film on eco-terrorism, and one that included Jesse Eisenberg, Dakota Fanning and Peter Sarsaard. However, I thought it would be somewhat languid; more of the creeping dread of Meek's Cutoff. I was so wrong - it is absolutely edge of your seat, white-knuckled suspense. The last time I recall being that wound up by a film was The Hurt Locker. And aside from the thrill of it all, it ended up being a really nuanced and complex look at the ripple effects of violence on people. criticWire: B. Release date: May 30th, Cinedigm. Trailer here!

Highly Recommended:
We Are the Best - This is completely delightful. It follows three 13 year olds who love punk. It captures their age really well, without being as dark as Thirteen, and the performances are really captivating and genuine. critcWire: B+. Release date: May 30th. Trailer here!

Kumiko the Treasure Hunter - a beautiful, tragic film based on the urban legend of a Janese office worker traveling to Fargo to search for the treasure Steve Buscemi hides in the film. Rinko Kikuchi is such a brilliant actress, and she gives a very different performance here than what I've seen from her before. criticWire: A-. No distribution yet that I can see.

The Double - Based on the novella by Dostoyevsky and directed by Richard Ayoade. The tone and style are very different than Submarine, although most of that cast pops up in cameos. There are some obvious parallels to Brazil, but I actually liked this film much better and I was really impressed by the strength of Ayoade's stylish, dystopian vision. criticWire: B+. Current limited release (Magnolia). Trailer here!

I Origins - I happened to be in the minority that really enjoyed Brit Marling and Mike Cahill's Another Earth, so I was excited to see them re-team. This time, Michael Pitt is the lead (which was a head trip to watch in between bouts of Hannibal), but the film still plays out philosophical consequences of a scientific phenomena. I wouldn't have categorized either film as science fiction, but that's really what they are, in the best form of that genre. criticWire: A-. Fox Searchlight releasing July 18th. There is a trailer, but it gives too much away. Just go see it without the trailer.

Dear White People - A film about racial tensions at a private college. I think I had heard too many raves about this coming out of Sundance and had my expectations too high. However, I thought the cast was quite good, particularly the lead Tessa Thompson. criticWire: B+. Lionsgate and Roadside distributing; I don't see a date yet.

The Overnighters - A really powerful documentary about the American cycle of boomtowns and the meaning of charity, focusing on a controversial pastor in North Dakota's oil boom. criticWire: A-. Drafthouse releasing November 7th.

Maybe see - depends on what you're into:
Harmony Lessons (Uroki garmonii)- an interesting character study about bullying from Kazakhstan. Like many first films, it's a little too long. The setting and acting was really interesting, and it did have nice cinematography. criticWire: A-. No distribution I see.

Words and Pictures - This was the member's mystery screening - the story of an English teacher and Art teacher who battle it out at a private high school. Romcoms really aren't my thing, but Clive Owen was certainly charming and it was better than most I've seen. criticWire: B+. Roadside Attractions, release May 23rd.

Skip (unless you have a particular pull):
20,000 Days on Earth - This was an occasionally interesting biopic of Nick Cave. I happen to have been listening to a lot of Nick Cave recently, as I am watching the first season of Peaky Blinders, which uses mostly his music for the soundtrack. I think he's an interesting personality and I've enjoyed his work on the Proposition and the Assassination of Jesse James. That said, I'm not a huge fan. I don't know his catalog extensively and I don't know much about him as a person. The film is technically well made - it won directing and editing awards at Sundance, but I found the style and the way they chose to frame the narrative frequently more interesting that the subject himself. Which is odd, for such a character. But I did find myself bored at times. However, I think die-hard Cave fans will adore it. criticWire: A-. Drafthouse picked up. No release date yet.

Frank - Michael Fassbender does give a pretty amazing physical performance as the lead singer of an experimental art band who always wears a giant paper mache head. However, the lead of the film is actually Domhnall Gleeson, and both he and the rest of the characters (including Maggie Gyllenhaal) are pretty unlikeable. Magnolia releasing August 22nd. criticWire: A-.

The Sacrament - I wasn't a big fan of You're Next either, so perhaps the Mumblegore genre isn't for me. Still I've been meaning to see House of the Devil, Cheap Thrills and A Horrible Way to Die, so maybe I won't write off the whole genre just yet. (Well, and at least one blog lumped Martha Marcy Mae Marlene into that category, which I did really enjoy.) However this film, about a Vice documentary crew's trip to a Jonestown-like cult never really did much for me. There were a couple of good shots and sequences, but the script was really weak ("hey. There's Caroline. I wonder where she's going." Thank you, I can see her.) Amy Seimetz felt pretty wasted in her role as a cult convert and, quite honestly, the mass suicide, while touching at moments, should have been a lot more horrifying. The editing and found footage style just undercut the tragedy of it. Magnolia, release date June 6th.

Tip Top - It was probably a bad idea to try to see this right after Hellion, but the schizophrenic tonal shifts just irritated, rather than entertained, me. It's supposed to be a slap-stick procedural mash-up, so... see it if that sounds interesting to you. I still enjoy Isabelle Huppert either way. criticWire: B+. Kino Lober picked up the rights in Feb. No release date I can see.

The Special Screenings
The Unknown - Lon Chaney gives an astounding performance as an armless carnival knife-thrower, in love with Joan Crawford. It is really one of the most amazing performances I've seen, and it is nice to see such early work from Joan Crawford as well. This was a special showing with Stephin Merritt providing a new score, in this case on the ukelele, with some additional accompaniment by Daniel Handler on accordion. The score had some nice moments, but overall it wasn't as impressive as some of the other scores I've seen at the Castro. Available for rental at Amazon.

The Lady Eve - A Preston Sturgess screwball comedy. It was charming, and I enjoyed the performances by both Barbara Stanwyck (who can be hit and miss for me) and Henry Fonda (in a very different type of role for him). Still, I prefer It Happened One Night, Bringing Up Baby and His Girl Friday. That said, this was the choice of David Thomson who, among other books, wrote the New Biographical Dictionary of Film, which has a new edition out. (In 2010, it topped the Sight & Sound poll of the best film book of all time.) I picked up an inscribed (!) copy, and I've really been enjoying flipping through it, even if I don't always enjoy with his assessments of some actors.*  Available for DVD rental at Netflix.

Reversal of Fortune - I liked this alright. It came off as a bit dated, particularly Glenn Close's narration. It's a good performance on Jeremy Iron's part and I liked the way the legal case built (although it wasn't too different than many legal tv shows). I do wonder what it would have been like to see it at the time; I was totally unfamiliar with the case it is based on. Available on DVD and digital rental.

All That Jazz - So wonderful - I just adore Fosse; he was so incredibly brilliant. Cabaret is one of my all time favorite films, if not my favorite. Roy Scheider is brilliant as Fosse's alter-ego, and the dance sequences are just wonderful. And hey! indieWire named it one of the 15 best Palme d'Or winners (although, really - how do you pick?). Criterion is releasing it in August. (Here, have links to Bye, Bye Blackbird from Liza with a Z, Ann Reinking in All That Jazz, and the Chicago Tony performances old and new.)

* I do love Thomson's entry on Buster Keaton; "It is well known that Keaton performed personally in scenes that involved considerable risk. In Our Hospitality there is the waterfall sequence, while in Sherlock Jr. Keaton had a fall that, years later, it was discovered, had broken his neck. Such physical peril did not make him a slapstick artist. On the contrary, his reactions when threatened were untheatrical and near mystical in his haughty recognition of a malign fate and the deadpan that might honorably confront it.
That is what strikes us today as the most admirable thing about Keaton: the serene capacity for absorbing frustration and turning a blind eye to fear and failure. If Chaplin's films are always working toward self-centered pathos, Keaton never disguises the element of absurdity in a lone romantic's dealings with the world."