We’ve had such a great run of weather leading up to Spring, you could be forgiven for having neglected the DVD player and its indoor friends. Thankfully, September’s Music & Movies eNewsletter coincides with it all turning to custard again. Highlights include novel adaptions We need to talk about Kevin and Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close; A complete guide to special effects makeup – Halloween forward-planners take note – and all you need to know about philosophy through the lens of The Big Lebowski. “The Dude abides…”
We need to talk about Kevin.
“A suspenseful and gripping psychological thriller, Lynne Ramsay’s We Need To Talk About Kevin explores the fractious relationship between a mother and her evil son. Tilda Swinton, in a bracing, tour-de-force performance, plays the mother, Eva, as she contends for 15 years with the increasing malevolence of her first-born child, Kevin (Ezra Miller). Based on the best-selling novel of the same name, We Need To Talk About Kevin explores nature vs. nurture on a whole new level as Eva’s own culpability is measured against Kevin’s innate evilness. Ramsay’s masterful storytelling simultaneously combines a provocative moral ambiguity with a satisfying and compelling narrative, which builds to a chilling, unforgettable climax.” – (adapted from Amazon.com summary)
“Like Crazy beautifully illustrates how your first real love is as thrilling and blissful as it is fragile. When a British college student falls for her American classmate, they embark on a passionate and life-changing journey–only to be separated by circumstances beyond their control. … Like Crazy explores how a couple faces the real challenges of being together and of being apart.” – (adapted from Syndetics summary)
“This sensual, remarkably observed, beautifully acted wonder is the breakout feature from British writer-director-editor Andrew Haigh (Greek Pete). Rarely has a film been as honest about sexuality—in both depiction and discussion—as this tale of a one-night-stand that develops into a weekend-long idyll for two very different young men (exciting newcomers Tom Cullen and Chris New) in Midlands England. It’s an emotionally naked film that’s both an invaluable snapshot of the complexities of contemporary gay living and a universally identifiable portrait of a love affair.” – (adapted from Amazon.com summary)
In treatment. The complete first season.
“Adapted from a popular and award-winning Israeli series…each episode eavesdrops on a weekly therapist-patient session. “The magic happens”—as one observer sarcastically remarks—in the home office of Paul Weston (Gabriel Byrne in his Golden Globe Award-winning role). Monday’s patient is Laura (Melissa George), a doctor who reveals in a harrowing “about last night” monologue in the first episode that she is in love with Paul (”You’ve become the center of my life”). Tuesdays bring Alex (Blair Underwood), a cocky fighter pilot whose last mission over Iraq went horrifyingly awry, earning him the media tag, “The Madrassa Murderer.” Wednesday’s child, Sophie (Mia Wasikowska in a breakout performance) is a teenage Olympic hopeful in need of an evaluation following a near-fatal bicycle “accident.” On Thursdays, Paul meets with Amy (Embeth Davidtz) and Jake (Josh Charles), whose rocky marriage is further shaken as they wrestle over whether or not she should get an abortion. Fearing he is “losing patience with my patients,” Paul turns to his former mentor, Gina (Dianne Wiest in an Emmy-winning performance), with whom he had a falling out years before, to talk out his own troubles. The therapist whose own personal life is unraveling could have either been bad sitcom or static and stagey talking heads. But with its insightful writing, powerful performances, and deft, unobtrusive direction, In Treatment avoids the pitfalls to become an intensely gripping drama.” – (adapted from Amazon.com summary)
Extremely loud & incredibly close.
“Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close touches the viewer to the very core. In the way that Titanic and The Sweet Hereafter depicted tragedy by pulling back at the pivotal moment, only increasing the heartache portrayed, Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close shows the massive losses experienced in New York on September 11, 2001, through the lens of one young boy. Thomas Horn plays Oskar, a boy devoted to his dad (played by Tom Hanks, in flashbacks), who is lost in the attacks on the World Trade Center. The devastation of that day shudders through Oskar’s family, including his mother, Linda (Sandra Bullock, in a subdued and affecting turn). Young Oskar is lost in the broken new world, but suddenly finds a purpose: a key left by his father. As Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close progresses, Oskar focuses on the key as a way to connect to his lost father–but finds, instead, connections in the unlikeliest of places…Based on Jonathan Safran Foer’s best-selling novel, which was able to depict a bit more wry humor to leaven the heartbreak and history lessons, Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close nonetheless faces human tragedy straight on, and shows how a broken family can be rebuilt, one small key, one subway ride, one awkward hug at a time.” – (adapted from Amazon.com summary)
“Though it’s packed with subtextual meaning on any number of levels, the title of this Israeli import and 2011 foreign language Oscar nominee is also a reference to the only claim to fame of Eliezer Shkolnik (Shlomo Bar Aba). The cranky, crotchety, and exceptionally old-fashioned professor of Talmudic studies at Jerusalem’s Hebrew University has all but perished after not having published despite his relentless examination of obscure texts as a fanatical philologist… Yet he clings to his old-school approach to intellectual investigation with greater gusto as his final years tick by. His rival in scholarly pursuit is his son Uriel (Lior Ashkenazi), an equally serious man who also teaches at the university, but whose flashy, more populous approach to Talmudic study has earned him wide acclaim….When a mix-up occurs over which Shkolnik is to be awarded a prestigious academic prize, father and son exchange more cerebral bites, provoking barks of laughter from the audience as the mistake complicates itself so unpredictably. Writer-director Joseph Cedar navigates the sea of intellectual and family discord with a genuinely droll touch that’s as smart and stinging as it is funny…Footnote is a satire of intellect and domestic friction that cuts deep with dramatic tension and the insight of its often magical realist sense of high farce.” – (adapted from Amazon.com review)
The decoy bride.
“David Tennant, Kelly MacDonald and Alice Eve star in this romantic comedy set in rural Scotland. When Katie (MacDonald) is jilted at the altar, she returns broken-hearted to her remote Scottish island home. But little does she know that Hollwood superstar Lara Tyler (Eve) has chosen the island as the secret venue for her wedding to her fiance James (Tennant). When the paparazzi gets wind of the location, Lara runs away in exasperation. Her management team decides to stage a fake wedding, hoping the paparazzi will fall for the deception and leave the island, and Katie is asked to don a white dress and walk down the aisle as a ‘decoy’ for the absent Lara. However, the path of true love is further complicated when attraction begins to grow between James and his decoy bride.” – (adapted from Amazon.co.uk summary)
The big year.
“Never get between a birder and a Pink-footed Goose. As we learn from The Big Year, the intensity of birders (the term birdwatcher is dismissed here as insufficiently committed) is not to be taken lightly, and their quest of rare species creates the gentle comedy of this film, which is based on a real phenomenon. In the world of birders, there’s a goal set each calendar year, and based on the honor system: who can spot the most varieties of our feathered friends? All-time champ Kenny Bostick (Owen Wilson) is a legendary name in the birding game, and this year he’s trying to beat his own record–but retired CEO Stu Preissler (Steve Martin) and slovenly upstart Brad Harris (Jack Black) are determined to topple the colorful and ruthless Bostick from his, er, perch. The movie’s at its best when charting the movements of these obsessed enthusiasts in the wild, as they scramble from Alaska to Arizona to New Jersey in pursuit of their goal; it’s less successful at trying to create human interest in the home lives of these guys.” – (adapted from Amazon.com summary)
Woody Allen: a documentary.
“Beginning with Allen s childhood, ‘Woody Allen; A Documentary’ chronicles the trajectory and longevity of Allen s career, from his work as a TV scribe, standup comedian and frequent TV talk show guest, to a writer-director averaging one film-per-year for more than 40 years. Director Weide covers Allen s earliest film work in Take the Money and Run, Bananas, Sleeper, and Love and Death; frequent OscarÂ® favorites such as Annie Hall, Manhattan, Zelig, Broadway Danny Rose, Purple Rose of Cairo, Crimes and Misdemeanors, Husbands & Wives, Bullets Over Broadway, and Mighty Aphrodite; and his recent globetrotting phase with Match Point, Vicky Cristina Barcelona and the recent success Midnight in Paris. Features interviews with: actors Antonio Banderas, Josh Brolin, Penelope Cruz, John Cusack, Larry David, Mariel Hemingway, Scarlett Johansson, Julie Kavner, Diane Keaton, Martin Landau, Louise Lasser, Sean Penn, Tony Roberts, Chris Rock, Mira Sorvino, Naomi Watts, Dianne Wiest and Owen Wilson.” – (adapted from
Conversations at the American Film Institute with the great moviemakers : the next generation / [edited and with an introduction by] George Stevens, Jr.
“Collects American Film Institute conversations with filmmakers from the 1950s to today, including Steven Spielberg, Nora Ephron, and George Lucas.” – (adapted from Syndetics summary)
A complete guide to special effects makeup / [by Tokyo SFX Makeup Workshop ; editor, Yuko Sasaki].
“Acclaimed as the best book ever published on the subject, A Complete Guide to Special Effects Makeup covers everything from basic facial makeup styles, simple scars and gashes, to masks, molds and cast-making; everything you need to know to create vampires, zombies and other fantastical characters. With clear step by step instructions and hundreds of color photos, it includes stunning conceptual pieces from many of the contributing artists and a section on manga/cosplay hair and makeup. Bound to thrill anyone interested in creating realistic and unique makeup effects!” – (adapted from Amazon.com summary)
The slasher movie book / J.A. Kerswell.
“The slasher movie is the most reviled but successful of horror’s subgenres. Taking its cue from Hitchcock, grind-house movies, and the gory Italian giallo thrillers of the 1970s, slasher movies brought a new high in cinematic violence and suspense to mainstream cinema. The Slasher Movie Book details the subgenre’s surprising beginnings, revels in its g(l)ory days, and discusses its recent resurgence. Packed with reviews of the best (and worst) slasher movies and illustrated with an extensive collection of distinctive and often graphic color poster artwork from around the world.” – (adapted from Amazon.com summary)
Horror cinema / Jonathan Penner, Steven Jay Schneider, Paul Duncan (ed.).
“Horror is both the most perennially popular and geographically diverse of all film genres; arguably, every country that makes movies makes horror movies of one kind or another. Depicting deep-rooted, even archetypal fears, while at the same time exploiting socially and culturally specific anxieties, cinematic horror is at once timeless and utterly of its time and place. This exciting visual history, which includes unique images from the David Del Valle archive, examines the genre in thematic, historical, and aesthetic terms.” – (adapted from Amazon.com summary)
Authorship and the films of David Lynch : aesthetic receptions in contemporary Hollywood / Antony Todd.
“This important new contribution to studies on authorship and film explores the ways in which shared and disputed opinions on aesthetic quality, originality, and authorial essence have shaped receptions of Lynch’s films. It is also the first book to approach David Lynch as a figure composed through language, history, and text. Tracing the development of Lynch’s career from cult obscurity with Eraserhead, to star auteur through the release of Blue Velvet, and TV phenomenon Twin Peaks, Antony Todd examines how his idiosyncratic style introduced the term “Lynchian” to the colloquial speech of new Hollywood and helped establish Lynch as the leading light among contemporary American auteurs.” – (adapted from Amazon.com summary)
The Big Lebowski and philosophy : keeping your mind limber with abiding wisdom / edited by Peter S. Fosl.
“Explores many of The Big Lebowski’s key themes, such as nihilism, war and politics, money and materialism, idealism and morality, history, and more. Gives you new perspective on the movie’s characters–the Dude, the Big Lebowski, Walter Sobchak, Donny, Maude Lebowski, Bunny Lebowski, and others. Helps you appreciate the Coen Brothers classic even more with the insights of Aristotle, Epicurus, Kant, Derrida, and other philosophical heavyweights.” – (adapted from Publisher’s description)
It’s all about the big stars in this month’s popular music picks. Biographies on the likes of Bruce Springsteen, Jimi Hendrix, Arethra Franklin, Carole King, Pink Floyd and more …
Bruce Springsteen and the promise of rock ‘n’ roll / Marc Dolan.
“Dolan is a believer in Springsteen’s metaphysical heft, and he more than adequately explores all aspects of same in this exhaustive chronicle of all things Bruce. The book’s tone is mythic, and the sweep of the accolades recounted and pronouncements made about Springsteen’s oeuvre are carefully detailed and documented. In short, this is not a book for casual fans, tough it is probably indispensable for devotees. Fortunately, it’s also readable and engrossing.” – (adapted from Booklist summary)
Treasures of The Who / Chris Welch.
“Treasures of the Who takes you on the journey with the band as they conquered the world: from small London clubs to Madison Square Garden, from seven-inch vinyl releases to multimillion-selling albums, all the way to recognition as global rock gods. The text has been researched and written by Chris Welch, the legendary English journalist who was close to the band, and it is accompanied by images from many of the best contemporary photographers. There are also removable facsimiles of stunning, super-rare memorabilia from one of the biggest collections around. It adds up ta a unique experience: the story of the Who in your hands.” – (adapted from Amazon.com summary)
Love is the cure : on life, loss and the end of AIDS / Elton John.
“The very personal story of Sir Elton’s life during the AIDS epidemic, including his agony at seeing friends perish needlessly. Through his stories of close encounters with people like Ryan White, Freddie Mercury, and many others, he will convey the personal toll AIDS has taken on his life – and his infinite determination to stop its spread.” – (adapted from Syndetics summary)
Pink Floyd / edited by Marcus Hearn.
“Featuring over 150 iconic, rare and previously unpublished images of Pink Floyd, this book captures the legendary rock group at every stage of their epic career. From some of their first photo sessions in 1967 to their triumphant reunion at Live 8, this book is a unique chronicle of five enigmatic musicians, and their journey from experimental psychedelia to stadium pageantry.” – (adapted from Amazon.com summary)
Morrissey & Marr : the severed alliance / by Johnny Rogan.
“Morrissey & Marr: The Severed Alliance is among the most successful – and controversial – rock biographies ever published. Having denounced the book and called for the death of its author Johnny Rogan, Morrissey later did a U-turn and cited it as evidence in the royalty-related court case brought by Smiths drummer Mike Joyce. Now, 20 years after it was first published, Rogan has returned to his definitive Smiths biography to produce a completely revised edition based on new information and new interviews to add to the almost 100 initially conducted over a four-year period.” – (adapted from Amazon.co.uk summary)
The very best of Adele for ukulele / [edited by Adrian Hopkins].
“14 of Adele’s best known songs arranged for Ukulele drawn from both of her massively successful albums 19 and 21 . This exclusive songbook includes chord symbols ukulele chord boxes and complete lyrics for each song. Includes: Chasing Pavements * Crazy for You * He Won’t Go * Lovesong * Many Shades of Black * Rolling in the Deep * Set Fire to the Rain *Â Someone like You * and more.” – (adapted from Amazon.com summary)
Heavy metal : from hard rock to extreme metal / [text by Kory Grow ; foreword by Slayer’s Kerry King].
“With its loud, aggressive rhythms; slashing guitar solos, and often-disturbing themes, metal is mesmerizing: it cuts to the bone and takes rock right to the edge. Heavy Metal takes readers on an in-depth musical journey through this testosterone-fueled style, including its origins, development, and subgenres, such as thrash, doom, death, and gothic metal. With exclusive pictures and commentary, it analyzes such groundbreaking bands as Led Zeppelin, Black Sabbath, Mötley Crüe, Motörhead, Metallica, Megadeth, and Slayer through their sounds, lyrics, themes, and trend-setting actions.” – (adapted from Amazon.com summary)
Will Oldham on Bonnie ‘Prince’ Billy / edited by Alan Licht.
“A collection of conversations between Licht and Will Oldham, aka musician Bonnie Prince Billy, about his 2 personas and his life in music and film. Presenting conversations with longtime friend and associate, the author probes his highly individualistic approach to music making and the music industry, one that cherishes notions of intimacy, community, mystery, and spontaneity.” – (adapted from Syndetics summary)
These Classical music picks highlight one-act operas, some young singing talent, and some Kiwi singing talent. Plenty to read and listen to this month!
Verdi and/or Wagner : two men, two worlds, two centuries / Peter Conrad
“This is the first book to compare these two composers and cultural heroes, both of whom were born in 1813 and achieved huge national and international renown in their lifetimes. Yet not only did they never meet, but the differences between them—in music, culture, environment, significance, and legacy—were profound.” – (adapted from Amazon.com summary)
I heard you singing : my life with Ramon Opie / Corinne Bridge-Opie ; foreword by Donald Munro
“I Heard You Singing is the story of two New Zealand singers, Corinne Bridge and Ramon Opie, and their efforts to forge professional careers in a country which generally respects its sports stars far more than anyone in the arts…” – (adapted from Publisher’s summary)
Dream with me / Jackie Evancho
“Produced by David Foster, Jackie Evancho’s Dream With Me fulfills the promise of O Holy Night, Jackie’s major label debut, a seasonal collection which became 2010’s #1 best-selling debut recording with sales exceeding 1 million units. Dream with Me features a repertoire of classical arias and pop classics handpicked to suit Jackie’s angelic voice. Her range is so great that she ably shifts from the Disney classic “When You Wish Upon A Star” to Puccini’s “Nessun Dorma.” Other highlights include two extraordinary superstar duets showcasing the young vocalist performing with music legend Barbra Streisand and international phenomenon Susan Boyle.” – (adapted from Amazon.com summary)
Die Walküre [sound recording] / Wagner
“… The recording’s additional dimension is that the music leaps out from the speakers and into your mind’s eye making Wagner’s mythological world of the Valkyrie into something quite tangible. I had goose bumps from the start to the finish, while listening to the recording, especially ends of act 1 and 2. The rapturous applause at the end of each act and at the conclusion of the opera, says it all. People (including myself) were giving standing ovations all around and all levels of the wonderful concert hall, at the end of each of the 3 sections.” – (adapted from Amazon.com review)
11 Kurzopern [sound recording] : the original Electrola one-act operas
“When great masters compose miniature operas, the result is well, masterly. Mozart, Weber, Schubert, Medelssohn, Gluck, Lortzing and D Albert: on-act operas from these famous pens are true gems of music history and of the EMI archives. The Electrola recordings of these 11 short operas (mostly in Singspiel form) were made in the 1970 s, but thanks to their all-star casts, which are nothing short of legendary, they seem as fresh as ever. Now EMI is releasing them in a complete edition for the first time.” – (adapted from Amazon.com summary)
Apparent distance / Taylor Ho Bynum Sextet
“A truly transcendent recording, “Apparent Distance is a four-part suite, commissioned through a 2010 New Jazz Works grant from Chamber Music America and the Doris Duke Charitable Foundation. In the liner notes, Bynum writes My goal is not just to blur the lines between composition and improvisation (a long-time pursuit), but to try to upend the listeners expectations in other ways: circular melodies without beginnings or ends, disguised unisons and non-repetitive vamps, transitions that are simultaneously jarring and organic. Most importantly, I want to spotlight the striking individuality and virtuosity of all the players, albeit in a context where the needs of the ensemble reign supreme a concerto for sextet, if you will. Since the composition s premiere in August 2010, the sextet has performed the work on tour and at the Saalfelden Jazz Festival (Austria), the Banlieues Bleues Festival (France), and the Crosscurrents Festival (New York). Jim Macnie of the Village Voice writes ‘Whether they’re lines that swirl upward, chasing their own tail, or lines that spill downward, like a Slinky on a staircase, the elemental motifs of the cornetist/composer’s pieces are full of springy kinetics. But they re more than mere nu-jazz puzzles. Bynum wrings emotion from his crew. His use of texture and trajectory has to do with his appreciation of passion.” – (adapted from Amazon.com summary)