Category Archives: Music

“Cherry Lips and Crystal Skies”

“You can tell me when it’s over, if the high was worth the pain, Starbucks lovers (or whatever).”

“I’ve got a blank space baby.”

Yes, that’s from the wonder that is Taylor Swift and the wonder that is a three-month free trial from Apple music, which I am not going to cancel.

Q) How often do you blog during the week?

A) NEVER, BITCH

That is the power of Ms. Swift (and Jesse Pinkman,)

I am listening to “1989” right now which, among the one million other reasons, makes me even more excited for the Ryan Adams concert here in July. If he plays one song from his own version of “1989” and then anything and everything from “Heartbreaker,” I’ll be one happy nerdette.  It may seem unbelievable, but I honestly still don’t listen to many other musicians than Ryan Adams. I’ll admit I haven’t kept up with all of his EPs, but I love, love, love, “Prisoner” (and the B sides) and turn it up to top volume when I am trying to block out background noise (and stress) at work. It is one of three albums I purchased this year, other than Carsie Blanton and the new Michelle Branch (failed nostalgia buy.)

I own a “Heartbreaker” T-shirt and his is the only poster that survived my college years, cheap-ass frame and all. There are still pieces of Scotch tape all over it and I love it (even with my 35-year-old reflection in this picture … weird  and not intentional … but too lazy to fix.)

IMG_2392

Also, get this, my sister Carla touched Ryan Adams’ hair when he was sitting at Gluek’s bar after one of his shows in Minneapolis. That is where I bought the aforementioned T-shirt and took this picture, possibly with a disposable camera. Wild times. (Chances are I’ve reminisced and written about this before.)

img_2391-1.jpg

Okay, I have nothing else to say other than I am losing steam after writing about very boring (to me) Congressional news all day .. but I do want to share the artistic works of Kate Micucci that will soon adorn my walls and be a part of my wardrobe.

IMG_2365 (1)6dbd2fa7bca743f3abf0b425de7baee2

 

“I bought a borrowed suit and learned to dance.”  – Ryan Adams.

 

 

Catching up with My Friend Dean

IMG_2081Well I’ve seen four movies in the last two weeks. I guess I really am failing at me trying to be me in 2016 when I was watching the equivalent of a movie a day.

In reality, toward the end of the DLM Challenge, weekends would mean watching several movies in one day and thinking that if things went south during “Sleepwalk With Me” my obit writer from The New York Times could at least lead with “She died doing what she loved.”

For those of you fascinated with The New York Times, (see also “Page One: Inside the New York Times), there is a new documentary with an inside look at the obits department … wait for it … “Obit,” and the process the writers use to have information on those who are still with us at the ready to publish when they become the opposite. Two of the film’s subjects, Bruce Weber and Margalit Fox, were recently interviewed on Fresh Air with Terry Gross. Even if you can’t stand her voice like me, it’s a good listen. Good news, “Obit” is coming soon to the Lagoon Cinema and there are several other screenings listed on the film’s website.

I also saw a sold-out screening of “Dean,” Demetri Martin’s first feature film at the Minneapolis St. Paul International Festival.

Judging from the crowd and audience’s reaction, and its festival buzz, this film will make the rounds at independent theaters again this summer.

Martin stars in the film as Dean, a wayward writer coping with his mother’s death and how his father is coping with it by selling the family home. Dean runs away to Los Angeles to work on his book only to find old and new friends and a healthy dose of complicated romance. The mix of sadness and comedy in the film seemed a little uneven at times, to the point where you may forget what the premise of the story is, but maybe that’s the point. Who really wants to think about what’s making them sad when they can go on impromptu road trips and chill at the beach?

The film is also illustrated with Martin’s own drawings to depict Dean’s feelings, which adds to the distance from his struggle with processing mortality (for the viewer) while you see him try to woo Nicky (Gillian Jacobs) at a party in LA.

The mortality theme comes back with full force in the end, ultimately making the whole audience cry, from what I could tell. That said, you may want to watch “Dean” at home and really let it all out. Then you can watch some of his stand-up comedy as a palate cleanser.

I returned to the film festival the next night for a Finnish film “Little Wing” and a Q&A with the lead actress Paula Vesala.

It also stars Linnea Skog as the young girl in the film, Varpu, struggling with her own independence while in some ways taking care of her mother. Varpu defines her independence by stealing a car and driving overnight to find her birth father.

That journey ultimately brings Varpu and her mother closer together. Vesala talked about the music she wrote for the film and the connection between the title “Little Wing” and a Jimi Hendrix song of the same name. Skog, who is 12, won the Finnish Academy Award for her performance and it’s one that deserves more attention in the United States if the film gets distribution here. Unfortunately Vesala said they’ve struggled with video on demand rights and other streaming distribution, but if you can find it I definitely recommend this film. I also listened to the song “Little Wing” today and can see the connection and inspiration between the lyrics and the character of Varpu.

“Well she’s walking through the clouds
With a circus mind
That’s running wild
Butterflies and zebras and moonbeams
And fairly tales

That’s all she ever thinks about

Riding the wind

When I’m sad she comes to me
With a thousand smiles
She gives to me free

It’s alright, she says
It’s alright
Take anything you want from me
Anything

Fly on, little wing.”

The story has a happy ending overall, so you shouldn’t need any comedic relief after watching it.

If you need some anyway try Pete Holmes’ new special on HBO “Faces and Sounds” or Maria Bamford’s “Old Baby” on Netflix.

I ordered a T-shirt I am going to try to incorporate into my wardrobe … not pajamas … just because Bamford’s special is so wonderfully uncomfortable and brilliant comedy.

IMG_2078

I’ve watched “Faces and Sounds” twice now and will again because with Pete Holmes, joy is everywhere.

It’s also the perfect follow up to any episode of season 2 of “Fargo,” or anything from “Breaking Bad” or “The Sopranos” in case you’re still catching up on those. For me, each episode of “Fargo” is 45 minutes of worrying that Jesse Plemons’ character is going to be brutally murdered. Landry Clarke CANNOT Die. Wait, wrong show, but you know what I mean.

Last thing (I am not in the best writing mood today and my usual perfect transitions are just not coming to me) there is a podcast for all of you Fargoheads “Aw Jeez: A Fargo Podcast” that analyzes each episode based on historical accuracy, the actors’ Minnesota accents and a view hidden plot points.

Okay, that is all for today. Bye!

 

 

 

 

33 of 366: A Star is Born

astarisborn
imdb.com

I went back to the classics this weekend with A Star is Born. George Cukor’s remake of the 1937 film by William A. Wellman is three hours long, making it difficult to watch at least two movies yesterday after a shift at the theater, but the longer screening and that much time with Judy Garland’s voice was otherwise worth it.

 

I love the style used for the opening credits in classic films and sense of nostalgia and reminiscence they create, even for an era well before I was even born.

In this film, Garland plays Esther Blodgett (with the screen name Vicki Lester), a singing starlet discovered by movie star Norman Maine (James Mason.)

Maine is as famous as he is troubled and struggles with alcoholism and his share of public foibles that impact his career.

In fact, Blodgett meets him for the first time as one of those foibles unfolds but isn’t deterred by his drunken actions. When he sobers up and sees Blodgett perform on stage, Maine sees something in her talent, beauty and character.

He offers to help Blodgett get an audition and she is as much enamored with that opportunity as his leading-man charisma.

Blodgett and Maine see their share of challenges from there, both in their relationship and careers, but the bond they establish in the beginning stands the test of time and loss.

I haven’t seen a lot of classic films in my lifetime, but it’s clear why A Star is Born is one documented in 1,001 Movies You Must See Before You Die and stands out among the different versions of the film that are out there.

There is the original, a 1976 version with Barbara Streisand and Bradley Cooper is reportedly directing yet another remake of the film. That doesn’t sound promising to me since the rumored remake has been tossed around Hollywood since 2011 with different directors and actors attached the project.

It obviously wouldn’t be the first time a Hollywood classic is brought back to the big screen, but for some reason it seems to be best to leave the legacy of A Star is Born as it is now.

 

 

 

 

32 of 366: What Happened Miss Simone?

 

2-nina-simone-what-happened-miss-simone-embedded
vogue.com

 

What Happened Miss Simone?, nominated for Best Documentary Featurepresents a comprehensive look at Nina Simone starting with her early years wanting to be a classical pianist and progressing through her rise as a jazz star and civil rights activist through her music.

The documentary, by Liz Garbus in collaboration with Netflix, also explores the singer’s dark moments in her family and career life and the health issues she suffered from.

Those aspects of her life couldn’t be ignored, but overall the film shed light on a powerful woman with a lot of struggles who accomplished an extraordinary career.

While she always dreamed of being a classical pianist, Simone landed in the world of jazz music and found ways to incorporate the two styles into her compositions. She achieved stardom, got married and had a daughter but her family life wasn’t without struggle, either.

She eventually divorced her abusive husband and was estranged from her daughter, interviewed in the film, as a result of subsequent abuse she committed in their relationship.

The rest of the story, much like Amy (also nominated for best documentary), is told through archival footage and interviews with Nina Simone throughout her career. I was enamored with Simone’s style on stage but, as her friend and band member Al Schackman described it, there was something else there and she did seem to be hiding her pain.

It’s a sad story in a lot of ways, also like Amy, but both films show the imprint their subjects left on the world and society they lived in. I didn’t know a lot about Nina Simone and I imagine, because of the film’s in-depth look at her life, even her fans and history buffs learned a thing or two from the personal story.

In other news, here is a quote of the day my everything Paul F. Tompkins posted on Twitter yesterday:

“Tired. Awakened too early by the sounds of Manhattan: traffic, stickball, the cry of the fishmonger, explosions, a heavily accented rat.”