• Order tickets today, Dec. 20, for the inaugural season of OZ Nashville — which includes British master choreographer Wayne McGregor's Random Dance troupe, Austin's The Intergalactic Nemesis extravaganza, and composer Philip Glass with violinist Tim Fain — and you'll receive commemorative emerald-green tickets to wrap and hand out by Christmas. While you're there, check out membership packages starting at $250.
• The Belcourt is selling "Gift Buckets" for $30 ($25 members) consisting of a popcorn tub stuffed with a T-shirt, movie candy and a refillable plastic concessions cup. (Might come in handy at tonight's packed Inside Llewyn Davis screening.) Add a gift card for any amount, or throw in a membership starting at $45.
• OK, so you'll have a hard time topping Taylor Swift's gift of $100,000 to the Nashville Symphony Orchestra — on her own birthday, no less. (Take comfort in the fact that once in a while, the right person in America does end up with a bunch of money.) Follow her example, though, and purchase an NSO gift card in amounts ranging from $50 to $200. While you're at it, send Swift a Nestle's $100,000 Bar — with a candle in it.
Blues, soul & hip-hop:
Legends of the Blues, by William Stout (Abrams)
Writer/artist and passionate blues lover William Stout's anthology is lovingly modeled after R. Crumb's seminal Heroes of Blues, Jazz & Country, though Stout expands his musical reach into R&B and boogie-woogie as well. There are 100 portraits of various immortals, plus a good introductory CD and valuable introduction provided by Ed Leimbacher. There's also very little duplication between this book and the Crumb volume (only two artists).
Southern Soul-Blues, by David Whiteis (Illinois)
Whether you call it bluesy soul, soulful blues, or "soul-blues" as David Whiteis suggests, this volume explores artistic territory and performers often ignored by mainstream publications. Whiteis not only spotlights fairly familiar (Latimore, Bobby Rush, Denise LaSalle) and lesser known (Sweet Angel, Willie Clayton, Ms. Jody) acts, he examines ongoing issues such as whether the music's gotten too salacious, why urban stations ignore it, and the impact of modern developments like hip-hop on its sound. The only thing missing is a CD with samples — something that would be useful, since so many of these performers record for tiny labels with minimal distribution.
Mo' Meta Blues: The World According to Questlove, by Amir "Questlove" Thompson and Ben Greenman (Grand Central Station)
You wouldn't expect a conventional autobiography from the prolific Roots drummer, and Mo' Meta Blues blends his reflections on life, music, parental influence and generational conflict in a seamless, entertaining way. The son of a doo-wop vocalist, Thompson's been immersed in music since childhood. His views on various strains of black music, and peeks into the Roots' hectic life (soon to be The Tonight Show band) add another vital ingredient to an already potent work. Thompson's not shy about speaking his mind. His comments on the flap involving Michele Bachmann, the group's song choice the night she appeared on Jimmy Fallon, and the subsequent problems the band incurred with NBC are quite revealing.
[Editor's Note: This is the latest installment of 'Notes From the 422nd Annual Wraiths for Writing Conference,' a biweekly series of story and art that artist Amelia Garretson-Persans has created for Country Life. Trace its roots by reading the previous entries.]
At a presentation on the art of sound-sculpting, our presenter was visibly unsettled by the sound of rattling. In a moment, the mood that Mr. Wrackett had so carefully constructed was banished by the sterile light of fluorescent bulbs. The haunted, timeless space was instantly returned to a lecture hall, probably outfitted in the 1970s, with plastic orange chairs and dirty Formica tabletops. The rattling changed from mysterious to persistent, almost needy.
Mr. Wrackett was searching for something on his table of objects. He peered inside the bell of a gramophone before putting his ear to it, and lifted up books to flip through their pages. Pieces of silk and lace were unfolded and shaken, and a box of tools was upended.
In essence, Thursday night's screening of Differently, Molussia at Third Man Records counts as a world premiere — as did last month's screening at Brooklyn's Millennium Film Workshop, and those around the globe that preceded it. That's because this one-of-a-kind feature by French avant-garde filmmaker Nicolas Rey consists of nine reels to be shown in random order. As Millennium pointed out, that means there are 362,880 ways to arrange the film — and the one at Third Man is statistically unlikely ever to be repeated.
Based, according to MUBI.com, on a 1930s novel by German philosopher Gunther Anders that Rey has never read, it juxtaposes passages of two men talking in German — prisoners of an imaginary totalitarian state — with grainy, gunmetal-colored 16mm landscape images. “The inescapable historical resonances within Anders’ imaginary tale of Molussia — to Nazi Germany, but to various other times including our own — all become equally present through Rey’s unusual presentation,” Scene contributor Michael Sicinski wrote in Cinema Scope.
I'll always be grateful to once-and-forever Scenester Lee Stabert for turning me on to The Best Show on WFMU. I was a relative latecomer to Tom Scharpling's free-form radio extravaganza — a kind of anti-Prairie Home Companion anchored early on to Newbridge, a fictional suburb populated largely by the many voices of Superchunk drummer Jon Wurster.
Scharpling and Wurster became a Bob & Ray for the podcast era, and their routines (often absurdist takes on classic comedy-team tropes) were passed along the indie-rock conduit as fervently as copies of Chunklet. Fans have been hoarding those clips ever since Scharpling announced in October that after 13 unpaid years filling a three-hour slot every Tuesday night, he would be calling it quits. The last Best Show airs tonight at 8 p.m.
You can listen to it here and picture people from Portland to New Zealand huddled around their laptops and iPhones as one, a throwback to the days when radio was the most potent mass medium in the land. Or you can share it with other FOTs (Friends of Tom) 8 p.m. tonight at Fond Object in Riverside Village. Co-owner Coco Hames, who wrote about the show in the Scene currently on stands, was an in-studio guest on last week's penultimate episode, and she'll be hosting the listening party.
Above: the hilarious video for The Ettes' "Excuse," written and directed by Scharpling and featuring Coco's Fond Object partners and bandmates Poni Silver and Jem Cohen along with Patton Oswalt. (That's Coco piloting the "cyber-speeder.")
If there’s another Coen Brothers comedy that deserves a Big Lebowski-style cult renaissance, it’s Burn After Reading. Their 2008 follow-up to No Country for Old Men (written at the same time on alternate days) may seem like a minor film to some — even though its all-star lineup includes Oscar winners George Clooney, Tilda Swinton and Joel’s wife Frances McDormand, plus Brad Pitt and John Malkovich doing their most hilariously profane work — but like so many of the Coens’ films, it only gets better with time.
This dark, insanely funny farce is basically the Coens’ misanthropic assessment of Bush II-era America, with its crew of dunderheaded, delusional characters running amok in D.C. under the paranoid belief that their government is out to get them. Meanwhile, the government (drolly represented by character-actors extraordinaire J.K. Simmons and David Rasche) is content just to sit back in perfect befuddlement watching these idiots cause chaos across the Beltway.
A caustic satire that resonates even more now (what up, Tea Party!), it’s the movie that Scene contributor Mike D’Angelo once called “Blood Simple played for laughs — with a nasty post-9/11 sting.” See it 7 p.m. tonight at The Belcourt, as part of the ongoing Coens retrospective, and understand why a cult is already building behind this crazy-ass film.
Adapted from Solomon Northup's memoir by John Ridley (who received a nod from SEFCA for best adapted screenplay), McQueen's unflinchingly brutal account of abduction and enslavement in the pre-Civil War South also garnered acting honors from the group for Lupita Nyong'o as best supporting actress, while Jared Leto was named best supporting actor for his role as an AIDS-stricken drag queen in Dallas Buyers Club.
Best ensemble went to the cast of David O. Russell's ’70s sting-operation comedy American Hustle, and Spike Jonze won best screenplay for his romantic comedy-drama Her, with Joaquin Phoenix as a man who begins a relationship with his cellphone's sentient Siri (voiced by Scarlett Johannson). Neither film has opened yet in Nashville.
Other awards went to Thomas Vinterberg's The Hunt for best foreign film, Disney's Frozen for animated feature, Joshua Oppenheimer's The Act of Killing for best documentary, and Gravity's Emmanuel Lubezki for best cinematography. The annual Wyatt Award for the film that best evokes the South, named for the late Tennessean critic Gene Wyatt, went to writer-director Jeff Nichols for the Matthew McConaughey drama Mud. Nichols is the award's first two-time recipient.
Founded in 1992, SEFCA represents more than 40 film writers across the Southeast (including myself and Scene contributors Jason Shawhan and Craig D. Lindsey). Below, a full list of the year's Top 10 films and the runners-up in each category.
There are various shows from the early days of television that seldom appear today, even in the age of TV Land and YouTube. One is the famous Christmas episode of I Love Lucy from 1956, which among other things featured the entire cast at some point in Santa Claus costumes, and also had very imaginative (for that era) use of flashbacks that gave the audience new insight into the Ricardos and Mertzes.
For some of us I Love Lucy is the definitive half-hour comedy, not Seinfeld or Friends, but that's a debate for another day. CBS kept the Christmas episode out of syndication and pretty much out of sight for more than 30 years before finally allowing it to be released in home video on VHS back in 1989. It never pops up, however, on any of the cable networks that air I Love Lucy reruns.
But CBS (WTVF-Channel 5) is bringing it out of the vault 7 p.m. Friday for a rare showing, pairing it with the episode many feel is the funniest in the series, the grape-stomping madness called "Lucy's Italian Movie."
Unfortunately, CBS is (ugh!) colorizing both episodes, although CBS Home Entertainment executive Vice President Ken Ross supports that decision.
"Why not see grapes in purple rather than black and white?" Ross tells TV Guide. He adds that "It looks like it was shot in color in the '50s. It doesn't look like a 2013 show." Lucie Arnaz also endorsed the move, saying, "I am happy it continues to bring joy to folks 57 years later, whatever color it is."
Well, that's certainly a sentiment few would dispute. CBS also used the occasion to announce that the first season of I Love Lucy will be on Blu-Ray in March with a bunch of extra features. "We're calling it The Ultimate Lucy," Ross tells TV Guide. "It's going to be breathtaking."
I'll assume they're not going to colorize that package.
I live in Green Hills, so I reserve a particular kind of hatred for the holiday season because it takes me 45 minutes to get down Hillsboro Road since everybody in Nashville is trying to get to The Container Store or something. So if you haven't done your holiday shopping yet, it gets worse and worse every day. You've been warned.
Fortunately, you have options, and Saturday presents some pretty solid shopping opportunities if you can't stomach shopping malls. May we recommend:
Urban Outfitters' Winter Fest Pop-Up
OK, I'm the first to admit that I feel like an obese senior citizen when I'm in UO because 75 percent of the clothing is clearly intended for prostitots. However, they do cool shit like make room for pop-ups for local designers, so we can all get on board with that, right? If you stop by UO in the Gulch from 1-6 p.m. tomorrow, you'll find local goods from Ivy & Kind, Magness, Scott Osterbind, and my fav local designer Amanda Valentine. Ms. Valentine will have iPhone cases, new clutch bags (!!!), totes and new women's wear from her Fall 2013 collection. Oh, and you can also snap up one of her iconic men's or women's T-shirts (so many people in the Scene office have one that we look like a Valentine Valentine basketball team when we wear them on the same day). OH! And she'll have sweatshirts, too, so yay for QUITTERS!
Sundance today issued a press release announcing January's slate of films and theaters for 2014's Sundance Film Festival USA night, and once again Nashville's in luck. This year, The Belcourt got Low Down, the movie version of Amy Jo Albany's memoir about life with her father, jazz pianist Joe Albany, and a 1970s childhood spent with jazz greats and heroin-addled adults. The cast looks terrific — John Hawkes as Albany, Elle Fanning as Amy (who co-wrote the script), Lena Headey, Peter Dinklage, Glenn Close and Flea — and the director is Jeff Preiss, who shot one of the most evocative movies about jazz ever made, Bruce Weber's Chet Baker doc Let's Get Lost.
The screening is Jan. 30. Below, the full release from Sundance.
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