Top 25 Albums of 1977

Decades is a recurring feature that turns back the clock to critical anniversaries of albums, songs, and films. This month, we dial it back to the top 25 albums of 1977.

No year is ever insignificant. However, we do have a habit of writing off years, even decades, as being dead periods — spans where creativity slumped and art bore the brunt. We also toss around terms like golden age or golden era to mark both chronology and a certain perception of quality. As time accumulates in our collective rearviews, we have the luxury of slowing down, hitting the brakes, and sometimes even backing up for a moment. We examine our past and sometimes find a patina on what was once thought golden or something glistening through the cracks of what once seemed trashy, ephemeral, and destined for the pop cultural ash heap.

Looking back at 1977, how little they could’ve known about what would matter far, far away in 2017 or even in the interim. It’s why time so often makes fools of criticism. We can’t tell the future, nor can we always predict what we’ll feel about a song or album tomorrow, let alone 40 years from now. To the ’77 state of mind, this list must be full of affirming nods, outright surprises, and glaring omissions. To us, it’s a testament to a golden era for so many types of music. In that spirit, these are the albums from 1977 that continue to shine or have revealed a hidden luster along the way. Read on and shine on.

–Matt Melis
Editorial Director

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Film Review: Creep 2

“I think I might be deeply untalented,” Sara (Desiree Akhavan) weeps into the camera early into Creep 2. Who is Sara? Why is she crying? She’s a would-be video artist, struggling to find her own voice in an endless sea of voices. Aren’t we all? Perhaps that’s what’s so relatable about Patrick Brice’s followup to his unnerving 2015 found-footage horror film. We all feel like Sara at times: stranded, vacant, hopeless, and lost. Think about those random nights you’ve spent flipping through Instagram, or Facebook, or Twitter, wondering if anyone gives a flying fuck what you might think, or say, or do. When you’re an artist, someone who’s actually trying to say something, that feeling is even worse. Unfortunately for Sara, she feels her “calling” is connecting with lonely men on Craigslist, a thankless task until, naturally, she stumbles upon our favorite titular psychopath.

Yes, Mark Duplass is back as Aaron, wielding axes, knives, and, of course, that terrifying Peachfuzz mask that had everyone laughing awkwardly while they sheepishly escaped to a nearby bathroom to clean their pants. Well, he’s even more terrifying this time around, unpredictably oscillating from being the Nice Guy or the Total Nutbar. Now, since we already know he’s mentally unhinged — ahem, ever since we watched him plunge an axe into Brice’s head at the end of the original — one might think most of the tension is gone. Not so, as it would appear that Aaron has met his match in Sara, who isn’t frightened upon discovering he’s a self-proclaimed serial killer, but 100% on board with the idea of filming him. After all, this is a chance of a lifetime, a way for her to not only find her voice, but say something with purpose. The juice, as they say, is worth the squeeze.

On paper, it would be so easy to say, “You know where this goes from here,” but really, you don’t. That’s the genius of this followup. Brice and Duplass have assembled a completely new mind game for fans, pairing two sycophants together, both of whom are uniquely strange and mysterious. Much like Aaron in the original, we don’t really know Sara, so her intentions could very well be as ill-advised as his, and that’s just one of a dozen questions that float through your mind as you watch them delicately dance together. It helps that Akhavan is similarly well adept at Brice’s organic filmmaking, going toe-to-toe with Duplass as they try to out-weird one another in all kinds of compact spaces, be it narrow hallways or stuffy living rooms. One particularly haunting scene takes place in a hot tub, where Aaron confesses some disturbing deeds to Sara.

She hardly breaks a sweat, though. That’s the beauty of this relationship; we’re always in the dark. But that’s where Brice likes to keep his audience, teetering at the edge of their seat as they wonder whether they should laugh, or cry, or turn away. He nailed that feeling with the original and even managed to bring that uncomfortable tension to his highly underrated 2015 comedy, The Overnight. With Creep 2, you’re never truly convinced the narrative is going the way you think it’s going, and while that may be frustrating to some (aka, those who don’t understand the concept of psychological thrillers), it’s almost enchanting for those looking for one good scare. Seeing how it’s Halloween season right now, and everyone’s starving for some good ol’ fashioned horror, you’d be wise to invite Aaron and Sara into your home. Just don’t take your eyes off them.

Trailer:

 

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Stevie Wonder kneels while performing The National Anthem: Watch

In the great flag debate of 2017, Stevie Wonder kneels on the right side of history. During his recent performance at the Global Citizen Festival, the legendary musician took a “knee for America.” “But not just one knee — I’m taking both knees,” he explained. “Both knees in prayer for our planet, our future, our leaders of the world, and our globe. Amen.”

Wonder made a similar gesture while playing a closing concert at the Formula 1 Grand Prix in Austin, Texas on Sunday night. This time, however, Wonder remained kneeled for several minutes as he performed The National Anthem.

“It is time for the leader of this nation, the leaders in the varied political positions that they hold, the people, we as artists—all of us come together as a united people of these United States of America,” Wonder told the gathered audience. “In the home of the United States, or the united people of America—not some but all. Feel me, feel me, Mr. President.”

Watch fan-captured footage below.

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Tame Impala announce Currents Collectors Edition box set

Featured photo by Philip Cosores

Upon release in 2015, Tame Impala’s Currents earned wide acclaim, and later was named one of our favorite albums of the year. Now, the Aussie outfit is revisiting their third LP with an extended box set edition. Dubbed the Currents Collectors Edition, it’s set arrive on November 17th through Interscope.

Included will be the original version of the album, pressed on limited edition red marbled vinyl and coupled with alternate artwork. There is also a handful of bonus material: a 12-inch featuring two remixes and a 7-inch and flexidisc containing three B-sides. Additionally, a poster and zine of “images and scribbles offering a candid glimpse into the making of Currents” comes as part of the set.

Watch a behind-the-scenes video for the box set below, followed by two photos.

screen shot 2017 10 23 at 7 56 38 pm Tame Impala announce Currents Collectors Edition box set screen shot 2017 10 23 at 7 56 25 pm Tame Impala announce Currents Collectors Edition box set

Revisit Currents lead single “Let It Happen”:

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Could the Stranger Things Kids Take on IT’s Pennywise?

Beauty is in the eye of the beholder. Art is subjective. Music and movies aren’t about competition; they’re about artistic expression. Well, for those of you who know better than to believe those lies, welcome to another installment of Vs.

Two of pop culture’s biggest surprises over the last 12 months have been the breakout hit of Netflix’s ’80s nostalgia horror series Stranger Things and this summer’s remake of Stephen King’s IT breaking box office records. Naturally, both properties circle each other in a feedback loop of inspiration: Stranger Things is liberally inspired by Stephen King stories of small-town terror like the original, and its success arguably helped the IT remake get made in the first place. (Finn Wolfhard even stars in both, if the comparisons weren’t blatant enough.)

With the second season of Stranger Things coming out this weekend, one has to wonder: just how similar are these tales of precocious, resourceful moppets defeating unholy terrors from realms beyond our imagining? Could each group of kids conceivably defeat the other’s Lovecraftian nemesis? Let’s look at each half of this tag-team grudge match and find out.

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Round 1: The Loser’s Club (IT) vs. The Demogorgon (Stranger Things)

The Crew:

movie cast 2017 1024x549 Could the Stranger Things Kids Take on ITs Pennywise?

The self-styled “Loser’s Club” of Derry, Maine, are the misfits, losers, and outcasts the rest of the town can’t be bothered with, all of them defined by their fears and childhood traumas. Bill (Jaeden Lieberher) struggles with a stammer (and the trauma of his missing brother). Stan (Wyatt Loeff) is terrified of germs and his bar mitzvah. Ben (Jeremy Ray Taylor) is the group’s “fat kid,” targeted for his weight and awkwardness. Bev (Sophia Lillis) is the one girl in the group, fighting off rumors of promiscuity and her sexually abusive father. Richie (Finn Wolfhard) is the jokester of the group, but hates clowns. Eddie (Jack Dylan Grazer) wrestles with hypochondria and a mean case of Munchausen by proxy, and Mike (Chosen Jacobs) endures the pernicious racism of his classmates.

The Skills:

Each member of the Losers’ Club has a particular set of skills they can bring to bear in their prospective fight against the Demogorgon. Bill’s leadership abilities and resourcefulness will come in handy; Ben (in this version of IT at least) is a rapacious researcher who could help track it down or chart its history in the town. Eddie has the medic role down pat, given his medical knowledge, and Mike’s bolt gun will work just as well on the Demogorgon as it did on Pennywise. Richie will be more useful against the Demogorgon since a) it’s not a clown, and b) well, his doppelganger has successfully fought it off before. Plus, they’re all really good with blunt instruments, be they rocks, bats, or chains.

maxresdefault1 Could the Stranger Things Kids Take on ITs Pennywise?

The Plan:

The arrival of the Demogorgon in Derry, Maine, would bring its own set of complications that the Loser’s Club would have to contend with. No longer would the secret to their victory be conquering their fears – the Demogorgon is practically a wild animal, striking out on instinct against children and adults alike, connecting it less personally to the group and their respective traumas. Still, presuming Georgie Denbrough gets taken to the Upside Down rather than murdered and arranged in a floating found-art piece under the sewers of Derry, the Loser’s Club would still band together to help Bill defeat it.

One imagines that, like their discovery of the sewers, the Losers would track down one or more portals to the Upside Down, and bring their usual arsenal of blunt weapons and Mike’s bolt gun through to the Lovecraftian dimension, looking for trouble. Much like Pennywise, their plans aren’t usually much more complicated than “walk into monster’s lair and try to whack it to death,” so it stands to reason they’d do the same thing here.

The Victor: Demogorgon

Try as they might to beat it up with bats or shoot a captive bolt through its skull, the Demogorgon’s reality-shifting powers and its sheer animal instincts make it a clear physical match for even the most resourceful tweens, much less the Loser’s Club. Without a waffle-loving compatriot with freak psycho powers, these kids don’t stand a chance.

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Eleven’s Crew (Stranger Things) vs. Pennywise the Dancing Clown (IT)

The Crew:

66 0 0 Could the Stranger Things Kids Take on ITs Pennywise?

Unlike the bloated Loser’s Club of IT, the crew of Stranger Things is a much more tight-knit group (though, unlike the Losers, they receive quite a bit of assistance from older kids and concerned adults). Mike (Finn Wolfhard) is on a similar journey as IT’s Bill: a shy, well-meaning kid looking for his missing friend. Dusty (Gaten Matarazzo), with his awkward looks and persistent sense of humor, has attributes of both Richie Tozer and Ben Hanscom. Lucas (Caleb McLaughlin) is more well-adjusted and less traumatized than most of the IT kids, but he provides a welcome voice of reason to the group. Finally, there’s Eleven (Millie Bobby Brown), a young girl with psychokinetic abilities, a love of Eggo waffles, and not much to say. As Dusty would say, he’s their friend, and she’s crazy.

The Skills:

To be honest, the skill set of the team from Hawkins, Indiana, is a lot more lopsided than the diverse abilities of the Loser’s Club from IT. Against the Demogorgon, Eleven does most of the heavy lifting – granted, her psychokinetic abilities are something to behold, but if she’s taken out of commission, the only weapon they have left is Lucas’ slingshot. Still, the group’s collective D&D prowess could rival the bookish strategizing of the Loser’s Club for sheer tactical acumen.

it pennywise Could the Stranger Things Kids Take on ITs Pennywise?

The Plan:

For the purposes of this match-up, the kids from Stranger Things are on their own, just like the Loser’s Club – no Hopper, no Joyce, no support from Nancy Drew and the Hardy Boys (Jonathan Beyers and Steve Harrington). Presuming Pennywise comes a-calling in Hawking, Indiana, and takes Will Byers to float with the rest of his victims in the sewers, Mike, Eleven, Dusty, and Lucas are on their own.

Unlike the Losers, however, the kids have a supernatural pinch-hitter in their roster – Eleven – and the keen eye for strategy and tactics that comes from playing too much Dungeons & Dragons. The kids from Stranger Things could easily spring a trap for Pennywise, or deliberately us their fear to draw him out into the open, where Eleven could use her mind-screw powers to defeat the Dancing Clown.

The Victor: Eleven and Crew

Sure, the kids from Stranger Things have their fair share of traumas and fears Pennywise can capitalize on — from Eleven’s imprisonment and experimentation to the bullying that Mike, Dusty, and Lucas endure at school. However, their traumas are not nearly as crippling or all-encompassing as those of the Losers; most of them are just regular, well-adjusted (if nerdy) kids who’ve been close friends for a long time, and they happily take in the lonely Eleven and give her an erstwhile family. As spooky as Pennywise can be, he’s a helpless little mouse without any fear to feed on; against Eleven and the charismatic kids of Stranger Things, he’s toast.

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A Plea To End The Black Barbie Doll Look

By Erickka Sy Savané

Every time I see my beautiful black queens with long, straight hair weave I take a sigh. Their beauty is undeniable. Let’s get that out of the way, first. But it’s not the hair. It’s the skin tone. Dark skin is majestic, regal and refined. There’s a presence to it. But it gets covered up with excessive hair. Sometimes I want to scream, “Give White people, Asians, and Indians back their hair- We Don’t Need It!”

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Cicely Tyson, Grace Jones, Lupita Nyong’o

And don’t get me wrong, it looks fine on them. But our hair looks better on us. We’re better at our blackest. Is there anyone more beautiful than Cicely Tyson, Grace Jones, or Lupita? Hair like wool, isn’t that how they describe Jesus in the Bible? The fact that this is how we look naturally with no alterations is a blessing. We don’t have to do much. Just be ourselves.

I know, easier said than done. Here I am making a plea for dark skinned sisters to let go of the long hair weaves when I haven’t walked a day in a dark skinned woman’s shoes. For many, being dark skinned is a crime from here all the way to Africa. The fact that even there a black woman resorts to bleaching cream as an option to a better life is beyond disheartening. So if not at the source, where is a dark skinned woman celebrated? At least with long, straight hair she can make an attempt at the “mainstream” as if the black could be softened or even camouflaged. And it’s being done at the highest level. Dark skinned women emulating this Barbie look on instgram have thousands, sometimes millions of following. So obviously there is a place for it, and getting the look means Hair. Must. Be. Laid.

Duckie Thot, Aaija, Juju via instagram

But still. We don’t have to play white people’s game. Leave them the hair, let them fight over the weaves, and let’s go blacker. Let’s go where they can’t go though they try.

Bo Derek, Kim Kardashian, Kloe Kardashian & Kylie Jenner

No coincidence that Bo Derek’s most iconic look was when she was emulating us. And then there’s the Kardashian/Jenners making millions emulating us. And the funny thing is they think we don’t know. I respect German Martina Adams more than any of them because at least she’s honest. She’s telling everyone she wants to be black while the rest just deny and steal.

Martina Adam

But the cool part about it is the more we know that we lead with our blackness, the stronger we become, and they- white people- have to follow us (which they already are). Because we are no longer following them. Once we take away this straight hair and white skin as validation of beauty, what do they have? When was the last time you followed white women for beauty trends?

We got IT. But it starts by owning it and celebrating our own from the blackest among us for her dark skin and afro hair. I have two young daughters with short, afro hair who need to see more women like this. They also need to see more kids who look like them. Right now, a young, black girl rocking short natural hair is rare- unless in Africa. It’s much more common to see our young girls in long braids. This past summer, I saw a 4-year-old with a full hair weave and edges that were as smooth as a baby’s bottom- gone like a Brazilian wax. We need to let these girls rock their hair short if it’s short. So what if people think ‘she’s’ a ‘he.’ It happens to my girls all the time. We laugh about it now. But they also get A LOT of compliments from all types of people every day who are happy to see them with their natural hair. We cut Princess Tiana’s hair and the hair on most of the dolls they get because even rarer is the black doll that doesn’t sell the fantasy of long hair. Yes, the dolls are black, but the majority still look like Barbie. So this black barbie image starts early and has been around for a long time.

But it can end. We can make a safe space for black girls to be themselves, no additives, from their beautiful afro hair to their flawless dark skin. We can show them images of beautiful black queens who reinforce this beauty type until they know that their beauty is real and relevant, and that they lead the beauty conversation. Think about it, we’re just now realizing that we as black people, as black women, lead popular culture. Now imagine if we had realized that as kids. That’s the power we have in this next generation. That’s the power as adults that we have now. So what are we going to do with it?

Do you believe in perpetuating the Black Barbie Doll Look?

Erickka Sy Savané is managing editor of CurlyNikki.com, a wife, mom, and freelance writer based in Jersey, City, NJ. Her work has appeared in Essence.comEbony.com, Madamenoire.com, xoNecole.com, and more. When she’s not writing…wait, she’s always writing! Follow her on Twitter, Instagram or  

ErickkaSySavane.co

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R. Kelly’s former girlfriend details harrowing relationship: “I was getting punished for something every week”

Accusations of sexual misconduct against R. Kelly are nothing new; from his illegal marriage to Aaliyah, to the infamous video of him allegedly having sex with a 14-year-old girl, the singer’s history is littered with predatory incidents. New allegations surfaced over the summer when longtime Chicago music journalist Jim DeRogatis published an article in Buzzfeed in which he accused Kelly of holding women in a multi-state sex cult. The story detailed how Kelly sought to controls the eating habits, attire, bathing, sleep schedules, and sexual activities of six women. Now, one of Kelly’s alleged victims has spoken to Rolling Stone about her harrowing two-year relationship with the singer.

The woman, a former radio DJ named Kitti Jones, first met Kelly following a concert in Dallas in June 2011. They soon began texting and, two months later, met up in Dallas. Jones says that immediately upon entering her hotel room, Kelly began pleasuring himself. “I was attracted to him and was just like, ‘Well, OK. Fine,’” she recounted. “Maybe he just has weird ways of getting off.” She said Kelly was “like a drill sergeant even when he was pleasuring me. He was telling me how to bend my back or move my leg here. I’m like, ‘Why is he directing it like this?’ It was very uncomfortable.”

By November 2011, Jones had quit her job and moved to Chicago, where she and Kelly lived together in Trump Tower. Almost immediately, according to Jones, he began micromanaging her every movement. He required that Jones wear baggy sweatpants when she was in public and constantly text him of her whereabouts. Kelly demanded he be called “daddy.”

Jones said Kelly became abusive when she asked him about the infamous “pee tape,” which led to his arrest for child pornography in 2003 (he was acquitted in trial). “I was putting my hand over my face and telling him I was sorry,” Jones told Rolling Stone. “He would start kicking me, telling me I was a stupid bitch [and] don’t ever get in his business.”

The following year saw Kelly embark on a lengthy tour during which he made Jones part of his act. As Rolling Stone notes, Jones was literally placed inside a cage erected on stage. Kelly entered the cage and began simulating oral sex. “‘I’ve never paraded around anybody before,’” Jones said Kelly told her before the tour started. “‘I’m gonna make sure people see us together.’”

In January 2013, Kelly moved Jones to his Chicago recording studio, where she lived with two of Kelly’s other girlfriends. Cameras watched the women’s every move and would use starvation as a punishment for not following his orders. In some instances, Kelly would go days without eating. She and his other girlfriends were required to look down when walking outside of their room.

By March, Kelly began forcing Jones to have sex with other women. “Ninety-nine percent of the time, I didn’t want to do it and I would tell him I didn’t want to do it,” Jones claimed, adding that she once vomited after performing oral sex on another one of Kelly’s girlfriends. Jones also said Kelly urinated on two women during a sex act, after which he demanded one of his girlfriend to clean up. Jones called the period between March and September 2013 as “six months of hell.” “If I wasn’t getting slapped, I wasn’t eating or my phone was gone,” she said. At one point, she said she considered suicide.

In September, Jones finally left Kelly and moved back to Dallas. Two months later, however, they reunited when Kelly played a concert in the city. When she got on the tour bus, she said Kelly assaulted her.

In the subsequent years, she sought to rebuild her life, started a a nonprofit organization called Stop Protecting Your Abuser, and assisted the parents of Joycelyn Savage, one of Kelly’s current girlfriends. Even still, she said she still has feelings for Kelly and reached out to him after watching him walk out of an combative interview with Huffington Post: “I was like, oh my God, poor thing,” she aid.

In a statement issued to Rolling Stone, a representative for Kelly categorically denied the allegations. “Mr. Kelly is aware of the repeated and now evolving claims of [Ms. Jones],” Kelly’s representative wrote in a statement. “It is unfortunate that Ms. Jones, after public statements to the contrary, is now attempting to portray a relationship history with Mr. Kelly as anything other than consensual involvement between two adults. As stated previously, Mr. Kelly does not control the decision-making or force the actions of any other human being, including Ms. Jones, by her own admission. Any claim of wrongdoing of any kind or of mistreatment of any woman by him is false, ill-motived and defamatory.”

Read the full Rolling Stone article here.

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The National share wild party video for “I’ll Still Destroy You”: Watch

The National dropped yet another terrific record earlier this year in the form of Sleep Well Beast, Today, they’ve shared a wild visual for the album cut “I’ll Still Destroy You”. The video was directed by Allan Sigurðsson and Icelandic performance and installation artist Ragnar Kjartansson, who collaborated with The National when they played their Trouble Will Find Me track “Sorrow” over and over for six hours during an installation project dubbed “A Lot Of Sorrow”.

(Read: The National Are The Hardest Working Band In The World)

The “I’ll Still Destoy You” visual was filmed at Dope & Korruption in Denmark, a pop-up bar created by Kjartansson and the band during the HAVEN Festival, which Aaron and Bryce Dessner co-created. Attendees were treated to champagne, confetti, a sailor striptease and much merriment, providing a frenetic visual for the electronics-accentuated song. The crew was forced to shoot the video in just one hour, as Danish security officials shut down the bar during the shoot and it was destroyed the following day.

Check out the clip above. Previously, The National shared visuals for Sleep Well Beast singles “The Day I Die”, “Guilty Party”, and “Carin at the Liquor Store”.

Alongside the new video, the band has added some new dates to their massive world tour. In addition to multiple summer 2018 dates in South America and Australia, The National also announced that members of the band will also perform in Buffalo, NY on December 11th to benefit Buffalo String Works, a not-for-profit that provides high-quality music instruction on stringed instruments to children of low-income, refugee and immigrant parents. Check out the full itinerary below.

The National 2017-2018 Tour Dates:
10/24 – Berlin, DE @ Tempodrom
10/25 – Amsterdam, NL @ AFAS Live
10/26 – Amsterdam, NL @ AFAS Live
10/28 – Lisbon, PT @ Coliseum
11/02 – Paris, FR @ Pitchfork Music Festival Paris
11/04 – Stockholm, SE @ Annexet
11/05 – Stockholm, SE @ Annexet
11/06 – Oslo, NO @ Sentrum Scene
11/07 – Oslo, NO @ Sentrum Scene
11/09 – Brussels, BE @ Forest National
11/27 – Portland, OR @ Arlene Schnitzer Concert Hall
11/28 – Seattle, WA @ Paramount Theatre
11/29 – Seattle, WA @ Paramount Theatre
12/01 – Vancouver, BC @ Queen Elizabeth Theatre
12/02 – Vancouver, BC @ Queen Elizabeth Theatre
12/04 – Philadelphia, PA @ Verizon Hall
12/05 – Washington, DC @ The Anthem
12/07 – Montreal, QC @ Metropolis
12/08 – Montreal, QC @ Metropolis
12/09 – Toronto, ON @ Sony Centre
12/10 – Hamilton, ON @ Hamilton Place Theatre
12/11 – Buffalo, NY @ Buffalo Town Ballroom *
12/12 – Chicago, IL @ Civic Opera House
12/13 – Chicago, IL @ Civic Opera House
01/19 – Los Angeles, CA @ The Forum
01/20 – Las Vegas, NV @ The Joint
01/23 – Mexico City, MX @ CDMX Pepsi Center
02/21 – Sydney, AU @ Sydney Opera House Forecourt
02/22 – Sydney, AU @ Sydney Opera House Forecourt
02/25 – Auckland, NZ @ Villa Maria Winery
02/27 – Brisbane, AU @ Riverstage
03/16-03/18 – Buenos Aires, AR @ Lollapalooza Argentina
03/16-03/18 – Santiago, CL @ Lollapalooza Chile
03/23-03/25 – Bogota, CO @ Festival Estereo Picnic
03/24 – Sao Paulo, BR @ Lollapalooza Brazil
06/02 – London, UK @ ALL Points East Festival
06/07 – Aarhus, DK @ NorthSide Festival
06/15 – Dublin, IE @ Donnybrook Stadium
06/16 – Dublin, IE @ Donnybrook Stadium

* = members of The National

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Hunter S. Thompson TV series is in the works from Get Shorty showrunner

Writer Davey Holmes made quite a splash recently with the well-received Get Shorty series for the obscure EPIX Network. His ability to wring originality from an established property at an unestablished network has scored him a deal with MGM TV, who The Hollywood Reporter reports has tapped Holmes with developing a series around the life of gonzo journalist Hunter S. Thompson aptly titled, Fear and Loathing.

“As we look to the future of MGM Television, it is imperative that we forge long-term relationships with creators who have an eye for dynamic storytelling,” said MGM Television Group president Mark Burnett. “Davey is tremendously talented and has demonstrated that he can deliver quality programming that will resonate with viewers.”

Holmes will be working with writer Bob Nelson, who scored an Oscar nomination for his work on Alexander Payne’s Nebraska. Holmes himself has also worked on shows such as Shameless, In Treatment, and Pushing Daisies.

“After resisting overall deals for years, I couldn’t be more excited or proud to be embracing this one,” said Holmes. “It’s a partnership with a studio that makes some of the most exciting television out there. I can’t say enough about the intelligence, daring creativity and overall support MGM has brought to our collaboration.”

Johnny Depp memorably portrayed Thompson in Terry Gilliam’s 1998 cult classic Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas. The series will presumably dive deeper into some of Thompson’s more memorable journalistic stunts, whether that be the time he spent with biker gang the Hell’s Angels or the time he unsuccessfully tried to become sheriff of Pitkin County, Colorado.

It better end with that time Depp blasting Thompson’s ashes out of a cannon.

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Film Review: Suburbicon

The following review was originally published as part of our coverage of the 2017 Toronto International Film Festival.

If you’ve ever found yourself wondering what a fan-made re-creation of a film might look like if it was actually made with a budget similar to or greater than the original product, then Suburbicon might actually be a cinematic experiment of some interest. It’s just hard to figure out what purpose it might serve otherwise.

George Clooney, directing a script that was written by Joel and Ethan Coen and then reworked by Clooney and Grant Heslov, clearly knows how to bring a Coen-esque touch to a Coen-esque plot. The story of a suburban family man, Gardner (Matt Damon), who finds himself mired in an increasingly complicated and grisly plot after his wife is murdered, has all of the hallmarks – and even some of the same plot details – as Coens classics like Fargo and Blood Simple. There’s a collection of bizarre ne’er do wells getting up to nefarious things in otherwise seemingly ideal locales and saying strange but eminently quotable things. The washed-out 1950s suburban setting marred by violence and blood also feels a lot like a Coens film. It even sounds like one, with the snappy dialogue between henchmen or cops clipping along at a very familiar pace and intonation.

And perhaps that’s all Clooney should have attempted with Suburbicon. It might not be particularly original, but at least it works. It’s much harder to figure out what the value and purpose of Clooney and Heslov’s additions to the story are. While all of this suburban Fargo dark comedy is playing out in one ticky tacky box in the town of Suburbicon, the Meyers family (Karimah Westbrook and Leith M. Burke), who are black, move into the neighborhood. Aside from Gardner’s son Nicky (Noah Jupe), who becomes friends with the new boy across the yard, the white locals don’t respond well to the slight diversification of their community and lash out at what they see as a direct threat to their safe and proper society. It starts simply, with blithely muttered racial epithets and askance glances, but quickly escalates into violence as the Suburbicon citizens start forcing the Meyers out of local institutions and lurking outside of their house every night.

You can probably determine the moral of the story already. And no, it doesn’t really grow more complex or less clumsy as it unfolds onscreen. In parts, at least, it’s more entertaining than the above synopsis. Damon makes a good flustered villain, and the ever-reliable Julianne Moore, who pulls double duty as Gardner’s murdered wife and her scheming sister, delivers solid turns in both capacities. Oscar Isaac is absolutely genius as a suspicious insurance agent, breathing all sorts of new life into the nebbish mid-century businessman Coen archetype. There’s an impressively Chekhovian use of a peanut butter and jelly sandwich at one point in the proceedings. But Suburbicon’s intermittent strengths aren’t enough to carry it, let alone make up for its hamfisted attempts at saying something of greater importance.

The problem isn’t necessarily that Suburbicon is too obvious, especially not when many of the news reports that play in the background of various scenes feature actual interviews from white people who objected to black people moving into their communities during the same time period. Or that it’s a fictional story. But the stifling nature and sinister underbelly of white suburban and small-town life has already been extensively explored everywhere from the works of David Lynch, to other Coens offerings, to even this writer’s personal teenage diary. Suburbicon simply has nothing new to offer on that front.

The hypocritical violence of whites who are the actual threat to the “civilized” society they use to justify themselves warrants more discussion, but it also needs something more sophisticated and humanizing than whatever goes on throughout Suburbicon. In their rush to portray the Meyers’ plight at the hands of racist whites – all of which is going on while the community ignores white-on-white violence – Clooney and Heslov forget to make them flesh-and-blood characters. They are objects to their onscreen neighbors, but also to their creators. They exist only to receive (and sometimes bravely endure) the racist behavior of the other characters. They have no lives or motives or characteristics outside of this; Mr. and Mrs. Meyers aren’t even granted first names in the film.

Delivered with all of the well-meaning passion, hopped-up self-importance, and flailing execution of a dude who has just discovered that sexism is real and has decided to write a viral blog post about it – or perhaps a sweeping Oscar acceptance speech that hails the community’s progressive stance on race while failing to mention that the first black Oscar winner, Hattie McDaniel, had to accept her honor in a segregated venue – Suburbicon is a mess of good intentions and lacking execution. It doesn’t work on a purely aesthetic level or as a political statement, and the combination of the two goes together about as well as a mid-level Coens comedy and a morality play about racism masquerading as a thesis.

Trailer:

from Consequence of Sound http://ift.tt/2z1uUSy