Bob Geldof once asked us, “Where is the filtered excellence!?” Its right here. Here are this weeks picks of what to WATCH, what to DO what to TRY what to READ what to LISTEN TO and more:
HBO’s Namath. We admit it. We love Joe Namath, and we love everything about him. From the fur coats, to the pantyhose, to his greatest moments on the field. And this HBO produced documentary is as colorful and fun and fascinating as the man himself. Do not miss this.
The Union. Cameron Crowe has had a great year, and we’re excited for the premiere of The Union on HBO. The documentary directed by Cameron Crowe featuring Elton John’s reunion with the legendary Leon Russell for their 2010 album premieres Thursday night on HBO at 9pm eastern. Cameron Crowe + Elton John + Leon Russell = Unmissable Excellence.
Brooklyn Boheme. Throughout the mid 80s and 90s, the Fort Greene section of Brooklyn was the epicenter for Black arts and culture. Directors Nelson George and Diane Paragas wonderfully recall that fertile period with Brooklyn Boheme, a labor of love documentary that features new interviews with many artists who were there. Spike Lee lived and worked there. So did Chris Rock, Vernon Reid, Branford Marsalis, Wesley Snipes, Saul Williams, Rosie Perez, Common, Mos Def, Erykah Badu, Lorna Simpson, and Talib Kweli. It was during this period that all of these artists exploded onto the national landscape. Brooklyn Boheme premieres tonight on Showtime and will be running throughout the month of February.
Chelsea vs. Manchester United. This English Premier League soccer match between mega-rivals Chelsea and Man U should be a great way to start off your all-sports Sunday. There’s a lot of history between these teams, so if you’re just getting into soccer, or thinking about checking it out, this is a good match to start with. Sunday 10:30am on Fox.
The Super Bowl. Obviously you don’t need us to tell you to watch the Super Bowl. If you weren’t already planning to watch it, we’re not going to change your mind. But this years big game promises to be an exciting one. A rematch between teams. A rematch between quarterbacks. A rematch between coaches. Will Tom Brady and his team avenge their 2008 loss? Or will Eli and the Giants lock in their dominance over the Patriots. Tune in Sunday. Kickoff is at 6:20pm on NBC.
Thunder Soul. For the fans of funk and great documentaries. Thirty five years ago an all black high-school band from Houston traveled the world, gaining international renown, challenging the conceptions of how a school band should look and sound. Where typical school bands stuck to formality and old jazz standards, this one was all enormous Afros and funk-injected experimentation. Thunder Soul focuses on the reunion of the Kashmere High School Stage Band after over three decades, to perform a tribute concert to honor their venerated band leader. It was this man, Conrad O. Johnson- the now 92-year-old “Prof,” who revolutionized the school’s failing jazz band into an emerging funk force in the early ’70s. Archival footage helps to capture the spirit of those times, while current footage of the reunion heart-warms. Winner of the 2010 Audience Award for Best Feature Documentary at the SXSW Film Festival, and directed by Mark Landsman, Thunder Soul is an uplifting story and a super funk-filled testament to the power and importance of music in our schools, and its legacy. Now available on DVD .
Malcolm X on Blu Ray. Spike Lee’s epic tale of the late civil rights leader is finally on Blu Ray. Denzel Washington cemented himself as one of film’s finest actors with a performance that can only be described as extraordinary. He isn’t playing Malcolm X, he becomes Malcolm X as he transforms from drug addicted, thrill seeking criminal to a sober, informed and enlightened civil/human rights leader. The rest of the cast – Angela Bassett, Delroy Lindo, Albert Hall, and Al Freeman, Jr – also stepped up their game to astonishing effect. Malcolm X is Lee’s crowning achievement as a director – the culmination of the hot streak of films that started with She’s Gotta Have It running right through Do The Right Thing. The DVD has deleted scenes and a documentary on the making the film with a story that’s almost as interesting as the movie itself. Malcolm X is available on Blu Ray now and is a must have.
Mr. P. Patrice O’Neal’s Comedy CD was recorded at the DC Improv months before the stroke that led to his death. Patrice’s stand up was everything we believe excellence to be. He was genuine, 100% original, uncompromising, and knee dropping hysterical. We recommend that everyone pay tribute to his greatness with a copy of Mr. P for yourself, and maybe an extra to pass along to a friend.
Chimes of Freedom: The Songs of Freedom (Honoring 50 Years of Amnesty International). There is no shortage of Bob Dylan cover compilations in this world of ours, that much is true! Amnesty International recently-released this four CD set of Bob Dylan classics and it is worth checking out based on the sheer range of artists who are singing Bob’s songs. It’s a wildly diverse group assembled here. Too many to list, but you’ll find Patti Smith, Mark Knopfler, Tom Morello, Bryan Ferry, Elvis Costello, Sinead O’Connor, even Miley Cyrus. There are some really great tracks here, as well as a few misses (Ke$ha?) Certainly not every cover is excellent, but there are some really good ones, like My Morning Jacket covering You’re a Big Girl Now, Mark Knopfler covering Restless Farewell…Lucinda Williams(Tryin to Get to Heaven), Patti (Drifter’s Escape), Adele (Make You Feel My Love), and a Kris Kristofferson appearance singing Quinn the Eskimo.
Shazam Player. You already love the Shazam app for helping you find out the title of songs you’re listening to. Well that’s about to get even better. If you’ve ever spent time looking up lyrics on the internet to a song, Shazam’s just released a free music player app for the iPhone makes that a thing of the past. The player attempts to locate the lyrics to all of the songs on your iPhone. For songs with lyrics matches, the Shazam Player will run the lyrics on the screen when the songs are played. Download from the iTunes store. Groovy Right?
Lower East Side Film Screening. With rumors swirling that CBGB is about to reopen, the Anthology Film Archives (32 Second Avenue) will screen three films this weekend by Amos Poe that capture the New York Lower East Side in all of its tattered 70s glory. Friday night will feature Night Lunch and Blank Generation, two short concert films featuring performances by The Ramones, Blondie, Patti Smith, the Talking Heads, Television, The New York Dolls, and others. Unmade Beds, Poe’s attempt to remake Godard’s Breathless with a New York context, stars Eric Mitchell, Patti Astor and Debbie Harry, will screen Saturday and Sunday. Amos Poe will be on hand all weekend to discuss each film. A perfect glimpse into a city in transition.
Concerning the Entrance Into Eternity, by Jim Jarmusch. This seems to the time for our favorite directors to get their music groove on. First, David Lynch released the beautifully surreal Crazy Clown Time. Now, Jim Jarmusch is entering the album arena with Concerning The Entrance Into Eternity, a collaboration with Dutch lute player Jozef van Wissem. Friday at 8pm, they’ll be at the ISSUE Project Room in Brooklyn performing material from the album. Jarmusch will be on guitar and van Wissem will be reading from St John of the Cross and playing lute. We have no idea what it will sound like, but if Jim Jarmusch is attched to this, it will certainly be interesting.
Some Kind of Wonderful Screening, with Mary Stewart Masterson Q&A. Out of all of the John Hugahes teen films, Some Kind Of Wonderful is hardly mentioned in the conversation. But it has a stellar cast – Eric Stoltz, Mary Stuart Masterson, and Lea Thompson – and a script that shows a bit more depth and maturity than some of his other films. This Friday (February 3rd) at 7:30, the 92nd Street Y Tribeca will be screening Some Kind Of Wonderful as part of its Basic Cable Classics series. As an added bonus, Mary Stuart Masterson will do a post-screening Q&A! It’ll be a chance for some to relieve their high school years and for others, a chance to see where the roots of emo first bloomed.