Let It Fall: Los Angeles 1982-1992. Timed to coincide with the 25th Anniversary of the L.A. riots, John Ridley makes the case that the acquittal of police officers involved in the Rodney King beating was not the reason L.A. literally went up in smoke for 6 days. Using archival footage and interviews with all of the area’s principal players, Ridley shows that the seeds of the riots were planted a decade earlier, as drugs and gang related violence lead to a radical approach in which law enforcement handled all criminal activity. He also provides brutally honest, heartbreaking first hand accounts from active participants, victims, and family members of those were killed in the riots. Ridley pieces it together as a slow building thriller to show how the wave of public failures and building racial tensions made the riots all but inevitable. A powerful, incisive work, Let It Fall: Los Angeles 1982-1992 opens in select theaters this weekend. You can also go to http://www.letitfallmovie.com/ for more information.
Jeremiah Tower: The Last Magnificent. Jeremiah Tower was America’s first celebrity chef, making a name for himself at Chez Parisse in Berkeley in the early 70s and later his own place, Stars in San Francisco. Then, at the height of his success, he walked away from it all, opting for a solitary life overseas. As shocking as his departure was, his return – as the head chef of the recently revamped Tavern On The Green – was just as stunning leaving the culinary world to wonder out loud whether or not Tower can return to his former glory. In this documentary by Lydia Tenaglia (and executive produced by Anthony Bourdain), we get a unfettered and uncompromising look at Tower as he seeks to pull off the most unlikely of comebacks. Tower tells how he overcame a childhood that was rife with neglect and abuse to becoming one of the most influential chefs of his generation. Bourdain, Mario Batali, Ruth Reichl and Martha Stewart are also aboard in this no holds barred salute to a culinary living legend. Jeremiah Tower: The Last Magnificent opens in New York and Los Angeles this weekend and in select theaters on April 28th. You can also go to www.jeremiahtower.film for more information.
The Immortal Life Of Henrietta Lacks. The much anticipated adaptation of Rebecca Skloot’s award winning best seller comes to HBO this weekend. Written and directed by George C. Wolfe (Top Dog/Underdog), it stars Oprah Winfrey as Deborah Lacks who teams up with journalist Rebecca Skloot (Rose Byrne) to find about Henrietta Lacks, the mother she never knew and how Henrietta’s death from cervical cancer – and the unauthorized her cancerous cells – led to unprecedented, life changing medical breakthroughs. Winfrey gives a career defining performance as Deborah Lacks, the daughter whose relentless, often bullish pursuit of the truth will not be denied. Byrne is just as formidable as the Skloot, who is more detective than journalist, helps Lacks discover fact after sometimes troubling fact. Wolfe’s script plays out more like a Holmes mystery and doesn’t shy away from the racial undertones within the medical field back in the 50s and today. It’s another strong offering from HBO Films that should not be forgotten during awards season. The Immortal Life Of Henrietta Lacks premieres April 22nd at 8pm Eastern on HBO. You can also go to http://www.hbo.com/ for more information.
Tomorrow. Over the last couple of years, there’s been a number of documentaries that have warned us of the dangers of climate change. But in the new documentary by Cyril Dion and Melanie Laurent, they spotlight those who are thinking globally and acting locally. They travel to varies communities across the globe to show the innovative, alternative inroads that have been made on the agricultural, energy, education and economical fronts on block at a time. The plan is by starting small and growing big, the movement to make our planet more healthier and sustainable can happen organically. Tomorrow opens in New York and select theaters nationwide this weekend. You can also go to http://www.tomorrow-documentary.com/ for more information.
Obit. How do you celebrate and summarize a person’s life in a 1000 words? That is the core question in this new documentary by Vanessa Gould. She profiles the writers at The New York Times, who have turned obituaries into an art form, with a style and narrative flair that has almost be synonymous with the paper itself. Gould has access to everything from the mass amounts of files that are kept on world’s cultural movers and shakers, and profiles a staff who, despite being under tight deadlines and enormous pressure to get it right the first time, are a loose, happy, funny group. It’s a side of media that we rarely get to see and Gould pulls it off effortlessly. It’s a rich and entertaining look at an under appreciated, but vital part of the newspaper business. Obit opens in select theaters on February 26th, You can also go to www.kinolober.com for more information.
Bang! The Bert Berns Story. Before his death in 1967 at the age of 38, Bert Berns wrote and/or produced such hits as ‘Twist & Shout’, ‘I Want Candy’, ‘Cry To Me’, ‘Here Comes The Night’, ‘Everybody Needs Somebody To Love’ ‘Cry Baby’, ‘Are You Lonely For My Baby’, ‘Hang On Sloopy’ and ‘Piece Of My Heart’, among many others. As the head of BANG Records, he helped launch the careers of Neil Diamond and Van Morrison. But outside those close to him, Bert Berns was all but forgotten. But thanks this exceptional new documentary from Berns’ son Brett and acclaimed music documentarian Bob Sarles, that’s all about to change. Narrated by Steve Van Zandt and using a wealth of archival footage and photographs, they tell the story of how a Jewish kid from The Bronx who, due to a bad heart, wasn’t supposed to live past 21, became one of the biggest songwriters and producers in rock and soul history. The film also dives into the dramas that were happening behind the scenes: frequent clashes with partner Jerry Wexler and how it led to Berns’ personal and business relationship with high ranking members of the Genovese crime family. It was this association that led to strained relationships with BANG artists and others close to him. With remembrances from Paul McCartney, Keith Richards, Van Morrison, Ronald Isley Solomon Burke, Cissy Houston and Carmine ‘Wassel’ Denoia, this is a loving multi-dimensional salute to one of music’s most unsung heroes. Bang! The Bert Berns Story opens in New York on Friday and in select theaters starting on May 5th. You can also go to www.bangthebertbernsstory.com for more information.
The Search For Everything by John Mayer. After teasing the album with the release a series of EPs, John Mayer finally unveils his 7th album as a completed piece. Though its been hailed as a return to his pop sensibilities, it serves as both a summation and a progression as an artist. The Lauren Canyon vibe of his previous two efforts is represented by such songs as ‘Changing’, ‘Never On The Day You Leave’, ‘Roll It On Home’ and ‘Theme From The Search for Everything’. The beefed up sound that dominated Heavier Things is revisited on ‘Helpless’ while the funk and R&B leanings that came out his work with The John Mayer Trio is peak form on ‘Helpless’, ‘Moving On And Getting Over’ and the slow broiling ‘Rosie’. Lyrically, the album deals with his high profile break up with Katy Perry, but with a fresh, mature perspective that covers every aspect of the end of any relationship. This is Mayer’s best work to date which says a lot considering his run of success. One of the year’s best. The Search For Everything is available now through Amazon, iTunes and al major music outlets. You can also go to http://www.johnmayer.com/ for more information.
Devil Is Fine by Zeal & Ardor. The brainchild of Swiss-American songwriter/producer Manuel Gagneux, this album is the ultimate clash of cultures: It marries the soul and the anguish of work songs with the gloom & doom elements found in black metal; hip hop beats with DIY field recordings of the 30s and 40s; the passion and emotion of soul and gospel coupled with a odes to, well, let’s just call him Lucy. But its these unusual – and eerily common – connections that make this dark ride of an album really take off. One of the more musically ambitious and adventurous albums to come out in eons. Devil Is Fine by Zeal & Ardor is available now through Amazon, iTunes and all major music outlets. You can also go to www.zealandardor.com for more information
New York City: In Dreams: An Art Show Tribute To David Lynch. With the re-launch of Twin Peaks set to roll out next month, Spoke NYC has put together an exhibition saluting its writer and creator David Lynch, Over 80 artists from around the world contributed to the project, which runs the gamut from paintings and sculptures to fine art prints covering such Lynch films such as Mulholland Drive, Dune and Lost Highway. But most of the work is dedicated to the wild and weird world Lynch presents his greatest work, Twin Peaks. If you are looking to check out some great art while diving into the major head trip, check out this exhibit. In Dreams: An Art Show Tribute To David Lynch runs through April 30th. You can also go to http://www.spoke-art.com/ for more information.
Art Expo New York. The art world will descend on Pier 94 for the 39th Annual Art Expo. Artists, collectors, gallery owners/managers and industry insiders will all on hand to search for the art and the artists that will dominate galleries all over the world. It’s also the hot spot for interior designers, architects, art & framing retailers and corporate art buyers looking to make their spots the talk of the town. A great chance to get a up close and personal look at the now and the next. Art Expo New York will take place April 21st through the 24th. You can also go to www.artexponewyork.com for more information.