The Filtered Excellence: February 12, 2014


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Bob Geldof once asked us, “Where is the filtered excellence!?” It’s right here. Here are this weeks picks of the best things to watch, the most interesting things to do, great things to try, the best picks to read, our favorite things to listen to and more:


WATCH THIS:

SNL’s 40th Anniversary Special. In October 1975, the face of late night television – and comedy – was changed forever when a new live sketch comedy series called ‘Saturday Night’ aired for the first time. The role call of careers that have been launched since the show’s inception reads like a ‘Who’s Who’ of comedy for the past 40 years: From inaugural members (Chevy Chase, John Belushi, Dan Aykroyd, Gilda Radner, ) to recent (, , , Bill Hader) has been the epicenter for comedy. To mark the show’s 40th Anniversary, there will be a live three hour special celebrating TV’s longest running sketch comedy series. Cast members past and present will be in attendance alongside some of biggest names in entertainment, sports and music. Musical guests have always been an SNL hallmark and this will be no different: Paul McCartney, Paul Simon, Taylor Swift, and Justin Timberlake will perform. Along with classic sketches, expect acknowledgments to SNL alum who left us way too soon: Belushi, Radner, Michael O’Donoghue Chris Farley, Phil Hartman, Charles Rocket and Denitra Vance. The biggest buzz surrounding the special will be the return of arguably the most successful of all of the SNL cast members: Eddie Murphy will make his first appearance on SNL since leaving the show in 1984. It’s poised to be the comedy event of the year, if not ever.

SNL’s 40th Anniversary Special airs Sunday, February 15th at 8pm Eastern on NBC.

Da Sweet Blood Of Jesus.  Directed by Spike Lee.  After being available exclusively online for several weeks, Spike Lee’s slinky remake of Bill Gunn’s 1974 cult classic Ganja & Hess gets a long awaited theatrical release.  The film stars Steven Tyrone Williams as Dr. Hess Greene, a scholar who, thanks to an inheritance, he has untold wealth.  With homes in New York City and Martha’s Vineyard, Hess drives fine cars, throws lavish parties collects ancient African art and has a live-in butler, Seneschal (played with scene-stealing delight by Rami Malek).  While working on a project about the Ashanti Empire, Hess joins the undead after being stabbed with an ancient, but cursed dagger by his mentally unstable assistant (who, in turn, kills himself).  After several attempts – both comical and dramatic – to meet the demands for his new thirst for blood, Hess seems to have a handle on it until Ganja (Zaraah Abrahams), the ex-wife of his late assistant shows up looking for him.  Though she lives up to her ‘natural bitch’ title, Hess finds himself attracted to Ganja.  She, in turn, quickly falls for Hess’ quiet cool and opulent lifestyle.  They soon marry, but once Ganja finds out about Hess’ addiction, it sets into motion a series of events that will change their lives forever.   Working on a budget that was funded through Kickstarter and shot in just two weeks, Lee – with a huge assist from cinematographer Daniel Patterson – gives the work the look and feel of a big budget production.  From the mesmerizing opening sequence (featuring dancer Charles ‘Lil Buck’ performing in various spots in Brooklyn), to an intimate, but lush seaside wedding and an uplifting scene in a local church, you would be hard pressed to believe that this movie was made on the cheap.  As he does with all of his films, music plays a key role and the combination of Bruce Hornsby’s haunting score, hip hop and gospel, also add powerful elements to the work.  Lee also updates Nunn’s script to touch upon themes ranging from religion, HIV, an Occupy Wall Street allegory and the psychological ramifications of being bullied.   Williams is terrific as Hess, bringing a cool detachment in his struggle to balance his blood addiction, his love for Ganja, his faith and what’s left of his humanity.  But its British actress Zaraah Abrahams who has the breakout role as Ganja.  At first, you want to hate her for being so spoiled and needy.  But as the film progresses, you end up emphasizing with her and quickly come to realize that her steely persona comes more out of self-preservation more than choice.  Her struggle to reconcile her love for Hess and the price to be paid for being an addict becomes the emotional core of the film. Da Sweet Blood Of Jesus is a sly, sexy, post modern take on the vampire/horror genre and Lee’s most engaging work since 25th Hour.  It’s also serves as an important lesson to aspiring filmmakers and to the studios that you don’t need an outrageous budget to make a great movie.  The film opens in select theaters nationwide and is also available on demand via Vimeo.

You can go to www.40acres.com for more information.

NBA All-Star Weekend.  The NBA’s elite will be in the basketball’s epicenter to showcase its best players.  The weekend kicks off Friday at Madison Square Garden for the All-Star Celebrity Game.  Three time MVP will be joined by Anthony Anderson (‘blackish’), Chadwick Boseman (’42’, ‘Get On Up’), former game MVP Michael Rapaport (‘Beats, Rhymes & Life’, ‘Justified’) along with NBA greats Allen Houston, Chris Mullin and current WNBA stars Shoni Schimmel, Skylar Diggins and Tina Charles, among many others.  Carmelo Anthony, Spike Lee, and ‘Mike & Mike’ hosts Mike Golic and Mike Greenberg will coach.  The event will benefit The Isaiah Austin Foundation, which provides support and research of Marfan Syndrome.  Tip-off is at 7pm Eastern and will air on ESPN. On Saturday, the NBA heads over to The Barclays Center in Brooklyn for All-Star Saturday Night.  Events will include the always popular 3 Point Shooting Contest and The Slam Dunk competition.  For the first time in recent memory, there’s more heat on the 3 Point Shooting contest:  Golden State Warrior teammates Stephan Curry and Klay Thompson – better known as The Splash Brothers – will compete against each other along with MVP candidate James Harden and the former ASG MVP Kyrie Irving and breakout star Kyle Korver for the title.  Start time will be at 8:00 on TNT.  A first time winner will be named at this year’s Slam Dunk Contest with one rookie and three 2nd year players have their eyes set on the title.  Rookie Zach LaVine of Minnesota will go up against Giannis Antetokounmpo of the Bucks, Victor Oladipo and hometown favorite Mason Plumlee of Brooklyn in the NBA’s annual slam session.  Throw downs begin at 8:30 on TNT. Finally, the weekend wraps up on Sunday night with the 64th Annual All-Star Game at basketball’s mecca, Madison Square Garden.  Atlanta Hawks coach Mike Bundenholzer will coach an East squad that will be led by LeBron James, while Steve Kerr of Golden State will coach a West squad that is anchored by leading vote getter Stephen Curry.  With New York City as a backdrop expect the show level to ramped up a couple of notches.  This is the best All-Star Game of any sport, so kick back and enjoy the ride.  Tip off is at 8pm Eastern and will air on TNT.

Foo Fighters on Austin City Limits. Foo Fighters – who documented the making of their new album on the HBO series Sonic Highways – appeared on the long running public TV series to give fans a glimpse of what they will be bringing to MLB stadiums this summer.  The hour set features a nice chunk of Sonic Highways along with all of the songs you know and love throughout their 20 year career.  In keeping with the Sonic Highways theme, the Foos also invited hometown heroes Gary Clark, Jr. and Jimmie Vaughn to help bring the noise. This blistering set shows why Foo Fighters have been one of the most consistent bands of the last two decades.  The Foo Fighters edition of Austin City Limits is airing on PBS now.  Check your local listings for times.

You can also view the episode online atwww.acltv.com.

Darryl Hall & John Oates: Recorded Live In Dublin. For Hall & Oates fans, this is a must see concert event. Filmed at Dublin’s Olympia Theatre, Hall & Oates’ “Live From Dublin” concert will be shown in movie theaters across the country. The Rock and Roll Hall of Fame duo are part of a Fathom Events special one night only screening where you can be at their concert while sitting in the convenience of a theater. The concert film was shot in July of last year and also includes interviews and backstage footage of Hall & Oates in Ireland. As part of the concert, H&O will be performing their class rock and soul hits including “Rich Girl”, “Kiss on My List”, “Private Eyes”, “I Can’t Go for That”, “Maneater”, and “Out of Touch”. Darryl Hall & John Oates: Recorded Live In Dublin is part of Fathom Events and in theaters on Thursday, February 19th.

For more information and a list of theaters and screen times, go to fathomevents.com

Marty. Turner Classic Movies will be screening the 1955 Academy Award winning romantic drama on Valentine’s Day night. Oscar winner Ernest Borgnine stars as the title character who works as a butcher and has given up on finding love in his life until he meets an equally lonely teacher at a dance at the Stardust Ballroom. Marty continues his interest in her despite the objections of his friends and family. “Marty” not only earned Ernest Borgnine an Oscar for his brilliant performance, but the film also won for Best Picture, Best Director for Delbert Mann, Best Supporting Oscars for Joe Mantell and Betsy Blair and the Best Screenplay for Paddy Chayefsky. “Marty” airs Valentine’s day night at 1am et on Turner Classic Movies.

For more information, go to tcm.com


READ THIS:

Vanity Fair’s 21st Annual Hollywood Issue. Vanity Fair’s 21st annual Hollywood Issue has once again sparked a debate, but one thing that everyone can agree on is that the content, is, as always on point. Annie Leibovitz shot the stunning cover shot and several of the portfolios featuring Hollywood’s best and brightest, but it’s the feature articles that deserve equal attention. There’s an excerpt from mega producer Brian Glazer’s forthcoming memoir, essays by Hollywood power player Jerry Weintraub, comedy giant and an revealing interview with Julie Andrews and Christopher Plummer about the 50th Anniversary of The Sound Of Music. There’s also a blow by blow account of the e-mail hacking scandal that rocked Sony Pictures and sparked an international incident. There’s also a casual dig at Sports Illustrated as legendary photographer Bruce Weber shot a Barney’s ad featuring SI swimsuit alumni Christie Brinkley, Stephanie Seymour called ‘Better Than Ever’. For music fans, Lisa Robinson spoke with Joni Mitchell, Crosby, Stills & Nash, David Geffen, Michelle Phillips, Jackson Browne, Lou Adler and other movers and shakers of the California music scene to present an oral history of the Laurel Canyon music scene of the late 60’s/early 70s. Timed to coincide with the Academy Awards, Vanity Fair’s Hollywood issue appeals to film lovers of all ages. It’s available on newsstands now.

You can also go to www.vanityfair.com for more information.


BROWSE THIS:

Marina Abramovic on Artsy.net. Artsy.net is a site dedicated to bringing making the world’s art and its artists accessible to anyone who is online. It’s also become a primary source for art collectors and for those who want to educate themselves about the medium. Recently, they launched a page featuring the complete works of legendary performance artist Marina Abramovic. It’s all here – sculptures, photos, articles and still shots from all of Abramovic’s mesmerizing exhibitions. It’s the comprehensive look at an artist that has influenced everyone from to Lady Gaga and Jay Z.

You can go to www.artsy.net for more info.


DO THIS:

NEW YORK CITY: Babyface at The Theater at MSG. While not as public as a Pharrell Williams or Dr. Dre, Kenny ‘Babyface’ Edmonds musical resume stands alongside anyone who has had sustained chart success in the last 25 years. He’s written or produced 26 No. 1 R&B hits for artists such as Michael Jackson, Whitney Houston, Mary J. Blige, and Bobby Brown, Boyz II Men, among others. As the co-founder of LaFace Records, Babyface launched the careers of TLC, Toni Braxton, and Usher. Edmonds has also worked outside the R&B realm, co-producing Madonna’s 1994 album Bedtime Stories and Eric Clapton’s multi-Grammy Award winning hit, ‘Change The World’. As a performer, Edmonds has also had extensive chart success as a solo act with such songs as ‘Whip Appeal’ and ‘When Will I See You’. Babyface will perform those hits and alongside others from his extensive hit catalog at a special Valentine’s Day performance at The Theater at Madison Square Garden.

You can go to www.thegarden.com for tickets and more info.

NEW YORK CITY: John Carpenter: Master Of Fear. Throughout his extensive career, director John Carpenter’s body of work has scared, thrilled yet also maintained a twisted sense of humor. Defiant and independent, Carpenter’s films firmly stands alongside some of the greats of the horror genre. In addition to being a great director, he’s also an accomplished musician, composing the scores to his movies as well. To coincide with the release of his first album, Lost Themes, the Brooklyn Academy Of Music is presenting a full-career retrospective of his . They will include Halloween, Starman, Escape From New York, Christine, They Live and much more. It’s a fitting salute to a horror film legend. Master Of Fear runs through February 20th at The Brooklyn Academy Of Music.

You can go to www.bam.org for showtimes and more info.

BOSTON: George Clinton & The P-Funk All-Stars. George Clinton and his band of funkateers will be making Boston extra funky for a special Valentine’s Day blowout. With a critically acclaimed memoir, a sprawling new triple album and having his songs in a series of movies, commercials and TV shows, Clinton has found a new generation of fans loving his brand of uncut funk. P-Funk shows are always epic affairs so be ready to get your booty grooving.

Go to www.houseofblues.com/boston for tickets and more information.

LAS VEGAS: at The Hard Rock Hotel & Casino. The last few years has seen The Diceman electrify and diversify: Scene stealing in the final season of HBO’s Entourage, and a critically acclaimed in the film Blue Jasmine and a best selling autobiography, The Filthy Truth. But Dice is at home on stage and he’ll bring the filth and the fury to The Hard Rock Hotel & Casino in Vegas just in time for Valentine’s Day. Get ready to be sliced – and diced.

Go to www.hardrockhotel.com for tickets and more info.


Want more excellence? Read last week’s The Filtered Excellence and visit The Interrobang Recommmends

 

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Earl Douglas is a writer/photographer based in New York City. A frequent contributor to The Interrobang, Earl is also Executive Director for the New York chapter of The Black Rock Coalition. Earl worked in radio for nearly two decades at WNEW-FM and XM Satellite Radio, which included being the on-air producer for Carol Miller, Scott Muni and Ron & Fez, and a contributor to Opie & Anthony. Earl has also independently published a number of books including Black Rock Volume 1, Urban Abyss, Mobile Uploads, and For Shimmy. His latest project is the photojournalism magazine PRAXIS, which is available exclusively through Blurb.com.

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