The Filtered Excellence: January 12, 2017

Bob Geldof once asked us, “Where is the filtered excellence!?” It’s right here. Once a week we take a break from comedy to bring you this week’s 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.


Bright Lights: Starring Carrie Fisher and Debbie Reynolds.  This new documentary was scheduled to air on HBO in March, but the recent deaths of its stars (1 day apart shortly after Christmas) compelled HBO to push up the release date.  Directed by Alexis Bloom and Fisher Stevens, its an intimate, no holds barred look into Hollywood royalty through the eyes of the film’s subjects. Through home movies, we see Reynolds at the peak of her success on stage and through such films as ‘Singin’ In The Rain’ and ‘The Unsinkable Molly Brown’. We also see Fisher’s rise in the ranks, first on stage with her mother, through theater and ultimately as Princess Leia in the Star Wars franchise. The doc also details the rocky stages of their lives: For Reynolds, being on the bad end of a love triangle involving her, her then husband Eddie Fisher and Elizabeth Taylor; for Fisher, it was her battles with drug addiction and mental illness. But through it all, the film captures the loving and endearing mother-daughter bond that carried them both until their final days. It’s a loving, moving coda to two showbiz icons. Bright Lights: Starring Carrie Fisher and Debbie Reynolds is airing now on HBO, HBO GO and HBO NOW. You can also go to for run times and more information.

Lost In London.  Woody Harrelson has built a career playing off beat, off kilter characters, but his latest role may be his most ambitious to date: Himself. Harrelson will direct and star in this unprecedented production that will combine the immediacy of live theater will the nuances of feature film production. In other words, what audiences will see in select theaters will be happening live and in real time. Harrelson also wrote the script which is, according to producers, ‘based on a crazy night of real-life events’ as Harrelson confronts old friends, royalty and London police, as they hamper his efforts to get home to his family. Owen Wilson and Willie Nelson co-star in what promises either a bold new step in the development of cinema or a cult classic of legendary proportions. Can Harrelson pull it off?  Come out to select theaters on January 19th to find out.  Go to for a complete list of theaters, times and more information.


No Plan by David Bowie.  2017 would have been Bowie’s 70th Birthday and to celebrate, this new EP quietly became available online. The tracks are said to be Bowie’s final recordings, which were made at the close of the album ‘Blackstar’ and intended to be used for the musical ‘Lazarus’. With songs ranging from moody and melancholic (‘No Plan’) to vibrant, mature rockers (‘Killing A Little Time’, ‘When I Met You’), it gives you a sense of elation and sadness: Happy to see that Bowie was still in top form until his still shocking, sudden passing, yet sad because there won’t be any new Bowie music to look forward to. A stunning and fitting post script to one of the best ever. No Plan by David Bowie is available now through Amazon, iTunes and all major music outlets.


New York City: Love Is The Message, The Message Is Death.  Arthur Jafa is a world renown director, cinematographer, visual artist and lecturer who has worked with Stanley Kubrick, Spike Lee, and Julie Dash, among many others.  His latest work is a 7 minute short film that is a blizzard of sounds and images that deals with the joys, pains, triumphs and struggles that pertain to Black life in America. Using Kanye West’s ‘Ultralight Beam’ as the soundtrack, Jafa combines the archival with the current, the sacred with the profane and the beauty with the sadness to present a microcosm of the American Black Experience then and now. It’s a piece that demands multiple viewings and re-arranges your synapses in ways you are not prepared for. A complete and absolute triumph. Love Is The Message, The Message Is Death will be at Gavin Brown’s Enterprise through January 28th.  You can go to for more information.

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

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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

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