The Filtered Excellence: July 6, 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.


WATCH THIS

City Of Ghosts.  It’s one thing to read about how ISIS has occupied – and terrorized – various regions in the Middle East.  It’s another thing to witness and document it.  Those who capture and report these atrocities are at the center of this powerful new documentary by Oscar-nominated and Emmy-winning director Matthew Heineman.  It looks at Raqqa Is Being Slaughtered Sliently, an anonymous group of activists who came together after ISIS took over their homeland in 2014.  Undercover, on the run, or on exile, these brave group of citizen journalists have revealed the brutal, uncompromising life under ISIS rule:  bodies being thrown from buildings, public flaying; heads being spiked to a fences, filmed executions of hostages and other grisly forms of reprisals to those perceived as threats.  ISIS is well aware of the group and has sworn to kill them and those close to them.  Despite such dire circumstances, these reporters managed to get the stories out, no matter the cost.  Heineman also shows how many of those who were able to escape, rebuild their lives in the West – even as anti-immigration sentiment has gripped several sanctuary nations.  The stories are heartbreaking.  The footage has to be seen to be believed.  Heineman has put together another mind blowing doc that truly shows what is at stake in the region and how it affects all of us.  One for the year’s best.  City Of Ghosts opens in New York this weekend and in select cities on July 14th.  You can also go to www.cityofghosts.com for more information.

 

Bronx Gothic.  Director Andrew Rossi (Page One: Inside The New York Times) looks at writer/performer Okwui Okpokwasili’s preparation in her latest one-woman show.  We see how her play -which incorporates dance, song, drama and drama to tell her story of  based on two 12 year old girls coming of age in The Bronx in the 1980s – takes shape.  Okpokwasili also shows how themes such as racism and gender politics inform the piece – and how they resonate today more than they did during this period.  Rossi also shows her off stage interactions with her daughter and her parents and their reactions to her latest production.  Told with candor, brutal honesty, but with compassion and humanity, Rossi has created another great film about an artist had a creative and cultural peak.  Bronx Gothic opens in New York on July 12th and in select theaters on July 28th.  You can also go to www.grasshopperfilm.com for more information.

 

 

The Defiant Ones.  This new four part documentary series explores the creative partnership of Dr. Dre and Jimmy Iovine on how it impacted the pop culture landscape.  Directed by Allen Hughes, it first traces their professional arc as individuals:  For Iovine, it was as East Coast based engineer and producer who worked with artists such as John Lennon, Bruce Springsteen, Stevie Nicks, Tom Petty, Patti Smith and U2.  Dr. Dre was a founding member of the group N.W.A, who would go on to become a hit producer for Death Row artists such as Tupac Shakur and Snoop Dogg.  They would join forces when both were at professional crossroads:  Iovine had just launched Interscope Records and Dre had left Death Row to form his own company, Aftermath Entertainment.  Together, they would work on musical projects that would dominate the charts for close to two decades.  They would also foreshadow the digital revolution by launching Beats by Dr. Dre, a headphone and speaker company whose sales cover over 40% of the marketplace.  Hughes spices the doc with a ton of archival footage – most of which is being seen for the first time – with new interviews featuring artists that have worked with Iovine and Dre.  But at the heart of this series is how two street guys from opposite sides of the coast were able to forge a friendship and a business partnership that has defied all expectations.  With great music and stories, Hughes has put together a 21st Century musical and business rags to riches tale.  The Defiant Ones premieres Sunday, July 9th at 9pm on HBO.  You can also go to http://www.hbo.com/ for more information.

 

 

LISTEN TO THIS

 

EP #260 by Squrl.  The latest from Jim Jarmusch’s noise-rock band continues on the same trajectory that can be found on the soundtracks to many of his films.  It’s a mix of ambient and experimental with enough elements of psychedelia and hard rock that hooks you in and doesn’t let you go until its over.  The EP also features some cool remixes by Anton Newcombe of The Brian Jonestown Massacre and Follakzoid.  Mysterious, foreboding and loaded with big drums, loud guitars and drone-like compositions, this EP is the perfect companion for your trip out in the unknown.  EP #260 by Squrl will be available July 14th through Amazon, ITunes and all major music outlets.  You can also go to www.squrlwolrd.com for more information.

 

Thrust by Black Asteroid.  Black Asteroid is the moniker for Bryan Black, who already has a pretty storied and extensive background.  He started out as a sound designer and keyboard tech at Prince’s Paisley Park Studios before moving on as one half of the acclaimed group Motor.  That group attracted the attention of Depeche Mode’s Martin Gore, who would recruit them to open up for a number of their tours.  Looking to return to his techno roots, Black started recording under the name Black Asteroid and released an EP, Engine 1 in 2012.  Fashion designer Rick Owens used Engine for his runaway shows in Paris and the two became fast friends and collaborators.  Thrust is the result of their efforts, which combines industrial and techno augmented by live instrumentation.  Its a 10 song suite that’s part cinematic soundscape, dark head trip and dance party.  With collaborations with Zola Jesus, Michele Lemy and Cold Cave, Black takes industrial and techno back to the future and its an instant classic.  The sleeper hit of the season.  Thrust by Black Asteroid is available July 13th through Amazon, Itunes and all major music outlets.

 

Ingenue (25th Anniversary Edition) by k.d. lang.  Released in the spring of 1992, k.d. Lang’s 2nd solo album marked a shift away from the country sound into a more adult-pop leaning sound with elements of cabaret. For her second solo album, k.d. Lang wanted to move alway from the traditional country sound that had come to define her work.  Working with multi-instrumentalist Ben Mink, Lang crafted an album that had a more adult-pop leaning sound with elements of cabaret and samba.  Released in the spring of 1992, Ingenue became Lang’s biggest selling album to date, selling over 2 million copies in the U.S. and her native Canada, cementing her status as one of music’s premier vocalists.  To commemorate the 25th Anniversary of the album’s release, Ingenue is getting the deluxe treatment.  It includes a remastered version of the original 8 tracks along with her performance from MTV Unplugged.  The album and its bonus tracks captures Lang at a critical and commercial peak, with songs that show the full range of her dynamic vocals.    One of the better reissues to come out this year.  Ingenue (25th Anniversary Edition is available now through Amazon, Itunes, and all major music outlets.

 

DO THIS

 

New York City: Ford To City: Drop Dead – New York In The 70s.  By the time the 1970’s rolled in, New York City was in bad shape.  A decaying infrastructure, drugs, gangs and financial ruin turned the nation’s greatest city into a modern day version of Rome’s final days.  But it also served for a great backdrop for the wave of directors that were part of the new Hollywood.  To commemorate this unlikely, but fruitful collaboration, Film Forum is presenting a three week retrospective that shows the city in all of its ragged glory.  Some of the films featured include The French Connection, Serpico, Mean Streets, Taxi Driver, Dog Day Afternoon, Klute, Midnight Cowboy, Network, The Panic In Needle Park and much more.  In true old school fashion, there will also be two for one priced double features pairing Shaft with Superfly, Death Wish with Dressed To Kill and The Warriors with Escape Fro New York.  If that wasn’t enough, there will be guest introductions and post screening Q&As with the directors of select films.  Whether you are a native New Yorker old enough to remember the city that teetered on the brink of collapse or someone curious about that period, this is the ultimate look back.  Ford To City: Drop Dead – New York In The 70s will be at Film Forum though July 27th.  You can also go to www.filmforum.org for a complete rundown of films, runtimes, tickets and more information.

 

New York City: Ornette Coleman: Tomorrow Is The Question.  Named after the late saxophonist’s 2nd album, Lincoln Center will celebrate the life and legacy of Ornette Coleman with a five day series of one of a kind events.  It will feature a reunion of his jazz funk fusion band Prime Time with speacial guests Wallace Roney, Kidd Jordan, David Murray and Joshua Redman; a screening of Made In America, Shirley Clarke’s 1985 documentary on Coleman; and a screening of David Croenberg’s big screen adaptation of Naked Lunch which will feature a live orchestral accompaniment featuring a Coleman composed score.  A fitting salute to an all time master musician and composer.  Ornette Coleman: Tomorrow Is The Question will be at Lincoln Center July 11th through the 16th.  You can also go to www.lincolncenter.org for more a complete rundown of events, tickets and more information.

 

Los Angeles:  Eat See Hear.  Showtime presents this annual movie, music and food series that appears in various venues throughout Los Angeles.  Each Saturday throughout the summer, attendees get to watch classic films on a 52 foot wide inflatable screen, enjoy food from an array of food trucks that are set up at each site and hear a set of music from area bands.  Films slated to screen include Singin’ In The Rain, Goodfellas, Raiders Of The Lost Ark, Die Hard, Young Frankenstein, Mean Girls, The Sandlot, Die Hard and much more.  Portions of ticket sales will benefit The Best Friends Animal Society.  As the name implies, this is an event that will satisfy your food, film and music palette.  Eat See Hear will run each Saturday through September 16th,  You can also go to www,eatseehear.com for a complete list of films, locations, tickets and additional info.

Want more excellence? Read last week’s The Filtered Excellence

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