Brimstone. The first English language production from acclaimed Dutch director Martin Koolhaven is an epic 2 hour plus Western with Southern Gothic undertones. Dakota Fanning stars as Eva, a mute midwife living a quiet life with her husband, daughter and stepson. Her life takes a dramatic turn with the arrival of The Reverend (Guy Pearce), a scarred up preacher with a warning about hell and eternal damnation. But Eva knows all too well that The Preacher is going to bring as much hell to her and her family than salvation. Broken up into four parts – Brimstone, Revelation, Exodus and Retribution – Koolhaven puts an entirely new take on the Western, playing with narrative and adding previously taboo elements that have been rarely, if ever, used in the genre. Fanning puts in a powerful performance as the resilient Eva, spending a significant portion of the film silent, but with just her eyes, making a powerful connection with the audience. Pearce oozes pure venom and sleaze as the vengeful Preacher, who uses the Gospel as his motivation behind some of the film’s disturbing scenes and images. It’s yet another reminder as to why he’s one of cinema’s best actors. With breathtaking visuals, fine acting and a story loaded with many twists and turns, Koolhaven has put together a violent, haunting film that will stay with you long after its over. Brimstone opens this Friday. You can also go to www.brimstonethemovie.com for more information.
Pasty Cline: American Masters. Rosanne Cash narrates this loving salute to an artist that put country music on the pop charts and whose influence is still being felt today. With exclusive access to the Cline estate, it features rare performance footage and photos along with new interviews by LeeAnn Rimes, Kacey Musgraves, Wanda Jackson, Rihannon Giddens and Beverly D’Angelo to show how Virginia Patterson Hensley transformed into one of country music’s most iconic vocalists. It also looks how Cline changed the game behind the scenes, demanding equal footing in a male dominated business and mentoring the next wave of female country singers including Loretta Lynn, Dottie West, Brenda Lee, Jan Howard and Barbara Mandell. With additional insights from family members, collaborators and contemporaries, this is the moving, three-dimensional portrait to a musical giant. Patsy Cline: American Masters airs throughout the month of March on PBS. You can also go to www.pbs.org for run times and additional information.
Catfight. The latest film from writer-director Onur Turkel stars Sandra Oh (Grey’s Anatomy) and Anne Heche (Psycho, Six Days, Seven Nights, Hung) as Veronica and Ashley, former college friends who haven’t seen each other since graduation with lives have running in different directions: Veronica is a wealthy, snobbish New Yorker, married, raising a son and scoffing down a lot of wine. Ashley is a struggling artist living in Brooklyn with her girlfriend Lisa (Alicia Silverstone). When they run into each at a birthday party for Veronica’s husband, long simmering resentments and hostilities result in an all out brawl that puts Veronica in a coma for two years. When she comes out of it, she discovers that she’s out of money, her family has moved on and Ashley is now the toast of the art world. This only adds more fuel to the feud, leading up to the inevitable rematch. Oh and Heche are fantastic as the frenemeies navigating their way through love, loss, and success even as they are dealing with the circumstances that led them to beat the snot out of one another. Turkel’s script oozes with sarcasm, dark humor and allegorical overtones to our country’s thirst for solve any and all problems through violence. If you are looking for a dark comedy with a touch of MMA, this one is for you. Catfight is in theaters now and also available on Itunes. You can also go to www.itsacatfight.com for more information.
Jim Norton: Mouthful Of Shame. There’s not a lot to say about Lil’ Jimmy latest comedy special except that it will be likely be tasteless, uncensored, unapologetic, un-PC and laugh out loud funny. Whether he’s talking about dating, equality or why some people should not wear fedoras, Norton pulls no punches and we are all the better for it. We are expecting another winner from one of the best in the game. Jim Norton: A Mouthful Of Shame premieres March 14th on Netflix.
Uzelli Psychedelic Anadolu. Uzelli was a family run label that was sold records out a small shop in Frankfurt. During its near 20 year run, they released over 1300 albums that was a mix of psychedelic rock, Turkish-based funk, traditional and folk music and songs that begged to belong on a soundtrack. The label thrived during the vinyl and cassette boom, but struggled to find its footing in the CD and download age. But that’s all about to change. Now overseen by son Metin Uzelli, the Uzelli label is about to embark on a massive reissue campaign. It kicks off with the release of this killer 10 song compilation that highlights some of the label’s best work. The collision of cultures are absolutely staggering predating what would happen across the musical spectrum by at least a decade. An essential listen for those who are musically adventurous or looking to expand your musical vocabulary. Uzelli Psychedelic Anadolu will be available this Friday through Amazon, Itunes and all major music retailers.
Plan For Paradise by Soul Science Lab. Comprised of artist and creative director Chen Lo and multi-instrumentalist Asante Amin, Soul Science Lab combines Afro-Futurism, hip hop, funk, jazz, rock, West African funk and New Orleans second line to capture the full spectrum of the Black Experience. Combining the spiritual with the scientific, Afro-Futurism with Black History and the tribal with electronic, SSL has put together a work that is a dramatic leap forward in terms of how hip hop can be presented in an album format. Plan For Paradise by Soul Science Lab is available now through Amazon, Itunes and all major music retailers. You can also go to www,soulsciencelab.com for more information.
How To Kill A City: Gentrification, Inequality And The Fight For the Neighborhood by Peter Moskowitz. Former Al Jazeera staff writer and freelance journalist Peter Moskowitz looks at how four cities – New Orleans, Detroit, San Francisco and his hometown of New York City – have been affected by gentrification. What he found was that the process of revitalizing urban areas to the point where its long time residents (who are mainly comprised of poor minorities) are often displeased is not the price of ‘progress’, but part of a much larger socio-political agenda. A plan that is made up of politicians and real estate developers determined to re-engineer neighborhoods – and ultimately an entire city – into an image that sucks the very character that gave the area its appeal in the first place. Not to paint an entirely grim picture, Moskowitz also shows how residents and community groups are banding together in each of these cities to fight back and how some of the initiatives are being applied nationwide. Loaded with information, stories from those who were displaced, activists working the streets and the halls of government and even his own story, Moskowitz paints a portrait of how the fabric of what makes our cities great is under attack – and how we can save it. How To Kill A City by Peter Moskowitz is available now through Amazon, Barnes & Noble and all major book retailers.
New York City: Big Apple Con. New York City’s longest running comic book and pop culture show returns to Penn Plaza, located directly across the street from Madison Square Garden. In addition to being able to buy and trade, the two day event will be highlighted by appearances by the one and only Stan Lee, Frank Miller (Sin City, The Dark Knight Returns), cast members of the Netflix series Daredevil, Barbara Eden and much more. The world has finally caught up to comic book world and this is one of the best celebrations of the culture . Big Apple Con runs March 11th and 12th. You can go to www.nycbm.com for tickets, a complete rundown of events and more information.
Black Lives: Photographs by Beuford Smith. As the co-founder of the Cesaire Photo Agency, Kamoinge, and The Black Photographer’s Annual, Beuford Smith emerged as one the great social documentary photographers of the 1960s. This new exhibit spotlights some of his best work, which captures a three dimension look of Harlem during that turbulent period. It features Malcolm X speaking at an outdoor rally, the anguish that hit the community in the wake of Martin Luther King Jr’s assassination alongside of images of residents engaged in day to day activities. Captured in glorious black & white, this is a powerful salute to a community and a legendary photographer. Black Lives: Photographs by Beuford Smith will be at the Keith De Lellis Gallery through March 25th. You can also go to www.keithdelellisgallery.com for more information.
Los Angeles: Downtown Bookfest. Lovers of literature will be in full force on Saturday for this free celebration in Grant Park. To coincide with Women’s Month, the poetry of Emily Dickinson will be featured through readings and performances by Cut Chemist + Hymnal, David Prather and Mayda Del Valle. Attendees will also have a chance to creat their own poems, construct hand made books using dried plant specimens, get free writing advice, shop at pop up bookstores, use a photo booth using Victorian-era props and prose and much more. A great way to celebrate the power and mystery of literature. The Downtown Bookfest will take place this Saturday from noon to 5pm. You can also go to www.grantparkla.org for more information.