The Filtered Excellence: May 18, 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.



Twin Peaks.  The show that changed the face of television is back for an 18 week run on Showtime.  Incredibly, most of the original cast – including Kyle MacLaclan, Sheryl Lee, Richard Beymer, Sherilyn Fenn, Madchen Amick, Peggy Lipton, Dana Ashbrook, and James Marshall, among others – are all slated to return.  Robert Forster – who was originally cast for the show’s first run, but backed out due to scheduling conflicts – will take over the role of Sheriff Harry S. Truman in place of the now-retired Michael Ontkean.  In addition, Laura Dean, Naomi Watts, Ashley Judd, Monica Bellucci, Michael Cera, Jim Belushi, and Chrysta Bell are also among the many guest stars slated to appear.  Plot details are under heavy wraps, but it’s sure to revolve around the many secrets – that were uncovered in the wake of the murder of resident Laura Palmer.  What will happen next in this quiet, but mysterious town in the Pacific Northwest?  Tune in Sunday, May 21st at 9pm Eastern to find out.  You can also go to for extras and more information.


The Wizard Of Lies.  In 2008, Bernie Madoff, a successful stock broker, investment advisor and financier made headlines around the world when he was arrested for running a Ponzi scheme that defrauded investors up to 65 billion dollars.  Madoff would be plead guilty to all charges and is currently serving a 150 year prison sentence.  In this HBO Films presentation, Robert DeNiro portrays the disgraced financier, with Michelle Pfeiffer playing his wife Ruth, with Alessandro Nivola and Nathan Darrow as Madoff’s sons Mark and Andrew.  Based on the book by New York Times reporter Diana B. Henriques and helmed by Academy Award winning director Barry Levinson (Diner, The Natural, Rain Man, Good Morning Vietnam), the film centers around the interviews Madoff made in prison with Henriques (who plays herself) tracing his rise and spectacular fall.  While it focuses on how Madoff coldly bilked people out of their life savings, it also shows how his family dynamic was collateral damage as the case came to light.  DeNiro puts in a chilling performance as the icy Madoff, making him out to a cunning, calculated sociopath obsessed with money and power regardless of who it hurts – even its those closest to him.  Pfeiffer, rocking a thick New York accent, is just as good as Ruth Madoff, alternating between shock and bewilderment as her world of comfort and excess comes crashing down around her.  Darrow and Nivola nearly steal the movie as Madoff’s sons, who discover the scheme and play a key role in bringing Madoff down – while fending off accusations that they were a part of it. The script – written by Sam Levinson, Sam Baum and John Burnhan Schwartz, manages to keep their focus on Madoff’s narcissism and ‘greed is good’ values, but also shows how the financial community looked the other way even when it was clear that Madoff’s successes were too good to be true.  They also give voice to the real victims in this case: The vast number of people who took significant financial hits – and in some cases, lost everything – in the scam.  A dark, compelling look at a man who had – and lost – it all.  The Wizard Of Lies premieres May 20th at 8pm on HBO.  You can also go to for more information.


Fight For Space.  In 1961, President Kennedy pledged to have Americans on the Moon by the end of the decade.  In the summer of 1969, Neil Armstrong made it a reality.  The Space Race inspired Americans to take a greater interest in science and technology, leading to a variety of new innovations and spiked the economy.  But when the Apollo program ended in 1972, it began a process that led to our dreams of going beyond the Moon becoming an afterthought.   How did this happen?  In this new documentary, director Paul Hildebrandt talks to former astronauts, staff, scientists, NASA officials and other involved in the space community about how it happened, why, the success it spawned and what is needed to reach the cosmos once again.  Using archival footage and making credible arguments for and against going back, Hildebrandt has put together a doc that both inquires and inspires.  Fight For Space opens this weekend.  You can also to for additional information.




Safe Haven by Ruth B.  For 20 year old Ruth B, 6 seconds changed her life. After releasing her critically acclaimed EP at the end of  2015, Ruth B, the Edmonton native who became a viral sensation by tracking the progress of her song ‘Lost Boy’ via Vine –has released her first full length album.  Produced by Joel Little (Lorde) and Mike Elizondo (Ed Sheeran, Fiona Apple), the album expands on the bare bones aesthetics of the EP but not so much so that it takes away from her ready made pop voice.  Lyrically, Ruth B. deals with all phases of love and the complexities that comes with it (‘Mixed Signals’, ‘Dandelions’, ‘If This Is Love’, ‘First Time’) while ‘Young’, is a celebration of youth that has all of the earmarks of an across the board hit.  With a hit single already under her belt and a solid collection of songs as a follow up, Ruth B has shown that she is ready to be a major player for a long time.  A fantastic full length debut.  Safe Haven is available now through Amazon, Itunes, and all major retailers. You can also go to for more information.


in.ter a.ll.a by At The Drive In.  6 years after forming, At The Drive broke into the mainstream with their third album Relationship In Command.  Then just as they were poised for even greater success, the band – burned out from constant touring, drug abuse and long standing artistic differences – broke up in 2001.  Singer Cedric Bixler-Zavala and guitarist Omar Rodriguez-Lopez would go on to form the prog-rock band The Mars Volta while the remaining members – Jim Ward, Paul Hinojos and Tony Hajjar – formed the rock band Sparta.  Both bands were successful but all parties always held the possibility of a reunion open.  Finally, after several false starts and one off shows,  the group (minus Ward) reformed in 2015 and now have released their first album of new material in almost 17 years.  More of a continuation than a re-introduction, it’s the sound of a band that’s been to hell and back and lived to tell about it.  It’s also their most focused, relentless, and bruising album to date.  A relentless thrill ride of an album.

in.ter a.ll.a by At The Drive In is available now through Amazon, iTunes and all major music retailers.


Move Upstairs by The Como Mamas.  The Como Mamas – the singing trio of cousins Ester Mae Wilbourn, Della and Angelia Davis – first gained exposure on the Daptone compilation Como Now.  Their soaring a cappella harmonies on spirituals led them away from their home of Como, Mississippi to some of the top venues in the world.  With their latest album, The Como Mamas are joined by the Glorifiers, a backing band some of the top musicians within the Daptone camp.  Together, they connect the power of gospel with gut bucket blues and show how the merging of the two created what we now call rock n roll, R&B and soul.  Its one of those albums that will cure what ails you.  A joy from start to finish.  Move Upstairs by The Como Mamas will be available Friday on Amazon, iTunes and all major outlets.


Singles Soundtrack (Deluxe Edition).  When writer-director Cameron Crowe was putting together his look at lives and loves of people within the blossoming Seattle music scene, he didn’t realize that the film – and its accompanying soundtrack – would capture a movement that was on the cusp of being a global phenomenon.  The movie got great reviews but it was its soundtrack released three months ahead of the film that gained larger traction. It featured new music by bands that came out of the current scene (Pearl Jam, Soundgarden, Alice In Chains, Mudhoney) along with some of the area’s greatest musical heroes (Jimi Hendrix, Ann & Nancy Wilson of Heart) along with new material by Smashing Pumpkins, & Paul Westerberg.  To mark the 25th Anniversary of the film, the soundtrack will be re-released with some added extras.  Included in the bonus disc: Music that was in the film but didn’t make the soundtrack, acoustic and live tracks, demos and much more.  Fans of the film will finally get to have ‘Touch Me, I’m Dick’ by Citizen Dick featuring Matt Dillon.  The deluxe edition of the Singles soundtrack will be available on Friday through Amazon, iTunes and all major music outlets.




New York City: The L.A. Rebellion.  In the late 60s and 70s, a wave of young black filmmakers came out of the UCLA Film School and produced a series of films that depicted the black experience that ran directly contrary to what was coming out of Hollywood.  Dubbed ‘The L.A. Rebellion’, it served as the launching pad for the careers of Charles Burnett, Billy Woodbury, All Sharon Larkin, Julie Dash, Jamaa Fanaka, Anita W. Addison, among others.  Two seminal films from that emerged from this collective will have featured at the IFC Center.  Killer Of Sheep, Burnett’s stark, yet lyrical portrayal of a struggling black family living in Watts, and Bless Their Little Hearts, Billy Woodbury’s crushing look at how unemployment takes its toll on a Watts family, will be shown, fully restored in all of its black and white glory.  It will be accompanied by The Pocketbook, a short film that Woodbury directed based on a Langston Hughes story.  Burnett and Woodbury will also be In attendance at select screenings.  Both films – which were added to The Library Of Congress – continues to have a profound influence on filmmakers and fans, so its a great chance to see why and hear directly from the filmmakers themselves.  Go out and see two classics.  Killer Of Sheep and Bless Their Little Hearts will be at the IFC Center through May 25th.  You can also go to for showtimes and more information.


New York City: Reservoir Dogs.  Released in 1992, Quentin Tarentino’s film about the events before, during and after a botched robbery put independent film back into the mainstream.  It made Miramax Films and its co owners Harvey and Bob Weinstein – major Hollywood players and put Tarentino on the path to being one of the most influential writer-directors of his (or any) generation.  The film also gave a creative second wind to Harvey Keitel, and helped elevate the careers of Steve Buecemi, Tim Roth, Michael Madsen and the late (and sadly missed) Chris Penn.  To celebrate the 25th Anniversary of its release, Film Forum will be host a two week run with a brand new 35mm print.  Great dialogue, dramatic time shifts, poetic violence and a killer soundtrack, come see the movie that started it all.  Reservoir Dogs will be at Film Forum May 19 through June 1st.  You can go to for showtimes and more information.


Los Angeles: Bjork Digital.  Bjork has always incorporated visual aspects in her work and this new exhibit takes it to the max.  Using custom headsets, attendees will be transported to a remote beach, a Japanese concert, even the inside of the Icelandic icon’s mouth – all set to music covering her entire career. There’s also the Biophilia room, which is a hands-on educational space that encourages uses to explore music, science and technology.  It concludes with a trip to the Cinema Room, featuring music videos directed by Michel Gondry, Spike Jonze, Alexander McQueen and more.  Whether you are a hardcore Bjork or looking to get introduced to her work, this exhibit will simply blow your mind.  Bjork Digital will be at Magic Box at The Reef May 19th through June 4th.  You can also go to for more information.

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

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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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