The Filtered Excellence: May 25, 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.



Animal Kingdom.   TNT’s explosive action crime drama is back for its second season.  It picks up after The Cody family has pulled off its biggest job to date but their severely compromised.  The Cody brothers are itching to branch out operations outside of their mother Smurf’s (Ellen Barkin) leadership while dealing with their own inner demons and secrets.  The mentally unstable Pope (Shawn Hatosy) is still reeling from murdering his former lover – Baz’s wife – Catherine.  Deren (Jake Weary) is still in the closet, taking more drugs – and risks – to fuel his needs for adrenaline.  Craig (Ben Robson) is having his sexual and drug needs being fulfilled by his teenage girlfriend Nicky (Molly Gordon), who used to be nephew J’s (Finn Cole) girlfriend.  Second in command Baz (Scott Speedman) has to balance keeping the crew focused, plan the next job, work through his growing distrust of Smurf in check, and life as a single father.  Holding it all together is Smurf, the mother and leader of the crew, who senses ‘her boys’ restlessness and will do whatever it takes to keep the unit together – as long as she remains its leader.  All of this is seen through the eyes of Smurf’s grandson, J, who is still torn between joining the family business and giving them all up to the authorities – with both sides fully aware of his inner conflict.  Can the Cody family keep it together or will they be done in by their own excesses?  Tune into TNT on May 30th to find out.  You can also go to for extras and more information.


Long Strange Trip.  The latest documentary from acclaimed director Amir Bar-Lev (My Kid Could Paint That, The Tillman Story) is a near four-hour look at the musical and cultural phenomenon that is The Grateful Dead.  With complete access to the band, music and extensive archive, Bar-Lev explores every facet of the band’s journey from folk and bluegrass enthusiasts to a full fledged rock n roll band exploring every side of the musical spectrum.  It also covers the band’s immense and incredibly loyal fan base, many of whom have seen hundreds of shows and follow them around the country.  We also get a look inside the band’s vast business empire, which employed thousands of people, and, at times, clashed with the band’s hippie aesthetics.  Its that collision of ideals that all but mandated the Dead to maintain a heavy touring schedule.  The doc doesn’t shy away from the darker elements surrounding the band, which involved drug and alcohol related deaths of Ron ‘Pigpen’ McKernan, Brett Midland, and, of course, the band’s leader and co-frontman Jerry Garcia.  This is a Deadhead’s delight told with crisp precision and anchored by footage that has rarely been seen outside of the group’s inner circles.  It’s a fitting coda to one of rock’s most beloved bands.  Long Strange Trip will have a one week run in select theaters in New York and Los Angeles starting May 26th before moving over to Amazon Video on June 2nd.



Buena Vista Social Club: Adios.   The Buena Vista Social Club was a vibrant music scene that came out of Havana, Cuba in the 40s and 50s.  Due to the Castro revolution and the embargo that came in its wake, that community became one of its many casualties, and its musicians were all but forgotten.  When musician/producer Ry Cooder traveled to Cuba to record with the musicians who were still alive, it sparked a new interest in the Buena Vista Social Club and the great music it produced.  Released in 1997 as an album, and as a Wim Wenders-directed film in 1999, The Buena Vista Social Club received universal acclaim, selling over a million copies in the U.S. and over 12 million copies worldwide.  Many of the musicians associated with the project would go on to resume successful recording and touring careers, putting Cuban music back into global landscape.  In this new documentary by Lucy Cooper, it picks up 16 years later, as five of the original members embark on one final tour, concluding where it all started:  Havana.  They go back to the original site where the club originally held court, and reflect on how the album and film’s success has taken them to some of the world’s greatest stages.  It’s also a great requiem on the members who have passed away in recent years including Ibrahim Ferrer, Comoay Segundo, Ruben Gonzalez, and Puntillita.  Loaded with archival and new concert footage, great stories and, of course, amazing music, Cooper has put together a documentary that bookends one of the greatest comebacks in music history.  Buena Vista Social Club: Adios opens in select theaters on Friday, May 26th.  You can also go to for more information.


Spirit Game: Pride Of A Nation.  The Iroquois created lacrosse and The Iroquois Nationals Lacrosse Team is ranked among the world’s best.  This isn’t just a game for them – it’s their lifeblood and the best representation of their Nation’s sovereignty and recognition.  So when The Iroquois hosted The World Championships for the first time in 2015, history, politics, and culture all came to a head for all of the world to see.  In this new documentary by Peter Spier, and Peter Baxter, they talk to tribal leaders, players, politicians and sport greats (including Jim Brown, widely considered one of the greatest lacrosse players of all time) about the game’s history and the potential political implications if the Iroquois were to be last team standing on the world’s biggest stage.  The in game footage is outstanding and will give you an entirely new perspective on a sport of the ages.  Spirit Game: Pride Of A Nation opens in theaters this weekend and on iTunes June 26th.





Stax 60 (Stax Classics).   In 1957, Jim Stewart formed Satellite Records, a Memphis based label that specialized in country and rockabilly records.   His sister Estelle Axton would invest $2500 in the fledging company and, after scoring regional hits with Rufus and Carla Thomas, shifted its sound into rhythm & blues.  They would change the name to Stax Records, and anchored by a distribution deal with Atlantic Records, they began to assemble a roster that would make rock n roll history.  Booker T & The MGs, Otis Redding, Issac Hayes, Sam & Dave, Johnnie Taylor, Albert King, The Staple Singers, Eddie Floyd, Jean Knight and Little Milton were just a sample of the artists who recorded until the Stax banne.  A series of events – Redding’s death in a plane crash, the ending of its distribution deal with Atlantic, and a number of bad business deals – led to the label’s demise in 1975.  But thanks to the CD boom and an ongoing interest in the music and its legacy, Stax is alive and well, bolstered by a new deal with Concord Records.  To celebrate its 60th Anniversary, Stax will release a ‘Stax Classics’, a series of low priced collections featuring 12 of the greatest hits from some of their best acts.  It will feature Otis Redding, Booker T & The MGs, Carla Thomas, Issac Hayes, Sam & Dave, Johnnie Taylor, Albert King, William Bell, and The Dramatics among many others.  Remastered from the original tapes, this is the ultimate primer for those who love rock and R&B.  A well deserved victory lap for one of the greatest labels of all time.  Stax Classics will be released May 19th through Amazon, iTunes and all major music retailers.


So There It Is by The Preservation Hall Jazz Band.  The legendary NOLA band has graced many stages throughout its 50 plus year run.  But it was a life changing trip to Cuba that formed the based of the basis of their second album of all original material.  Produced by David Sitek (TV On The Radio, Yeah Yeah Yeahs), PHJB draw upon Cuban rhythms, the Afrobeat of Fela Kuti, jazz inspired spiritualism of John Coltrane and Pharaoh Sanders into a sound that shows how its all musically and culturally connected.  This is an album that was designed to move you, whether you are in a meditative state or if you want to shake your trouble away.  A bold and exciting new chapter for a band that is already an American treasure.  One of the year’s best.  So There It Is by The Preservation Hall Jazz Band is available now through Amazon, Itines and all major music retailers. You can also go to for more information.




Meet Me In The Bathroom: Rebirth And Rock and Roll In New York City 2001-2011 by Lizzy Goodman.  In this extensive, sprawling new book by music journalist Lizzy Goodman, she looks back how, for the first decade of the 21st Century, New York City was once again rock’s epicenter – and how it all quickly fell apart.  Goodman conducted over 200 interviews for the book with everyone from the musicians (Yeah Yeah Yeahs, The Strokes, LCD Soundsystem, Ryan Adams, Interpol, Vampire Weekend), managers, and talent bookers, right down to long time fans and groupies to get a full view of the social, political and cultural forces that were at work to help build the Lower East Side, and later, the Williamsburg music scene.  It wonderfully captures a New York City still reeling from the 9/11 attacks and increasing gentrification, yet still willing to forge ahead and channel it all through their art.  There’s also plenty of tales of sex, drugs, and backbiting, that played a role in building up – and later tearing up – the movement.  Goodman leaves no stone unturned in getting into the guts of the 21st Century’s first great rock scene.  A must read for all music fans.  Meet Me In The Bathroom by Lizzy Goodman is available now through Amazon, Barnes & Noble and all major book retailers.




New York City: The Philip K. Dick Science Fiction Film Festival.  With the success of the Amazon series The Man In The High Castle and the upcoming Blade Runner sequel set to roll out later this year, there has been a renewed interest in the writings of sci-fi novelist Philip K. Dick.  The 5th Annual science fiction festival named in his honor will be spread out over four New York City venues featuring a series of short films tackle many of the themes that are present throughout his work.  Among the many projects that will be featured includes 2BR02B: To Be Or Naught To Be, which is based on a short story by Kurt Vonnegut.  It’s a great chance to quench your sci-fi thirst, while getting a chance to see the next wave of science fiction directors.  The Philip K. Dick Science Fiction Film Festival runs through May 30th.  You can also go to for more tickets and additional information.


New York City: The Caan Film Festival.  Not to be outdone by the French, The Musuem Of The Moving Image has put together its two week festival honoring James Caan.  It covers every facet of his 50 year career, including his first major role opposite John Wayne and Robert Mitchum in Howard Hawks’ El Dorado; his first collaboration with Francis Ford Coppola (The Rain People); post Godfather projects (The Yards, Cinderella Liberty, The Killer Elite, Thief, Rollerball) and late career comebacks (Misery, Honeymoon In Vegas, Bottle Rocket).  The centerpiece of Festival de Caan is Brian’s Song, the made for TV film that made Caan and Billy Dee Williams household names and is now a sports film classic.  If you only know Caan from his work in The Godfather or you are a fan looking to see his range of work on the screen again, this series is the one to see.  The Caan Film Festival will be at the Museum Of The Moving Image through May 28th.  You can also go to for a complete schedule, run times and more information.


Los Angeles: La La Land In Concert.  Damien Chazelle’s Academy Award winning film breathed new life into the Hollywood musical and transformed Los Angeles into one large soundstage.  To kick off Memorial Day weekend, The Hollywood Bowl will host a screening of the film with composer Justin Hurwitz conducting a 100 piece orchestra, choir, and a jazz ensemble.  A full blown fireworks display will cap off with a truly unique movie going experience. The ultimate night out for fans of the film.  La La Land In Concert will be at The Hollywood Bowl May 26th and 27th.  You can also go to for tickets and additional 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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