Bad Santa 2. The sequel to the dark holiday cult classic is just as crass, crude and gross as the original. Billy Bob Thornton is back as the hard drinking, skirt chasing, borderline suicidal Willie Soke, barely making a living in Phoenix. Against his better judgment, he heads to Chicago to reunite with his old partner/adversary Marcus (Tony Cox) to knock off the local charity on Christmas Eve. Also joining them is ‘the kid’ Thurman Merman (Brett Kelly) who’s now all grown up and still has a way of bringing out the best in Willie. Rounding out this motley crew is Willie’s long lost mother Sunny (Kathy Bates), a hardened, tattooed, female version of Willie (but a lot worse) who urges the group to up the ante. If dealing with all of this wasn’t hard enough, Willie also develops feeling for the charity’s director Diane (Christina Hendricks) who has a heart of gold, but very much married. If you are looking for safe, down home, PC-driven holiday comedy, this isn’t it. Director Mark Evans has a tough task of trying to hit the same mark that Terry Zwigoff did in 2003, but, he as well as the entire cast go all in. Bates all but steals the movie as Sunny, the ring leader who is just as bawdy and low down as the guys. If you are in a rude mood and looking for some insanely dark comedy, this is your movie. Bad Santa 2 is in theaters now. You can also go to http://www.badsanta2.com/ for more information.
Rules Don’t Apply. Warren Beatty’s first directorial effort in 18 years looks back at old school Hollywood and Howard Hughes’ influence on it. The film stars Lily Collins, a newly arrived actress from Virginia, who has been placed under contract to Hughes, played by Beatty. She’s assigned a driver, Frank Forbes (Alden Ehrenreich), who is also looking to establish himself as a businessman. They immediate have an attraction to each other, but they struggle to act on it due to their religious beliefs, other romantic commitments, and Hughes, who has a strict rules that prohibit any romantic interaction between his employees. They must also deal with Hughes’ behavior that is becoming more eccentric by the day. As he has done with his previous work, Beatty has a ball blasting away at the not so hidden hypocrisies that were happening in Hollywood – and in the nation – during the 1950s, while making it all connect to what is happening today. Collins and Ehrenreich are perfectly cast as two people who are pulled together by circumstance, yet make a connection despite their ongoing struggles with their life long beliefs. Loaded with a great supporting cast (including Beatty’s wife Annette Bening and Alec Baldwin), a spot on recreation of the period and a fine balance of comedy and drama, Beatty has put together a film that will only add to what has already been a remarkable career. Rules Don’t Apply is in theaters now. You can also go to http://www.rulesdontapplymovie.com/ for more information.
Hard Wired…To Self Destruct by Metallica. Even though its been 8 years between releases, Metallica has managed to stay busy. They formed a new label, Blackened Records, released a concert film, collaborated with Lou Reed on what would be his final album, and still have maintained a consistent series of concerts. This creative rebirth is the center of the band’s 10th album, Hard Wired. It features a new producer, Greg Fidelman, it mixes of the epic scope of And Justice For All with the full fury relentlessness of Master Of Puppets and Death Magnetic. The band is firing on all cylinders reasserting its status as thrash metal titans with lyrics centering on the theme of how people, no matter how good the intentions or ideal the situation, seems to be hellbent on screwing it up. Its the soundtrack to a world gone completely off the rails. One of the year’s best. Hard Wired…To Self Destruct is available now through Amazon, Itunes and all major music retailers. You can also go to http://www.metallica.com/ for more information.
Retribution by Tanya Tagaq. For her 4th album, Canadian throat singer Tanya Tagaq maintains the political bend that she displayed on her previous album, Animism. At the center of the work is rape: The raping of a natural resources, culture and, the continued – and often unresolved – sexual assaults upon women. Incredibly, Tagaq finds a way to channel all of the pain and outrage to an haunting, astonishing effect. As the title of the album implies, she at times sounds like the Earth screaming back at us to stop – or else. The most breathtaking track comes at the end: A cover of Nirvana’s ‘Rape Me’ in which Tagaq – in an almost child like voice – uses the refrain ‘I’m not the only one’ to remind us of the untold number of sexual assault victims who are awaiting justice. Straight up, Tanya Tagaq isn’t just taking things to the next level, she is already there. Retribution by Tanya Tagaq is available now through Amazon, Itunes and all major music retailers. You can also go to http://www.tanyatagaq.com/ for more information.
Forever Cash: The Unknown Poems by Johnny Cash. In addition to being a musical titan, Johnny Cash was, among other things, an accomplished poet. This new book features a collection of a previously unreleased poems that Cash wrote since he was a teenager right up to the weeks before he passed away in 2003. Whether he musing on love, freedom, family, fame, culture, his own shortcomings and even death, Cash, as he did with his music, does it with depth, warmth, passion, humor and grace. It’s a tome that carries the same power as any album. A wonderful epitaph for one of the best to ever grace the stage. Forever Cash: The Unknown Poems is available now through Amazon, Barnes & Noble and all major book retailers.
Lyrics 1962-2012 by Bob Dylan. The writings of Bob Dylan are the subject of this latest update on the ongoing series of his collected lyrics. The book features 50 years of the lyrics that he’s written from his first self-title debut album, all the way through his last studio album of original material, Tempest. We all know the songs, the arrangements, and the circumstances in which they were written. But to sit down and read them as text and as poetry, you are left no doubt as to why Dylan received the Nobel Peace Prize for Literature. A must have for a hardcore Dylan fan or for someone just getting introduced to his work. Lyrics 1962-2012 is available now through Amazon, Barnes & Noble and all major book retailers.
Spend the weekend with someone you love or doing something you love. Have a great Thanksgiving weekend everyone!