4:44 Last Day on Earth. Abel Ferrara may be our last truly independent director. His latest work — his 20th film– is an original take on the apocalypse set in New York’s Lower East Side. We get to see Armageddon through the eyes of two New Yorkers played by Willem Dafoe and Shanyn Leigh– who both gave outstanding performances. No CGI or action film heroics for Abel as his film deals with sex, drugs and unfinished relationships. The lead characters are the Adam and Eve of the end times and human race ends with them. See it in theaters, or On Demand March 23.
Natural Selection. At first glance this film may seem like yet another indie fish-out-of-water, odd-couple, road-trip jaunt. Of course all these elements are present in this story of a 40-something naive Christian housewife’s quest to find her husband’s illegitimate 23 year old mess of a son. There’s a lot more to this movie than what you might expect, though. For one thing, Rachel Harris, most known for her comedic roles, offers a really beautiful performance in this bizarre, funny, and sometimes tear-jerking tale that is as much about guilt, repression, and self-discovery, as it is about adventure. Written and directed by Robbie Pickering. Winner of both the jury and audience awards for narrative feature at the SXSW Film Festival.
Frozen Planet on The Discovery Channel. Originally made for the BBC by the team who had made Blue Planet and Planet Earth, it debuted last week and runs on Sunday nights at 8PM. Yes, we know you have enough to watch on Sundays but that’s what DVRs are for. Week one was terrific and included stories on caterpillars that live 14 years, Elephant Walrus Smackdowns, Narwhals, and all with Jack Donaghey narrating.
Covered by Macy Gray. Covering someone else’s material is always a tricky proposition because you have to add your own spin to a song that in most cases everyone knows. With her all covers album, Macy Gray embraces material that brings out all facets of her unique personality. Add to that the production talents of the great Hal Wilner, what you have is Macy’s best album since her 1999 debut. Her version of Radiohead’s ‘Creep’ and The Eurythmics’ ‘Here Comes The Rain’ will break your heart. Her stripped down take on Metallica’s ‘Nothing Else Matters’ really reveals how good a songwriter James Hetfield really is. Covered is not all somber. ‘Maps’ has fun with the tempo and ‘Teenagers’ becomes a celebration. Covered is a blast from start to finish. The album is out this Tuesday.
Radio Music Society, Esperanza Spaulding. When Esperanza Spaulding win the Best New Artist Grammy in 2011, there was a collective cry of ‘Who?!’ from the pop music tastemakers. Hard core music heads and fellow musicians rejoiced. She had already released 2 excellent albums, was the youngest instructor ever to teach at Berklee College of Music and performed for the President. Radio Music Society serves as the flip side of her last album, Chamber Music Society, and as a response to all of the attention she received after wining the Grammy. It was shows amazing depth and maturity for someone who’s only 27 years old. With elements of funk, soul, classical and hip-hop all floating on the jazz foundation, don’t be surprised if Esperanza Spaulding is back on the Grammy stage in 2013.
Between the Times and the Tides by Lee Ranaldo. Because of the divorce announcement of Thurston Moore and Kim Gordon and the uncertainty of the band’s future, Sonic Youth has gotten a lot of press in the last year. What hopefully won’t be lost in all the hubbub is that guitarist Lee Ranaldo has put out an excellent solo album. If you’re expecting this release to pick up where Sonic Youth last left off, you’ll be surprised. Ranaldo’s songs are decidedly more mellow. Joined by Sonic Youth drummer Steve Shelley, guitarits Jim O’Rourke and Wilco’s Nels Cline, Ranaldo’s songwriting and musicianship excels.
Orisinal: Morning Sunshine. It’s a website featuring 59 Adobe Flash games. They’ve been releasing games since 2000. Orisinal are the most zen like video games. Spend 15 minutes here and you will feel as relaxed as a day of massage and new age meditation.Well almost. Beautiful graphics and dreamy music will put you in a hypnotic state of game play. We don’t know if the Dalai Lama plays video games but if he did this is where he’d come.
Draw Something. If you have a phone capable of downloading apps, you’re probably already playing this. Draw Something quickly went from obscurity to being one of the top app downloads, despite the fact that it got minimal promotion. That’s because it’s a simple concept (draw something and try to get someone to guess what you are drawing) and a cooperative rather than competitive slant to create on of the most addictive time wasters out there. Available for Android and iPhone. We’re hooked.
Market Day Canelé. Try these utterly excellent pastries. Caneles are known to be specialties of the Bordeaux region of France, but Market Day Caneles bakes these babies to perfection in Philadelphia, using the best all natural ingredients. The caneles are each about two inches in height; kind of resembling little striated bundt cakes. They feature a buttery, dark-caramelized outer crust which surrounds an inside that is so light, creamy and custardy. These are perfect.
Fiona Apple on Tour. We love her and we miss her. It’s been far too long since Fiona Apple mounted a tour, but she’s back now. Grab tickets if they are still available and check out her new album that’s coming out soon.