Wiener-Dog. The latest film from acclaimed (and controversial) director Todd Solondz (Welcome To The Dollhouse, Happiness, Storytelling) features four different stories that are all connected by a female dachshund. They include a young cancer survivor (Keaton Nigel Cooke) with self-absorbed parents (Julie Delpy, Tracy Letts); a veterinary nurse (Greta Gerwig) who saves the dog from being put to sleep; a frustrated screenwriter/film school teacher (Danny DeVito) and a loveless grandmother (Ellen Burstyn). As with previous Solondz films, it looks at the darker side of the human condition even among situations that on the surface look ideal. The cast is top notch with Burstyn pulling off another movie stealing performance. It’s another strong outing from a filmmaker who is determined to tell unique, honest, offbeat stories. Wiener-Dog is in theaters now.
Microbe And Gasoline. This new coming of age drama outing from writer-director Michel Gondry is a unique look at the power of friendship and adventure. Microbe is a shy, artist who has trouble fitting in at school. He finds a kindred spirit in Gasoline, another student outcast who loves cars. Together, they build a house-shaped car and plan on spending the summer road tripping across France – or at least as far as their makeshift car can get them. Leading up to and including their journey, they encounter their fair share of bullies, authority figures, cops, odd characters, and of course, girls. How they break out of this existence – and assert their own sense of identity – is the heart of the film. Gondry deftly taps into the joys and pains that come with adolescence capturing all of the wonder, insecurities and realities that comes with it. The cast – which includes Ange Dargent, Theophile Baquet and Audrey Tautou are perfectly cast to bring Gondry’s whimsical tale to life. A strong return to form by one of cinema’s most visionary directors. Microbe And Gasoline opens this weekend. You can also go to www.microbeandgasoline.com for more information.
Strange Little Birds by Garbage. The strong comeback of the late 90’s/early 2000’s alt-rock darlings continues with the release of their 6th album. It’s darker and more cinematic in sound with vocalist/chief songwriter Shirley Manson at her most haunting and most vulnerable. It also serves as a reminder of how recent acts such as Lana Del Ray and Selena Gomez have been greatly influenced by Garbage’s career output. Butch Vig shows yet again why he’s one of the top producers in the game and the entire band is on their A-game. Another winner from one of the better bands of the last 20 plus years. Strange Little Birds is available now through Amazon, iTunes and all major music retailers. You can also go to http://www.garbage.com/for more information.
At Least For Now (Deluxe Edition) by Benjamin Clementine. After captivating audiences with his brand of folk, jazz, spoken word, chamber pop and blues in the UK (and winning The Mercury Prize for best album in the process), singer-songwriter-poet and multi-instrumentalist Benjamin Clementine now sets his sights on the U.S. The deluxe edition of At Least For Now features the stunning full length album along with several tracks that feature him where he excels best: on stage. Clementine’s sharp lyrics, dynamic musicianship and unworldly vocal delivery has been compared to all time greats such as Nina Simone and it’s no exaggeration. There’s so many styles flying in and out of every track that you think this is the world of a well lived life, not someone who is still in his mid 20s. An absolutely stunning piece of work that needs multiple listens to fully absorb its genius. At Least For Now (Deluxe Edition) is available now through Amazon, iTunes and all major music retailers. You can also go to http://www.benjaminclementine.com/ for tour dates and more information.
My Ramones by Danny Fields. The 40th anniversary of The Ramones debut continues with the release of this new book by the band’s first manager, Danny Fields. It features over 250 photos from Fields’ personal archive (most of which have never been seen) that were taken during 1976 and 1977. He captures the band on stage and backstage, on buses, airports, hotel rooms and even the beach as The Ramones were blazing a path across America and Europe that would change the musical landscape forever. Fields also provides new commentary on the photos, giving the reader an insider’s look at the group’s early years. A must have book for any hardcore Ramones fan. My Ramones by Danny Fields is available through First Third Books. You can go to http://www.firstthirdbooks.com/ for more information.
Lyrics 1964-2016 by Paul Simon. As a tie-in to his new (and possibly final) album, Paul Simon has, for the first time, teamed up with Simon & Schuster on a new book that features all of the lyrics that he’s written throughout his 50 plus year career. Whether it’s with Simon & Garfunkel, as a solo artist or for Broadway (The Capeman), you’ll be able to read and dissect all of the songs that have come to define several generations of music fans. An extraordinary output by one of our most beloved singer-songwriters. Lyrics 1964-2016 is available now through Amazon, Barnes & Noble and all major book retailers.
New York City: Warren Oates: Hired Hand. When Warren Oates appeared in a film, you just knew that something down, dirty and often extraordinary was going to happen. A no-nonsense demeanor and a face that tells you that he’s seen it all, done it all, yet somehow lived to tell about it, Oates was perfect for the ‘New Hollywood’ films of the late 60s and 70s. To coincide with the digital restoration of the 1960 Leslie Stevens film Private Property – which featured Oates in his first prominent starring role and has been considered a ‘lost’ classic from the creator of The Outer Limits – The Film Society Of Lincoln Center will host a three week retrospective of some of Oates’ best work. It will include his memorable collaborations with director Monte Hellman (Two-Lane Blacktop, The Shooting, Cockfighter), Peter Fonda (Race With The Devil, The Hired Hand, 92 In The Shade); movie stealing supporting roles in Badlands and Stripes, and his tour de force performance in Sam Peckinpah’s pulp classic, Bring Me The Head Of Alfredo Garcia. Featuring some of the top actors and directors of the era, this retrospective is a fitting salute to one of the great character actors in film history. Warren Oates: Hired Hand will be at The Film Society Of Lincoln Center from July 1st through the 20th. You can go to www.filmlinc.org for a complete rundown of films, run times and more information.