The Filtered Excellence: December 1, 2016


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.


Bodyguards:  Secret Lives From The Watchtower.  This searing new documentary from Jaren Hayman looks at those who protect and risk their lives for the rich, famous and powerful.  It profiles the bodyguards for Nelson Mandela, Whitney Bulger, Justin Bieber, 50 Cent and Lil’ Wayne and what they did to protect from stalkers, would be assassins and from excessive crowds just looking to have a moment with their clients.  It also shows the toll that it takes on them:  It’s a 24 hour a day, a 7 day week gig that keeps them away from their families for years at a time.  Hayman also gets unprecedented access to a training session by Blackwater, that employs former Special Forces members and other military specialists to provide security for some of the most powerful people across the globe.  Rory Steyn tells a compelling story of how becoming part of Mandela’s security team changed his views on apartheid – especially since he was once a former member of a police force that helped enforce it.  There’s also Jacquie Davis, a former cop who left the force to form an all-female security firm.  Hayman has put together a unique look inside the political/celebrity bubble from the point of view who are rarely heard from, but whose presence is always felt.  One of the best docs of 2016.  Bodyguards: Secret Lives From The Watchtower will be released this Friday.


Jackie.  The first English-speaking film from acclaimed director Pablo Larrain puts a new spin on one of the darkest moments in American history.  Natalie Portman stars as First Lady Jackie Kennedy, who, while doing an extensive interview with a reporter (Billy Crudup) in 1964, recalls and processes the events leading up to, and immediately after, President Kennedy’s assassination.  If being a eyewitness to the murder of her husband wasn’t enough, Jackie must contend with an antsy President Johnson (John Carroll Lynch), her grieving brother in law Bobby (Peter Sarsgaard), and White House aides Jack Valenti (Max Casella) and Nancy Tuckerman (Greta Grewig), who are all trying to shape, seize and own the narrative regarding the funeral and move forward as a nation.  Privately, she’s struggling not to go completely off the rails.  Publicly, she emerges as a symbol of strength.   Noah Oppenheim’s terrific screenplay captures all facets of Jackie public and private without it veering off into camp or made for TV territory.  Portman once again shows why she’s one of the best actors working today, carrying the emotional weight of the script and a role that goes from quiet desperation to hardened reassurance.  Expect this performance to be under heavy consideration during the upcoming awards season.  Larrain’s direction is also on point, vividly recreating this dark days in November but also giving the actors enough space to let the screenplay consume everything around it.  A moving, probing look at one of the most mysterious, yet beloved figures in American history.  Jackie opens nationwide this weekend.


Blue & Lonesome by The Rolling Stones.  The Stones get back to their roots on their 25th studio album (and first in over a decade).  It’s an all covers affair featuring the Chicago Blues that influenced them in their formative years.  Cut live at British Grove Studios in a matter of days, The Stones rip through songs made famous by Howlin’ Wolf, Buddy Guy, Memphis Slim, Magic Sam and Eddie Taylor.  Long time friend Eric Clapton – who was also recording material in another studio next door – stops in to lend his trademark guitar licks over two tracks.  The band sounds loose, in the moment, and clearly having a blast.  Mick is not only killing it on vocals,  but also add a number of fantastic harmonica solos.  Richards and Wood add some stinging guitar parts with Darryl Jones and the incomparable Charlie Watts holding it down with the rhythm section.  With juke joint sensibilities and garage rock overtones, The Stones have come full circle with an album that adds another killer album to their already dynamic legacy.  Blue & Lonesome now through Amazon, Itunes and all major music retailers.


The Godfather Notebook by Francis Ford Coppola.  It’s no secret that Francis Ford Coppola has a number of issues with doing a straight adaptation of Mario Puzo’s best-selling novel.  Looking to mine the themes of family and commitment as much as the violent aspects of the book, Coppola kept a notebook featuring key portions that helped drive that narrative.  The notebook formed the bulk of the script and Coppola referenced it constantly when dealing with the crew.  That notebook is now the basis of a new book by the acclaimed director, which is also recreated to look exactly what he was working with at the time.  Anchored by exclusive photos from the set and a new forward by Coppola, it’s an intimate glimpse into the creative process went into creating what is now considered one of the greatest films of all-time.  The Godfather Notebook is available now through Amazon, Barnes & Noble and all major book retailers.

75 Years Of Capitol Records.  Whether its been rock, pop, country, soul, jazz or classical, Capitol Records has been a standard bearer of musical excellence for over 75 years.  This new book celebrates the iconic label, with photos from its vast archives, traces the evolution of this music industry giant.  All of the biggest names past and present are included:  Nat ‘King’ Cole, Frank Sinatra, Miles Davis, The Band, The Beach Boys, Pink Floyd, The Steve Miller Band, Bob Seger, Linda Ronstadt, Duran Duran, Coldplay, Radiohead, Katy Perry and Sam Smith, among many others.  With a forward written Beck, this book is a loving homage to a label that helped change the course of American popular music.  75 Years Of Capitol Records is available now through Amazon, Barnes & Noble and all major book retailers.


New York City: Dark Hopper.  Dennis Hopper was the ultimate Hollywood maverick, a studio system survivor whose film Easy Rider ushered in the ‘New Hollywood’ era that dominated theaters for over a decade.  He was also its first casualty: Lost in a haze of drugs, ego and paranoia Hopper was practically persona non grata during the artistic and creative zenith that he helped create.  Hopper also pulled off one of the great phoenix acts in showbiz history with extraordinary performances in such films as Blue Velvet, Hoosiers and True Romance.  The Anthology of Film Archives will presenting a 9 day retrospective of Hopper’s work that best captures his rebel spirit on camera and as a director.  The series will feature The Last Movie, Out Of The Blue (both of which he directed) and Blue Velvet, alongside lesser known gems such as Mad Dog Morgan, and the rarely seen The American Dreamer, a quasi documentary in which Hopper plays an amped up version of himself.  Whether you are a long time fan or just getting into his work, this retrospective is a must see for all Hopper fans.  Dark Hopper runs at The Anthology Of Film Archives December 2nd through the 11th.  You can go to for a complete list of films, run times and more information.

Los Angeles: A Tribute To Irwin Winkler.  For close to 50 years, Irwin Winkler as produced some of Hollywood’s most iconic films: Point Blank, They Don’t Shoot Horses, Don’t They, The Right Stuff, Round Midnight, and, of course, the Rocky franchise, of which the first film won the Oscar for Best Picture.  Winkler has also had tremendous success with Martin Scorsese, as they collaborated on Raging Bull, Goodfellas, and The Wolf Of Wall Street.  As a build up to their latest effort, Silence, The Egyptian Theatre will host a retrospective of the Scorsese-Winkler pairings.  It will include the aforementioned Scorsese films as well as New York, New York.  Scorsese and Winkler will be on hand to discuss the work they have done together and circumstances that led to do their latest project, Silence. A great way to spend a weekend with one of Hollywood’s most successful producers.  A Tribute to Irwin Winkler runs through December 3rd.  You can also go to for more information.


Want more excellence? Read last week’s The Filtered Excellence and visit The Interrobang Recommends

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