Wild starring Reese Witherspoon. Based on the international best-seller, Witherspoon plays Cheryl Strayed, a young woman at a crucial crossroads in her life. Reeling from a failed marriage, drug addiction and the sudden death of her mother (gently portrayed by Laura Dern), she decides to hike 1,100 miles along the Pacific Crest Trail as a means to cope, recover and reset her life. In addition to dealing with her emotional issues, she also has to deal with her hiking inexperience, abrupt weather changes, wildlife, and a pair of ill-fitting boots. Not that she’s totally alone on her journey: along the way she encounters a Hobo Times writer (Mo McRae) and a drifter/hippie (Michiel Huisman). Director Jean-Marc Vallee (of Dallas Buyers Club fame) and screenwriter Nick Hornsby (High Fidelity) bring Strayed’s book to life, weaving in her past life’s highs and lows along with her travel adventures with crisp precision, insight and skill. Vallee is quietly emerging as the next great director. Yves Belanger’s stunning cinematography captures everything from the spectacular emergence of the moon on a clear night to the snow tipped mountain ranges that look otherworldly. You want to get on the next plane and visit this amazing part of the country. This film should do for Witherspoon what Dallas Buyers Club did for Matthew McConaughey: put her back on the list of go-to actresses. Pretty much a can’t miss for the upcoming awards season. Wild is now playing in select theaters.
Concerning Violence. Goran Olsson’s damning look at the colonization of African nations – and the bloody liberation struggles that occurred in the 60s and 70s as a result – finally gets a U.S. release. Based on Frantz Fanon’s classic 1961 book The Wretched Of The Earth (with Lauryn Hill narrating passages), the film uses footage from the front lines in Ghana, Rhodesia, Liberia, Guinea alongside scenes of their brutal after effects. It’s hard to watch at times, but given what is happening here in the States and around the world, its a fitting reminder of how persistent we must be in the fight for universal human rights. Easily the most subversive and damming doc you will see this year. Concerning Violence opens Friday at the IFC Center in New York.
The 2015 FIFA Womens World Cup Final Draw. Are you ready for World Cup fever all over again? This time it’s the ladies’ turn. The 2015 tournament will be held next June and July, but here’s an important first step, the final draw. The Womens World Cup will be held next year in 6 different cities across Canada. Most importantly that means games will be played in North American time zones. Saturday, the final draw will be made at the Canadian Museum of History. The top seeds will be named and the group selections will be determined. 24 final teams will picked to participate. The way it’s expected to play out with the top seeds is with Canada receiving the number one spot and the other top 5 are expected to be the USA, Japan, Germany, France and Sweden. The final draw is Saturday, December 6th. The draw can be seen at Noon et on fifa.com
A Tribute to Bruce Springsteen. As part of PBS’ Fall Arts Festival, the network will be airing a special tribute concert honoring Bruce Springsteen. The concert was filmed during the 2013 MusiCares Person of the Year benefit and will now premiere on television for the first time. Special guests performing classic Springsteen songs from his extensive catalog include Neil Young, Elton John, Jim James, Mumford & Sons and Mavis Staples Tom Morello Patti Smith, John Legend and the Zac Brown Band.A Tribute to Bruce Springsteen airs Friday, December 5th on PBS. Make sure to check your local Public Broadcasting listings.
She’s Beautiful When She’s Angry. Directed by Mary Dore, this new documentary looks at the founding women and groups that came out of the women’s liberation movement between 1966 and 1971. It looks to capture the feeling of the time and how it still influences the battle for women’s rights today. The film focuses on the organizations that sprang up during the era including NOW and W.I.T.C.H. (Women’s International Conspiracy from Hell) plus the women who put themselves on the line to be a part of this movement. She’s Beautiful When She’s Angry opens this weekend on Friday, December 5th in New York City and rolls out to L.A. and across the country in following weeks.
It’s a Wonderful Life. The 1946 Christmas classic, “It’s a Wonderful Life”, returns to NBC for another holiday season. Starring James Stewart as George Bailey, the film flashes back through George’s life as he contemplates suicide and finds out what life would be like in the town of Bedford Falls if he was never born. The movie also stars Donna Reed, Lionel Barrymore, Thomas Mitchell, Beulah Bondi and Henry Travers as Clarence. “It’s a Wonderful Life” airs Saturday, December 6th at 8 pm et on NBC. Be sure to listen for a bell to ring.
NEW YORK CITY: The Daptone Super Soul Revue. The Brooklyn-based Daptone label has played a key role in keeping old school soul alive and well in the 21st Century. Now, they are coming to the legendary Apollo Theater to present the long lost art of a soul revue. The unstoppable Sharon Jones & The Dap Kings will headline a program that will also feature Charles Bradley & The Extraordinaires, Antibalas, The Budos Band among many others. No pyro, big screens and flashy lights, just a couple of hours of non-stop, heart-pounding, gut-wrenching soul. To see Jones – back and better than ever after a successful battle with cancer – is always a joy. A super sized show without paying super sized prices. The Daptone Super Soul Revue will be at The Apollo Theater December 4th through the 6th.
NEW YORK CITY: The Elephant Man starring Bradley Cooper. Two time Academy Award nominee Bradley Cooper heads back to Broadway in this latest revival of the Bernard Pomerance classic. Cooper plays John Merrick, a man whose several severe physical deformities has made him a top draw as a circus freak. Alassandro Nivola co-stars as Treves, a renowned doctor who takes Merrick under his care. What starts out as a doctor-patient relationship evolves into a strong friendship as Treves discovers that underneath all of Merrick’s tumors and scars is a man of great intellect, faith and unyielding determination for acceptance. Stage and screen veteran Patrick Clarkson rounds out the cast as Mrs. Kendal, an actress who finds herself drawn – and moved – by Merrick’s outlook on life. Cooper, like those who have portrayed Merrick in previous revivals (notably David Bowie and Bill Crudup) will not be using makeup or a prosthetic leaving the audience to use their imagination. With a strong cast and a powerful story, The Elephant Man is poised to be one of the must see shows this season. The Elephant Man will be at The Booth Theater through February 15th.
LOS ANGELES: An Evening with Dr. John and the Nite Trippers. He’s been called “a living tribute to nightcrawling New Orleans” and that’s a good thing. N’awlins original “Mac” Rebennack better known at Dr. John and his band the Nite Trippers will be performing at UCLA on Saturday, December 6th. The doctor is on tour in support of his new album “Ske-Dat-De-Dat: The Spirit of Satch” which is a tribute to the father of jazz, Louis Armstrong. Dr. John brings his rock, blues, jazz, zydeco sound to Royce Hall at the Center for the Art of Performance at UCLA this Saturday at 8 pm.
BOSTON, MASSACHUSETTS: The Return of Aimee Mann’s Christmas Show. After a three year hiatus, the former Til Tuesday singer is taking her Christmas show back on the road. Aimee Mann is joined by veteran punk rocker Ted Leo for a night of comedy sketches, special guests and unique takes on holiday classics. Joining Aimee and Ted in Boston are Susanna Hoffs of the Bangles and Jonathan Coulton. Other surprise guests are expected. Tim Heidecker and Fred Armisen have been known to show up at Aimee’s Christmas shows, so you never who you might see. The Return of Aimee Mann’s Christmas Show is Tuesday, December 9th at The Wilbur at 8 pm.
NEW YORK CITY: Can We Talk? Remembering Joan Rivers. The Museum of Jewish Heritage in Manhattan is hosting a special night of remembrance for the great Joan Rivers who passed away earlier this year. There will be special video memorials and people sharing what made Joan Rivers such an original. The evening will be hosted by Brad Zimmerman who opened for Joan for many years. Special guests paying tribute will include Cory Kahaney and Tom Cotter. Can We Talk? Remembering Joan Rivers happens at The Museum of Jewish Heritage: A Living Memorial To The Holocaust on Wednesday, December 10th at 7 pm.
NEW YORK CITY: Cyndi Lauper & Friends: Home for the Holidays. Girls just wanna have fun at the holidays. Cyndi Lauper will be performing and hosting her 4th annual holiday benefit for her True Colors Fund this Saturday. The fund goes to help out homeless LGBT youth. The Christmas concert will benefit that cause. There will be an amazing cast taking part in this year’s show including 50 Cent, Natalie Maines, Rob Thomas, Patty Griffin, Salt-N-Pepa, Emily West, Sufjan Stevens, Emily Haines and James Shaw of Metric, Liv Warfield, STRFKR, Hoda Kotb, and Perez Hilton and co-hosts Rosie O’Donnell and Laverne Cox. 100% of the proceeds of this holiday spectacular will go to the True Colors Fund. Cyndi Lauper & Friends: Home for the Holidays is at New York’s Beacon Theatre on Saturday, December 6th at 8 pm.