Here and Now. The latest series from writer-director Alan Ball (Six Feet Under, True Blood) is a look at a fractured nation through the eyes of a progressive family. It stars Holly Hunter and Tim Robbins as Audrey Baker and Greg Boatwright, a long time couple who met at students at Berkeley. In addition to having a biological daughter, they adopted children from countries affected by U.S. military interventions: Vietnam, Liberia, and Columbia. Now settled in Oregon, this multi-ethnic family must now deal with adulthood, identity, and their place in a world that has grown increasing hostile since the wake of the 2016 Presidential elections. Also added to the mix, a contemporary Muslim family who’s led by Dr. Farid Shokrani (Peter Macdissi), a psychiatrist treating one of the Audrey and Greg’s children – and dealing with his own personal demons. Together and individually, these explorations take them to places that none of them are quite ready to handle. As with most Alan Ball series, issues surrounding identity, tolerance, one’s place in the world at large at the forefront, as are elements that touch upon the surreal and supernatural. Hunter and Robbins lead a stellar cast with the state of Oregon and its many layers of diversity and wonder becoming almost another character. A bold, adventurous new work from the Alan Ball canon. Here and Now premieres Sunday at 9pm Eastern on HBO. You can also go to www.hbo.com for more information.
Homeland. The 7th season of the Emmy Award winning Showtime series picks up following last season’s explosive finale with Carrie Mathison, (Claire Danes) leaving her job in The White House and living in D.C. with her sister. She’s grown distrustful of President Keane (Elizabeth Marvel) after she ordered the arrest and imprisonment of 200 members of the intelligence community – including a U.S. Senator and her mentor Saul Berenson (Mandy Pantinkin)- following the attempt on her life. Working off the grid, she launches her own investigation to secure their release. She also has to deal with Keane’s mounting paranoia, which is leading the county down a dangerous path. Part of Homeland’s success has been in large part in how it captures the current political climate with remarkable accuracy and this season promises to be no different. Claire Danes shows why she’s one of the best actors working today, as her character wrestles with grief, anger and paranoia while remaining determined to find out the truth behind the events that have unfolded – and the ones that are underway. Patinkin is always back and in fine form as Saul Berenson, who has to wiggle his way out of federal prison and play a cat and mouse game with The White House to find out who’s behind the conspiracy. One would think that a show would start to lose some of its zip after 7 seasons, but this series is beginning to venture into a new and vibrant territory. The new season of Homeland premieres this Sunday at 9pm Eastern on Showtime. You can also go to www.sho.com for bonus features and additional information.
Eric Clapton: Life In 12 Bars. The life and career of the legendary guitarist is the subject of this new Showtime documentary. Director Lilli Fini Zanuck (Rush, Driving Miss Daisy) has full access to Clapton and his archives (most of which has never been seen) to show how a young man from a fractured home in Ripley became – as a member of The Yardbirds, John Mayall’s Bluesbreakers, Cream, Blind Faith, Derek & The Dominoes and solo – one of rock’s greatest guitar players. It also dives into the many insecurities that led to long standing addictions to drug and alcohol that nearly ended his career – and his life. Zanuck also doesn’t shy away from Clapton’s now infamous rant during a 1976 concert (in which he openly makes racist comments against people of color) and the tragic death of his son Conor. Through it all, its Clapton’s love of music that continuously pulled him from losing it all and how his love for the art turned his tragedies into triumphs. Told with candor, warmth and brutal honesty, this is the most comprehensive profile to date. A must see for any Clapton fan. Eric Clapton: Life In 12 Bars premieres Saturday, February 10th at 9pm Eastern on Showtime. You can also go to www.sho.com for bonus features and more information.
Bomb City. The life and shocking death of Brian Deneke is the subject of this new film by writer-director Jameson Brooks. It stars Dave Davis as Deneke, a Amarillo, Texas native who loves punk rocker who throws shows at a rundown venue called Bomb City. He and his fellow punks refusal to conform to the town’s conservative views puts them at odds with the community – in particular with Cody Cates, a 17 year old high school football star who runs with a pack called the ‘white hatters’. After a losing a football game, the white hatters have a confrontation with the punks, leading to a series of violent events that would shake the community to its core. Brooks, who co-wrote the script with Sheldon Chick are both Amarillo natives, so they were able to tap into the local vibe and flavor with ease, giving the film a feel that’s more lived in than re-created, even though the events took place over 20 years ago. Davis is fantastic as Brian, whose cause for individuality extended while beyond the barriers of his community. This is a movie that packs quite a punch and will stay with you long after its over. Bomb City opens in select theaters and on demand this weekend. You can also go to www.bombcityfilm.com for more information.
The Gilded Palace Of Sin by The Flying Burrito Brothers. After helping The Byrds transition from ‘space-rock’ to full blown country, Gram Parsons would leave the group to form The Flying Burrito Brothers. Joined by fellow Byrds defector Chris Hillman, the Burrito Brothers fused Bakersfield country with soul, gospel and psychedelic rock into a sound that would later be called ‘country-rock’, but was more in line with what Parsons would call ‘cosmic American music’. Their debut album, The Gilded Palace Of Sin was loved by critics, but failed to connect with audiences. But the album has aged well, having a profound influence on rock acts such Bob Dylan, The Eagles, Poco, Elvis Costello and The Black Crowes and with country artists such as Travis Tritt, Vince Gill, Alan Jackson and Clint Black. The Flying Burrito Brothers are also considered the forefathers to the so-called alt country and Americana movements led by Emmylou Harris, Lucinda Williams, Steve Earle, The Jayhawks, and Son Volt. Now Intervention Records gives The Gilded Palace Of Sin the full reissue treatment, with a full analog remastering from the original tapes, an old school album presentation and making it available in CD, SACD and vinyl formats. To hear Parsons at a creative songwriting and performing peak in such songs as ‘Hot Burrito #1’, and ‘Hot Burrito #2 is worth the price of it alone. A much needed return of one of the greatest debut albums ever. The reissue of The Gilded Palace Of Sin is available exclusively at the label’s website, www.interventionrecords.com.
Homey Don’t Play That! The Story Of In Living Color and The Black Comedy Revolution by David Peisner. Launched in the spring of 1990, In Living Color broke new ground as a prime time sketch comedy series with a predominately Black cast. Created by Keenan Ivory Wayans, the show put urban street humor back into TV, running as a direct counter to more upscale Black comedy shows such as The Cosby Show. The show also served as a launch pad for the careers of Jamie Foxx, Jim Carrey, Rosie Perez, Jennifer Lopez, Tommy Davidson, David Alan Grier and Keenan’s brothers Damon, Marlon and Shawn. In Living Color was also one of the few shows that recognized hip hop and R&B’s growing influence on pop culture, with Tupac Shakur, Mary J. Blige, Public Enemy, Heavy D, among others serving a musical guests. In this new book, David Peisner has exclusive interviews with cast members, writers, producers, network executives to show how the series overcame enormous odds to become successful, and how its effects on the comedic landscape are still being felt today. The book also details how the show’s now legendary live Super Bowl Sunday special – devised as a direct counter programming alternative to the Big Game’s then-uneventful halftime presentation – forced network executives and the NFL to present a more eventual show between halves of the Big Game. Peisner also dives into the backstage battles over content and departures of key cast members ultimately led to the show’s demise after only four years. Loaded with great stories and insights, Peisner has put together a loving requiem for one of TV comedy’s greatest shows. Homey Don’t Play That! by David Peisner is available now through Amazon, Barnes & Noble and all major book retailers.
New York City. Life Is A Dream: The Films Of Raul Ruiz (Pt 2). With over 100 films to his credit, Raul Ruiz is Chile’s most internationally renowned and prolific filmmakers. With support from Imagen de Chile and The Embassy Of Chile, The Film Society Of Lincoln Center is presenting the 2nd part of an extended retrospective of Ruiz’s work. It will include The Blind Owl, Time Regained, Ce jour-la, The Insomniac On The Briege, Klimt (starring John Malkovich), Shattered Image (starring William Baldwin), his final film, Night Across The Street and much more. With films that have probing questions and explorations into theology, philosophy, literature and visual expressions and styles that run from experimental, humorous, surreal and gothic, this series will not expand your mind, it will blow it away. Life Is A Dream: The Films Of Raul Ruiz (Pt 2) will be at The Film Society Of Lincoln Center February 9th through the 18th. You can also go to www.filmlin.org for a complete list of films, tickets and additional information.
New York City. Ingmar Bergman Centennial Retrospective. Often considered the filmmaker’s filmmaker, the output of Ingmar Bergman has little to few peers. HIs stock company, which included Max Von Sydow and Liv Ullmann, among others, also puts Bergman in the conversation of the greatest directors of actors in the history of the medium. To celebrate the 100th Anniversary of his birth, Film Forum teams up with Janus Films, Swedish Film Institute and the Ingmar Bergman Foundation to present a five week, 47 film retrospective. Featuring over 40 restorations, the series will include his first film (Crisis, which he made when he was only 28), first screenplay to make to the screen (Frenzy), The Seventh Seal, The Virgin Seal, Persona, The Magic Flute, Fanny & Alexander, among many others. This is cinema of the highest order, with themes running from dramatic to comedic and touching on every aspect of the human condition. A fitting tribute to an all-time great. The Ingmar Bergman Centennial Retrospective will be at Film Forum through March 15th. You can also go to www.filmforum.org for tickets, a complete rundown of films and additional information.