The Godfather 45th Anniversary Screening. Released in the spring of 1972, The Godfather revived a studio, Marlon Brando’s career, the gangster movie genre and an industry that had lost its viewers to television. It crushed box office records becoming the top grossing film of 1972, and for a few years, it was the top grossing film of all time. Francis Ford Coppola, Al Pacino, Robert Duvall and James Caan became household names and The Godfather would go on to win three Oscars including Best Picture and Best Actor. To celebrate the film’s 45th Anniversary, TCM Big Screen Classics will host a series of screenings in select cities over two nights. A chance to see one of the greatest movies ever made on a theater again? Now that’s an offer you can’t refuse. The Godfather will view in select cities nationwide June 4th and 7th. You can also go to http://www.fathomevents.com/ for tickets and more information.
Letters From Baghdad. Gertrude Bell was the most powerful woman in The British Empire, wielding more influence than her friend and colleague T.E. Lawrence (Lawrence of Arabia). She helped shape the Middle East after the war, helping to draw the borders around Iraq, and established the National Museum Of Iraq. So why has she been all but written out of history? In this new documentary by Zeva Oelbaum and Sabine Krayenbuhl, they unlocked a slew of letters, documents and footage to tell the story of how an Oxford-educated woman went from tourist to highly decorated British officer framing policy and boundaries that are still being felt today. They also enlist Tilda Swinton to bring Bell’s letters to life, which recall everything from impressions of the region, politics, right down to her love of clothing and personal life. Actors are also employed to portray some of Belle’s contemporaries and using black and white footage deftly blend it in to give its narrative a consistent flow. Oelbaum and Krayenbuhl has crafted a doc that adds new perspective and nuance to just how complex Western involvement has been in this fragile part of the globe. A moving reclamation of a one-woman political force. Letters From Baghdad opens in New York this Friday and in select cities on June 9th. You can also go to www.lettersfrombaghdadthemovie.com for more information.
Waiting For A Song by Dan Auerbach. Dan Auerbach has never been afraid to wear his influences on his sleeve. His love for the riff laced blues and hard rock has made The Black Keys one of the top bands for over a decade. For his latest solo album, the bright, sophisticated, sunny pop and soul that can dominated AM radio in the 60s and 70s oozes out of every pore of the 10 song set. He also brings in some high powered guests to help add even more light and richness to it: Twang king Duane Eddy brings his distinctive tone to two tracks while former Dire Straits frontman Mark Knopfler is aboard on the highly infectious ‘Shine On Me’. Auerbach also collaborates with songwriting greats John Prine and Pat McLaughlin on the title track, which wonderfully captures the path to writing that next great song. This is an album that was made to play for a road trip with the windows down and the speakers turned up. Whether its with The Black Keys, as a producer and now as a solo act, this album re-affirms that Dan Auerbach is in the midst of a creative and commercial peak. Waiting For A Song will be available this Friday through Amazon, iTunes and all major music retailers.
Sweet Sweetback Baaaadassss Revenge. Writer-director-actor-novelist-musician Melvin Van Peebles broke all of the rules making his landmark third full length feature. In addition to financing the film himself, Van Peebles wrote, directed, edited, and starred in the story of a poor, repressed black man fleeing from white authority (and kicking ass and making time with the ladies while doing it). Van Peebles also composed the score, enlisting a fledging young group named Earth, Wind & Fire to perform it. Short on funding to properly promote the movie, Van Peebles broke rank with Hollywood tradition and released the soundtrack ahead of the film. The soundtrack and the film became an underground hit, laying the blueprint of what became the blaxploitation film era and how music inspired by it can be used to as a promotional tie in. Van Peebles’ use of gospel-based vocalizations, spoken work, jazz based rhythms and funk also foreshadowed what the use of sampling in hip hop. The soundtrack is finally receiving a proper digital release and sounds just as street, vibrant, militant and funky as ever. No ‘ultimate soundtrack’ collection is complete without it and it truly forecasts everything that we see and hear today as a matter of course. A welcomed reissue by one of the unsung heroes of cinema. Sweet Sweetback Baaaadassss Revenge is available now through Amazon, iTunes and all major music retailers.
The Joshua Tree (30th Anniversary Edition) by U2. U2’s fifth studio album made the Irish quartet the biggest band in the world. It would sell over 25 million copies around the world and earn them two Grammy Awards including Album Of The Year. To coincide with its 30th Anniversary, the band is releasing a deluxe edition of their seminal work that will include the original album, live tracks from the Joshua Tree tour, B-sides, remixes, outtakes and much more. The album itself is one of the greatest albums ever, but to hear the band at the peak of the powers live, along with the B-sides – most of which were strong enough to make the final cut – really makes this collection a must have for both long timers and newcomers. The Joshua Tree (30th Anniversary Edition) will be available this Friday through Amazon, iTunes and all major music retailers. You can also go to http://www.u2.com/ for more information.
Iron Ambition: My Life With Cus D’Amato by Mike Tyson. Boxing was Cus D’Amato’s life and he knew when a fighter had the physical and mental skills to be a champion. So when D’Amato saw 13 year old Mike Tyson spar in the ring, he declared ‘That’s the heavyweight champion of the world’ and was right on the money. In this new memoir, Tyson looks back at their relationship in and out of the ring, which evolved from teacher to student to father and son. Told with love an and unflinching honesty, Tyson recalls how D’Amato took in a young man mentally scarred by low self-esteem, poverty and criminal activity and shaped him into a strong, fearless fighter who would become the youngest heavyweight champion in the history of the sport. The book also tells how D’Amato – who had managed the careers of champion fighters Floyd Patterson and Jose Torres – waged a one man war against the International Boxing Club of New York, who along with the Mob, had a stranglehold on the sport until the late 1950s. Told with the same directness and bluntness that dominated his previous book ‘Undisputed’, Tyson gives a rich, detailed look at the man who helped shape champions in and out of the ring. Tyson’s incredible second act as a storyteller is in fine form. Iron Ambition: My Life With Cus D’Amato is available now through Amazon, Barnes and Noble and all major book retailers.
50 Years Of Rolling Stone. When Jann Wenner, a 21 year old Berkeley drop out founded Rolling Stone Magazine, he had one goal: to be the premiere publication for journalism, cultural criticism, photojournalism and, above all else, music. Throughout its near 50 year run, Rolling Stone has featured seminal pieces by Ralph J. Gleason, Dr. Hunter S. Thompson, Rob Sheffield, Matt Taibbi, Jancee Dunn, Kurt Loder, Joe Levy, David Fricke, and Neil Strauss among many others; showcased iconic photographs by Annie Leibovitz, Baron Woman, and Mark Seliger; and legendary interviews with John Lennon, Mick Jagger, Bob Dylan, Kurt Cobain and Bruce Springsteen, just to name a few. Landing the Rolling Stone cover became the ultimate symbol of pop culture success while the magazine has been named checked in songs by Dr Hook and George Harrison. Rolling Stone has also made its way into such feature films as Perfect (starring John Travolta) and most notably in Almost Famous, written and directed by Rolling Stone alumni Cameron Crowe. This new book celebrates the magazine’s half century run highlighting decade by decade all of the best interviews, photographs and articles that were published during that captivated two generations of readers. Just to read Thompson’s biting, often hilarious observations of the world at the time alone is worth picking it up. It’s an expansive celebration of a rock n roll/pop culture mainstay. 50 Years Of Rolling Stone is available now through Amazon, Barnes and Noble and all major book retailers.
New York City: The Split Screens Festival. New York Magazine TV critic Matt Zolller Seitz curates this inaugural week long celebration of TV’s past and future. Among the many highlights: Premiere screenings of HBO’s The Deuce, the new series from The Wire creators David Simon and George Pelecanos and starring Maggie Gyllenhaul and James Franco; The Sinner, the new USA series starring Jessica Biel along with screening and panel discussions with the creators and stars of Orphan Black, Billions, Brockmire, Search Party, Mr Robot and Better Call Saul. Lee Grant will be present with the festival’s first Legacy Award for her outstanding contributions to the medium and David Chase will receive the Vanguard Award for excellence. With this kind of launch, this is shaping up to up to be THE main festival to go to for TV junkies. The Split Screens Festival will run at the IFC Center June 2nd through the 8th. You can also go to http://www.splitscreensfestival.com/ for tickets, a complete rundown of events and more information.
New York City: Spielberg Summer. As part of the See It Big Series, The Museum Of The Moving Image will run a month long retrospective on the most successful director in film history. The series will cover everything from his first feature (the made for TV movie Duel), blockbusters (Jaws, E.T, Raiders Of The Lost Ark), overlooked classics (Empire Of The Sun, Always), sci-fi epics (A.I.: Artificial Intelligence, Minority Report) and historical dramas (Schindler’s List, Saving Private Ryan, Munich, Lincoln). Spielberg films were designed to be seen on the big screen and with this series, you will be laugh, cry and most of all, get a full throttle visual experience. Spielberg Summer will be at The Museum Of The Moving Image June 3rd through July 16th. You can also go to http://www.movingimage.us/ for a complete schedule, run times and additional information.
New York City: Prince Born Day Purple People Party. Spike Lee and La La Anthony will host the 2nd Annual birthday celebration honoring Prince. Attendees are encouraged to wear purple as DJs will spin Prince classics, B-sides, live tracks, songs that became hits for other artists, rarities and much more. It’s a good old fashioned New York City block party so expect plenty of food, fun and, of course, lots of funky music. A great way to spend a late spring day while honoring one of the best that ever was. The Prince Born Day Purple People Party will take place on Saturday, June 3rd at Restoration Plaza in Brooklyn from Noon to 6pm. You can also go to http://www.40acres.com/ for more information.