The King. The latest from award-winning filmmaker Eugene Jarecki borrows Elvis’ 1963 Rolls Royce to travels across the country to explore how Presley life and death became a metaphor for American life then and now. It takes us from Memphis to New York, Hollywood To Las Vegas and all points in between to show us how Elvis galvanized – and polarized – the nation, igniting the still on going debate about race, class and all facets of the American Dream. It also shows how he merged blues, country and gospel to bring this new sound – rock n roll – to the masses. Jarecki also uses locals and a slew of guest stars – including Alec Baldwin, Rosanne Cash, Emmylou Harris, Dan Rather, Mike Myers, Chuck D, Van Jones, James Carvelle and Ashton Kutcher, among many others, to give all insights on what Elvis represented across class age and ethnic lines. Beautifully shot, armed with a ton of archival footage, and, of course, great music, Jarecki has put together a film that honors Presley’s legacy and asks us to deep dig into ourselves as to where we want to go as a nation. The King opens in New York on Friday, Los Angeles June 29th and in select theaters on July 6th. You can also go to www.theking.film for more information.
Please Don’t Be Dead by Fantastic Negrito. The 2nd album by the Grammy-winning singer/songwriter builds on the blues/gospel sound and adds a heavy dose of funk, soul and hard rock to the mix, at times stomping along like Zeppelin as it does Muddy Waters and Howlin’ Wolf. It also offers songs that serve to inspire and encourage during this frantic, difficult times. The defiant ‘A Letter To Fear’ speaks to fear in the first person and put its on notice that its in for a fight. The Sly meets Funkadelic closer ‘Bullsh*t Anthem’ has a hook that is straight and to the point: ‘Take that bullsh*t and turn into good sh*t’. With its bloozy guitars, Sunday morning organs and now trademark husky growls and moans, Fantastic Negrito has put together a follow-up that will easily dismiss any fears of the sophomore jinx. One of the year’s best. Please Don’t Be Dead by Fantastic Negrito is available now through Amazon, Itunes and all major music retailers.
Akosua by Eddie Martinez. For over 40 years, guitarist Eddie Martinez has been one of the most sought after hired guns in music. Whether it was with his own band, Mother Night, Run-DMC (where his explosive work can be heard on the classic tracks ‘Rock Box’ and ‘King Of Rock’), Mick Jagger (whom he performed with at Live Aid), Steve Winwood, Nona Hendryx, Tina Turner, Rod Stewart or as a key member of Robert Palmer’s band, Martinez has a tone that is recognizable the moment you hear it. Now he steps out front and center for his latest solo album that is truly a labor of love. Backed by fellow musical mercenaries Carmine Rojas, Tal Bergman, Charley Drayton, Patrick Lamb, Philippe Saissee, Jose Rossy, John Mazzocco, Ramsey Embick and Kwaku Mensah, Martinez has crafted a song cycle loaded with monster riffs, sensual grooves, passionate vocals with splashes of funk and jazz. It’s a fantastic album by one of rock’s most respected and endearing guitarists. Akosua by Eddie Martinez is available now through Amazon, Itunes, CD Baby and all major music outlets.
Slim Bone Head Volt, Vol 2 by Vincent D’Onofrio and Dana Lyn. The follow up to the 2015 collaboration between the critically acclaimed actor and multi-instrumentalist is just as wild, outrageous, strange – and hilarious – as Volume 1. The premise is simple: Lyn puts to music the, let’s just call them stream of consciousness texts that D’Onofrio would randomly sent her. Whether its an ode to Patti Smith, a guppy with a smoking problem, a mule defending its stubbornness, or biting commentaries on social media, TV, catch phrases or men he loves (and hates), D’Onofrio is all in, running the gamut from observational to full on manic. Musically, Lyn & her band anchor Onofrio with everything from free jazz to prog rock. This is spoken word on a bender that’s a hoot and a howl. Slim Bone Head Volt, Vol 2 by Vincent D’Onofrio and Dana Lyn is available now on Amazon, Itunes and all major music outlets.
New York City. Essential Liz. Before she was a movie star, activist, and a lightning rod for tabloid fodder and gossip sheets, Elizabeth Taylor was first and foremost a top flight actress, winning two Academy Awards during her illustrious career. Quad Cinema will salute Taylor with a 9 day retrospective covering her early hits (National Velvet, Father Of The Bride) her ascension to full blown stardom (A Place In The Sun, Suddenly, Last Summer, Giant, Cat On A Hot Tin Roof) and her Oscar-winning performance for Butterfield 8, Who’s Afraid Of Virginia Wolff. It will also feature Taylor collaborations with her former husband Richard Burton with Cleopatra, The Comedians, The Sandpiper and The Taming Of The Shrew slate to be screened. It’s a fitting tribute to a Hollywood iconoclast. Essential Liz will be at Quad Cinema through June 29th. You can also go to www.quadcinema.com for tickets and more information.
New York City. Films On The Green. For those looking to experience French cinema, The French Embassy, NYC Parks Department and FACE Foundation will once again present some of its top films through Manhattan and Brooklyn parks. 12 classic and contemporary will screen including Jean Renoir’s The Rules Of The Game, Haute Cuisine by Christian Vincent; Giles LeGrand’s You Will Be My Son; The Scent Of Green Papaya by Tran Anh Hung and much more. It’s a great way to get a taste of France’s ongoing contributions to cinema. Films On The Green will run through September 6th. You can also go to www.frenchculture.org to get a complete rundown of events and locations.
New York City. BAM CinemaFest. 10 years strong, BAM CinemaFest has become a premier showcase for some of the year’s best indie films. This year’s slate is no different: It will open with Sorry To Bother You, the eagerly awaited satire directed by Boots Riley and starring Lakeith Stansfield and Tessa Thompson with Josephine Decker’s Madeline’s Madeline slated to close the festival. It will also include the New York premiere of ‘Don’t Worry, He Won’t Get Far On Foot starring Joaquin Phoenix and directed by Gus Van Sant. Post screening Q&As with a select number of cast members and directors will also be featured throughout its run. Whether you like docs, dramas or comedies free of the usual studio trappings, this festival is your best ticket. BAM CinemaFest runs through July 1st. You can also go to www.bam.org for a complete rundown of films and events.
Los Angeles. Beyond The Streets. In 2011, author and historian Roger Gastman put together ‘Art In The Streets’ a retrospective that celebrated the street art culture. Now Gastman has taken over an expansive gallery in Chinatown to present ‘Beyond The Streets’. Featuring works by over 100 artists, it shows how the art form has grown from city streets to art galleries, building exteriors and beyond. With worked by Shepard Fairey, The Guerrilla Girls, Retna, Invader and Takeshita Murakami among others, outdoor garden installation by Ron Finley, and a playable handball court decorated by Lee Quinones, this is the must see exhibit for those who love street art culture. Beyond The Streets will be at Werkartz through July 6th. You can also go to www.beyondthestreets.com for tickets and additional information.