A Bigger Splash. Desire, sensuality, jealousy and rock n roll collide in the Mediterranean with this new thriller from director Luca Guadagnino. Tilda Swinton stars as rock star Marianne Lane, who retreats to a remote island in the Mediterranean to recover from vocal cord surgery. Accompanied by her boyfriend Paul (Matthias Schonaerts), things are going well when her former lover and producer Harry (Ralph Fiennes) arrives unexpectedly with his daughter Penelope (Dakota Johnson). Their arrival is a direct challenge to their stab at bliss: Harry is loud and outgoing, eager to confront and combat anything that displays conformity. He’s also there to see if Marianne wants to give their relationship another shot. Though they still are getting to know each other, Penelope is very much like her father but more dangerous: She pushes Marianne’s buttons with everything ranging from her career choice, the reality that she might never sing again and even threatens her relationship with Paul by openly flirting with him. Not only does she put Paul’s faithfulness to the test, but she also toys with making him give up his newfound sobriety. The tension – sexual and personal between them all builds up in ways that will have an irreparable effect on them all. Guadagnino – working off a great script by David Kajganich – artfully juxtaposes outer paradise with the internal struggles with each of the characters. Swinton delivers a powerful performance despite the fact that she has little dialogue. She has to rely on body language and facial expressions to emote and she’s terrific. When she does speak – often in whispers or muted tones – it makes it all the more powerful. Fiennes continues his current streak of exceptional roles as the over the top, at times, overbearing Harry. Schonaerts is equally as good as the supportive Paul, whose armor of strength is slowly chipped away by Harry, Penelope and his own insecurities. Johnson oozes sensuality as Penelope, perfectly playing ice to Fiennes’ fire. There’s going to be a lot of talk about the blitz of action films and comedies that will be rolling out in the next few weeks. But this is a film that deserves to be part of the summer movie conversation. A Bigger Splash is in select theaters now. You can also go towww.abiggersplashmovie.com for more information.
Trouble Boys: The True Story Of The Replacements by Bob Mehr. Always loved, sometimes loathed and always misunderstood, The Replacements were largely responsible for the alternative rock scene that exploded in the late 80s and early 90s. Ironically, it took the band’s break up in 1991 – and a slew of bands citing them as an influence – for them to get full recognition. Now, music critic Bob Mehr has put together the definitive look back at one of rock’s greatest bands. With full access to the Replacements’ archives at Twin/Tone and Warner Bros. Records, full cooperation with key members Paul Westerberg, Tommy Stintson and the family of the late Bob Stintson, producers, friends, managers and contemporaries, Mehr has put together a multi-dimensional, at times, complex portrait. It looks back at their formative years in Minneapolis, their rise in the American underground/alternative scene and finally cracking the mainstream rock scene. Mehr digs deep into how their notorious love for self-destructiveness – on stage and off – was actually a by-product of years of alcoholism, abuse, and fear. It was those factors that chiefly contributed to their breakup at a time when they were finally starting to taste mass appeal success. The book also covers their post-breakup years, which included Westerberg’s success as a solo act and Stintson fronting becoming an in demand session and live musician. Mehr also goes chapter and verse behind the most unlikely end to the Replacements story: A successful 2013-2015 reunion tour, which gave Westerberg and Stintson their much deserved victory lap. Mehr spend 10 years working on the book and it’s all there, well researched and leaving no stone unturned in getting to the heart of the story. Whether you are a long time fan or just getting into the band’s work, this book is a must have. Trouble Boys: The True Story Of The Replacements is available now through Amazon, Barnes & Noble and all major book retailers.
Relentless: The Stories Behind The Photographs by Neil Leifer. Ali standing over a fallen Sonny Liston. Alan Ameche scoring the game winning – and title winning touchdown in the NFL Championship Game. John Roseboro battered and bloodied after being repeatedly hit over the head with a bat. These are just some of the many images taken by Neil Leifer. Images that have become almost as memorable as the events themselves. Now, the long time photographer and director has compiled some of his most compelling photos – and the stories behind them – in this fantastic new book. In addition to great stories about his encounters with such greats as Mickey Mantle, Arthur Ashe, Willie Mays, Sugar Ray Robinson, Joe Namath, and Arnold Palmer, Leifer shares how being at the wrong place at the right time produced shots for the ages. Leifer also warmly recalls working with his favorite subject – Muhammad Ali – as well as shooting sixteen Olympic Games, fifteen Kentucky Derbies, The World Series, the first twelve Super Bowls, four FIFA World Cups, every important heavyweight title fight since 1959, Presidents and Popes. Visually stunning with tome that is always engaging, this is a great retrospective from one of the greatest sports and social photographers of all time. Relentless by Neil Leifer is available now through Amazon, Barnes & Noble and all major book retailers. You can also go to http://www.neilleifer.com/ for more information.
Not The End Of The World by Cilver. It’s one thing to end a band when you feel that it’s reached the end of its creative arc. It’s another when you end it when its on the cusp of reach a mass appeal audience. That’s exactly what founding members Uliana Preotu and Leon did with their group Me Talk Pretty had success with the debut album We Are Strangers and became mainstays on the hard rock/metal circuit, including the Vans Warped Tour. But founding members Uliana Preotu (vocals) and guitarist Leon felt something was missing musically and decided to disband the group. Now known as Cilver, they now have an incredible new album called Not The End Of The World. It’s a relentless 11 song cycle that channels the frustrations, anger, resilience and ultimately hope that Americans in the 21st Century. In addition to supplying heavy, melodic monster riffs, Leon is also a skilled producer, adding sonic sheen without losing any of the explosiveness of the band’s live sound. Uliana, straight up, is singing her ass off. She will be, if she isn’t already, the next great voice in rock. Crank it up and keep it repeat: This album KILLS. One of the year’s best. Not The End Of The World is available now through Amazon, ITunes, and all major music retailers.
Frequency by Ummagma. The latest EP from this Canadian-Ukraninan duo has drawn a lot of comparisons to other great shoe gaze acts such as A.R. Kane, and Cocteau Twins, but they have a sound and style that is completely their own. Vocalist Shauna McLarnon’s otherworldly vocals fit in beautifully with the gorgeous and sweeping soundscapes laid down by Alexander Kretov that blur the lines between alt pop, ambient, post-punk and electronica. It truly takes you into this hypnotic, dream like space. Shoe gaze pioneer Robin Guthrie is also aboard to remix ‘Lama’, one of the many highlights on this EP. It’s the perfect soundtrack for the trek out into the unknown or if you want to chill at home. Frequency by Ummagma is available now through the band’s website: www.ummagma.com.
New York City: Labor Of Love: 100 Years Of Movie Dates. There has been tons of movies that have based on dating. But according to the new book, Labor Of Love: The Invention Of Dating, film has played key role in how a date should (or should not) go. The book’s author Moira Weigel has joined up with Mal Ahern to curate this two week retrospective that shows how Hollywood’s love affair with dating has evolved through the years and has been successful in crossing racial, gender and cultural lines. Some of the films featured in their series include Gigi, The Wild Party, Splendor In The Grass, Gentlemen Prefer Blondes, Pretty Woman, American Psycho, She’s Gotta Have It, My Beautiful Laundrette, Crusing and much more. It’s a fascinating and all-compassing look at one of the popular and intriguing social norms. Labor Of Love will run through May 17th at BAM. You can go to http://www.bam.org/ for a complete schedule, run times and additional information.
New York City: Frieze New York. The art world will converge upon Randall’s Island this weekend for the Frieze New York Art Fair. What separates this from other art fairs is that is one of that it features new talents standing side by side with some of the biggest names in modern and contemporary art. It also gives equal footing to indie curators to showcase what’s what that’s coming out of the underground scene. There will be tons of talks, works created specifically for the fair, and art work that will be featured along and overlooking New York’s East River. It’s only in its 4th year, but Frieze New York has quickly become the event to attend to for art lovers. Frieze New York will run May 5th through the 8th. You can go to www.frieze.com for tickets and a complete rundown of events.