Widows. For his follow-up to the Oscar-winning 12 Years A Slave, director Steve McQueen switches up from historically based drama to a poltically charged heist thriller. It stars Viola Davis as Veronica Rawlings, a Chicago teachers’ union executive who is still dealing with the death of her career criminal husband Harry (Liam Neeson). She receives a visit from Jamal Manning (Brian Tyree Henry), a crime boss looking to become the next alderman. Manning is looking to collect a 2 million dollar debt – but it blew up with Harry and his crew while they were planning their next crime. Manning gives Rawlings a week to come up with the money or the next visit will be from Manning’s psychotic right hand man Jatemme (Daniel Kaluuya). When Manning finds Harry’s plans for 3 million dollar robbery – along with incriminating photos of a well-known politician – she decides to finish the job with the other widows from Harry’s crew: Linda (Michelle Rodriguez), who just lost her store to creditors; Alice (Elizabeth Debicki), a trophy-wife who’s a step away from going into prostitution; and Amanda (Carrie Coon), who needs money for her newborn baby. As Manning puts the plans into motion, she also has to contend with Jack Mulligan (Colin Farrell), the alderman running against Manning – and Mulligan’s father (Robert DuVall), an elderly, but still powerful Chicago poltician. As the newly formed crew readies itself, they quickly find themselves neck deep in a sea of corruption, power and politics. Using the political uneasiness of Chicago as a backdrop, McQueen crafts together a tight, taunt crime thriller, that has several nuances that mirror what’s happening in the country today. Davis leads the outstanding cast, with Debicki in a star making performance, Kaluuya, going against type as the pain seeking Jatemme; Henry bringing subtle menace; and Farrell bringing sleaze and ooze as the corrupt alderman. A strong follow up from one of cinema’s best directors. Widows opens this weekend nationwide.
The Beatles (White Album) Super Deluxe by The Beatles. Released in the fall of 1968, The Fab Four’s 2-LP set captures the band at its creative – and fractured peak. Over the course of 30 songs, it runs the range from Chuck Berry-infused rock to introspective folk, proto hard rock and avant garde experimentation. Each member of the group comes into their own as songwriters – particularly George Harrison, whose song ‘While My Guitar Gently Weeps’ is considered the album’s highlight. As part of the massive reissue campaign, this super deluxe edition of the White Album contains a new mix by Giles Martin (son of Beatles producer George Martin), outtakes, and early takes of future classics such as ‘Hey Jude’, and ‘Let It Be’. The biggest reveal is the so-called ‘Esher demos’ – 27 songs that were recorded at George Harrison’s home that capture the band at its most intimate This is The Beatles managing to hold it together and fall apart at the same time, with extraordinary results. A fresh look at a rock classic. The Beatles (White Album) Super Deluxe edition by The Beatles is available now through Amazon, Itunes and all major streaming services.
Black Velvet by Charles Bradley. Charles Bradley would have turned 70 this year, and this new collection culls together tracks, singles, material that just missed the final cut on his solo albums and songs he recorded for various tributes and compilations. When you listen to gut bucket soul and funk of ‘Fly Little Girl’, ‘Can’t Fight The Feeling’, ‘Victim Of Love and ‘The Good Life’, you are amazed that these songs were kept on the shelf. The album also contains three covers that are given a completely soul makeover: Neil Young’s ‘Heart Of Gold’, ‘Stay Away’ by Nirvana and Rodriguez’s ‘Slip Away’. Uplifting and heartbreaking at the same time, it’s a fitting tribute to The Screaming Eagle Of Soul. Black Velvet by Charles Bradley is available now through Amazon, Itunes and all major streaming services.
May To May by Helen Crimmins. This past spring, Helen Crimmins – still mourning the death of her husband Barry – began to sort through over 6,000 photos that she took of the comedic great and those in his orbit. Over the next few months, she was able to get it down to under 300 and have friends such as Bobcat Goldthwait, Steven Wright, Tim Kazurinsky, Neko Case and Mike Donovan write captions and remembrances. It captures Barry Crimmins on stage and in private moments that’s done with candor, warmth and, of course, love. It’s a loving elegy for one of the most influential and important comics of our time. May To May by Helen Crimmins is available exclusively through www.helencrimmins.com.
Los Angeles: The Vulture Festival. After a run on the East Coast, The Vulture Festival comes back west to celebrate the best in what’s happeining in pop culture. This year’s highlights includes conversations with Jim Carrey and Cynthia Nixon; Q&As with Bo Burnham, Busy Philipps; a Scrubs reunion; Nick Kroll reading all of the parts during a table read of Big Mouth and much more. Whether you are a fan of film, TV, or literature, this is your event. The Vulture Festival runs November 17th and 18th at The Roosevelt Hotel. You can also go to www.vulturefestival.com for a complete rundown of events, tickets and additional information.
The Great Los Angeles Walk. Los Angeles is known for its insane traffic, but for one day, The Great Los Angeles Walk turns the City Of Angels into America’s biggest walkabout. For the 13th year, people can walk or bike from downtown Pershing Square to near Century City on Santa Monica Blvd. Along the way, you can check out some of the city’s best restaurants, shops and more. With great weather, food and events, this is the perfect way to kick off an extended holiday break. The Great Los Angeles Walk will take place November 17th. You can also go www.greatlawalk.blogspot.com for more information.