Wind River. After scoring success with the Academy Award nominated Hell Or High Water, writer Tyler Sheridan adds director to his credentials with this new thriller. It stars Elizabeth Olsen as Jane Banner, a rookie FBI agent who is sent to a remote Native American Reservation to investigate the murder of a local girl. She recruits the assistance of Cody Lambert (Jeremy Renner), a U.S. Fish And Wild Service tracker, who has extensive knowledge of the vast landscape. For Lambert, the case is personal: The girl was the daughter of his friend Martin (Gil Birmingham) and echoes the unsolved murder of his teenage daughter a few years earlier. The investigation unlocks a cauldron of secrets and long standing resentments between the U.S government and the local Native American community that will have long term ramifications. For his directorial debut, Sheridan applies many of the techniques used in Hell Or High Water: The landscape as a silent, but powerful character and fragile with tense dynamics between the haves and have nots. He also shows a great sensitivity to the Native American community, employing many Native American actors and showing a side of current reservation life that has rarely been tackled on screen. Olsen continues to build up a strong body of work as FBI agent Banner, trying to overcome her inexperience and lack of personnel to help solve the case. Renner in terrific as Lambert, whose savant like knowledge of the land helps mask the pain of losing his family to tragedy. With dynamic story, great visuals and powerful writing, don’t be surprised if you hear this film make the rounds during awards season. Wind River opens this Friday.
Columbus. The debut film for writer-director Kogonada is a meditative look at how family bonds can have a dramatic effect on our life choices. John Cho stars as Jin, who comes to Columbus, Indiana after his father, a renowned architecture scholar, takes ill prior to a speaking engagement. Haley Lu Richardson plays Casey, an architecture enthusiast was planning to attend the event. Both are dealing with fractured family dynamics: Jin has an estranged relationship with his father while Casey is struggling with the decision to attend college and leave behind her mother, who is a recovering addict. They bond over their internal struggles and their mutual love for many of the modernist buildings that give this midwestern town character. How they confront and deal with these conflicts gives the film its heart and soul. Kogonada shows a great deal of patience and restraint, allowing the script and its characters the chance to develop and gain depth. Cho and Richardson are terrific in the lead roles, playing well off one another and with the low key, yet visually arresting locale. A strong character study and an outstanding debut for Kogonada. Columbus opens in New York and Los Angeles this weekend and in select theaters nationwide on August 11th. You can also go to http://www.columbusthemovie.com/ for more information.
Power Of Peace By The Isley Brothers & Santana. Two legendary acts join forces for an album designed to promote healing, love and, as the title implies, peace. The current incarnation of Santana provides the musical muscle for the still other worldly vocals of Ron Isley and the six string fireworks of brother Ernie. The material is a cross section of styles and eras ranging from jazz (‘God Bless The Child’), blues (‘I Just Want To Make Love To You’), rock (Love, Peace, Happiness, Are You Ready, R&B/soul (Higher Ground, Mercy Mercy Me), and pop (What The World Needs Now). There’s also one original song, ‘I Remember’ which is a duet between Ronald Isley and Carlos’ wife, Cindy Blackmon-Santana. The joy, fire and passion that everyone has for each other and the material oozes out on every track. Led by Isley’s vocals, a rip roaring rhythm section, Santana and Ernie Isley’s blazing fretwork, this collection brings some calm to help us smooth through these turbulent times. Another late period triumph for both groups. Power Of Peace is available now through Amazon, ITunes and all major music outlets.
A Boy From Tupelo: The Complete 1953-55 Recordings by Elvis Presley. This new compilation traces captures Elvis raw, stripped down and on the cusp of becoming a global icon. It features his early recording – which he paid for himself – his entire Sun Records output (including all of the false starts and alternate takes) and live recordings that capture the manic energy of his performances that left audiences screaming in hysteria. This is Elvis uncut, before all of the trappings that came with his success consumed him and the work. Check out the very reason why the world fell in love with him in the first place. A Boy From Tupelo is available now through Amazon, ITunes, and all major music retailers.
Gotta Get A Grip/England Lost by Mick Jagger. In between tour dates and prepping material for a future Stones album, frontman Mick Jagger wrote and recorded a quickie single that captures the tension and tenor of the times. ‘Gotta Get A Grip’ is a reggae tinged song about trying to remain sane and focus at a point where everything is the exact opposite. ‘England Lost’ uses a soccer game as a metaphor for a country that is caught up in Brexit, anti immigrant sentiment and an overall lost of direction. Quiet as its been kept, Jagger’s solo work is more hit than miss and these tracks find him in solid form. If this is a hint to what direction he aims to go with or without the band, Jagger is on the path to yet another creative and commercial breakthrough. Gotta Get A Grip/England Lost is available now through ITunes, Amazon and all major music outlets.
This Is The Noise That Keeps Me Awake by Garbage and Jason Cohen. To coincide with their current tour with Blondie, Garbage has released this new coffee table book chronicling the band’s 20 plus year career. Working with writer Jason Cohen, they tell how Butch Vig – then an in-demand studio producer – teamed up with Duke Erickson, Steve Marker and a Scottish singer Shirley Mason formed a band that went on to sell over 17 million albums worldwide. Using a trove of archival photos – many of which have never been seen – and loaded with great anecdotes, this book is a perfect compliment and introduction to one of the most beloved bands of the last 20 years. This Is The Noise That Keeps Me Awake is available now through Amazon, Barnes & Noble and major book retailers.
NYC: In Concert. The concert film has undergone many changes and presentations, but its always been able to capture the essence of the performer and the performance. BAM Cinematek is presenting a two week retrospective that shows the evolution of the concert film ranging from the basic to the complex. Among the films featured in the series: The T.A.M.I Show, widely considered to be the first rock n roll concert film; The Last Waltz, Martin Scorsese’s iconic look at The Band’s farewell live performance; Wattstax, which captures a massive 1971 Stax Records concert held at the L.A. Coliseum; and Monterey Pop, D.A Pennebacker’s seminal film about the 1967 Monterey Pop Festival. It covers recent entries in the concert movie canon (Shut Up And Play The Hits, Contemporary Color, Fade To Black) that shows the medium is alive, well and thriving. Whether you are into the classic films or want to discover future gems, this series will have you rocking and rolling. In Concert will be at the Brooklyn Academy Of Music through August 13th. You can go to www.bam.org for tickets, a complete schedule and more information.
NYC: Unforgiven. To celebrate the film’s 25th Anniversary, Clint Eastwood’s Academy Award-winning western will have a short theatrical run at Film Forum. Wonderfully restored in 4K, it tells the story of a William Munny (Eastwood), a retired mercenary hired by the town’s prostitutes to avenge the assault of one of their own – only to find himself in the crosshairs of the town’s cold blooded sheriff Little Bill Daggett (Gene Hackman). A probing look at how violence can forever scar the soul, it has lost none of its poignancy and power. Anchored by a strong supporting cast (Morgan Freeman, Richard Harris, Frances Fisher), here’s a great opportunity to catch a modern classic on the big screen again. Unforgiven will be at Film Forum through August 10th. You can also go to www.filmforum.org for more information.
NYC: Jonathan Demme: Heart Of Gold. BAM Cinematek gives a much deserved retrospective on the Academy Award winning director who passed away earlier this year. It will cover his early works while working with producer Roger Corman (Caged Heat, Crazy Mama, Fighting Mad); his breakthrough Hollywood features Melvin & Howard and Something Wild; underrated classics (Beloved, The Truth About Charlie), music documentaries (Stop Making Sense, Heart Of Gold), music videos (including an 11 minute version of New Order’s ‘The Perfect Kiss) and much more. The centerpiece of the series is the Academy Award winning Silence Of The Lambs and Philadelphia, which cemented Demme’s status as an all-time great filmmaker. Whether you like off-kilter comedies, dramas or concert films, this series has it all. Jonathan Demme: Heart Of Gold will be at BAM through August 24th. You can also go to http://www.bam.org/ for tickets, a complete rundown of films and more information.
Los Angeles: Raiders Of The Lost Ark. The first – and most consider the best – installment of the Indiana Jones adventure series will be shown in grand style at The Hollywood Bowl. It will be shown in HD on the Bowl’s big screen while the Los Angeles Philharmonic – under the direction of David Newman – will perform John Williams’ equally legendary score live. To see Indiana Jones race against he Nazis to find the Ark Of The Covenant was designed to be seen and heard big. A perfect night out for any true cinema lover. Raiders Of The Lost Art will be at The Hollywood Bowl on August 5th. You can also go to www.hollywoodbowl.com for tickets and additional information.