31 Days of Oscar on TCM. It’s that time of year again. That time when new theatrical releases are a bit slim– the Oscar films have had their run, and it’s not quite time yet for the blockbusters. So what’s a film buff to do? Tune in to TCM for 31 days of Oscar. We’re already 10 days in to this incredible festival of films that have been nominated for Academy Awards and this year the theme is geography. The films will be grouped by the locations where the action takes place. So even though you’ve missed some great ones, this means you have 21 more days where you can’t put on TCM without landing on a great movie.
Lock Yourself in Weekend with James Stewart. You’ve seen all the good movies at the local theater, you don’t want to go outside anyway (it’s cold!) and you’re stuck without cable TV or DVRing TCM’s Oscar Fest. What’s left to do? Check out our Lock Yourself In with Jimmy Stewart Weekend. Eight fantastic films to either introduce yourself to the brilliant work of James Stewart, or celebrate the love you already have.
Project Nim. Academy Award winning director James Marsh (Man on a Wire) directs this strange story of a “scientific” experiment to see what would happen if you raised a baby chimp in the same manner as you would a human child. Early on, when we find out one of Nim’s caretakers has been breastfeeding Nim, and smoking pot with him, we know something’s wrong with the experiment. We follow Nim’s life from there on, through a series of homes and experiences, loving behavior and terrible mistakes as he grows up a hybrid of wild animal and member of a human family. A wealth of archival footage tells this unbelievable story. Now on DVD.
The Interrupters. A tremendous documentary about three “violence interrupters” determined to make a difference in violent neighborhoods of Chicago, one person at a time. Project Cease Fire is an unusual approach to dealing with the problems, and has had great successes. A must see both for the story and the way it’s told. Available on DVD February 14. Buying the DVD directly from their website helps by directly supporting their outreach to the community in a bigger way.
Black Session: Paris 10 May 2011 by Wire. How would you describe the band Wire to someone who has never heard them? This London band emerged in the mid-70’s in the punk rock scene. They’re often referred to as post-punk, art punk, and their first three albums are absolutely classic. Wire can prove difficult to categorize, however other than to call them experimental and ever-evolving, with sharp sophisticated and often strange writing. The band has released more than a few live albums, and this one is quite good, but different. Recorded at Radio France’s Paris studio in May 2011, The Black Session is an excellent opportunity for dedicated fans to hear live tracks of some of Wire’s most recent work like Smash as well as a smattering of much earlier favorites, like Kidney Bingos, and Pink Flag. Seasoned fans and even new ones should enjoy this live album, with Wire in very fine form.
Bad Weather by Sylvia Gordon. Musician-singer-songwriter-producer Sylvia Gordon has worked with The Black Eyed Peas, Moby and Kelis among others. Under the guise Betty Black, she updates the dark pop of The Ronettes, Shangri-Las, Shirelles and Nancy Sinatra as if it were the backdrop of a David Lynch movie. Her 2011 EP, Slow Dance was the first of a trilogy that explored the joys and pains of a young girl moving into womanhood. Bad Weather is the new release from the follow-up EP due later this spring. It’s pretty hypnotic and takes you to another time and place.
Willis Earl Beal. Willis is a 27 year old unemployed singer-songwriter based in Chicago. He still lives on the South Side with his grandmother and if you call the number on his website or on the hand drawn fliers that he places all over the city, he’ll sing you a song. Or write him and he’ll draw you a picture. Thanks to local press and excellent live shows, Beal’s blend of soul, folk, blues, and gospel was able to score a deal with the white-hot XL Recordings (home to Adele, and M.I.A.). His debut album, Acousmatic Sorcery won’t be out under the spring, but you’ll be able to preview a track through his website.
Blues Funeral, Mark Lanegan Band. Former Screaming Trees frontman, Mark Lanegan releases his first solo album in 8 years, and it’s been worth the wait. There are a few unexpected touches on some of the songs (synths? electronic beats?), but Lanegan’s trademark growl still shines through.
Live from Daryl’s House with Sharon Jones on tour. Don’t miss out on the chance to see Daryl Hall’s outstanding music show (featured previously on The Filtered Excellence) now on tour in a live venue. Daryl Hall has an eye for finding just the right guest and he couldn’t have made a better choice for his tour than the dynamic powerhouse Sharon Jones. Dates are currently scheduled for New York, Boston and Atlantic City. Pick up your tickets now for April tour dates.
Artificial Afrika, A Tale of Lost Cities. On Friday, February 10th, guitarist extraordinaire Vernon Reid takes a break from Living Colour to present another installment of his multi-media project, ‘Artificial Afrika’ at Dixon Place on New York’s Lower East Side. In this update Vernon – along with hip hop performance artist/throat singer Akim Funk Buddah and DJ/drummer & filmmaker Leon Lamont – present a multi-media fusion of hip hop, computer animation, dance and video that challenges all of the notions and perceptions associated with Africa. It’s a dynamic collision of mediums and cultures that has to be seen to be believed. Performances of ‘Artificial Afrika: A Tale Of Lost Cities’ will run Fridays and Saturdays at Dixon Place throughout at the month of February.
The 50 Funniest American Writers (According to Andy Borowitz). This well selected anthology of humorists touches upon so many styles and time periods, and is a perfect introduction to some of the funniest, sharpest wits to ever pick up a pen. If you’re really well read and are already acquainted with the writers Borowitz collects, you’ll love having 50 of them in a very portable package. Or if you’ve been intimidated by some of the names on the list, here’s your chance to dip your toe in and check out 50 short works from 50 great minds. Woody Allen, Fran Liebowitz, Terry Southern, Hunter S. Thompson, Tom Wolfe, John Hughes, Nora Ephron, O Henry and more.
EatYourWorld.com. Eat local may sound like something for hippies and snobs but it isn’t. The website’s mission is to spotlight foods and drinks that are native or traditional to particular places around the world—and tell readers where to find them. Eating locally means when you’re in New York eat bagels, when you’re in Maine don’t miss out on the best lobster roll you’ll ever eat, and when you visit Philly you want a cheesesteak, but you already knew that. Luckily, EatYourWorld goes a lot deeper than that. Check it out, and you’ll never travel without it again.