Little Men. The latest from writer-director Ira Sachs (Love Is Strange) stars Greg Kinnear as Brian Jardine, a struggling actor who, his with wife Kathy (Jennifer Ehle) and their son Jake (Theo Taplitz) re-locate to Brooklyn to live in the top floor of the building he’s inherited from his recently deceased father. They share the space with Leonor (Paulina Garcia), a single mother from Chile, who rents the bottom floor to run her dress making business. Jake, introverted and artistic, quickly bonds with Leonor’s son Tony (Michael Barbieri), who is more outgoing and personable with dreams of becoming an actor. Their friendship is put to the test when their parents begin to fight over a new lease. Brian and his sister Audrey (Talia Balsam) want to raise the rent to market value but Leonor argues that doing so would effectively put her out of business. But instead of driving a wedge between them, their relationship gains a newfound strength. Though gentrification and its effects on a neighborhood and the people in it pulls us in, it’s about the endearing power of friendship that really drives the film. Taplitz and Barbieri are terrific as the young boys on the cusp of adolescence fighting to find their own identity amidst family struggles. Kinnear, Ehle, and Garcia also solid as the parents, wrestling with hard choices in an ever changing city landscape. Sachs’ script is carefully and tenderly crafted full of such nuances that you almost forget that you are watching a work of fiction. Working with cinematographer Oscar Duran, Sachs reminds us that it’s the neighborhoods and the people within them that makes life in New York City so special. It’s another great offering from the city’s best filmmakers. Little Men is in theaters now.
The 2016 Olympic Summer Games. Rio will host this edition of the Summer Games and, as always, there will be a lot of stories to watch. Will Michael Phelps continue his epic run of success in the swim competition? Can Usain Bolt retain his title as World’s Fastest Human? Will the U.S. continue its dominance in the Men’s Basketball, Women’s Volleyball and Women’s Soccer? Can gymnast Simone Biles make a historic run? It all kicks off August 5th on NBC. Go to www.nbc.com for a complete rundown of events and air times.
RedBlack&Blue by Sate. The daughter of Canadian blues legend Salome Bey, Sate explosive blend of blues, rock and soul has made her a must see performer throughout North America. Through crowd funding, Sate released a series of EPs showcasing the power and spirit of those shows. Donors then picked the best tracks from those EPs to make up the full length album. While reminding hard rockers yet again that its blues that makes the rock roll, there’s also a fiery punk attitude that runs throughout the 11 song set. Its also personal for Sate as her lyrics deal with individual and collective empowerment as well as being a daughter, mother and a sister. Sassy and oozing with soul, Sate has staked her claim as rock n roll’s next great voice. RedBlack&Blue is available now through Amazon and ITunes. You can also go to www.stateofsate.com for more information.
Cream Of Heaven by The VeeVees. Led by all around badass Sophia Urista, this Brooklyn based band is everything you want in a rock n roll band: Ballsy, seductive, sensual and cool. Big riffs, cool grooves and a ton of attitude, The VeeVees strut and swagger all over this killer four song EP that captures the tone and the spirit of their live shows. An outstanding set that leaves you begging for more. Cream Of Heaven by The VeeVees is available now through Itunes and the band’s website, www.theveevees.com.
Flyboy 2: The Greg Tate Reader. Greg Tate’s insightful, on point, lyrical, poetic observations on Black Entertainment – and Black Culture – have been dazzling readers throughout several publications since 1983. The new book serves as both as companion piece to his 1992 book, Flyboy In The Buttermilk and as an update to include new essays and interviews since that publication. It places an emphasis on many of the movers and shakers within music including interviews with Miles Davis, Ice Cube, Wayne Shorter, Bjork and Sade; extended looks at the lasting legacies of Chuck Berry and Joni Mitchell, and moving elegies on Michael Jackson, Gil Scott-Heron and Lester Bowie. Tate isn’t just confined to the music world: He also offers his own spin on films such as Bamboozled, Baby Boy, and The Black Power Mixtape; theater (Suzan Lori-Parks’ Top Dog/Underdog, Still/Here by choreographer Bill T. Jones) Literature, politics and how Black culture has left its mark on the cultural and political landscape. Whether this is a refresher course on his work or an introduction, Flyboy 2 is essential reading. Flyboy 2: The Greg Tate Reader is available August 5th through Amazon, Barnes & Noble and all major book retailers. You can also go to www.dukeupress.edu for more information.
Discord Records. Founded by Ian MacKayee and Jeff Neslon, this DC-based indie label captured the power and fury of the area’s punk scene that is stands alongside New York and L.A. as one of the genre’s premier scenes. Now, Dischord Records has made their entire catalog available online on Bandcamp to stream and purchase. In addition to hear classic tracks by Minor Threat, Fugazi, and Government Issue, you also get to hear tracks featuring Dave Grohl, Henry Rollins, demos, rarities and more. Its the only place you can hear a comprehensive look at the D.C. music scene then and now. Go to http://dischord.bandcamp.com/artists for more info.
New York City: Joe Dante At The Movies. Joe Dante is one of Hollywood’s most elastic and eclectic directors. Whether its sci-fi, horror, fantasy or dark comedy, Dante’s films have always maintained a vibrant energy coupled with healthy doses of satire. BAM Cinematek will present a two week retrospective of his extensive work in film and TV, along with some of his own personal favorite films. Dante will also be on hand to introduce several movies. It’s an extraordinary look at one of Hollywood’s true auteurs. Joe Dante At The Movies will be at BAM Cinematek August 5th through the 24th. You can go to http://www.bam.org/ for a complete list of films, showtimes and addition information.
New York City: AmericanaFest NYC. Now its its 2nd year, AmericanaFest NYC showcases the best artists who blur the lines between country, rock, folk, blues and all things in between to make a sound and style that uniquely their own, but un- apologetically American. This year’s festival will feature The Cactus Blossoms (who will be featured prominently in the Twin Peaks reboot), Dwight Yoakam, Mary Gauthier, Teddy Thompson & Kelly Jones, Those Pretty Wrongs, Parker Milsap, and a 40th Anniversary Celebration of The Last Waltz featuring Dr John, Lucinda Williams, Patty Griffin with former Levon Helm band member Larry Campbell as the musical director. The best part of this two day festival is that its FREE. If you are looking to expand your musical palette, be sure to check out this out. AmericanaFest NYC will take place August 6th and 7th at Lincoln Center Out Of Doors. You can go to www.lcoutofdoors.org for a complete schedule, run times and more info.
Chicago: The Millennium Park Summer Film Series. This city’s popular free Tuesday night series winds down the summer with a set of films that will make you laugh and dance. The John Travolta-Olivia Newton John classic Grease, the 2003 Disney hit Finding Nemo and Prince’s Purple Rain are all scheduled be featured on the park’s 40 foot, state of the art LED screen. The final movie of the season will be a Chicago-based film voted by the fans. So grab a seat in the Jay Prirzker Pavilion or chill on the Great Lawn and finish out the summer in style. The Millennium Park Summer Film Series takes place Tuesday nights at 6:30pm through August 30th. You can go to http://www.cityofchicago.org/ for more information and go to www.chifilmfav.org to cast your vote.