My Love, Don’t Cross The River. This new and powerful documentary from director Mo-young Jin shows the overwhelming power of love, family and commitment. Jin spent 15 months filming Jo Byeong-man and Kang Kye-yeol, a couple who have been virtually inseparable for 76 years. Living in a small home by the river, the couple, despite their advancing years, still show the affection and vibrancy that you would find in teenagers: They still attend dance parties, have playful moments raking leaves and in the snow; and go to bed each night holding hands. Their bond is put to the test when Jo’s health begins to fail and Kang, along with their children, face the ultimate family crisis. Jin doesn’t try to do too much with the camera: by playing the fly on the wall, the images of the couple’s most tender moments with the twilight of their lives is both awe inspiring and life affirming. The scenes in which Jo and his son – a relationship that was always fractured, smooth – reconnect will crush you. If you are cynical or question that power of long term commitments, this doc will make you think twice. An incredible film. My Love, Don’t Cross The River opens Friday in New York and select theaters starting on June 23rd. You can also go to http://www.filmmovement.com/ for more information.
Seoul Searching. The 80s – and 80s films – get an international twist in this semi-autobiographical movie from writer-director Benson Lee. Set in 1986, it follows a group of Asian teenagers from the U.S., Mexico, London and Hamburg, who are sent to Seoul to participate in a government-sponsored summer program designed to help them reconnect with their heritage. Of course, they encounter their fair share of culture clashes, partying, attempts to find love and run-ins with authority figures that may bring more shame than success. But they also learn some crucial life lessons along the way, which will could put them all on the right path to a clearer sense of identity. Lee captures the period perfectly in style, music and with attitude as he lovingly plays tribute to the late John Hughes’ classic teen comedies. Whether you remember seeing those films as a teenager or capturing the angst and energy for the first time, Lee and the cast nail it. The sleeper hit of the summer movie season. Seoul Searching opens in New York on Friday and select theaters on June 24th. You can also go to http://www.seoulsearchingthemovie.com/ for more info.
Any Given Wednesday. Whether it was his assessments on Roger Goodell’s handling of the Ray Rice domestic violence case, battling his bosses at ESPN over content, or the biting critiques of his colleagues, Bill Simmons has never been one to mince words, even at the risk of losing high profile jobs. Now Simmons has landed at HBO, where he’s been given free rein to speak openly – and uncensored – about sports, entertainment, arts, and technology. HBO is banking that Simmons can change the sports talk show landscape the same way Bill Maher altered the political talk show arena. Based on the promos that have been airing, HBO may very well get their wish. Any Given Wednesday premieres Wednesday, June 22nd. You can also go to http://www.hbo.com/ for more information.
Pure McCartney by Paul McCartney. The Big Mac personally curated this new compilation spotlighting his post-Beatles career. While there’s an abundance of hits (‘Maybe I’m Amazed’, ‘Live And Let Die’, ‘My Love’, ‘ Band On The Run’, among others), McCartney also digs deep in the crate to select personal favorites that have previously been omitted from other greatest hits collections that he feels best represent his work (‘Heart Of The Country’, ‘Calico Skies’, ‘Pipes Of Peace’, ‘Flaming Pie’, ‘Junk’). It’s not stuck in the 70s either: Tracks from his most recent works, collaborations and new remixes of old hits are also strongly represented. McCartney has managed to put together a collection that will appease the long time heads and introduce newbies to his long and distinguished work outside of The Fab Four. Pure McCartney is available now through Amazon, iTunes and all major music retailers.
The Dreaming Room by Laura Mvula. Laura Mvula’s road to make the follow up to her critically acclaimed debut Sing For The Moon was hardly easy. Bouts with anxiety, depression and a painful divorce are hardly the sources of a follow up album. Yet, like all great artists, Mvula was able to channel her pain into art and the result, The Dreaming Room, is both an artistic and personal triumph. Co-produced by Mvula, Troy Miller and The London Symphony Orchestra, the album is a musical roller coaster detailing in unapologetic terms all of her emotional highs and lows during this period. Loaded with lush orchestrations, pulsating rhythms and, of course, Mvula’s soaring vocals, The Dreaming Room is this century’s answer to Pet Sounds, another ambitious work chronicling artist musical and emotional growing pains. With assists from Nile Rodgers and rapper Wretch 32, this fusion of pop, classical, gospel, funk and hip hop is some next level stuff. One of the year’s best. The Dreaming Room is available on Friday through Amazon, iTunes and all major music retailers. You can also go to http://www.lauramvula.com/ for more information.
The Smiths by Nalinee Darmrong. Though they were only together for five years and released four studio albums, The Smiths have emerged as one of the most influential indie bands of all time. They were the godfathers of the Manchester music scene and artists such as Oasis, The Stone Roses and the late Jeff Buckley cited The Smiths as a primary influence. Nalinee Darmrong was still a teenager when she first met the group while they were touring the states in support of their albums Meat Is Murder and The Queen Is Dead. She would end up befriending the band, with full access to shoot photos of them on stage and off. These photos – most of which are unpublished – are the subject of a new book from Rizzoli Books. It captures the band’s often frenetic stage performances juxtaposed with the calm, very British way of life off stage. The book also includes original set lists, backstage passes, tickets, and contributions by former Oasis bassist Andy Bell and music journalist Marc Spitz. Working as both a time capsule and a love letter to the band, this book is a must have for any Smiths fan. The Smiths by Nalinee Darmrong is available now through Amazon, Barnes & Noble and all major book retailers. You can also go to http://www.rizzoliusa.com/ for more information.
New York City: The HBO Bryant Park Film Festival. A New York City staple, The HBO Bryant Park Film Festival presents classic films on a big screen under the stars and with the city as a backdrop. As it has in the past, this year’s lineup is a balance of comedies and dramas. It kicks off June 20th with Ferris Bueller’s Day Off, there’s a July 4th screening of Top Gun (celebrating its 30th Anniversary) and will conclude with what many consider the best in the Star Trek canon, Star Trek II: The Wrath Of Khan. There’s also a classic Warner Bros cartoon to keep things light. So bring a blanket, kick off your lawns and spend Monday nights chilling on the lawn watching some seminal flicks! The HBO Bryant Park Film Festival will run each Monday night from June 20th through August 22nd. You can go to http://www.bryantpark.org/ for a complete rundown of films and more information.