Carol. The latest from acclaimed director Todd Haynes (Far From Heaven, I’m Not There) has already been the talk of the festival circuit and is on the short list for being a strong Oscar contender. Based on the Patricia Highsmith novel, the film stars Cate Blanchett in the title role, a woman who on the surface, has it all: A marriage to a successful businessman (Kyle Chandler) and a young daughter, Rindy. But Carol is actually going through a difficult divorce, based in part because her affair with her best friend Abby, several years earlier. When Christmas shopping for her daughter, Carol encounters Therese (Rooney Mara), a temp working in the toy department. Their brief encounter quickly evolves into an intimate relationship, which threatens Carol’s upcoming custody battle for her daughter. It’s easy to see why Haynes wanted took on this project: It echoes many of the themes that he presented in his 2002 film Far From Heaven. Pairing up with his long time cinematographer Edward Lachman, they once again show a world that is rich in color and precision but helps capture the emotional emptiness and desperation from which the characters are seeking to escape. Haynes chooses his projects very carefully (it’s only his 6th feature film and his first since 2007), but he is one of the finest American directors working today. Blanchett continues to show that she’s one of, if not the best actors working today. As Carol, she adds multiple layers to an already complex character, mining every emotion to an incredible effect. No question that she will be the front runner for the Best Actress Oscar. Mara is also outstanding as Therese, who has her long repressed feelings both personal and artistically awakened by Carol. It’s her finest performance since her Academy Award nominated role in The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo, and like Blanchett, is already being mentioned in Oscar talks. A strong candidate for one of the best films of 2015. Carol opens in limited release on Friday. You can also go to www.carolfilm.com for more information.
Jessica Jones. Big hype surrounding the latest collaboration between Marvel and Netflix and for good reason: It’s promises to be one of the best new series to come out this year. Krysten Ritter plays the title character, a former superhero who opens her own detective agency. With her superhero days behind her, Jones is more concerned with saving her apartment as much as she is saving the city. She also is dealing with PSTD and an alcohol problem stemming from a dark episode which led her to the end of her life as a superhero. Those issues come back head on when Kilgrave (David Tennant), a man played a key role in her decision to leave crime fighting, returns to the city (and her life) and is the common thread on her current case load. More detective noir than superhero series, the series puts a fresh, yet candid perspective on such issues such as PSTD, assault and rape, making it more cerebral and darker than what comes out of the Marvel canon. Even more refreshing is that the series is written by and featuring women. Melissa Rosenberg (Dexter, Twilight) anchors the strong writing staff and Ritter is joined by actors Carrie Anne Moss and Rachael Taylor in strong supporting roles. If you are looking for a superhero series rich in grit and realism, check out Jessica Jones. All 13 episodes will be available on Netflix starting on November 20th. You can go to www.netflix.com for more information.
Petty: The Biography by Warren Zanes. Even though he is one of rock’s most respected singer-songwriter-performers in rock history, Tom Petty is very reclusive and guarded when it comes to his personal life and the inner workings with his band, The Heartbreakers. That didn’t stop Warren Zanes, the former Del Fuegos guitarist that once toured with Petty & The Heartbreakers to go out and write the definitive Tom Petty biography. Written with complete cooperation with Petty, Zanes is given unprecedented access into the rocker’s life. From his humble Florida roots to becoming an international superstar and rock icon, Zanes takes us on a wild ride that would be fiction under normal circumstances. If you thought the expansive Peter Bogdovanich-directed documentary captured you needed to know about Petty, you’re wrong: This book uncover everything from meeting Elvis, producing long time hero Del Shannon, being a part of the supergroup The Traveling Wilburys, battling his record company, bankruptcy, divorce, and, of course, his long time relationships with his band, The Heartbreakers. Among the surprising revelations that comes out is Petty’s battles with heroin addiction and depression in the wake of the death of bassist Howie Epstein coupled with the end of his 20 plus year marriage. Zanes was able to get an complete account of what led to long time member Stan Lynch leaving the band from the perspectives of Petty and Lynch. Straight forward, yet highly informative and entertaining, Warren Zanes has put together the most comprehensive look at one of rock’s most endearing performers. Petty: The Biography is available now through Amazon, Barnes & Noble and all major book retailers.
People’s Instinctive Travels And The Paths Of Rhythm (25th Anniversary Edition) by A Tribe Called Quest. Released in the spring of 1990, the debut album from A Tribe Called Quest marked a turning point in the development of hip hop. It marked the emergence of the Native Tongues collective, which incorporated incorporated jazz as much as it did R&B and funk, and promoted open-minded, abstract, yet positive, Afrocentric lyrics in their songs. Members of this collective included The Jungle Brothers, De La Soul, Queen Latifah, and later, Common, Leaders Of The New School and The Roots, among others. This hip hop classic included future ATCQ staples such as ‘Bonita Applebaum’, ‘I Left My Wallet In El Segundo’ and ‘Can I Kick It?’ and put into motion the group’s status as one of the genre’s all time greats. This 25th Anniversary Edition contains the original album remixed and remastered, and new remixes by CeeLo Green, Pharrell Williams and J. Cole. Simply put, this is an essential album for any true hip hop fan to own. A benchmark from the genre’s first true golden age. People’s Instinctive Travels And The Paths Of Rhythm is available now through Amazon, Itunes, and all major music retailers. You can also go to www.atribecalledquest.com for more information.
Alone in the Universe by Jeff Lynne’s ELO. The first official Electric Light Orchestra release in nearly 14 years only features founding member Jeff Lynne, who wrote, produced and plays nearly every instrument. But it also makes perfectly clear that throughout ELO’s 40 plus year run, Lynne was and always will be, its driving force. All of ELO trademarks are here: Rich production, Beatlesque arrangements, soaring harmonies, killer hooks, and, of course, fantastic songs. The material presented here is so strong that it could have easily worked during the band’s 70s/early 80s run. If you are looking to hear a master producer, songwriter, singer and arranger still on top of his game, check out this winner from Jeff Lynne. Alone In The Universe is available now through Amazon, Itunes and all major music retailers. You can also go to www.jefflynneselo.com for more information.
New York City: Fat City. Four years before striking box office and Oscar gold with Rocky, Hollywood released Fat City, an adaptation of Leonard Gardner’s 1969 novel. But unlike Rocky, it shows a far less flattering look at boxing. It stars Stacy Keach and Jeff Bridges as Billy Tully and Ernie Munger, two fighters living in Stockton, California circuit. Munger is an 18 year prospect while Tully is at the end of his career. Tully connects Munger with his former manager/trainer Rueben (Nicholas Colasanto) to help guide his career and to also train him for his comeback. What happens in between is a serious of dead jobs, bad purses and bad choices with women. The bleak, dark tone kept audiences away, but critics loved the film calling it one of the best films of the decade and lauded its director, John Huston and his cinematographer Conrad L. Hall. Susan Tyrell was nominated for Best Supporting Actress for her role as Oma, a barfly to end all barflies. Now hailed as a cult classic, The Film Forum will be presenting a new 4K restoration of Fat City from November 20th through the 26th. It’s a great chance to see a master filmmaker embracing New Hollywood idealism, as well as catch a great early performances by Jeff Bridges and Candy Clark (who was making her film debut) along with a heartbreaking performance by Keach. Fat City will be at Film Forum November 20th through the 26th. You can go www.filmforum.org for tickets and more information.
Los Angeles: The Great Los Angeles Walk. It’s said that no one walks in Los Angeles. Yet for the past 10 years, The Great Los Angeles Walk features hundreds covering 16 miles of the City Of Angels to soak in and explore the diverse neighborhoods that make up the city. This year, Olympic Blvd will be a featured site for the walk. Named after the 1932 Games, walkers have recognized the importance of the site, as the city makes a bid to host the 2024 Summer Olympics. Walkers who complete the trek will be treated to a blow out party in Santa Monica. A great day out and a wonderful way to explore one of America’s greatest cities – and its free! The Great Los Angeles Walk will take place on November 21st starting at 9am. You can go towww.greatlawalk.blogspot.com for complete information.