The Filtered Excellence: November 5, 2015

spotlight filtered excellence

Bob Geldof once asked us, “Where is the filtered excellence!?” It’s right here. Once a week we take a break from comedy to bring you this weeks picks of the best things to watch, the most interesting things to do, great things to try, the best picks to read, our favorite things to listen to and more:


Spotlight.  In a story that rocked the foundations of The Catholic Church, a 2002 Boston Globe investigative report revealed that the Boston Archidiocese protected over 100 priests who had been molesting scores of children – a cover-up that reached the highest levels of Boston’s religious, legal and government hierarchy.  The fallout didn’t just affect the Boston community:  After the story was published and criminal convictions were secured, more victims from across the globe came forward with their stories of abuse by priests, leading to several lawsuits, record settlements and a crisis within the Catholic Church that is still being felt today.  With Spotlight, writer-director Tom McCarthy looks back at that turbulent period and how the team of Boston Globe uncovered the scandal that shook up the Catholic communinty.  He perfectly captures a fully functional newsroom at work right before the effects of online journalism and news websites would alter that dynamic forever.  The cast is in a word, outstanding:  Liev Schreiber as editor Marty Baron; the always exceptional Mark Ruffalo as reporter Michael Rezendes; Rachel McAdams as reporter Sacha Pfeiffer; John Slattery as deputy managing editor Ben Bradlee, Jr; Maureen Keiller as columnist Eileen McNamara, Stanley Tucci as attorney Mitchell  Garabedian and Len Cariou in an unsettling performance as Cardinal Law, who greased the wheels for many of the priests to get reassigned to new parishes.  This is this generation’s All The President’s Men, moving with the crisp precision of any solid political thriller.  It has all the makings of being THE film to beat in the upcoming awards season.   A strong contender for the year’s best film.  Spotlight opens in select theaters this weekend.  You can also go to www.spotlightthefilm.comfor more information.

The Peanuts Movie. Thanks to director Steve Martino, Charlie Brown, Snoopy, Lucy, Linus and the rest of the Peanuts crew are finally getting the big screen feature film treatment – in state of the art 3D animation.  Staying faithful to the Charles Schultz comic strip and the iconic TV specials, The Peanuts Movie follows Charlie Brown’s quest to shake his underdog/loveable loser status with his peers at school and win the heart of the mysterious new girl who just moved to town.  Best friend Snoopy is along for the ride, trying to help Charlie reinvent himself and has yet another memorable mission against his arch nemesis The Red Baron.  It captures all of the joy, angst and overall anxieties of growing up and fitting in wonderfully with the spirit and feel of the Charles Schultz comic strip/  Martino uses the 3D animation to augment, but not dominate the movie keeping the focus on the emotional vibe of the characters.  Perfectly tuned in with the season,  The Peanuts Movie is something that the entire family can enjoy.  It opens this Fridaynationwide.  You can also go to for more information.

Peggy Guggenheim: Art Addict. Peggy Guggenheim was the heiress to a family fortune that played an essential role in the modern art movement.  But in this terrific new documentary from Lisa Immordino Vreeland, Guggenheim wasn’t content to rest on her family’s laurels.  She actively collected new works and had close, often intimate relationships with such artists as Samuel Beckett, Max Ernst, Jackson Pollack, Alexander Calder,  and Marcel Duchamp, among others.  Guggenheim had tremendous business acumen:  The scores of modern art that she purchased for just $40,000 is now valued in the billions.  Using archival footage, new interviews with contemporaries and those she influenced, plus a recently unearthed interview that Guggenheim gave shortly before her death, Vreeland paints a wonderful portrait of a fierce champion of the arts who also a forerunner to the feminist movement.  Whether you are a modern art fan or just want to a sense of what the birth of the modern art movement was like, this documentary has it all.  Peggy Guggenheim:  Art Addict opens in New York on Friday, Los Angeles on November 13th and select theaters starting November 20th.  You can go to for more info.

Kareem: Minority of One.  He’s the NBA’s all-time leading scorer, key member of several championship teams, league MVP, NCAA Champion, author, historian, activist and columnist.  But who is the real Kareem Abdul-Jabbar?  That is at the heart of this new documentary premiering this week on HBO.  Made with full cooperation with Jabbar, it looks at how Lew Alcindor transformed into Kareem Abdul-Jabbar and made the game of basketball into a global phenomenon.  It also looks at Jabbar’s life outside the court, including his appearances in such movies as ‘Game Of Death’ and Airplane’; his unflinching stances on social and political issues and his new venture as a contributing columnist for TIME magazine. With new commentary by Kareem and featuring insights and observations from former teammates, rivals coaches and fans, this is the most comprehensive look at one, if not THE greatest player to ever step on the basketball court.  Kareem: Minority Of One is on HBO, HBO Now and HBO Go.  You can go to for more information.


Jagged Little Pill (The Collectors Edition) by Alanis Morissette. In one of the most startling career reinventions in pop music history, the release of Jagged Little Pill turned Alanis Morissette from a fading Canadian dance-pop star to an international alt-rock superstar.  Produced by Glen Ballard, the album featured six hit singles, (including the memorable tracks ‘You Oughta Know’ and ‘Ironic’) and sold over 33 million copies worldwide.  Morissette also became the youngest artist to ever win a Grammy for Album Of The Year, a record she held for 14 years.  To celebrate the 20th Anniversary of the album’s release, Rhino has released a box set featuring the original album, an all acoustic album, demos that trace the evolution of the project and live recordings from an explosive show in London.  Whether you are a long time fan or a first time fan looking to trace where the current explosion of ladies dominating the pop landscape started, this is the launch point.  Jagged Little Pill (The Collector’s Edition) is available now through Amazon, Itunes and all major music retailers.  You can also go to for more information.


LOS ANGELES: AFI Fest. Since 1971, The American Film Institute Festival has been the premier showcase for the best and brightest filmmakers from across the globe. In recent years, L.A.’s longest running international film festival has also emerged a chance for the studios to preview films that are destined to be the talk of the town once awards season rolls around. This year’s lineup will feature the world premiere of By The Sea, written, directed and starring Angelina Jolie; Todd Haynes’ period piece Carol featuring Cate Blanchett and Rooney Mara; Where To Invade Next, the latest documentary from Michael Moore; Charlie Kaufman’s Anomalisa (which employs stop motion puppetry) and Kent Jones’ much talked about new doc, Hitchcock/Truffaut. There will also be a ton of short films, family programming, spotlights on first time and indie directors, and conversations with such notables as Ridley Scott and Benicio Del Toro and much more. If you want a jump on what the season’s hottest films, see tomorrow’s stars today or want to hear some of the best in the game discuss craft, The AFI Fest is the place to be this weekend. It runs November 5th through the 12th and you can go to for tickets and complete rundown of events.

NEW YORK CITY: The New York Comedy Festival. Some of the biggest names in comedy will be holding court in the greatest city in the world for the New York Comedy Festival. There will be performances at every major venue including Carnegie Hall, The Theater at Madison Square Garden, The Brooklyn Academy Of Music, 92nd Street Y, Caroline’s and much more. This lineup is, in a word, staggering: Bill Maher, Sarah Silverman, Judd Apatow, Billy Crystal, David Steinberg, Lewis Black, Trevor Noah, Bill Burr, Bonnie McFarlane, Artie Lange, Margaret Cho, Norm McDonald, Kathy Grffin, John Leguizamo, Gilbert Gottfried, Big Jay Oakerson, Craig Robinson, and Jim Florentine are just some of the great talents scheduled to appear throughout the festival. The centerpiece of the festival is the ‘Stand Up For Heroes’ Benefit concert at The Theater at Madison Square Garden on November 10th, which will feature, among others, Jon Stewart, Seth Myers and a performance by Bruce Springsteen. Simply put, this is THE place to be if you love comedy. The New York Comedy Festival runs November 10th through the 15th. Go to for tickets and the full schedule of events.

NEW YORK CITY: Unbound: Elvis Costello With Rosanne Cash. At Brooklyn Academy Of Music. In conjunction with the release of his sprawling new memoir, Unfaithful Music And Disappearing Ink, Elvis Costello will sit down with Rosanne Cash at BAM to discuss at length some of the more interesting aspects of the book. Both are gifted storytellers, long time friends and collaborators, so this should be a lot more of a freewheeling conversation than ‘interview’. Expect tons of insight, candor and, of course, a lot of laughs from unexpected places. Unbound: Elvis Costello With Rosanne Cash will be at The Brooklyn Academy Of Music on November 10th. Go to for more information.


Want more excellence? Read last week’s The Filtered Excellence and visit The Interrobang Recommmends

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