In ‘At Eternity’s Gate,’ van Gogh remains mad, bad, dangerous to know

Wilem Dafoe already played an artist. In To Live and Die in L.A., William Friedkin’s shimmering tone poem about posing in Los Angeles’ fickle light, Dafoe played Masters, a painter and counterfeiter so sure of himself — so psychotic — that he can postpone the creation of masterpieces to kill cop William Petersen. Already inContinue reading “In ‘At Eternity’s Gate,’ van Gogh remains mad, bad, dangerous to know”

James Ingram and his sweet seduction suite

Too often when considering selections for my Worst Songs Ever series I lingered over “I Don’t Have the Heart,” an example of the moist sponges that regularly topped the Hot 100 during the Poppy Bush Interzone. Poison didn’t sing it — that was the difference. In the end, no matter how high it ended onContinue reading “James Ingram and his sweet seduction suite”

The spirit of extravagance: Joseph von Sternberg and Marlene Dietrich

No one in twentieth century cinema wore costumes with the panache of Marlene Dietrich, and no one photographed a person, men and women, in costume as fetchingly as Joseph von Sternberg. Thanks to Criterion’s Dietrich & von Sternberg in Hollywood, viewers can watch the six films in which von Sternberg turned the German born chanteuseContinue reading “The spirit of extravagance: Joseph von Sternberg and Marlene Dietrich”

The best teen pop hits

A list of thirty-five wonderful performances by teenagers. I limited performances to those who were in their teens at the time of writing and recording. A caveat: had I included K-pop I would’ve tripled this list, and, anyway, I’m not sure it doesn’t deserve its own rundown. 1. The Jackson 5 – “I Want YouContinue reading “The best teen pop hits”

Ranking Jay-Z albums

He kept going after 2003, releasing a 2006 comeback that’s better than I remembered, a soundtrack called American Gangster that I overrated but sounds fine, and more product, some of which, like Watch the Throne, deserves a third listen.. As he ossifies into a scion, it’s hard to remember how thin, tall, and fearsome heContinue reading “Ranking Jay-Z albums”

It’s Britney, readers

At The Singles Jukebox we publish mid-career reports a couple times a year. We decided Britney Spears deserved one. Boy, did we. I don’t remember previous retrospectives inspiring so many blurbs, and so many blurbs in which colleagues outdid themselves: Edward Oculicz’s “Born to Make You Happy,” Sabina Tang on “Perfume,” Isabel Cole on “GetContinue reading “It’s Britney, readers”

Singles 1/25

Readers should reach for the smelling salts — I awarded my first 9 of 2019 to Billie Eilish’s fascinating “When I Was Older,” among the sharpest of this prolific artist’s recent singles. Sharon Van Etten’s evocation of being a white-winged dove on the edge of seventeen came second (expect an album review this week). HellContinue reading “Singles 1/25”