‘The Nightingale’ shows clash between colonizers and natives

The Nightingale‘s first thirty minutes contain the most stomach-churning violence I’ve seen in a film in a couple years. I won’t add spoilers, but viewers should know what they’re in for in this adaptation of Kristin Hannah’s novel set in 1825 about Clare (a poignant, intense Aisling Franciosi), who watches her family get slaughtered byContinue reading “‘The Nightingale’ shows clash between colonizers and natives”

The best Van Morrison albums

th As I’ve written several times, I tend toward Van agnosticism, but his church is lovely and I feel at peace in it. 1. Saint Dominic’s Preview 2. Veedon Fleece 3. Into the Music 4. Monodance 5. Astral Weeks 6. It’s Too Late to Stop Now 7. Beautiful Vision 8. Tupelo Honey 9. His BandContinue reading “The best Van Morrison albums”

The worst albums by good artists

I whipped this list up after looking at my collection. A few are war horses in the execrable category, but for the most part I tried avoiding them. My criteria: albums by acts I like whose anonymity, poor songwriting + vocals + arrangements, and/or failure of imagination wreck my appetite. Some (Thank You) are conceptualContinue reading “The worst albums by good artists”

‘The Last Black Man in San Francisco’ imagines an out-of-reach city, even to its residents

“Fuck San Francisco,” a character announces in the last half hour of Joe Talbot’s directorial debut. Speaking to residents in the last decade, I knew the sentiment was as common as smog. The tech revolution, inasmuch as it has led to millions poured into the local economy, has also accelerated gentrification and racial divisions. AbjuringContinue reading “‘The Last Black Man in San Francisco’ imagines an out-of-reach city, even to its residents”

Ranking Simple Minds’ UK top 40 singles

In America, Simple Minds exist as the band that recorded  “Don’t You (Forget About Me)” for the beloved The Breakfast Club, a track that will outlast melting polar ice caps and Ruth Bader Ginsberg; I bet most listeners didn’t even know they were Scottish or that, say, the same act released “Alive and Kicking.” InContinue reading “Ranking Simple Minds’ UK top 40 singles”

Ranking Richard Marx’s American top forty hits

This poodle-haired chief scored nine top ten singles in America between 1987 and 1994. When the hits stopped, he wrote and produced for others: ‘N Sync’s “This I Promise You,” Luther Vandross’ “Dance With My Father,” and Keith Urban’s “Better Life,” among others, not counting his work during the hitmaking years. At his rare bestContinue reading “Ranking Richard Marx’s American top forty hits”

Ranking Bon Jovi’s American top 40 singles

Here’s the worst American band of my lifetime, a band that until a hackish essaying of country music that meant overdubbing Jennifer Nettles and a barely audible mandolin had no interest in a chord change, vocal nuance, or lyric signifying emotion by recognizable homo sapiens. And that’s the way Bon Jovi wants it. Consistency isn’tContinue reading “Ranking Bon Jovi’s American top 40 singles”

‘This is Not Berlin’

Sexual coming of age stories will never lose their luster for directors; This is Not Berlin‘s takes place in Mexico City, 1986, where teenagers, long-haired Carlos (Xabiani Ponce de Leon) and best friend Gera (José Antonio Toledano), chafe under their parents’ expectations. Gera’s older sister Rita (Ximena Romo) seems like she knows the way forward:Continue reading “‘This is Not Berlin’”

‘A demand for orthodoxy?’

Some of the less erudite members of the conservative intelligentsia spent last week complaining about the NYT’s 1619 Project, a series of articles that, as uneven as they are, present the founding as a conscious erasure of black Americans despite the presence of slavery and the Constitution’s three-fifths clause. I addressed their complaints and myContinue reading “‘A demand for orthodoxy?’”

My favorite concerts

Whether it was Gloria Estefan leading her Miami Sound Machine through a series of raucous polyrhythmic flourishes at my first concert, her homecoming show in 1988, to peak Sleater-Kinney stripping the paint from the walls of Chicago’s Metro fourteen years later, I’ve known a few good shows. I don’t much believe in the ineffability ofContinue reading “My favorite concerts”

Scrape the mold off the bread: The best of Sheryl Crow

I’ll self-censor for the sake of a longer piece on the new Threads I’ll promote as soon as it goes live at the end of the week. For the moment, though, let this brief sixteen-song précis on her career suffice. I’m missing the albums between 2005-2012, but so are most of you. Please note, though,Continue reading “Scrape the mold off the bread: The best of Sheryl Crow”