Make me wanna holler: A Memorial Day playlist

“And everyday is a battle/How we still love the war” sung by Sally Timms remains one of the profoundest summa about a too human phenomenon. I dislike the phrase “We honor their sacrifice” and its soundalikes, products of a much overplayed counterreaction to refuted stories about hippies spitting on soldiers returning from Vietnam. I blameContinue reading “Make me wanna holler: A Memorial Day playlist”

Something of a paradox: On Tom Cruise

With Top Gun: Maverick‘s canny exploitation of nostalgia for a pre-COVID world resulting in impressive if expected revenues, Robert Farley examines Tom Cruise’s willingness to look ridiculous as his best talent, seen best in movies like Eyes Wide Shut where better actors like Sydney Pollack take advantage of the space he leaves them. Farley: TheseContinue reading “Something of a paradox: On Tom Cruise”

Well-acted ‘Montana Story’ investigates ancient hurts

This yarn about thwarted love and open hate — they are as ever synonymous — won me over when in its first thirty minutes it upended decades of clichés about scientists. Civil engineer Cal (Owen Teague), home in this coldest and cruelest of states to watch the slow death of his bedridden father, distracts himselfContinue reading “Well-acted ‘Montana Story’ investigates ancient hurts”

Where no Christian man has been: Songs about witches

A metaphor deployed against women who have the effrontery to be active sexual partners, ‘witch’ has also been owned by several marvelous female singer-songwriters — Ella Fitzgerald, who deservedly tops the list, yeah, and today’s birthday girl Stevie Nicks, who transformed the trope into a supple thing suitable for hetero and queer romance. The firstContinue reading “Where no Christian man has been: Songs about witches”

Ray Liotta — RIP

A obit referred to him as ruggedly handsome as if they had never seen photos of feral rats. That bland parapluie participle “striking” is a better fit. Blessed with piercing blue eyes, a jaw flaunted like a knife in a street brawl, and the sort of nicotine-stained voice that earned him Chantix sponsorships a fewContinue reading “Ray Liotta — RIP”

Pleasure is worth dying for: ‘Happening’

Our political culture — nationally and globally — is so fucked that I can’t imagine Happening moving an anti-abortion audience. Destroying them maybe. Set in the early 1960s when le nouvelle vague of Godard and Truffaut did not generate a corresponding liberalization of France’s brutal abortion regime, Happening follows Anne (Anamaria Vartolomei), a literature studentContinue reading “Pleasure is worth dying for: ‘Happening’”

Norma Tanega and Bonnie Raitt

I note these published reviews for the sake of readers who don’t follow me on social media. Norma Tanega – I’m the Sky: Studio and Demo Recordings, 1964-1971 Before I reviewed a Dusty Springfield comp in February 2021, I hadn’t heard the name “Norma Tanega.” Before last September I hadn’t heard “Walkin’ My Cat NamedContinue reading “Norma Tanega and Bonnie Raitt”

Louder than balms: Harry Styles

Crucial to understanding the Harry Styles cult is the extent to which his shows of curiosity and its desirable byproduct empathy commingle with his horndog affectations. I use “shows” and “affectations” advisedly: to be a pop star requires, in part, what used to be called in politics “expanding your base” before 2016 changed oh soContinue reading “Louder than balms: Harry Styles”