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 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”

On Radiohead’s ‘OK Computer’ 25 years later

Released in July 1997, Radiohead’s third album coincided with the rise of fan boys on AOL chat rooms to marshal support for a suite of grunting and in places intentionally misshapen songs that delineated a dystopia few were seeing, pre-millennium tension notwithstanding. I lived in London that summer, and I’d hear “Paranoid Android” in taxisContinue reading “On Radiohead’s ‘OK Computer’ 25 years later”

Songs about psychics and gypsies

Until our society realized the term denigrated Romani women, “gypsy” served as shorthand for rootless people whom singer-songwriters envied for their purported independence, scarf-wearing prowess, and sexual availability, especially if the singer-songwriter thought The Road more romantic than the Ramada Inn bar and a toiletful of smoked cigarettes.

The worst possible covers by Bowie

A joke turned into a list, as ever. “Have you heard Bowie’s cover of ‘Faith’?” I texted a buddy earlier this week. “Damn, it’s not real,” he said with what I considered genuine regret. Thus followed a string of texts n which we volleyed cover ideas and what horrors Bowie would bring to them: unleashingContinue reading “The worst possible covers by Bowie”