Arts & Culture

Movies: "The Sapphires"

Movies: "The Sapphires"

Based on a true story, “The Sapphires” shows us the early career of Australia’s first all-Aborigine girl group and offers up a tasty sampling of 1960s soul music.

As the newsreel clips at the start of the movie inform us, the year is 1968.  When we first see these two sisters and their cousin performing, they’re covering a country western song at a small-town talent show near the reservation where they live.  As fate would have it, the MC is a displaced, down-on-his luck Irishman named Dave (Chris O’Dowd, of “Bridesmaids” and “Pirate Radio”), who picks up on the girls’ obvious talent and signs on as their manager.

 

Movies: "Mud"

Movies: "Mud"

“Mud” is the kind of movie people say Hollywood doesn’t make anymore:  low-key, character-driven and featuring a solid cast.  As a summer of bombastic blockbusters is about to bear down on us, it’s worth noting that there are still some decent American-made B-movies out there.

Set (and shot) along the banks of the Mississippi River in Arkansas, our story begins with two fourteen-year old boys, Ellis (Tye Sheridan, “The Tree of Life”) and Neckbone (newcomer Jacob Lofland), who’ve discovered a motor boat hung up in a tree on a small, wooded island.  But it turns out they’re not the only ones interested in the boat.  Also on the island is a tattooed, gun-toting stranger who calls himself Mud (Matthew McConaughey, never better).

Movies: "The Company You Keep"

Movies: "The Company You Keep"

As our nation tries to understand a new episode of domestic terrorism, here’s a movie that looks back at another time of terror attacks, by the Weather Underground during the Vietnam War era of the 1970s.

Although it begins with TV clips of the upheaval that accompanied that unpopular war, “The Company You Keep” is set in the present.  It begins when one of the participants (Susan Sarandon) in a Weather Underground bank heist that left a guard dead decides to turn herself in thirty years after the fact.

 

Thanks to the work of  Ben Shepard (Shia LaBoeuf), an energetic but narcissistic young reporter for an Albany, NY newspaper, Sarandon’s character is quickly linked to some other Albany lo

A First Foray into Fermented Foods

A First Foray into Fermented Foods

What do sauerkraut, pickled eggs, and yogurt have in common?  A lot more than you might think!

I learn the coolest stuff from the "New Book Shelf" at the library.  I pick up books that pique my fancy, but that I would likely never go on the hunt for.

Interview with Pat Keane - Mastering Engineer (he makes music sound good)!

Interview with Pat Keane - Mastering Engineer (he makes music sound good)!

Pat Keane may have one of the best jobs on the planet.  His job is to make music sound good.  He's the last step in the process for any recording artist when cutting an album.  He is a mastering engineer.  It's his job to add the final polish that turns a collection of music tracks into a complete album. On St, Patrick's Day, I had the opportunity to join Pat in his mastering studio and watch him at work.  

Movies: "The Place Beyond the Pines"

Movies: "The Place Beyond the Pines"

The title is confusing, sounding perhaps like some teen horror movie, but it’s actually the Mohawk name for Schenectady, NY, where this complex, well-made film takes place.

It opens with a bravura steadicam shot worthy of Martin Scorsese, as we follow motorcycle stunt rider Luke (a blond, heavily tattooed Ryan Gosling) through a crowded fairground.  (The cinematography is by Sean Bobbitt, who delivers several more boffo set-pieces along the way, including a jumpy police chase.)

 

Movies: "Admission"

Movies: "Admission"

 

Unlike most of the rest of the country, I went to see “Admission.” 

 

That is because the movie is set at Princeton University, my (ahem) alma mater.  In this, I was not disappointed.  The scenes of the sun-dappled campus, an appearance by the A capella group The Nassoons, and the sense that this is a truly place where really bright students study really great stuff were all pleasing.  

 

Unfortunately, the movie was not so much.