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Monday, May 2, 2011

Leftovers: April 2011

Leftover Album(s):
The Antlers: Uprooted and In the Attic of the Universe
        To be quite honest with you, up until a month ago or so, I was convinced that The Antlers' 2009 masterwork Hospice was their debut album. In my feverish anticipation of their upcoming LP Burst Apart (Release Date: 5-10-2011), I decided to do a bit of research and found these two tidy, glimmering discs in their back-catalog. While released under the same band name as 2009's break-through, Uprooted and Attic were both written, recorded and released as solo projects of now-front-man Peter Silberman, and while his lone ranger stuff might not yank on heart strings quite as savagely as Hospice, his brilliant song-craft is on display everywhere. As of this writing, I've been more engrossed by Attic, recorded one year after Uprooted (2007 and 2006, respectively), which shares Hospice's affection for allowing songs to slowly bubble into existence before exploding into an emotional punch in the gut. Opener In the Attic does just this, as do any number of tunes on both discs, but what's perhaps even more interesting is hearing Silberman have some semblance of fun, as heard on the bouncy The Universe is Going to Catch You or Uprooted's twang-stuffed closer I'm Hibernating. Stripped down and under-produced, these two albums stand as brilliant evidence that Hospice was anything but a one-off, and foresee a great follow-up with Burst Apart, as well as standing as superb art in their own right.

Netfix Instant Watch Movie(s) of the Month:
The Virgin Suicides
        Yes, I know, I'm a little late on this one, but I finally got around to seeing The Virgin Suicides for the first time a few weeks ago, and, well, I'm here to confirm the hype. Sophia Coppola has proven herself an inventive film-maker with each new piece I've seen, but in this, her debut feature, she shies away from the languid camera movements and suffocatinging stillness that defined both Lost in Translation and Somewhere in favor of evoking 1970's suburbia through the lens of a fevered dream. Ronald and Sara Lisbon (James Woods and Kathleen Turner) will do anything to keep their five beautiful daughters out of the grubby paws of the local school boys, including locking them up and forming ever-more unflattering restrictions on their collective dress code. But the incredible, alluring, head-turning quality of the girls remains stead-fast, and Coppola's greatest achievement here is communicating and translating that power and aura to the audience. There's Edward Lachman's killer camera work, which perfectly recreates the vibe and feel of era-appropriate cinema, not to mention creative editing tricks, Air's hypnotic score, and the obsessive iconography of Kirsten Dunst's face. Even if you don't agree with the eventual moral conclusions that Suicides comes to, there's simply no denying the film's spell, one it casts on viewers from first moment to last.

The Works of Sidney Lumet, Specifically Dog Day Afternoon and Network

      In case there is any confusion, this is what belaboring a point looks like. Earlier this month, one of the greatest American film-makers to ever live passed away, and I can't help but feel that not enough people noticed. In a way, that seems fitting, as time has been unkind to Lumet, history forgetting that he has just as much to do with the pioneering of the crime genre as Coppola or Scorsese. Since I've already discussed both of these movies at length in my article Sidney Lumet: The Best Director You've Never Heard of, I don't feel the need to ramble on about them further here, but I will take this opportunity to point out, once again, that both are available instantly through Netflix. These are gems in every sense of the word: steady and creative direction, brilliant writing, and knock-out performances. If you fancy yourself as any shade of, 'movie buff,' and you haven't seen both of these movies, you've got some catching up to do. I'd get on that... like, right now.

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