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Wednesday, June 29, 2011

Leftovers: June 2011

Leftover Theatrical Releases:
The Double Hour (Limited Release Date: 4-15-2011)
        Sometimes, you have to dig a little deeper to get at the good stuff. This Italian import is a tough One to find, playing exclusively in art houses and big cities, but for all those with any opportunity, it's just about unmissable. Directed by rookie helmsman Giuseppe Capotondi, The Double Hour is yet another movie that's nearly impossible to summarize, given the fact that it completely reinvents itself about Five times during its hour and a half running time, but I'll at least try to clue you in. Sonia (Ksenia Rappoport) is a maid at a high-end hotel who sulks through her days without a smile. At a speed dating circuit, she meets Guido (Filippo Timi), an alluring and mysterious stranger whose straight talk and suave manner win her over immediately. We watch their courtship for about Twenty Minutes or so, and then the first major twist takes place, changing every aspect of the movie for the first of many times. I know, I know, that's not much story to recommend a movie on, but it's all I feel good about giving. The joy of The Double Hour is in how it is able to blindside its audience time and time again without ever sacrificing a coherent story. Both of the leads shine, the movie is subtly pleasing to the eyes and ears, and when its done, you won't know what hit you.

Leftover Albums:
Cults: Cults (Release Date: 6-7-2011)
        The debut disc of the year so far belongs to Cults, a Manhattan Two-Piece who makes just the kind of off-center cutesy-pop that actually works. Like last year's Sleigh Bells release Treats, Cults is New York based outfit built out of the musical craftsmanship of a boy (Brian Oblivion) and the juvenile sing-songy voice of a girl (Madeline Follin), though that's right around where the similarities end. Where SB's Alexis Krauss used her high-pitched, feathery croon to juxtapose against the general bombast of Derek E. Miller's backing music, Follin's voice rides on top of purely old-school, 50's leaning girl-pop instrumentation. Phil Spector's finger prints are all over the thing, influencing each track without ever taking over. Cults are an old but updated sound, something of a singular pitch in today's musical landscape, cranking out One sickeningly catchy tune (Go Outside) after another (Oh My God)... and another (You Know What I Mean), and another (Abducted)... and, well, you get the idea. Just go check it out.

Netflix Instant Watch Movie(s) of the Month:
Four Lions
        One of my very favorite movies of last year, Christopher Morris' pitch-black comedy is just as adept at coaxing a chuckle as it is a weary groan. Four Lions is a screwball comedy centered on the bumbling exploits of a group of five... wait for it... British Jihadists. If that doesn't sound like the movie for you, then I can't imagine that it is, but FL is endlessly provocative film-making, all wrapped up in the trappings of a laugher. The five men, One kind of smart (Riz Ahmed), the others varying degrees of stupid, all want to perform god's will by martyring themselves and taking some non-believers along with them. While it may be difficult to see how this all could be comedic from just reading about it, the movie is full of hilarious word-play and moral no-man's-lands that are enough to make your head spin. It's a film with the conviction to follow its thesis all the way to its natural conclusion, and one that doesn't mind humanizing those so often painted in a demonic light, even if it does so while poking fun at the perversity of their ambition. If you like your entertainment with an edge on it, you'd be wise to give this One a try.

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