REVIEW: Blood Machines [2020]

She’s between life and death. When a space vessel goes rogue, fleet commander Galdor (Walter Dickerson) tasks Captain Vascan (Anders Heinrichsen) and his co-pilot/mechanic Lago (Christian Erickson) with retrieving it. Shooting it down from space to crash land on an unknown planet proves this story’s beginning rather than its end as we discover the destination was hardly some random accident. No, it’s exactly where the ship was headed because it is the only place with inhabitants who know its plight. Unlike Vascan’s crude sadist who’s all too happy to destroy…

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REVIEW: Kate Nash: Underestimate the Girl [2020]

There’s nothing silly about being a teenage girl. While Amy Goldstein‘s documentary Kate Nash: Underestimate the Girl obviously centers upon its British rockstar subject’s unorthodox trajectory from Myspace sensation to “GLOW” actress, it also serves as an invaluably informative account of what it means to be a twenty-first century musician thanks to the industry’s ever-changing landscape. The simple fact that Kate Nash‘s career began because she had enough social media followers to turn record label heads is a product of that moment of time, but so too is her courage…

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REVIEW: Judy [2019]

What if I can’t do it again? Playwright Peter Quilter has stated that the original play (“Last Song of the Nightingale”) on which “End of the Rainbow” was modeled upon found its inspiration from an alcoholic male singer met while traveling with his partner on a cruise ship wherein the latter was also a performer. Because he changed his lead into a woman, however, everyone assumed the show was about a thinly-veiled Judy Garland. This reception led him to research the Wizard of Oz legend’s final year on earth and…

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REVIEW: Linda Ronstadt: The Sound of My Voice [2019]

So I started looking for other things. Upon sitting down to Rob Epstein and Jeffrey Friedman‘s documentary Linda Ronstadt: The Sound of My Voice, I had to ask myself why I knew her name. She’s obviously one of the biggest chart-hopping women to ever grace a stage and record music, but I couldn’t think of a single title to attribute to her in a way that correlated why I knew who she was without actually knowing who she was. Then “You’re No Good” started playing. Then came her cover of…

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REVIEW: Anima [2019]

Please let me know when you’ve had enough. When you’re Thom Yorke and well into a career with one of the most recognizable rock bands in the world (they self-release records on a “pay what you want” scale after all), you can think outside the box where advertising is concerned. So don’t be mistaken where his short film collaboration with Paul Thomas Anderson is concerned. Anima is very much an advertisement for the album of the same name and Yorke himself as an artist about to tour. The same goes…

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TIFF19 REVIEW: III [2019]

No one said enough is enough. I’ve never been one to pay attention to lyrics. All I need is a good tune, complementary voice, and the joy their marriage instills. So I didn’t think twice when The Lumineers‘ latest single “Gloria” hit the radio. Its folk rock melody was as upbeat and fun as any of the other songs they’ve released like “Ho Hey” or “Ophelia.” Little did I know that the words Wesley Schultz put to Jeremiah Fraites‘ music depicted a dark scene of addiction—one very close to his…

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REVIEW: Blinded By the Light [2019]

They’re not brilliant, but they’re mine. It was 1973 when Bruce Springsteen‘s debut album Greetings from Asbury Park, N.J. hit record stores—fourteen years before Javed Khan (Viveik Kalra) first heard his name. By then this teenage Pakistani in Luton, England was listening to current synth tracks with best friend Matt (Dean-Charles Chapman) when his parents weren’t forcing their native country’s music upon him. Here he was a stranger in a familiar land dealing with a traditionalist family that worked as a collective, a racist National Front, and a dream of…

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REVIEW: Echo In the Canyon [2019]

You always brought your guitar. It started with Jacques Demy‘s Model Shop. Director Andrew Slater saw it, thought about the era depicted (it was released in 1968), and got that Laurel Canyon sound—where so many of the folk-to-rock transitional bands lived—stuck in his brain. This shouldn’t be surprising considering Demy recruited Spirit to create a soundtrack (what should be their third album) that captured this exact vibe before the film’s box office failure made it so the material wouldn’t see the light of day until 2005. One thing apparently led…

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REVIEW: Yesterday [2019]

Have you got coke? Jack Malik (Himesh Patel) has dreams of singer/songwriter stardom, but this Clacton-on-Sea native is lucky if one person besides best friend/manager Ellie (Lily James) and their mates Nick (Harry Michell) and Carol (Sophia Di Martino) is actually listening to “Summer Song” let alone enjoying it at gigs. That’s the pitfall of dreams: they don’t always work out. While he would have quit years ago if not for Ellie constantly pushing him forward, his latest set-back doubling as a modest moral victory allows him to finally give…

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REVIEW: Wild Rose [2019]

What do you need to say? These movies usually start with the music and attempt to find happiness afterwards. That’s the order you need for the fantasy of artistic superstardom to work—that talent is enough to earn everything you’ve ever wanted and therefore the foundation for what’s still to come. That’s not the real world, though. Maybe some people are plucked from obscurity like in A Star Is Born. Maybe some do reach great heights via contests a la Teen Spirit. But what about those dreamers who come to the…

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REVIEW: Leto [2018]

Laziness has kept me out of trouble many times. We only recognize it through hindsight, but Americans are spoiled by cultural freedom. Growing up in the 1980s and 1990s meant having the opportunity to listen to radio stations, records, and cassettes of music spanning multiple genres and eras. It was all at our fingertips and we didn’t have to do much to acquire it unless we lived in a conservatively oppressive household with parents who thought rock-n-roll was a gateway drug for Satanism. From new wave to grunge with blues…

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