1. 
"You’ll probably be wowed by Birdman, by how the camera hurtles after characters in what’s made to look like a single, fluid, movie-long take, transcending space and often time, even soaring off into fantasy while viscerally evoking the desperation of a washed-up film actor to bring off his Broadway debut. You should be wowed; I was, too—and I didn’t even like the movie. I had to marvel at director Alejandro Gonzalez Inarritu’s choreography, at the go-for-broke performances."
- David Edelstein

'Birdman' Follows A Film Actor Frantic To Prove Himself Onstage View in High-Res

    "You’ll probably be wowed by Birdman, by how the camera hurtles after characters in what’s made to look like a single, fluid, movie-long take, transcending space and often time, even soaring off into fantasy while viscerally evoking the desperation of a washed-up film actor to bring off his Broadway debut. You should be wowed; I was, too—and I didn’t even like the movie. I had to marvel at director Alejandro Gonzalez Inarritu’s choreography, at the go-for-broke performances."

    - David Edelstein

    'Birdman' Follows A Film Actor Frantic To Prove Himself Onstage

  2. birdman

    review

    david edelstein

    alejandro gonzález iñárritu

    michael keaton

  1. 
A new Hilary Mantel book is an Event with a “capital “E.” Here’s why: The first two best-selling novels in Mantel’s planned trilogy about Thomas Cromwell, Wolf Hall and Bring Up the Bodies, each won the Man Booker Prize—that’s a first.  The BBC is filming an adaptation of Wolf Hall for airing in 2015, and Mantel’s original short story, “The Assassination of Margaret Thatcher,” was printed in The Sunday New York Times Book Review a few weeks ago.  That story is from Mantel’s new short story collection of the same name.  Heads always tend to roll—figuratively and otherwise—in Mantel’s writing.  Hers is a brusque and brutal world leavened with humor—humor that’s available in one shade only: black.
-Maureen Corrigan


'The Assassination Of Margaret Thatcher' And Other Stories From Hilary Mantel View in High-Res

    A new Hilary Mantel book is an Event with a “capital “E.” Here’s why: The first two best-selling novels in Mantel’s planned trilogy about Thomas Cromwell, Wolf Hall and Bring Up the Bodies, each won the Man Booker Prize—that’s a first.  The BBC is filming an adaptation of Wolf Hall for airing in 2015, and Mantel’s original short story, “The Assassination of Margaret Thatcher,” was printed in The Sunday New York Times Book Review a few weeks ago.  That story is from Mantel’s new short story collection of the same name.  Heads always tend to roll—figuratively and otherwise—in Mantel’s writing.  Hers is a brusque and brutal world leavened with humor—humor that’s available in one shade only: black.

    -Maureen Corrigan

    'The Assassination Of Margaret Thatcher' And Other Stories From Hilary Mantel

  2. hilary mantel

    novel

    margaret thatcher

    books

    review

    maureen corrigan

    wolf hall

    bring up the bodies

  1. There’s more to Swedish pop music than Abba. In recent years, worldwide pop hits from acts such as Robyn and Icona Pop have achieved success in America; the Swedish pop producer Max Martin has written hits for acts like Katy Perry and Britney Spears. Now a singer-songwriter in her 20s called Tove Lo is scoring hits in this country that mix dance club pop with rock soulfulness. Rock critic Ken Tucker has a review of Tove Lo’s debut album Queen of the Clouds.
Tove Lo Chronicles Three Stages Of A Love Affair View in High-Res

    There’s more to Swedish pop music than Abba. In recent years, worldwide pop hits from acts such as Robyn and Icona Pop have achieved success in America; the Swedish pop producer Max Martin has written hits for acts like Katy Perry and Britney Spears. Now a singer-songwriter in her 20s called Tove Lo is scoring hits in this country that mix dance club pop with rock soulfulness. Rock critic Ken Tucker has a review of Tove Lo’s debut album Queen of the Clouds.

    Tove Lo Chronicles Three Stages Of A Love Affair

  2. tove lo

    ken tucker

    review

  1. Before they performed as a duo in Montreal in 1990, jazz guitarist Jim Hall and bassist Charlie Haden had recorded only one session together 20 years before. The album of their concert is now out. Jazz critic Kevin Whitehead says it’s an unofficial memorial album. Hall passed away last December, and Haden in July: 

"It’s good to hear informal conversations between great musicians—these two obviously hadn’t worked much out in advance. It’s not the best thing either one ever did. But since Jim Hall loved playing duets with bass, and Charlie Haden loved duos with guitarists, and Hall thought of bass as an extension of guitar, and Haden could sound like he was picking a giant six-string, this 1990 meeting was a good idea waiting to happen. But not so good that the album came out before now." 

Hear the music/review: 
An Unofficial Memorial For Jazz Greats Jim Hall And Charlie Haden
Photo of Charlie Haden and Jim Hall via Bluenote View in High-Res

    Before they performed as a duo in Montreal in 1990, jazz guitarist Jim Hall and bassist Charlie Haden had recorded only one session together 20 years before. The album of their concert is now out. Jazz critic Kevin Whitehead says it’s an unofficial memorial album. Hall passed away last December, and Haden in July: 

    "It’s good to hear informal conversations between great musicians—these two obviously hadn’t worked much out in advance. It’s not the best thing either one ever did. But since Jim Hall loved playing duets with bass, and Charlie Haden loved duos with guitarists, and Hall thought of bass as an extension of guitar, and Haden could sound like he was picking a giant six-string, this 1990 meeting was a good idea waiting to happen. But not so good that the album came out before now." 

    Hear the music/review: 

    An Unofficial Memorial For Jazz Greats Jim Hall And Charlie Haden

    Photo of Charlie Haden and Jim Hall via Bluenote

  2. jazz

    charlie haden

    jim hall

    review

    kevin whitehead

  1. Our TV critic, David Bianculli, reviews The Affair: 

Showtime’s newest drama series, The Affair, is the story of two people who betray their respective spouses and fall into an extramarital relationship. What makes this TV show so distinctively different, and so utterly captivating, is that it’s not told from just one point of view. It’s like Akira Kurosawa’s classic Japanese drama Rashomon, or Arthur Miller’s Death of a Salesman, where memories are revisited that turn out to be less than entirely accurate, or trustworthy. It means you have to pay close attention – but if you do, the subtleties and subtexts build up, and offer entirely new possible interpretations of events.

Inconsistent Memories Are Revisited In ‘The Affair,’ A Captivating New Drama View in High-Res

    Our TV critic, David Bianculli, reviews The Affair

    Showtime’s newest drama series, The Affair, is the story of two people who betray their respective spouses and fall into an extramarital relationship. What makes this TV show so distinctively different, and so utterly captivating, is that it’s not told from just one point of view. It’s like Akira Kurosawa’s classic Japanese drama Rashomon, or Arthur Miller’s Death of a Salesman, where memories are revisited that turn out to be less than entirely accurate, or trustworthy. It means you have to pay close attention – but if you do, the subtleties and subtexts build up, and offer entirely new possible interpretations of events.

    Inconsistent Memories Are Revisited In ‘The Affair,’ A Captivating New Drama

  2. the affair

    showtime

    drama

    tv

    review

    david bianculli

  1. David Edelstein reviews Whiplash: 

"Whiplash charts the education—and torture—of ambitious young drummer Andrew Neiman, played by Miles Teller. The inflicter of pain is a teacher, Terence Fletcher, played by J.K. Simmons; Fletcher conducts the elite jazz band at the Manhattan conservatory where Andrew is a student. Film has a long dishonor role of sadistic authority figures, but few of them get as much of a charge as Fletcher out of messing with pupil’s heads, even driving them from the school in tears. Writer-director Damien Chazelle, has you wondering two things at once. Will Andrew succeed in wowing this most exacting of all judges? And, more important: What can be gained by doing so when the teacher is manifestly psychotic? 


There’s also a larger question: Does the director finally vindicate Fletcher’s methods, suggesting that only a harsh taskmaster can spur an artist like Andrew to the next level?


Before I try to answer, let me say I love this movie. The title is dead on. Whiplash twists you into knots. The fear of failure is omnipresent, but so—somehow—is the jazz vibe.”

In ‘Whiplash,’ A Young Drummer Plays Till He Bleeds View in High-Res

    David Edelstein reviews Whiplash

    "Whiplash charts the education—and torture—of ambitious young drummer Andrew Neiman, played by Miles Teller. The inflicter of pain is a teacher, Terence Fletcher, played by J.K. Simmons; Fletcher conducts the elite jazz band at the Manhattan conservatory where Andrew is a student. Film has a long dishonor role of sadistic authority figures, but few of them get as much of a charge as Fletcher out of messing with pupil’s heads, even driving them from the school in tears. Writer-director Damien Chazelle, has you wondering two things at once. Will Andrew succeed in wowing this most exacting of all judges? And, more important: What can be gained by doing so when the teacher is manifestly psychotic? 

    There’s also a larger question: Does the director finally vindicate Fletcher’s methods, suggesting that only a harsh taskmaster can spur an artist like Andrew to the next level?

    Before I try to answer, let me say I love this movie. The title is dead on. Whiplash twists you into knots. The fear of failure is omnipresent, but so—somehow—is the jazz vibe.”

    In ‘Whiplash,’ A Young Drummer Plays Till He Bleeds

  2. whiplash

    drums

    movie

    review

    david edelstein

    fresh air

  1. If you’ve been wondering where Prince has gone, he’s re-signed with Warner Brothers Records after spending the last few years of sporadic independent releases. Now Prince has released two new albums simultaneously: Art Official Age appears under his own name, and PlectrumElectrum is the debut record of a Prince back-up band called 3rdEyeGirl, but it includes Prince’s vocals, guitar, and production style throughout. Rock critic Ken Tucker has a review of both albums.


Photo of Prince via The Guardian View in High-Res

    If you’ve been wondering where Prince has gone, he’s re-signed with Warner Brothers Records after spending the last few years of sporadic independent releases. Now Prince has released two new albums simultaneously: Art Official Age appears under his own name, and PlectrumElectrum is the debut record of a Prince back-up band called 3rdEyeGirl, but it includes Prince’s vocals, guitar, and production style throughout. Rock critic Ken Tucker has a review of both albums.

    Photo of Prince via The Guardian

  2. prince

    music

    review

    fresh air

    art official age

    plectrumelectrum

    3rdeyegirl

  1. Bakersfield, California, has become famous for its own brand of country music, with such stars as Merle Haggard and Buck Owens given credit for putting the town on the musical map. But they evolved through a music scene that was wild and wide-open during the 1950s and 60s, and Ed Ward has the story today.

View in High-Res

    Bakersfield, California, has become famous for its own brand of country music, with such stars as Merle Haggard and Buck Owens given credit for putting the town on the musical map. But they evolved through a music scene that was wild and wide-open during the 1950s and 60s, and Ed Ward has the story today.

  2. bakersfield

    merle haggard

    buck owens

    music

    review

    ed ward

  1. David Bianculli reviews a new series on Amazon, Transparent, starring Jeffrey Tambor (Arrested Development).  Tambor plays Mort Pfefferman, the patriarch of a fractured family, who, at 70, decides to transition to be a woman—Maura.  

"Tambor plays this character completely straight — so to speak — without any hint of cheap humor. And it’s Tambor’s commitment to the role that makes Transparent work so well, and so quickly. When Maura, dressed in a wig and a loose-fitting blouse, explains to her support group where she is in her journey to a new sexual identity, there’s no condescension whatsoever. Not from the group — and certainly not from the way Tambor plays her.”
View in High-Res

    David Bianculli reviews a new series on Amazon, Transparent, starring Jeffrey Tambor (Arrested Development).  Tambor plays Mort Pfefferman, the patriarch of a fractured family, who, at 70, decides to transition to be a woman—Maura.  

    "Tambor plays this character completely straight — so to speak — without any hint of cheap humor. And it’s Tambor’s commitment to the role that makes Transparent work so well, and so quickly. When Maura, dressed in a wig and a loose-fitting blouse, explains to her support group where she is in her journey to a new sexual identity, there’s no condescension whatsoever. Not from the group — and certainly not from the way Tambor plays her.”

  2. fresh air

    review

    david bianculli

    trans

    transgender

    transparent

  1. Posted on 23 September, 2014

    687 notes | Permalink

    Reblogged from back-then

    Maureen Corrigan reviews The Paying Guests by Sarah Waters. The novel opens in 1922 in the ‘suburban backwater’ of London, where Frances Wray and her mother have fallen from the middle class and must take ‘paying guests’ into their home to stay afloat. 

"The Paying Guests is no simple period piece. As alert as Waters is to historical detail, she’s also a superb storyteller with a gift for capturing the layered nuances of character and mood. Any reader familiar with Waters’ earlier novels like Tipping the Velvet will know that she’s especially drawn to the subject of lesbian relationships. What’s so immediately compelling about our protagonist, Frances Wray, is that, in a way that doesn’t seem at all anachronistic, she’s comfortable in her own queer skin. It’s most of the rest of the world — and, tragically, some of the people in her own house — who have serious problems with Frances and her so-called “unnatural” sexuality.”

Girls playing ukuleles, 1926
  View in High-Res

    Maureen Corrigan reviews The Paying Guests by Sarah Waters. The novel opens in 1922 in the ‘suburban backwater’ of London, where Frances Wray and her mother have fallen from the middle class and must take ‘paying guests’ into their home to stay afloat. 

    "The Paying Guests is no simple period piece. As alert as Waters is to historical detail, she’s also a superb storyteller with a gift for capturing the layered nuances of character and mood. Any reader familiar with Waters’ earlier novels like Tipping the Velvet will know that she’s especially drawn to the subject of lesbian relationships. What’s so immediately compelling about our protagonist, Frances Wray, is that, in a way that doesn’t seem at all anachronistic, she’s comfortable in her own queer skin. It’s most of the rest of the world — and, tragically, some of the people in her own house — who have serious problems with Frances and her so-called “unnatural” sexuality.”

    Girls playing ukuleles, 1926

     

  2. maureen corrigan

    review

    1920s

    london

    fresh air

    the paying guests

  1. "To put in terms of an SAT analogy question, Gotham is to Batman as Smallville is to Superman – a prequel series where we don’t get the costumes, but we do get lots of motivation and character development. The Gotham pilot, which airs tonight on Fox, looks cinematic, and features some strong performances – especially by Donal Logue as a somewhat shifty detective and Robin Lord Taylor as the man who would be Penguin. It’s definitely worth a look.”

    - David Bianculli 

    More on the Fall TV Lineup

  2. gotham

    tv

    david bianculli

    fresh air

    review

  1. Jazz pianist Jason Moran's new album All Rise began in 2011, when he staged a dance party salute to pianist Fats Waller in Harlem, featuring singer Meshell Ndegeocello. Now that party has become a touring project, and a new album. Fresh Air jazz critic Kevin Whitehead admits to mixed feelings. View in High-Res

    Jazz pianist Jason Moran's new album All Rise began in 2011, when he staged a dance party salute to pianist Fats Waller in Harlem, featuring singer Meshell Ndegeocello. Now that party has become a touring project, and a new album. Fresh Air jazz critic Kevin Whitehead admits to mixed feelings.

  2. jazz

    review

    jason moran

    all rise

    kevin whitehead

    fresh air

  1. Milo Miles reviews the newest album from songwriting team Tennis, Ritual in Repeat: 

Alaina Moore and Patrick Riley are clearly passionate fans of the rock ‘n’ soul sounds of the early-‘60s girl groups and Brill Building songwriters and producers. However, their new album Ritual in Repeat is a triumph not because it conveys their fandom, but because it makes a sprightly pop style from 50 years ago fresh, ready for new fans now. This is a much trickier task than it might seem.


Photo by Luca Venter View in High-Res

    Milo Miles reviews the newest album from songwriting team Tennis, Ritual in Repeat

    Alaina Moore and Patrick Riley are clearly passionate fans of the rock ‘n’ soul sounds of the early-‘60s girl groups and Brill Building songwriters and producers. However, their new album Ritual in Repeat is a triumph not because it conveys their fandom, but because it makes a sprightly pop style from 50 years ago fresh, ready for new fans now. This is a much trickier task than it might seem.

    Photo by Luca Venter

  2. music

    review

    tennis

    alaina moore

    patrick riley

    ritual in repeat

  1. Today Fresh Air book critic Maureen Corrigan reviews The Bone Clocks by David Mitchell. Corrigan says the novel gives readers “the chance to step out of time for a while and into a world richer and stranger than most of us could imagine.” 
She encourages readers to try The Bone Clocks, even if fantasy fiction isn’t your cup of tea: 

"David Mitchell is one of those writers I’d follow anywhere—even deep into (what is for me) the often-exasperating genre of fantasy fiction.  I don’t naturally gravitate to tales about alternative universes, wormholes, or tribbles; but, there are always exceptions and if Mitchell feels like trying out a semi-futuristic vehicle about immortal soul stealers, I’m willing to take a deep breath, step aboard, and say, in the words of Rod Serling: “Next stop, the Twilight Zone.” 
As in Cloud Atlas and some of his lesser-known novels, Mitchell’s new book, called The Bone Clocks, is elaborately constructed, jumping around in time and narrative perspective.  A friend of mine, who’s also a Mitchell enthusiast, rightly says that his novels are “postmodernist without all the pretentious metaphysics.”  What my friend means is that Mitchell’s technical wizardry is there, not for show, but in service to his themes and characters—he’s a deeply compassionate writer.   In fact, despite its experimental edge, the main reason to read The Bone Clocks is an old-fashioned one:  the draw of a charismatic character named Holly Sykes.”
View in High-Res

    Today Fresh Air book critic Maureen Corrigan reviews The Bone Clocks by David Mitchell. Corrigan says the novel gives readers “the chance to step out of time for a while and into a world richer and stranger than most of us could imagine.” 

    She encourages readers to try The Bone Clocks, even if fantasy fiction isn’t your cup of tea: 

    "David Mitchell is one of those writers I’d follow anywhere—even deep into (what is for me) the often-exasperating genre of fantasy fiction.  I don’t naturally gravitate to tales about alternative universes, wormholes, or tribbles; but, there are always exceptions and if Mitchell feels like trying out a semi-futuristic vehicle about immortal soul stealers, I’m willing to take a deep breath, step aboard, and say, in the words of Rod Serling: “Next stop, the Twilight Zone.” 

    As in Cloud Atlas and some of his lesser-known novels, Mitchell’s new book, called The Bone Clocks, is elaborately constructed, jumping around in time and narrative perspective.  A friend of mine, who’s also a Mitchell enthusiast, rightly says that his novels are “postmodernist without all the pretentious metaphysics.”  What my friend means is that Mitchell’s technical wizardry is there, not for show, but in service to his themes and characters—he’s a deeply compassionate writer.   In fact, despite its experimental edge, the main reason to read The Bone Clocks is an old-fashioned one:  the draw of a charismatic character named Holly Sykes.”

  2. fresh air

    review

    books

    david mitchell

    the bone clocks

  1. Fresh Air film critic David Edelstein reviews  Starred Up, about a teenage inmate in a maximum security adult prison:

None of the inmates in the brutal British prison drama Starred Up thinks of escape or even imminent release—it’s not that kind of prison drama. The characters will be here for a long time, and they’ve accepted the hierarchy of power among the prisoners. But the newest arrival hasn’t, yet. He’s a teenager named Eric Love—he has been “starred up,” meaning transferred to an adult prison because he’s too violent for a juvenile lock-up. Eric marks his arrival by smashing furniture in his cell and making a run at the guards, chomping down on one guy’s crotch and refusing to let go. His hair-trigger hostility to authority leaves him confused when he meets two father figures. One is an earnest group therapist named Oliver Baumer. The other is his actual father, Neville Love, a dominating inmate whom Eric barely knows. The psychodrama is so thick you can cut it with a straight razor.
View in High-Res

    Fresh Air film critic David Edelstein reviews  Starred Up, about a teenage inmate in a maximum security adult prison:

    None of the inmates in the brutal British prison drama Starred Up thinks of escape or even imminent release—it’s not that kind of prison drama. The characters will be here for a long time, and they’ve accepted the hierarchy of power among the prisoners. But the newest arrival hasn’t, yet. He’s a teenager named Eric Love—he has been “starred up,” meaning transferred to an adult prison because he’s too violent for a juvenile lock-up. Eric marks his arrival by smashing furniture in his cell and making a run at the guards, chomping down on one guy’s crotch and refusing to let go. His hair-trigger hostility to authority leaves him confused when he meets two father figures. One is an earnest group therapist named Oliver Baumer. The other is his actual father, Neville Love, a dominating inmate whom Eric barely knows. The psychodrama is so thick you can cut it with a straight razor.

  2. starred up

    david edelstein

    fresh air

    review

    prison