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

    609 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

  1. 
"The New Pornographers is making music whose influences are fun to figure out—I hear some Abba in the harmonies, some ELO in the keyboards. On other songs there’s everything from the playful pompous-rock of Queen to the soulful harmonies of the Mamas and the Papas emanating from the contributions of strong vocalist Kathryn Calder, among others. Which means, ultimately, that this band is creating its own sound, using the time-tested pop-culture method of picking and choosing from anything and everything, recombined for original effects.”
- Ken Tucker 


Hear the full review View in High-Res

    "The New Pornographers is making music whose influences are fun to figure out—I hear some Abba in the harmonies, some ELO in the keyboards. On other songs there’s everything from the playful pompous-rock of Queen to the soulful harmonies of the Mamas and the Papas emanating from the contributions of strong vocalist Kathryn Calder, among others. Which means, ultimately, that this band is creating its own sound, using the time-tested pop-culture method of picking and choosing from anything and everything, recombined for original effects.”

    - Ken Tucker 

    Hear the full review

  2. the new pornographers

    ken tucker

    review

    fresh air

  1. If you want to frame Elvin Bishop’s music in a contemporary context, you could fairly say that he was a precursor to today’s so-called “bro-country music,” in which young male country singers churn out song after song about getting in their trucks to go party with pretty gals. But few of those young whippersnappers also feature the stuff that makes Elvin Bishop such a continuing gas—the raspy chuckle in his singing, and the sharp sting of his guitar. He invites you to contradict the title of this album and insist that he CAN do wrong right—just right.

    — Ken Tucker, reviewing Elvin Bishop's album Can't Even Do Wrong Right

  2. ken tucker

    elvin bishop

    country music

    blues

    review

  1. 
"Starting in 1970 with Even Dwarfs Started Small – an anarchic tale of rebellion by a group of little people — Werner Herzog unleashed a torrent of ten films, including Nosferatu and Fitzcarraldo, that remain the heart of his achievement.


All those movies, and six later ones, are included in the tremendous new boxed-set, Herzog: The Collection.  Some of them are great, others are good, and a couple are truly terrible.  Yet every single one has something going on.  Herzog has never been limited by anybody else’s idea of propriety, good sense, or artistic neatness.  He pushes us into unsettling mental spaces that make the strange familiar and the familiar strange.”
- John Powers, reviewing Herzog: The Collection 


How the “I believe in Werner Herzog” grafiti started  View in High-Res

    "Starting in 1970 with Even Dwarfs Started Small – an anarchic tale of rebellion by a group of little people — Werner Herzog unleashed a torrent of ten films, including Nosferatu and Fitzcarraldo, that remain the heart of his achievement.

    All those movies, and six later ones, are included in the tremendous new boxed-set, Herzog: The Collection.  Some of them are great, others are good, and a couple are truly terrible.  Yet every single one has something going on.  Herzog has never been limited by anybody else’s idea of propriety, good sense, or artistic neatness.  He pushes us into unsettling mental spaces that make the strange familiar and the familiar strange.”

    - John Powers, reviewing Herzog: The Collection 

    How the “I believe in Werner Herzog” grafiti started 

  2. werner herzog

    film

    john powers

    review

    fresh air

  1. Billy Joe Shaver isn’t so much an outlaw as an outlier, admired by much bigger stars then he’ll ever be, a figure of ornery stubbornness who specializes in writing garrulous story-songs filled with macho boasting phrased poetically. Shaver is one of those loners who claims to want to be loved even as he’s pushing everyone away with a defiant or morose attitude.

    — Ken Tucker reviews Shaver’s first album in six years, Long in the Tooth

  2. billy shoe shaver

    honky tonk

    ken tucker

    review

    long in the tooth

  1. David Edelstein reviews Calvary, starring  Brendan Gleeson as a priest who must eventually face off against a killer:

"Crisis-of-faith movies are often painfully solemn, even Ingmar Bergman-esque, but writer-director John Michael McDonagh evidently came of age watching too many episodes of Twin Peaks. Calvary is crammed with strange, over-the-top performances—unmodulated, in different keys, the characters framed with the bluntness of a carnival barker showing off his freaks. Those shots are in contrast to the Irish coastal vistas: craggy, primordial, mythic. It’s meant to be a haunting combination, and I have colleagues who found it just that. They were devastated by a film that acknowledges the Catholic Church’s crimes and what’s portrayed as its increasing irrelevance in modern society, yet affirms, in the end, the overriding importance of faith.”


View in High-Res

    David Edelstein reviews Calvary, starring Brendan Gleeson as a priest who must eventually face off against a killer:

    "Crisis-of-faith movies are often painfully solemn, even Ingmar Bergman-esque, but writer-director John Michael McDonagh evidently came of age watching too many episodes of Twin Peaks. Calvary is crammed with strange, over-the-top performances—unmodulated, in different keys, the characters framed with the bluntness of a carnival barker showing off his freaks. Those shots are in contrast to the Irish coastal vistas: craggy, primordial, mythic. It’s meant to be a haunting combination, and I have colleagues who found it just that. They were devastated by a film that acknowledges the Catholic Church’s crimes and what’s portrayed as its increasing irrelevance in modern society, yet affirms, in the end, the overriding importance of faith.”

  2. calvary

    brendan gleeson

    review

    movie

    ireland

    catholic church

  1. Jazz pianist Jaki Byard played in the bands of Charles Mingus, Rahsaan,  Roland Kirk and Booker Ervin. Then he began making solo and small-band records under his own name. Jazz critic Kevin Whitehead says, Byard had a rare ability to sound archaic and ahead of his time.

    Jazz pianist Jaki Byard played in the bands of Charles Mingus, Rahsaan,  Roland Kirk and Booker Ervin. Then he began making solo and small-band records under his own name. Jazz critic Kevin Whitehead says, Byard had a rare ability to sound archaic and ahead of his time.

  2. jazz

    jaki byard

    kevin whitehead

    piano

    review

  1. In the early 1960s when soul star Sam Cooke had his own record label, SAR, he recorded songs by his younger brother, L.C. Cooke. Ten of the tracks were supposed to become L.C.’s debut album in 1964. The release was postponed, then Sam Cooke was killed, SAR went out of business and L.C.’s album fell into limbo. Now, 50 years later, The Complete SAR Records Recordings has appeared. Fresh Air critic Milo Miles examines this lost piece of history:

I knew Sam Cooke had a younger brother who he had recorded and produced. But it was tough to hear any of L.C. Cooke’s rare singles and impossible to evaluate him as a performer overall. Not any more. All of the material L.C. recorded for his brother’s SAR label, plus two songs made before and one from after have come out as The Complete SAR Records Recordings. Most were written by Sam, a few by L.C. To get my one hesitation out of the way, L.C. is not quite the singer his brother was — tones less rich, phrasing a bit more pedestrian. But it’s good the material sketches a persona different than Sam’s. L. C. seems, how shall we say? — brattier.



L.C. Cooke via ABKCO records

    In the early 1960s when soul star Sam Cooke had his own record label, SAR, he recorded songs by his younger brother, L.C. Cooke. Ten of the tracks were supposed to become L.C.’s debut album in 1964. The release was postponed, then Sam Cooke was killed, SAR went out of business and L.C.’s album fell into limbo. Now, 50 years later, The Complete SAR Records Recordings has appeared. Fresh Air critic Milo Miles examines this lost piece of history:

    I knew Sam Cooke had a younger brother who he had recorded and produced. But it was tough to hear any of L.C. Cooke’s rare singles and impossible to evaluate him as a performer overall. Not any more. All of the material L.C. recorded for his brother’s SAR label, plus two songs made before and one from after have come out as The Complete SAR Records Recordings. Most were written by Sam, a few by L.C. To get my one hesitation out of the way, L.C. is not quite the singer his brother was — tones less rich, phrasing a bit more pedestrian. But it’s good the material sketches a persona different than Sam’s. L. C. seems, how shall we say? — brattier.

    L.C. Cooke via ABKCO records

  2. l.c. cooke

    sam cooke

    soul

    milo miles

    review

    ABKSCO records

  1. Cowboy Jack Clement was a prolific producer, songwriter, arranger, and talent scout.  He only made three albums of his own, the last of which is the new For Once and For All, executive produced by T Bone Burnett.  Ken Tucker reviews: 

Cowboy Jack Clement – the “cowboy” nickname was always something of a joke; he once said, “cowboy boots make my feet hurt”—was a colorful character as well as a first-rate songwriter and producer. Clement told music historian Peter Guralnick that Shakespeare and PG Wodehouse were influences on him as significant as any country or rock & roll artist, and since he wrote tunes for Johnny Cash called “Dirty Old Egg-Suckin’ Dog” and “Flushed from the Bathroom of your Heart,” I’m inclined to believe him. He also wrote some of the finest pure-country songs ever. 
View in High-Res

    Cowboy Jack Clement was a prolific producer, songwriter, arranger, and talent scout.  He only made three albums of his own, the last of which is the new For Once and For All, executive produced by T Bone Burnett.  Ken Tucker reviews: 

    Cowboy Jack Clement – the “cowboy” nickname was always something of a joke; he once said, “cowboy boots make my feet hurt”—was a colorful character as well as a first-rate songwriter and producer. Clement told music historian Peter Guralnick that Shakespeare and PG Wodehouse were influences on him as significant as any country or rock & roll artist, and since he wrote tunes for Johnny Cash called “Dirty Old Egg-Suckin’ Dog” and “Flushed from the Bathroom of your Heart,” I’m inclined to believe him. He also wrote some of the finest pure-country songs ever. 

  2. cowboy jack clement

    t bone burnett

    ken tucker

    review