Sonic Highways//Chicago

Directed by Dave Grohl
Originally aired October 17, 2014

SH_CHICAGO(2)As a fresh-faced Chicagoan, I was pleased to discover that my new hometown was deemed a worthy starting point for HBO’s latest documentary series Sonic Highways. Ostensibly a tour of distinct musical regions in America, each hour-long episode explores a handful of high water marks and hidden gems in each particular area. The episode on Chicago begins by noting the city’s rich diversity, it’s place in the pantheon of rock history and notoriety nationwide as a working class hub for artistic expression. Some big names get checked early on: Etta James, Wilco, Kanye West. The series is astute enough to observe that while a select few artists will get their stories told here, Chicago is an eclectic musical town. Of course, all while this is going on there’s an ulterior force at work. You see, Sonic Highways is not just Parts Unknown for the curious music lover. It’s also an enormous promo for the new album by the Foo Fighters. Continue reading

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Gone Girl

Written by Gillian Flynn
Directed by David Fincher
Based on Gone Girl by Gillian Flynn

GONE_GIRL

This review contains spoilers…

In some ways, filmmakers get a raw deal. In no other art form are people surprised, often not pleasantly, at being asked to think deeply about what they’ve just experienced. The highest commercial art form, trumping even advertising in its ability to invade and shift the public consciousness, movies continue to be separated, by critics and consumers alike, by their capacity to entertain or enlighten. And while the evidence is everywhere, it’s not exactly a ne’er-the-two-shall-meet situation. Christopher Nolan largely galvanized the current trend of serious and semi-serious superhero films with his Batman trilogy. The latest installments of the 007 franchise find the formerly kill happy secret agent developing a conscience. Though these films may seem like evidence to the contrary, the AMCs and Regal Cinemas of the country are nevertheless chock full of pointless violence, unquestioned misogyny and insipid romance. Like Nolan, David Fincher has leveraged his commercial success to create highly personal projects that draw large audiences. Comparatively, Nolan’s advantage is obvious: Batman is one of the most universally recognizable superheroes in the American consciousness second only to Superman, who, even after a recent reboot, is still dully one-dimensional. Excluding the possibility that film attendees everywhere have suddenly and universally subscribed to the theory of auteurism and recognizing that Fincher avoids the myth-baiting actor/muse relationship (Nolan and Christian Bale, Scorsese and Leonardo Dicaprio, JJ Abrams and lens flare), the precise reasons why Fincher’s latest film, an adaptation of Gillian Flynn’s New York Time’s bestseller Gone Girl, is the most exciting movie currently in wide release are enticingly elusive even as the film’s cinematic merits are impressively self-evident. Continue reading