There’s an engimatic quality to the role of Christopher Nolan in the current filmmaking landscape, and one that stands apart from the fact that his films so often court ambiguity with explicit intent. From the Russian-nesting-doll antics of Inception to the magicians-as-filmmakers commentary of The Prestige, Nolan’s ambition within the realm of big-budget, broad audience spectacle is comparable to the likes of few. Among those, James Cameron comes to mind, and now Nolan joins the Avatar director with his own film about interplanetary travel, the logical next step for a filmmaker so concerned with world-building, literal and otherwise. Looking back at his work thus far, what emerges—apart from his obsession with identity, reality, community, and obsession itself—is an artist who, heedless of his own shortcomings, is intent on challenging himself, a quality that salvages and even inverts a great many of his otherwise pedestrian choices. One suspects that this is an artist still in his pupa stage, and one is also fearful that the near-unanimous praise heaped upon his work since his breakout hit, Memento, will only serve to keep him there. To wit, his latest film, Dunkirk, employs the kind of chronology-bending antics that epitomize Memento and Inception.
On August 26th, Nick Broomfield's new documentary, Whitney: Can I Be Me, will make its television premiere on Showtime. The film focuses largely on Whitney Houston's tumultuous private life, and at one point a member of the singer's inner circle suggests that the whitewashed image that was crafted for Houston by her handlers was, in part, responsible for her inevitable self-destruction. It's no secret that Houston was largely an A&R creation, a traditional vocalist who emerged in the era of Michael Jackson and Madonna, two self-empowered artists who took 360-degree creative control of their careers.
- exhale shoop shoop
- i have nothing
- i wanna dance with somebody who loves me
- i will always love you
- i'm every woman
- i'm your baby tonight
- it's not right but it's okay
- million dollar bill
- my love is your love
- my name is not susan
- so emotional
- the bodyguard
- the greatest love of all
- Whitney Houston
- whitney: can i be me
In “The Marriage of Heaven and Hell,” William Blake wrote: “Without Contraries is no progression…Love and Hate are necessary to Human existence.” Last night's installment of Twin Peaks: The Return illuminated the precarious balance between these two opposing forces, previously represented as overarching cosmic principles in “Part 8” but here embodied at the level of all-too-human experience in ways both touching and terrifying.
Whenever Jon Snow (Kit Harington), the newly minted King of the North, seeks guidance, he thinks back to the words of his deceased father, Ned Stark. When it comes to whether he should punish the disloyal houses of Karstark and Umber, who fought against his rightful rule in last season's Game of Thrones episode “Battle of the Bastards,” he chooses not to hold the children responsible for the mistakes of their parents, and bulldozes his way past the more vengeful desires of his sister, Sansa Stark (Sophie Turner). Yes, Cersei Lannister (Lena Headey) has seized control of King's Landing and summons Jon to take a knee before her, and yes, Daenerys Targaryen (Emilia Clarke) has finally returned to her ancestral home at Dragonstone, but “Yesterday's wars don't matter anymore,” Jon announces. Winter is here, women and children will learn to fight alongside men—a prospect fully backed by the fiery young Lyanna Mormont (Bella Ramsey)—and gold is irrelevant. Only dragonglass (and Valyrian steel) can slay the marching armies of the dead.
Though “No Horses” isn’t explicitly about the Trump administration, Shirley Manson describes Garbage’s new single as a “panic attack” that imagines a dystopian, über-capitalist future ruled by a regime that values profit above all else. One hundred percent of the band’s earnings from the song, released today, will be donated to the International Committee of the Red Cross.
After nearly five years with no new solo material, Kesha has dropped two new tracks in the span of one week. Following “Praying,” the first single from her upcoming album, Rainbow, the funk-tinged “Woman” is another empowering anthem, this time with a more playful, upbeat vibe. The bouncy, expletive-riddled track, which features the members of the Dap-Kings on horns, is a musical departure for the singer, but it reprises the celebratory spirit of her past hits in a way that its predecessor didn’t.
Lana Del Rey’s foray into hip-hop might seem long overdue, but judging by the languid tempos of “Summer Bummer” and “Groupie Love,” two newly released songs from her forthcoming album, Lust for Life, the singer-songwriter is perfectly fine taking her sweet time.
Based on its title at least, the former could be seen as a quasi-sequel to her 2013 hit “Summertime Sadness,” only with EDM traded for hip-hop. Del Rey purrs lines like “Hip-hop in the summer/Don’t be a bummer, babe/Be my undercover lover, babe” atop a sparse loop and half-buried rhymes by guests A$AP Rocky and Playboi Carti, who eventually take the mic for a lengthy verse of their own, boasting: “I might fuck with her all summer for real.”
Lear deBessonet’s passion for her work is infectious. Just listen to the 37-year-old director speak and you can sense how she’s been able to harness the disparate energies of 200-strong mixed casts of professional and non-professional performers for her vibrant community theater projects. The Louisiana native has also garnered acclaim for her Obie Award-winning production of Brecht’s Good Person of Szechwan, starring a transcendent Taylor Mac in the gender-shifting lead role, and this past spring, her exuberant revival of Suzan-Lori Park’s thought-provoking Venus at the Signature Theatre.
I recently sat down with deBessonet at the Public Theater to chat about her journey as a director and her latest project, the Shakespeare in the Park production of A Midsummer Night’s Dream, starring, among others, Phylicia Rashad, Richard Poe, De’Adre Aziza, Annaleigh Ashford, and Danny Burstein.
Showtime gave viewers of Twin Peaks: The Return two weeks to process the epically unsettling excursion into cosmic tone poetry and splattery monochrome horror that constituted much of “Part 8.” It seems likely that, given the show’s fondness for delaying the connection of its many plot points, those events will only bear their strange fruit a few episodes further down the line. And so last night’s installment resolutely picked up where the previous episode’s present-day first act left off, with the miraculously resurrected but still blood-soaked Bad Dale (Kyle MacLachlan) hoofing it along a dusty country road, until a blood-red bandana shows him where to turn off.
Though Kesha’s Auto-Tune-drenched club hits earned her a reputation as a party girl, there were hints of a more introspective artist at the heart of tracks like “Dancing with Tears in My Eyes” and “Animal,” both from her 2010 debut, Animal. Her record label’s decision not to release even a midtempo cut as a single from the album was a missed opportunity to not only deepen Kesha’s image, but broaden her fanbase and ensure the kind of longevity that many of her more humanized pop contemporaries have enjoyed.