House Logo
Explore categories +

Stevie Wonder (#110 of 6)

Summer of ’91 Spike Lee’s Jungle Fever

Comments Comments (...)

Summer of ’91: Spike Lee’s Jungle Fever

Universal Pictures

Summer of ’91: Spike Lee’s Jungle Fever

The interracial love story that anchors Jungle Fever is the least interesting element of Spike Lee’s 1991 joint. It’s the dull circle from which more compelling plot tangents offshoot. While the director is game for a surface-level exploration of the trials and tribulations of forbidden love, his once-controversial subject matter is merely a selling point designed to get asses into theater seats. Once Lee hooks his audience with the promise of sin, he pivots his social commentary to a tragic secondary character, just as Douglas Sirk did in Imitation of Life. This is appropriate, because Jungle Fever is the equivalent of a 1950s message picture. Expertly wielding his influences, Lee throws a dash of Delbert Mann and a soupcon of Stanley Kramer into the proceedings. Though the outcome is at times woefully dated, it’s also the origin of several ideas Lee would return to in subsequent films.

Grammy 2014 Winner Predictions

Comments Comments (...)

Grammy 2014 Winner Predictions
Grammy 2014 Winner Predictions

Starting tomorrow, we’ll predict the winners in all four General Field categories of the 56th Annual Grammy Awards, airing Sunday night on CBS. To kick things off, though, here are our thoughts on some of the smaller categories:

Best Pop Duo/Group Performance: If this category is indeed meant to honor performance and collaboration, it’s hard to argue with the crossover synergy of Robin Thicke featuring T.I. and Pharrell’s “Blurred Lines,” whereby Pharrell supplies the Marvin Gaye sample (plus those all-important head-bobs), while Thicke brings the yelps, grunts, and falsetto blue-eyed R&B flourishes that critics have admired for a full decade, even as Thicke failed to drop a #1 single. That single is here, and we suspect it means Thicke will be taking home at least one tchotchke on Grammy night. Ted Scheinman

True/False Film Festival 2013: Which Way Is the Front Line from Here? The Life and Times of Tim Hetherington and Twenty Feet from Stardom

Comments Comments (...)

True/False Film Festival 2013: <em>Which Way Is the Front Line from Here? The Life and Times of Tim Hetherington</em> and <em>Twenty Feet from Stardom</em>
True/False Film Festival 2013: <em>Which Way Is the Front Line from Here? The Life and Times of Tim Hetherington</em> and <em>Twenty Feet from Stardom</em>

True/False’s 10th year was undoubtedly its best run yet, and as the last song played at its closing concert, by Buskers Last Stand, there was a feeling of elation from a weekend having exceeded expectations. There were the name-dropping perks of up-and-coming Chicago duo MNDR DJing the annual @ction Party; Ushio, the star of Zachary Heinzerling’s Cutie and the Boxer, demonstrating one of his punch paintings on a billboard-sized canvas; Q&As with big-names such as Daniel Dreifuss, the producer of Oscar-nominated No. But there were the unexpected and discreet perks, too, like seeing the twin brothers that comprise the band Flux Bikes use their bikes as instruments to make complex beat symphonies; finding an enormous fort filled with balloons hiding in a back room at a festival party on Saturday; being entertained by volunteers cracking jokes over megaphones while waiting in a theater line. It’s the quirky, charming touches that distinguish True/False from most film festivals, transforming the experience into more than just a series of events; they turn it into a pop-up community that’s utterly engulfing for a handful of days each year.

Edge of Corny: 10 Awesomely Unironic Sax Solos

Comments Comments (...)

Edge of Corny: 10 Awesomely Unironic Sax Solos
Edge of Corny: 10 Awesomely Unironic Sax Solos

Relative to the other woodwinds, the saxophone is pretty damn cool. I know this because I played clarinet in middle school, and clarinets don’t get to do anything that looks even a little bit like rocking out. But outside the band-hall context, saxophones are rarely something to get excited about, unless you have an irrational fondness for yacht rock and smooth jazz. Sax solos are sleazy and insinuating; we associate them with Kenny G and Bill Clinton for a reason. But I guess no one told Lady Gaga that, because, whoa-oh, here she comes with a new song called “The Edge of Glory,” which prominently features a sax solo from E Street band member Clarence Clemons. While the song mostly has me lowering my expectations (again) for Born This Way, Clemons’s solo is admittedly a high point, and one of the more original ideas that Gaga has had of late. So I salute Mama Monster with this list of 10 pop-rock songs with completely awesome sax solos.