Spotlight
Sweeping Culture Daily

SPOTLIGHT: Sweeping Culture Daily

Listen: The Black Keys’ “Fever”

If you’re a successful rock band which hasn’t put out any material since 2011 and you’d really like to, you know, generate a bit of buzz, you make an announcement via Mike Tyson’s Twitter account, right? Curiously enough, that was the path taken by The Black Keys. After announcing last Friday that they’ll be dropping a new album, Turn Blue, come May 13th, today they released the first single, “Fever.” A surprisingly upbeat, keyboard-driven jam, “Fever” hints at a potentially new, more pop-influenced direction for the Keys, a duo usually anchored in howling guitar riffs dripping with blues. The new song, while perhaps a tad underwhelming, is catchy enough, especially when the violins come in at around 2:40, giving the song a more inviting texture and bringing to mind acts like Ra Ra Riot and Tame Impala. Check out the impending tracklist via Pitchfork, and listen to the song below.

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Film Critics Not Useless, Finds New Poll

This just in! Breaking news! According to an Associated Press report, film critics aren’t the least important people on earth. The Nielson annual American Moviegoing report, which is something that apparently exists and seems like a totally valid gauge of public opnion, “revealed that 80 percent of moviegoers refer to movie reviews at least some of the time when deciding what to see.” That’s enough for me. “About equally reliable to moviegoers are movie trailers, which 44 percent of those polled said they trust as a source of information on a film.” Oh boy. I guess I knew there had to be a downside to this.

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Lessons of Darkness at New Directors/New Films

Toward the beginning of Joseph Conrad’s “Heart of Darkness,” Charles Marlow, the sailor at the center of the novel’s journey, comments on the fading light of civilization. “It had ceased to be a blank space of delightful mystery — a white patch for a boy to dream gloriously over,” the character remarks. “It had become a place of darkness.”

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San Diego Opera Closes Its Doors

Another one down. According to a report in the New York Times, The San Diego Opera, once one of the most famous companies on the West Coast, will close at the end of their season in April due to “an insurmountable financial hurdle.” The decision was made on Wednesday to end their run “with dignity and grace” rather than “inevitably entering bankruptcy,” an obvious reference to the closing of the New York City Opera last year.

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Films at SXSW 2014: A Doc, Stop-Motion Animation, and a Music Video

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ARTINFO Weekly Playlist: Feb. 21

This is the ARTINFO weekly mixtape, a new semi-regular column where we pick our favorite songs we want to share. What tracks have been running through our iPod all week? What random song will get a million plays on Spotify when we’re in the office? Here are our choices this week. Share comments and suggestions below. We’d love to hear what you’ve been listening to.

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Pussy Riot Films New Video in Sochi

As you may be aware, Pussy Riot is at the Winter Olympics. Since they’ve been in Sochi, where they’ve attempted to “carry out Pussy Riot action” in the Olympic Village, they’ve been detained and beaten with whips by the local militia. At a press conference yesterday, held in the street after the hotel that originally agreed to host cancelled the event due to “plumbing problems,” Pussy Riot showed their new video. “Putin Will Teach You to Love the Motherland,” shot in Sochi, features footage from the trip as well as repeated abuse against the group from authorities. Watch below:

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Edgar G. Ulmer’s “Bluebeard” at Nitehawk Cinema

Edgar G. Ulmer could make something out of nothing. Houdini of the poverty-row filmmakers, he cranked out remarkable B-pictures in the best sense of the term, economical and bristling with caustic energy. His best films — the dark as night “Detour” or horror-classic “The Black Cat” — are far better than most Hollywood productions of the period, with little of the puffery and half the budget. According to legend, Ulmer shot some of his films in as little as six days, a remarkable achievement. Some of those later cheapo films — “Murder is My Beat” and “Ruthless” specifically, from what I’ve seen — have been ignored for too long and are in need of critical reconsideration.

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Amour Fou on Valentine’s Day: “Possession” at Anthology Film Archives

Andrzej Zulawski’s “Possession,” a movie about love if your idea of love is being so consumed by your partner that you spew blood out of your mouth, will screen this weekend as part of a three-film program at Anthology Film Archives dedicated to literal amour fou. I’m not even going to pretend I know what’s happening during most of “Possession,” but here’s a quick breakdown: Mark (Sam Neill), a spy of mysterious origins who returns home to his wife Anna (Isabelle Adjani), who wants a divorce. When she leaves, he starts to go crazy with jealousy. Then he finds out the man she is having an affair with isn’t actually a man, but some creature pulled deep from the trenches of her subconsciousness. In between there are doppelgangers, bodily fluids, and Adjani’s long freakout in an underground tunnel that resembles an exorcism choreographed by Pina Bausch. The camera, spinning more and more wildly, often through the empty streets of Berlin, as the movie becomes unhinged, adds to the delirious feeling. You won’t leave the movie feeling good, but you can safely walk away knowing that, as bad as it gets, it will never get this bad. Or will it? Continue Reading

Maria Callas as “Medea” in “Vengeance is Hers” Series at BAM

“Vengeance is Hers,” one of the strongest and most exciting film programs of the year, runs at the Brooklyn Academy of Music from February 7-18. Focusing on female revenge films (quite a few made by female filmmakers), the series displays the varied cinematic forms that theme has taken — from low budget trash to melodrama to screwball comedy. The series begins tonight with a newly restored 35mm print of Pier Paolo Pasolini’s “Medea” (1969), starring opera legend Maria Callas, a brilliant moment of casting. Continue Reading