My in-laws came to town again this week. Diligent readers will remember they were here not very long ago and perhaps wonder why the return trip. As it so happens, they are celebrating their 50th anniversary by taking a long vacation through various western parts of the country. They took my wife and daughter with them to Arizona and Utah. Next week, I’l be joining them in Wyoming.
I miss them terribly but it is nice to have a few days all on my own. It's too hot to do anything but sit in the air conditioning and I’ve seen all the summer blockbusters I care to, so I’m sitting at home watching as many movies as I can. Unfortunately, most of them have been duds thus far, so I have to rely on a few other cool things to talk about this week. Maybe next week, I’ll make better choices.
Tracyanne & Danny
Camera Obscura was one of my favorite bands. They made dreamy indie-pop that wasn’t too hipster but was incredibly cool. They were like Belle & Sebastian's much more interesting cousins. I got to see them one magical night in Berlin and it was incredible.
Not long after my show, keyboardist Carey Lander was diagnosed with and died of cancer. The band closed shop from then on. Three years later. lead singer Tracyanne Campbell has a new album out and the first single is streaming on Pitchfork. It's lovely.
The Big Country
William Wyler directs this epic western starring Gregory Peck, Charlton Heston, Jean Simmons, and Burl Ives. The story isn’t great but the vistas are stunning. Kino Lorber just released an excellent new disk for its 50th anniversary, and I wrote a review.
The Woman in the Window
Fritz Lang directed Edward G. Robinson and Joan Bennett in this tense crime drama. It is considered one of the first and best film noirs and helped inspire the French New Wave. It's spoiled a little by a happy and jokey ending, but the stuff that goes on before it is really entertaining. I’ll have a full review up soon.
Batgirl: Redemption Road
My first experience with Batgirl was through the excellent Gail Simone series. This one was written a few years before Simone came aboard and stars Cassandra Cain as Batgirl (instead of Barbara Gordon). Apparently, there have been a few different characters to take on the Batgirl monicker. Cassandra Cain was kidnapped as a child by David Cain and turned into an assassin. In this story, she’s left Cain for good and is now searching for him so that she can have her revenge.
Its themes aren’t quite as meaningful as Simone’s but Adam Beechen proves himself a fine writer and the art is quite good. I’m looking forward to the next story and am now definitely a Batgirl fan.
This Netflix series is a bit like a cross between Breaking Bad and Justified. Jason Bateman stars as a financial planner who has been laundering money for a Mexican drug cartel. When things go sour, he relocates his family to the Missouri Ozark where he’s been given a very limited amount of time to clean $8 million. While the Ozarks seem like a nice, clean place, he learns very quickly that there is a dangerous seediness just under the surface. The plot doesn’t always make logical sense and the writing can get a little ridiculous but the cast (including an always excellent Laura Linney) is good and it's a lot of fun to watch.
“Hunger” by Florence + the Machine
For years, I’ve been hearing how great Florence + the Machine is, but for whatever reason, I’ve never latched onto them. I think I tried a song or two now and again, but they never stuck. I guess I just needed to wait until I was hungry. This song completely does it for me. It's got a driving beat, the lyrics are terrific, and Florence Welch has an intensity that’s just incredible. I’ve been digging into their YouTube videos all week and I’m now totally a fan.