Five Cool Things and Isle of Dogs

This week's cool things are strange and wonderful.
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After a long, dreary winter, spring is finally here.  Our backyard tree is blooming, the temperatures are warming up, and the sun is shining.  The daughter is out of school next week, which will likely curb my pop-culture consuming, but this week was full of interesting things. I can’t wait to start talking about them.

Tiny Desk Concert: John Prine

John Price is a national treasure.  He is one of the greatest songwriters of our age.  He’s an old man now, but he’s always written songs beyond his years.  He just released a new album, The Tree of Forgiveness, and to promote it he appeared on NPR’s Tiny Desk Concert series. 

For the unfamiliar, the Tiny Desk is really just a corner of an office at NPR headquarters in Washington D.C.  There used to really be a desk right next to where the performers played but they’ve since moved things around to give them a bit more room. It is a very intimate setting with office workers piling in all around the performer. 

Prine plays a couple of songs from the new album and an couple of older tunes.  I dare you not to tear up when he plays “Souvenirs”.  For some reason, it doesn’t seem to be up on YouTube yet, but you can watch the performance on NPRs website.

Birdboy: The Forgotten Children

birdboy the forgotten children.jpgA beautiful, dark, and strange animated movie from Spain that is very much for adults only.  It's about a group of animals trying to escape their oppressive island in a post-apocalyptic nightmare.  You can read my full review here.

mother!

mother! movie poster.jpgThe most stressful movie I’ve ever seen.  Jennifer Lawrence stars as an unnamed woman living with Javier Bardem, her husband (also unnamed, called just "Him" in the credits and interestingly the only character with a capitalized name).  He’s a poet struggling with writer's block, she’s been fixing up his old family home that had burned to the ground.  Strangers begin showing up and take advantage of his hospitality and causing her untold stress.

Director Darren Aronofsky films it in such a way that you constantly feel something horrible is going to happen every time she turns the corner.  Horrible things do happen and the last act is completely nuts-o.  Depending on who you ask, it works as an allegory for celebrity, or climate change, or is a retelling of the entire Biblical story. It's not for everyone as can be seen from its ‘F’ rating on Cinemascore but I loved it.

Images

Robert Altman's Images.jpgRobert Altman’s psychological horror film is unlike anything in his filmography.  Gone is the overlapping dialogue and the camera that just kind of plops itself into the plot.  Gorgeously shot, the story revolves around a rich socialite as she slowly goes insane, hallucinating various old boyfriends infringing on her new life.  For my full review, click here.

Black Narcissus

 black narcissus photo.jpg

Powell and Pressburger’s drama about a group of nuns trying to set up a school in India is stunning to look at.  Those guys sure knew how to set up a shot and while none of the landscapes are real (it was shot at Pinewood Studios in England), the matte paintings that make up the exteriors are gorgeous.  The story is less interesting and I never quite understood why none of the nuns seemed capable of actually staying there, but the technical master of the filmmaking more than makes up for that.

Isle of Dogs

Wes Anderson’s new film is coming out on March 23.  I am super excited.  Its a stop-motion film in the vein of Anderson’s The Fantastic Mr. Fox, which is one of my favorites of his.  They’ve just released a very silly short full of “cast interviews” where the animated dogs tell us a little about the film. I can’t wait to see this movie.

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