Wednesday, April 18, 2018

1997 movie favorites

Here lies my first podcast appearance! So happy I got to share my favorite 1997 movies alongside Meep on his Retro Movie Love Podcast.

We had a lot to discuss--it's 4 minutes longer than Titanic!

Check it out below!

Sunday, April 15, 2018


Just discovered D.C. Larue after flipping through vinyls at Iris Records. Loving the disco album Confessions it's amazing sleeve art (released by Casablanca in 1978) and can hear how he may have influenced the vocal stylings of Pet Shop Boys. Enjoying the tongue-in-cheek melodrama of "I'll Wake Up Screaming in the Middle of the Night" in particular.

Saturday, April 14, 2018

outside in

As evidenced in her previous work, but especially in the excellent Your Sister's Sister, Writer / Director Lynn Shelton has a delicate and deft handling of her cat's cradle of storylines and emotions. Her new film Outside In is perhaps her best piece since and also a good companion to Your Sister's Sister, with a sturdy cast adding subtle layers to intense but mellow-toned dramas. Jay Duplass, who co-wrote the picture, plays Chris, returning back home after twenty years behind bars to the glum, ever-overcast and drizzly Granite Falls, Washington. As his bike has been rusting in the garage, his cassette tapes and CD's stowed away, a lot has changed since he's been gone, most specifically the rise of smart phones. And yet there's a sense that much hasn't moved on. Shelton wisely refrains from immediately or clearly presenting details of why he was imprisoned and instead introduces Chris at an awkward, spoiled-"surprise" homecoming. It's there that we first glimpse Carol (a naturalistic Edie Falco), his former high school teacher, who has been a mentor over the years. These two become the ultimate force of the picture, a bond that has bloomed for Chris in his adulthood despite Carol's reticence. Carol's young daughter Hildy (Kaitlyn Dever) seems intrigued by Chris and they start to hang out. She shows him an abandoned burned-down house where she's been doing a sort of cat's cradle of her own--plastic ribbons in clean, symmetric design. In fact, we see these three characters in their own zones of loneliness: in Carol's stifled marriage, in Chris' attempts to enter society again (biking in his maroon hoodie, grazing for employment--a disposition that doesn't seem so far off from his former high school life), and Hildy's aloofness. I remember being captivated by Dever's performance in Short Term 12. She continues to be a compelling presence who makes against the grain choices. Most movie teenagers act the same around everyone, but realistically and interestingly, Dever shows subtle shades of differences in the way she presents herself to her mother and to Chris. The reverbed plucked string score by folk pop artist Andrew Bird balances out the tensions and emotions of the characters. I felt trapped with these people in a fog they can probably never shake off. Shelton's piece even ends with a rainy soundscape over the end credits--a fitting way for the film to both rest and linger. ***

-Jeffery Berg

Wednesday, April 11, 2018

Tuesday, April 10, 2018

days of lavender

I feel like it's been a while since I've heard a new Gigamesh remix. This one of Promises Ltd.'s "Days of Lavender" has been circling for a year or so now but is still a breath of fresh air.

Friday, April 6, 2018

duck butter

Trailer for Duck Butter starring Alia Shawkat of "Search Party"and Laia Costa. Directed by Miguel Arteta (Beatriz at Dinner, The Good Girl and Chuck & Buck).

Wednesday, April 4, 2018

70s slashers

In era not typically known for slasher films--Ben and Meep come up with a strong list of interesting choices nevertheless!

iTunes Podcast link

Monday, April 2, 2018


Highlight of NBC's admittedly bravura Brooklyn amphitheater staging of Jesus Christ Superstar dropped in celebrity-worshipping, politically and religiously divided America was Brandon Victor Dixon slaying in the final hour with his silver sequined sneakered performance of "Superstar." Loved his backup singer trio too.

Saturday, March 31, 2018

Wednesday, March 28, 2018


Steven Soderbergh's iPhone 7-shot mini opus mental ward-set thriller persistently toys with audience's perceptions of what is real and what is imagined in an era where much of our visual lives are now drawn to the screen of a phone. Sawyer Valentini (played by The Crown's Claire Foy, who shows a shade of fiery intensity many of us haven't seen yet) has a bland office job and has seemingly unwillingly committed herself to the unsettling Pennsylvania hospital. She desperately wants out and is thwarted by bureaucracy and unconcerned employees and by the taunting of some of her fellow patients. Furthermore a mystery emerges whether or not one of the workers there is a man who previously stalked her.

A filmmaker who has oscillated between sublime pieces and clunkers, Soderbergh remains one of my favorite directors. Even his less successful works have an inner charm and a textured feel. Last year's underrated shaggy summer heist Logan Lucky boasted excellent technicals, jokey characters and situations bolstered by an emotionally sincere backbone. Unsane is less satisfactory but still intriguing and enjoyable cinema. Although the grimy iPhone photography lends itself to a simultaneous feel of gimmickry and impressiveness, it's not the only stunt here.  The movie plays deadly serious but is also imbued with tongue-in-cheek humor and references galore (from 70s grit like Cuckoo's Nest to moody slasher pics like Halloween II to schlock adult thrillers of the early 90s). Matt Damon explaining a litany of how-to's of dealing with a stalker is unabashed Soderbergh-corn. Amy Irving, who delivered a memorable turn as Sue Snell in Brian DePalma's Carrie, serves up a WASP-y presence here with acting tics that feel of another time. Juno Temple, who shined in Woody Allen's Wonder Wheel, does her best with an over-the-top cardboard role (something we see a lot in the cackling, twitchy patients of prison and Snake Pit flicks and TV shows). The cell phone also becomes a literal lifeline as one of the patients (played with low-key ease by Jay Pharoah) sneaks his to Sawyer to use. Thomas Newman's score of click-clacks, buzzing distortion, and a descending piano drone theme, adds to the Sawyer's desperation and is some of his most interesting work I've heard in a while. For those--like some of my groaning audience companions--who may not be thinking of the film in context of Soderbergh's filmography, may find Unsane understandably unappealing but it's rich for those like me who enjoys adult thrillers and Soderbergh's offbeat eye. ***

-Jeffery Berg