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05.10.10 My Top Ten RIGHT NOW

1. MOVIE Please Give

I’ve always been a fan of Nicole Holofcener’s films, quiet but strong, light on narrative but still powerful. This newest entry into her canon is no different, anchored as usual by a fantastically subtle performance from Catherine Keener. Nothing really happens other than people live their lives in New York City, but that’s the beauty of it, the overwhelming depth and difficulty of each day and the little things that keep us waking up each morning. The only drawback here is the digital filming that wears its digital look like a sore rather than as a badge of honor of indie filmmaking… B+

2. CONCERT Lucius @ Le Poisson Rouge

How many times must I write about this amazing act before the world takes full notice of the incredible vocal and songwriting talents of these two women? Of course they hit on a few favorites from the first album, notably “Shenandoah” and my personal favorite “If I Were You.” But the true spectacle was a preview of some new works. “Dolly” is a heavy beat-ed beauty that fits nicely into their existing work. “Reprise” is a bit of a new venture that I’m hoping signals an exciting direction for their sophomore effort, sonically more expansive and with a rocking banjo thrown in. Go now, spread the gospel… A

3. ALBUM Here Lies Love David Byrne & Fatboy Slim

A musical about Imelda Marcos is interesting. A musical about Imelda Marcos set to disco music, well that’s just crazy, unless it’s the brainchild of David Byrne, and then, well, it still doesn’t make sense, but you go with it. And the rewards are numerous thanks to an all-star concept recording featuring Tori Amos, Santigold, St. Vincent, Alice Russell, Sharon Jones, Camille, Sia, Allison Moorer, Natalie Merchant, Steve Earle, and my new favorite vocalist, Florence Welch (of “+ the Machine”). Not everything here is sonic gold, but much of it is so fascinating that it comes close enough. Haven’t totally figured out the story yet, but I’m not sure they have either… B+

4. CONCERT Tift Merritt at The National Arts Club

The delight of this cocktail function was a beyond intimate live performance by the incomparable Tift Merritt, playing tracks from her upcoming release. She’s remarkably natural on her guitar, providing a depth of accompaniment that perfectly suits her voice which she modulates gorgeously with minimal amplification. She tore her way through “Six More Days of Rain” and “Engine to Turn.” Amazingly, she’s just at home behind the piano with a stunning take on her catchy “Mixtape” which actually works as a mid-tempo piano ballad despite its poppy inflections. And all of this is certainly bolstered by the beautiful old manor house surrounds of the Arts Club… A

5. FOOD Breakfast at Pastis

I never thought I’d be one to enjoy a full English breakfast, but boy was I wrong. Two lovely eggs over a crispy piece of toast is a great start. Put that over a bed of beans and a nice roasted tomato on the side and you have a fairly complete breakfast. But it only gets better thanks to two delicious sausages and two strips of crispy bacon. Now that’s a breakfast! Add some coffee and you’re pretty much full for the rest of the day… B+

6. MOVIE The Lady Eve

After last week’s love of Sullivan’s Travels, I thought it was necessary to take a look at some other Preston Sturges films. This didn’t quite delight or intrigue with the same depth, rather presenting a fairly conventional plot with a bit more bite and snap than anyone else in Hollywood would depict a con artist’s love affair with a dupable man. It’s all about Barbara Stanwyck’s entrancing performance, the true seductress with a quick wit and sharp tongue, dressed from head to toe by Edith Head. Could anyone truly resist? If only there had been more odd delight to latch on to here, it would be another classic… B

7. DRINKS Cocktails at the Maritime

Now that the weather is more or less changing for the better, a good drinking hole is necessary, especially one with ample outdoor space. The Maritime, just far enough to the West of the main drag of Chelsea and North of the crush of the Meatpacking District, is the perfect place to grab that impromptu Friday night drink, or any other day of the week for that matter. I would especially recommend the surprisingly good deal of a whole pitcher of white sangria for $32. Now if only they had red as well, it’d be perfect… B+

8. MOVIE Angels & Demons

Are there no editors left in Hollywood? Clocking in at over 2 and a half hours, this snooze-fest was only slightly better than it’s predecessor, thanks mostly to the better source material. Dan Brown actually wrote something of a thriller with an actual sense of impending doom (a ticking clock to a potential explosion always make the chase a bit more interesting) and some decent twists that find equal footing in nerdy symbology and our potential distrust of religious ceremony. All of that can’t save an aging Tom Hanks from looking like a doofus for, might I remind you, 2 and a half hours of screen time… D+

9. ALBUM Stronger with Each Tear Mary J. Blige

This is an insane batch of stellar tracks from the always vibrant Mary J. Go with the UK release, with its excellent cover of Led Zepplin’s “Stairway to Heaven,” and even more off the wall club take on “Whole Lotta Love.” As always she’s joined by great guest stars, in this case, Drake, T.I. and the awesome will.i.am on the bouncy “I Can’t Wait.” She can slow it down to perfection with the fantastic power ballad “Stronger.” It’s a great mix of tracks and tempos to get the party started, keep it going and bring it back down… A

10. MOVIE Muppets Take Manhattan

This is certainly an adorable trifle especially when taken in the context of when it was made. Sure the dream of making it big on Broadway never dies, but looking at the dirty city being overtaken by the colorful creations of Jim Henson is kind of spectacular, as is the random celebrity spottings throughout, including the muppet cast of Sesame Street. Unfortunately none of the music matches the sheer pleasure of “Rainbow Connection” in The Muppet Movie, but there’s enough old Hollywood showmanship to realize how much magic we’ve lost in this world by losing Jim Henson… B+

One thought on “05.10.10 My Top Ten RIGHT NOW”

  1. Juan Carlos Pineiro Escoriaza says:

    Angels & Demons… man I didn’t have to watch that to tell you it was going to be awful. If it was anything like that summer night when I went to the drive-in upstate and struggled to sit through DaVinci Code…ugh

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