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For a man so well-versed in reality television, Ice-T didn't want his directorial debut to look anything like "what's on MTV." The actor/rapper has co-starred in "Law & Order: SVU" since 2000 as Detective Tutuola; the second season of "Ice Loves Coco," his reality television show with wife Coco on E!, just premiered this week.
And yet documentary "Something from Nothing: The Art of Rap" had no drama, no competitions or current events cut in to the narrative to create arc. In fact, there was no narrative; there's only a couple cinematic structures in place -- of artists talking, artists rapping and then a sweeping aerial view of rappers' hometowns of Los Angeles, Detroit or New York.
That also means there was no archival footage or old music videos, or even much of a hip-hop history lesson -- just some well-loved songs and the hip-hop royalty that made them. Repetition is the hitch of this style of documentary, but it was also a rapper roundup that only somebody like Ice-T could muster. Kanye West, Snoop Dogg, Mos Def, Q-Tip, Eminem, Nas, Afrika Bambaataa, Grandmaster Caz, Chuck D, KRS-One, Run-DMC, Dr. Dre, Ice Cube and more engage in spirited, intimate conversations about the literal art of rapping over a beat, and then each spitting a favorite verse from another rapper.
Because all of the footage was fresh for this film's can, that makes for a lot of rare and singular moments for rappers to tip their hat at one another.
Ice-T and "Something from Nothing" co-director Andy Baybutt wanted to "keep everything unique," the rapper told me during an interview at the Sundance Film Festival this January. The doc made its bow there.
It's a slow week in television, relatively-speaking (no major premieres, at least), which makes for an eclectic Firewall & Iceberg Podcast, where talk of the Dowager Countess of "Downton Abbey" rubs up against discussion of boxing trainer Freddie Roach, Ann Perkins' love life, pilot season, and, of course, new podcast mainstay Jeremy Lin (but only kinda-sorta).
Ballots are due tomorrow. The great settling has occurred. And now is the time of year when people bored with the proceedings scratch and claw for an alternative.
There isn't one. Despite a grand showing for "The Descendants" in the final stretch, it's not the one to pull the carpet out from under "The Artist." Despite "The Help" having a considerable amount of support throughout the Academy, it's not the one. And somehow, "Hugo" isn't the one, either, despite considerable spending in phase two (though the two nomination leaders spent quite a bit separately). There is no savior.
In a column today, Sasha Stone tries to make the case that more time would have mattered. It wouldn't have. If anything, a number of members are still (believe it or not) DISCOVERING "The Artist." When Stone writes that "no one seems to want 'The Artist' to win,'" she is, I think, responding to the echo-chamber that is movie punditry.
Bruce Springsteen will let fans hear his new album in its entirety prior to release, with one new track debuting a day now until March 6, when the "Wrecking Ball" drops.
Today starts this sequenced chain of daily events, with "Easy Money" over on Backstreets.com. Rolling Stone gets dibs on "Shackled and Drawn" tomorrow. An incomplete schedule is below and, lest you forget, album opener "We Take Care of Our Own" has already manifested in stream and music video form.
"Easy Money" is an Americana-tinged stomper, swimming in choral and gang vocals, driven by a stomp-and-clap rhythm section and laced with fiddles. It's actually pretty, well, easy.
• Today: "Easy Money" on Backstreets.com
• Tuesday, Feb. 21: "Shackled and Drawn" at Rollingstone.com
• Wednesday, Feb 22: "Jack of All Trades"
• Thursday, Feb. 23: "Death to My Hometown"
• Friday, Feb. 24: "This Depression"
• Monday, Feb. 27: "Wrecking Ball"
• Tuesday, Feb. 28: "You've Got It"
• Wednesday, Feb. 29: "Rocky Ground"
• Thursday, March 1: "Land of Hope and Dreams"
• Friday, March 2: "We Are Alive"
Blur made a charity concert appearance this weekend, but ended up giving even more to fans all over the world.
In a video clip posted from the War Child benefit show at Shepherd's Bush Empire in London, Graham Coxon and Damon Albarn are seen performing a brand new song, titled "Under the West Way," with the former on acoustic guitar and the latter on piano. The slow-burner is a little theatric though instrumentally understated. And it is very, very Blur.
And do your best to ignore the show-goer who is practicing his whistle: wrong time, dude.
The band may play "West Way" or maybe even more new material tomorrow night (Feb. 21) during the Brit Awards. The last recording they dropped was in 2010, for Record Store Day, but their last album was 2003's "Think Tank." And, as previously reported, Coxon said that there is definitely another Blur album in the works, on the heels of their 2009 live reunion.
The Oscar Guide will be your chaperone through the Academy’s 24 categories awarding excellence in film. A new installment will hit every weekday in the run-up to the Oscars on February 26, with the Best Picture finale on Saturday, February 25.
Of all the crafts categories, Best Film Editing always tends to parallel the Best Picture race the most, both in the nominations stage and again during the race for the win. This year’s final five fit squarely into that paradigm, with the top three Best Picture contenders being joined by another film that was almost certainly in the top six and one semi-prestigious genre film that likely wasn’t far from the Best Picture lineup. Despite the surprising omission of one of the most nominated editors of all-time, Michael Kahn (who managed to score an ACE citation for “War Horse”), the nominees were utterly predictable.
But while I was quite confident in my predictions for the nominations (at least about the six from which the five would be chosen), that confidence does not extend to this final stage of the game. No title can be safely ruled out in my opinion.
The nominees are…
The big topic of Oscar conversation over the weekend wasn't exactly a newsflash: anyone who didn't previously know that the Academy membership is dominated by older white men is presumably still reeling from the shock of "Twilight: Breaking Dawn" not receiving a Best Picture nomination. Even so, the stats revealed in the LA Times's investigation into the AMPAS makeup are pretty stunning: sadly, I'm perhaps less surprised that voters are 94% white than I am by the knowledge that they're 77% male. Add in the fact that only 2% of them are under the age of 40, and you wonder why anyone even entertained the possibility of "Bridesmaids" cracking the top category. Members from Alexander Payne to Alfre Woodard (who's a "Shame" fan, as it happens) weigh in on the matter. A must-read. [Los Angeles Times]
The Motion Picture Sound Editors' (MPSE) 59th annual Golden Reel Awards were held this evening, celebrating excellence in sound editing. "Super 8," you'll recall, led the way with nominees (and was nominated by the Cinema Audio Society), yet failed to score an Oscar nod in either sound category.
Tonight, the film managed to take home an award, for dialogue and ADR in a feature film. So it gets to hold its head up high. However, it was "War Horse" that triumphed in the sound effects and foley department, which is the area that most corresponds to Oscar (at least in terms of how the category is largely viewed).
After last night's CAS win for "Hugo," I started to lean toward a split between that film (mixing) and "War Horse" (editing) in the sound categories. I'm feeling that even more after tonight, but both categories could just as easily end up going to one film or the other. Pick your splits carefully.
Remember last week, when our refined, cultured ladies took a trip to an orphanage and felt humbled and grateful to have such bounty in their lives? And how they then vowed to behave themselves after they left Africa, as they had now seen the big picture and realized their quibbles were nothing more than petty and ridiculous? Remember that? Yeah, don't bother, because that vow lasted a shorter length of time than most New Year's resolutions or Kardashian marriages. Heck, Marlo couldn't even dwell on her blessings long enough to get past dinner, because she was simply too incensed that her shrimp was RAW. "Waiter! Get me properly cooked shrimp so that I might be able to feel gratitude for my privileged life! Pronto!"
BERLIN - After having spent the bulk of my Berlinale awards report complaining about the jury's curious choice of Golden Bear winner, I'm more pleased than ever that I waited until my final dispatch to dig into my three favorite films of the festival. For this year's fest, despite what you may have heard from grumpier attendees, was not one that deserved to be sent off with a sneer.
Typically uneven, but inventively programmed and shrewdly paced, it seemed less than usual like a lineup feeding off Cannes and Venice's scraps than one built to its own smaller, funkier agenda. (Yes, at least one Competition entry, Brillante Mendoza's excitingly divisive "Captive," was turned down by both Croisette and Lido selectors last year -- but more fool them, I say.) When one smart UK critic tweeted yesterday that he clearly hadn't missed anything by not attending the Berlinale this year, I couldn't resist replying, "Well, except for a number of excellent films." The success stories of Berlin this year may not have been audible from a distance, but the festival will quietly claim delayed credit as they slowly trickle through to international arthouses.