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AUSTIN - Normally, when we're at festivals the news from the outside world gets turned down to background noise, and we focus on the films we're seeing here. In the case of this year's SXSW film festival, it's hard to tune out rumblings about what might happen with the future of the "Evil Dead" franchise, particularly since there are so many different reports of what's supposedly going to happen. In order to help sort out the rumors, I am going to discuss some spoilers for the new film, so be warned.
The simple truth is that there are no official firm plans in place yet for either project, but there are conversations going on that could end up in a number of different permutations of films depending on how things come together. Sorting out fact from fantasy isn't easy especially considering some of the sources of the confusion, but it's sort of maddening to see fandom get worked up when it sounds like the things that they're discussing aren't worth getting upset about… or at least not yet.
When Fede Alvarez did the Q&A after the "Evil Dead" premiere on Friday night, he revealed that there is already work being done on a script for "Evil Dead 2," and that it's not going to be using the 1987 "Evil Dead 2: Dead By Dawn" as inspiration. Makes sense. Despite some confusion during production, I think it's clearly inaccurate to call this new movie a remake in any way.
OMG! Can you believe it? Sean is going to pick either Lindsay or Catherine! Or neither! And, if he picks one of them, he'll probably break up with her in a few months! Okay, that was a little negative, I know, but let's face it; the odds are rarely in anyone's favor on this show. Yes, it's very romantic, it's fun to watch, but it doesn't usually translate into actual, you know, nuptials.
AUSTIN - It seems fitting that Joseph Gordon Levitt's first feature film would play at the SXW film festival. There's something about this fest that feel different than any other I attend. I think of Sundance as a festival that likes to anoint the "next big thing." Cannes seems to me to believe that the people they invite are already anointed. Toronto is a glut of movies, pretty much everything that's ready at the time, and everything you can imagine is represented there. But South By Southwest feels to me like a party, like as long as you have a camera and you made something, they're interested in having you here so you can see how it plays. Everyone's invited, and that same attitude seems to be built into the DNA of Levitt's entire HitRECord initiative, which is more than just a website. It's a community of people who are constantly playing with the tools that have transformed filmmaking for the 21st century.
When actors direct, there's obviously a version of that which is more vanity project than anything, and while I've seen painless versions of that, it's always a little frustrating to me to sit through. The good news is that you'd have to be openly hostile and simply not watching to think that what Levitt's done here is anything less than a genuine work by a real filmmaker. He's got a strong sense of voice, and he is exceptionally good at communicating visual information clearly. This is a film where every cut is an additional brush stroke, where he's trying to paint a very specific portrait of the way things work between men and women. Just as I think Joe Swanberg's "Drinking Buddies" offered up some real wisdom about a particular dynamic, Levitt has a very specific idea about the relationship between the porn that men watch and the romantic comedies that women watch. It's not a connection I've ever directly made, but once you see the way Levitt makes the connection, it's a hard point to argue.
MIAMI - Whether it's the brisk climes of his native Sweden or the lush comforts of rural New England, there are any number of landscapes one might associate more immediately with director Lasse Hallström than the balmy shores of Miami. Yet when I meet him, looking suitably relaxed in the retro-chic breakfast room of my hotel, he's quick to say it's not just Florida hospitality making him feel at home: Miami, or more specifically the Miami International Film Festival, is where the Oscar-nominated Swede, director of such films as “What's Eating Gilbert Grape,” “Chocolat” and “Salmon Fishing in the Yemen” believes his Hollywood career actually began.
We still have about a month to go before the April 7th premiere of "Mad Men" season 6, and given Matt Weiner's penchant for secrecy, don't expect much, if any, information about what's happening — or even, as usual, when it's happening.
AMC did release one set of clues today, in the form of the season 6 key art, drawn by veteran illustrator Brian Sanders. It's an intriguing image that raises all sorts of questions and theories about the new season, like:
AUSTIN -- At the top of the film "Good Ol' Freda," Beatles fans get hit in the face with one of the rarer, frequently bootlegged pieces of the Fab Four's history. It's the sound of the first Beatles Christmas recording, from 1963, of John, Paul, George and Ringo singing bits of "Good King Wenceslas" and "Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer," with scripted and improvised bits on wishing fans a happy holiday. It and all the following years' records were sent only to members of the Beatles fan club.
"Good Ol' Freda's" namesake Freda Kelly was the president and leader of the Beatles fan club for their entire career. And as director Ryan White said in the Q&A session after the documentary's premiere, it was a real testament to Kelly's integral role in the history of the Beatles' music career that the filmmakers were able to secure the sync rights to include that Christmas record for the movie.
In fact, there were four Beatles songs besides the Christmas recording that were weaved into Freda's chronological narrative: "I Saw Her Standing There," "Love Me Do," "I Feel Fine" and "I Will."
While Kelly's story is small, contained and another (albeit unfettered) look into the history of the Beatles, the securing of those licenses is epic in scope. As the music industry has splintered and merged and evolved in the past 40 years, so have the issues of copyright and ownership of Beatles master recordings. White said, "On my death bed... these will be the four proudest moments of my life, getting those four songs," conceding that it's "well known" that there are "countless circles of people" who must grant permission for these recordings. Publishers, labels, songwriters, estates and other rights holders make up these "countless" stakes.
It reminds me of Soundcloud and other music sharing technologies utilized by artists big and small today. On Soundcloud, a performer can share a snippet of work, or demos or unfinished, unmastered, unclaimed bits of music, just in order to connect with their audiences or workshop through their artistic ideas. They could put out their own Christmas recording of "Rudolph," just to say hi and thanks. Years later, what is the value of that work, when it is easily attained? "Rare" music is now so rarely rare.
We're in gawky, awkward teenaged years of music sharing (just ask the guys at Napster and the film "Downloaded"), and the intrinsic and net value of music is in a raw flux, due to the fact that artists make one-off and "exercise" material available readily. Some don't. In either case, were the artist to retain all rights to their material and exercise control over it -- as copyrights holders have done in the case of the Beatles -- good night and good luck, because from YouTube to Soundcloud to filesharing networks, they're everybody's at this point.
There are few artists that will ever be as famous and as "valued" as the Beatles, and for those that are, there's no such thing as the "rare Christmas recording" anymore. "Good Ol' Freda" is an inadvertent lesson in what rare even means to the current music consumer. That, on its face, is worth a trip to see "Freda."
Firewall & Iceberg Podcast, episode 172: '30 for 30: Survive and Advance,' 'Justified,' 'SNL' & more
Last week, we thought the Firewall & Iceberg Podcast would be short. Instead, it was our longest ever. This week, we also thought it would be short, and it was — but only by the absurd F&I standards, in that it still clocked in around an hour. Another slow week brought with it more check-ins, a review of the latest "30 for 30" documentary, some listener mail and even a few minutes of sports talk! The lineup:
And as always, feel free to e-mail us questions for the podcast.
And as always, feel free to e-mail us questions for the podcast.
Only last week, we listed Danny Boyle and Ewan McGregor as one of several actor-director teams we'd like to see reunited, with a prospective "Trainspotting" sequel the ideal outcome. Well, if Boyle himself is to be believed, it looks as if we've got our wish.
Speaking at the SXSW fest over the weekend, where Boyle unveiled some footage from his new thriller "Trance" -- already being press-screened, and due out in a couple of weeks -- the Oscar-winning director claimed that "Porno," the long-mooted follow-up to his hit 1996 junkie drama, is back on his agenda and set to roll in 2016.
Alabama Shakes will start a North American headline tour June 18 at Columbus, Ohio’s LC Pavilion Outdoors.
The Grammy-nominated group continues to build its audience based on last year’s debut album, “Boys & Girls,” which spawned the hit “Hold On.”
Following the Grammy nods and the band’s appearances on “Saturday Night Live” and “Austin City Limits,” “Boys & Girls” sold an additional 100,000 copies, showing that the band’s flock is growing.
The summer tour comes after the group’s SXSW performances, as well as gigs at Lollapalooza Brazil in Sao Paulo and at Lollapalooza Chile in Santiago.
Alabama Shakes lead singer Brittany Howard paired with Ruby Amanfu for bluesy, spirited cover of Rodriguez’s “I Wonder.” The tune comes out on Jack White’s Third Man Records as single tomorrow (March 12). On the flip side is a cover of Memphis Minnie’s “When My Man Comes Home.” Rodriguez, the subject of the Oscar-winning documentary “Searching For Sugar Man,” first recorded “I Wonder” on 1970’s “Cold Fact.” Listen to the tune here on rollingstone.com
ALABAMA SHAKES tour dates:
18 - Columbus, OH @ LC Pavilion - Outdoors
19 - Detroit, MI @ Royal Oak Music Theatre
20 - Toronto, ON @ Echo Beach
22 - Dover, DE @ Firefly Music Festival
23 - Port Chester, NY @ The Capitol Theatre
30 - London, UK @ Olympic Park/Hard Rock Calling w/Bruce Springsteen & The E Street Band
13 - Louisville, KY @ Forecastle Festival
14 - Tulsa, OK @ Cain's Ballroom-w/Fly Golden Eagle & Hurray For The Riff Raff supporting
15 - Albuquerque, NM @ Popejoy Hall-w/Fly Golden Eagle & Hurray For The Riff Raff supporting
17 - Los Angeles, CA @ Hollywood Palladium-w/Fly Golden Eagle & Hurray For The Riff Raff supporting
18 - Los Angeles, CA @ Hollywood Palladium-w/Fly Golden Eagle & Hurray For The Riff Raff supporting
19 - Las Vegas, NV @ The Pearl Theater-w/Fly Golden Eagle & Hurray For The Riff Raff supporting
21 - Alta, WY @ Targhee Festival
23 - Vancouver, BC @ Vogue Theatre
25 - Calgary, AB @ Calgary Folk Music Festival
26 - Edmonton, AB @ Interstellar Rodeo
28 - Minneapolis, MN @ Cabooze Outdoor Plaza
7 - Oslo, Norway @ OYA Festival
8 - Gothenburg, Sweden @ Way Out West
9 - Skanderborg, Denmark @ Skanderborg Festival
10 - Haldern, Germany @ Haldern Festival
13 - Barcelona, Spain @ Apollo
14 - Porto, Portugal @ Paredes Da Coura
18 - Hallendoorn, Holland @ Lowlands Festival
7 - Guthrie, OK @ Gentlemen of the Road w/Mumford & Sons - SOLD OUT
Depeche Mode, which will release its new album, “Delta Machine,” on March 26, will start at U.S. tour in August.
The tour, which starts Aug. 22 at Detroit’s DET Energy Music Theater, comes after the British band concludes a European tour, which begins May 7. The group, helmed by Dave Gahan and Martin Gore, will will play 37 dates, including several stadium stops across Europe.
Sales for the U.S. presale begin April 4.
Depeche Mode will appear on "The Late Show With David Letterman" tonight and play a show at SXSW on March 15.
Depeche Mode U.S. tour dates:
Thursday, Aug. 22 Detroit, MI DTE Energy Music Theatre
Saturday, Aug. 24 Chicago, IL First Midwest Bank Amphitheatre
Tuesday, Aug. 27 St. Paul, MN Minnesota State Fair**
Sunday, Sep. 1 Toronto, ON Molson Canadian Amphitheatre
Tuesday, Sep. 3 Montreal, QB Bell Centre
Friday, Sep. 6 Brooklyn, NY Barclays Center
Sunday, Sep. 8 Wantagh, NY Nikon at Jones Beach Theater
Tuesday, Sep. 10 Washington DC Jiffy Lube Live
Thursday, Sep. 12 Atlanta, GA Aaron's Amphitheatre at Lakewood
Saturday, Sep. 14 Tampa, FL Live Nation Amphitheatre at the Florida State Fairgrounds
Sunday, Sep. 15 Ft Lauderdale, FL BB&T Center
Wednesday, Sep. 18 Houston, TX Cynthia Woods Mitchell Pavilion
Friday, Sep. 20 Dallas, TX Gexa Energy Pavilion
Sunday, Sep. 22 San Diego, CA Sleep Train Amphitheatre
Tuesday, Sep. 24 Santa Barbara, CA Santa Barbara Bowl
Thursday, Sep. 26 Mountain View, CA Shoreline Amphitheatre
Saturday, Sep. 28 Los Angeles, CA STAPLES Center
Sunday, Sep. 29 Los Angeles, CA STAPLES Center
Tuesday, Oct. 8 Phoenix, AZ Desert Sky Pavilion