Legendary Chicago Sun-Times film critic Roger Ebert stepped away from his perch but two days ago. Calling it a "leave of presence," he wrote that he was taking time away from the usual to work on a number of projects, and also noted a recurrence of the cancer that he had already fought off once (which silenced his voice in speech, but certainly not in print). It was as if it was the job that was keeping him here, the work at hand. And so today comes the news: Roger Ebert is dead.
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We're back at it again for CulturePop, and this week there was a lot to talk about -- some of which happened right before our podcast. How exciting is that? Here's the line-up of the many things we discussed:
I was already eager to see Baz Luhrmann's take on "The Great Gatsby" when it was scheduled for a December release last year, so at this point my impatience could hardly be greater. As a die-hard Baz Luhrmann defender -- yes, I liked "Australia" -- I remain more curious about this 3D spectacle than any other summer release, which is not to say I'm necessarily expecting an unqualified success.
Baz Luhrmann's forthcoming "Great Gatsby" film adaptation will boast some of the A-list-iest of A-lister actors, and the same goes for its soundtrack. Jay-Z was roped in as executive producer and supervisor on the film's soundtrack, so as you can imagine, he showed up, his wife Beyonce showed up and new songs from big names like Florence + The Machine made the cut.
A new trailer for the film dropped this morning, and it includes Beyonce and Andre 3000 previously confirmed cover of Amy Winehouse's "Back to Black"; a fresh track from Lana Del Rey called "Young and Beautiful"; and Florence's new "Over the Love." "Will you still love me when I'm no longer young and beautiful," she sings. (Ugh, Lana.)
Bryan Ferry and his Orchestra show up twice, including for one take on Bey and Hov's "Crazy in Love" with Immaculate Noise favorite Emeli Sande taking the lead.
Rihanna gives fans a very short (17 seconds’ worth) teaser of what to expect from her upcoming “Rihanna 777” tour TV special, which airs on Fox on May 6.
The show chronicles her November promotional tour for "Unapologetic," during which she performed seven shows in seven countries in seven days, and was, indeed, very unapologetic for keeping folks waiting for hours time and time again.
[More after the jump...]
Beyonce is confronted with the ghosts of Beyonce past in a new spot for Pepsi Max. The clip— which previews a new song, “Grown Woman”— could also be a hint at what’s to come on the Mrs. Carter Show world tour.
[More after the jump...]
The salvia-smoking, blunt-toking Miley Cyrus is leaving her teen queen image even further in the dust on “Ashtrays and Heartbreaks,” a new song on Snoop Lion’s (aka Snoop Dogg) new album, “Reincarnated.”
The hazy, reggae-influenced track opens with Snoop Lion declared “tonight there’s going to be a lot of smoke in the air,” as he lifts a blunt for those no longer with us. Shortly thereafter, Cyrus comes in with refrain, “Now my buzz is gone/I need to re-up on reality.” She also sings the majority of the chorus (with some vocal assistance from Angela Hunte, according to Billboard).
[More after the jump...]
I confess I haven't thought much about Robert Redford's "The Company You Keep" -- which finally opens in theaters tomorrow -- since reviewing it at the Venice Film Festival seven months ago. Though it takes on the potentially incendiary subject matter of the Weather Underground, the film's political ideas are handled as softly as the lighting on its veteran stars' faces -- but as an old-school Hollywood entertainment with a classy, cannily cast ensemble, it mostly delivers the goods. I'd call it Redford's strongest directorial effort since 1994's Oscar-nominated "Quiz Show," though films like "Lions for Lambs" and "The Conspirator" have admittedly set the bar pretty low.
I've viewed this entire process of Netflix making a fourth season of "Arrested Development" with some skepticism, taking the default assumption that Mitch Hurwitz and company are simply staging an elaborate prank on Jeffrey Tambor. I won't believe these new episodes are real, I told myself, until I'm sitting in front of my computer watching them.
I now have a date for when this will allegedly be happening: Sunday, May 26.
The pilot for "Nashville" was, hands down, my favorite of the year. The music, the cast, the concept -- all of it seemed poised to be a heady mix of soap,"All About Eve," youthful striving, and middle-aged regret set to a beat. But then, the road became rocky -- and the first characters to falter were Gunnar and Scarlett.
Don't get me wrong. The reason I'm frustrated with these two (and a few others on the show) is that, especially with such strong actors playing these roles, I really want to believe the powers that be can correct course (which I also believe of the show overall). I'm still hooked on "Nashville," but lately I feel as if the show is trying to make me watch "Chicago Fire" instead.
The boys have been asking me lately when they are going to be able to go to a film festival with me. They have this image in their heads of what a festival is like, and I asked them to describe to me what they thought I was doing when I was gone.
More than anything, what our conversations illustrated clearly is that the boys want to participate more in the things that they believe are important to me, and I want them to feel like they have some sense of what it is that I do. We're reaching the end of their two weeks of spring break, and I realized that we could do something special for them here at the house, and that with just a little bit of effort, it could be the sort of thing that they never forget.
To that end, I've decided that this weekend is the First Annual Film Nerd 2.0 Spring Break Mini Film Festival. I'm making badges for them so they feel like they're at a festival, and I'll make them line up outside the office between movies while I change discs so they won't know what's coming next. I plan to keep the line-up a surprise from them until each film begins. In some cases, these are films they've been asking for, and in some cases, they're films I was planning to share, and in every case, they are films that I think will spark some sort of big reaction.