Categories
Film Review

PROMISING YOUNG WOMAN

There’s a scene near the beginning of PROMISING YOUNG WOMAN where Cassie (Carey Mulligan), our avenging angel, gets catcalled by construction workers. Disheveled and devouring a very messy breakfast sandwich, Cassie stops in her tracks, turns towards the men, and simply STARES at them. No quippy comebacks, no yelling at them — she just stands there, and stares. The unnerved men quickly turn to name-calling, and then leave when they realize they’re not going to get the result they want.

This is the core of who Cassie is; fearless, confrontational, and numbed by rage. She gives zero fucks; her only goal is to throw men off guard and teach them the errors of their toxic masculine ways.

The night before, we meet a very inebriated Cassie in a club packed with men, which we see in an extended sweep over the dance floor while Charli XCX’s “Boys” plays (I fucking LOVED the hilarity in this scene). As three male coworkers notice her and have a discussion about what a shame it is when hot girls act that way, “nice guy” Jerry (Adam Brody) goes over to see if she’s okay, and offers to call a car to take her home.

BUT OF COURSE on the way, Jerry redirects the driver to his apartment and drags the barely coherent Cassie upstairs for a nightcap. Once he has her on the bed, he literally pounces on her, kissing and undressing her, and replying “Shhhhhh. You’re safe. You’re okay.” every time she asks what he’s doing. As he removes her underwear, she sits up and reveals she’s actually totally sober, completely shocking him.

In this way, we’re introduced to Cassie’s weekly recreation: getting dressed up, heading to a club, and pretending to be very, very, VERY messily intoxicated — going home with a man, and then revealing that she’s completely sober after he starts sexually assaulting her almost-unconscious body (Y’all are never gonna look at McLovin the same way again).

Details about why she’s doing this are slowly revealed. Once a star med student, Cassie was on track to becoming a Doctor until a tragic incident at a Frat party with her friend Nina caused them both to drop out. Now 30, Cassie lives at home with her parents (Jennifer Coolidge and Clancy Brown) and works at a coffee shop with her friend and boss Gail (Laverne Cox) — with everyone around her wondering when she’s going to just “get over it” and get back to living her life.

But to Cassie, this IS living her life. And the only thing that changes it is the appearance of a former classmate, Ryan. After coming into the coffee shop, Ryan’s flattery and persistence earn him a date. Once Cassie learns that he’s still in touch with the man responsible for her and Nina leaving school, she creates a plan of revenge designed to wreck everyone involved.

Cassie’s revenge is not blood-soaked; her plans are very intricate, and very precise. They’re designed to put each person in the place of the victims and make them rethink the choices they made at the time. She gives them a chance to redeem themselves, and if they don’t, she pulls the trigger on a devastating outcome. Broken by the guilt of what happened and driven by love and grief, she pushes her own safety to the limit — because who cares? The ONLY THING that matters is punishing the people responsible.

Writer and Director Emerald Fennell soaked the film in candy-coated pastels and filled the soundtrack with upbeat pop songs; a trick that makes you think you’re watching is a fantastical rom-com, and not the poisonous tale that unfolds. But don’t be fooled: PROMISING YOUNG WOMAN is wickedly sharp and swings at the issues of consent and culpability from all sides.

I know this film will get not all men’d to death, but honestly, that’s part of the point. This is a film designed to make you think about how our society gives men a pass, and how easy it is to excuse a criminal act as “We were just kids!” (I’m with you, Cassie – if I hear that one more fucking time …). And yes, what happens in this film will absolutely enrage you. People are going to HATE IT, just as much as others LOVE IT. To be clear: I’m firmly in the LOVE camp.

To those who say that WOMAN isn’t, or can’t be, a comedy — I would reply that I think it’s okay to wink while you’re smashing the patriarchy. Honestly as women, if we aren’t able to laugh about how ridiculously awful it is to feel threatened every single time a man approaches us, we wouldn’t be able to make it though even a single goddamn day.

{PROMISING YOUNG WOMEN opens in theaters on Christmas Day}

 

Categories
Easy Street Records Pete Hilgendorf Rachel Flotard Visqueen

Our new favorite podcast: Record Stories

I could hang out in just about any record store for hours, eavesdropping on everyone else’s conversations and chatting with the person behind the counter about music. Even when I worked at my local college town record store in the 90s, I felt like I just got paid to talk to people about my favorite bands and strike up conversations with people trying to identify that song they heard on the radio (oh, and constantly restock Dave Matthews, Nirvana, and Tori Amos cds).

And I’m pretty sure you all feel the exact same way (doesn’t everyone?). I’m pretty sure I’ve crossed paths with you at a record store and we both have the same goofy grin, ecstatic to be surrounded by racks of undiscovered treasure.

It’s been a long time since we’ve been able to flash our grins in a record shop and glean valuable intel from our favorite record store clerks.

Thank goodness there’s a new podcast to fill this void and our hearts with primo stories.

The Record Stories Podcast!

In short, it’s “a podcast about record shops and the people who love them.”

Here's Ad Rock picking out records at Easy Street!
Here’s Ad Rock picking out records at Easy Street!

In the first episode (which just went live)…

Rachel, Matt, and Pete share the real story about the time “the Beastie Boys raided the Easy Street Records basement vinyl vault” while on the Hello Nasty tour.”

Also, sweet angel of the radio, Kevin Cole, shares his thoughts the 33 1/3 book about Prince’s Sign ‘O the Times by debonair music critic, Michaelangelo Matos. I am so into this kinda book club. PS – Michaelangelo has a new book! Can’t Slow Down: How 1984 Became Pop’s Blockbuster Year

 

And beyond just being a great premise, the podcast is put together by three folks who have cornered the (record store) market on great stories:

Rachel Flotard is a co-host of the podcast as well as being an artist manager, writer, musician, producer, and mother of three. We also love Rachel for giving the world Visqueen and for TIG’s defunct “Love is Hard with Rachel Flotard” advice column.

Matt Vaughan is a co-host of the podcast as well as being Mr. Easy Street Records. All of Seattle is in awe of (and extremely grateful for) his record store. It’s a place for music fans to flock for the latest releases and to special order that sparkly colored vinyl version of that new Brazillian indie-pop band.

Peter Hilgendorf is the podcast’s producer/designer/magician. His unbridled enthusiasm for music has put him in a lot of wacky situations that have resulted in some of the best stories. Among the 5,000+ reasons why Pete is the best, he recently helped transform Kevin Cole’s bathroom into a place I really want to hang out (photo proof!!!).

The podcast is just getting started. They’ve promised “the greatest hits and best of tales from record store owners, employees, and customers.” We can’t wait to hear their hilarious, rad, and insane insider stories. SUBSCRIBE!!!

[button link=”https://www.buzzsprout.com/1171703/6016453-beastie-boys-at-easy-street-records” size=”xl” style=”tick” color=”orange” window=”yes”]Listen to Record Stories![/button]

 

Categories
Black Nite Crash Imaginary Scoop

Claire Tucker: Same Old Hunters EP

Claire Tucker is a Seattle artist who has been involved in the local scene here for several years now. She is the chief songwriter and vocalist for Loose Wing and also plays guitar for Black Nite Crash. This month, she will be releasing her first solo recording. The new EP, Same Old Hunters, will be released on the 23rd of October by the excellent Drums and Wires Recordings. We have an exclusive preview of one of the songs, “Tickets and Tapes,” a lovely and wistful melody that shimmers with woozy acoustic guitar and delicate piano. Follow the link where you can listen to the lead track and preorder the compact disc or digital version.

We were able to catch up with Claire about her musical history, the origin of the new EP’s featured track and her plans for the future.

Are you a Northwest native? How long have you been in Seattle and how long have you been involved in the music scene here? I know that you front Loose Wing and that you also play guitar in Black Nite Crash.

Yes, I was born in Colville, WA and spent most of my childhood in the Snoqualmie Valley. I’ve lived in Seattle for most of my adult life. In the 00s I led a lo-fi indie band called Icy Paw that played coffeeshop gigs, then I led a band called Swaybacks that played out a bit at clubs like the Crocodile and the Sunset. I think I was six or seven months pregnant when we played our last show. Once my kids were born I didn’t have the mental space for music at all for like 5 years. Then I finally got to where I couldn’t live without it anymore, and that’s when I joined BNC.

How did your solo release come about? Were you planning on recording solo material or did the coronavirus and subsequent quarantine shift your plans for Loose Wing this year?

I recorded most of this EP at the end of 2019, before the pandemic. At the time, I had kind of a backlog of songs written and some of them just didn’t feel like they fit either band’s vibe. I’d also been playing a few solo shows and didn’t really have any recording that represented that. Of course one I started recording it turned into a more expansive production than I would never be able to replicate at a solo performance, but that’s where it felt like the songs needed to go. That said, Loose Wing had planned to go into the studio over the summer, and ended up postponing due to COVID. We’re trying to get flexible and have been chipping away at the next record from our respective homes, but it’s a slow process.

“Tickets and Tapes” sounds like an autobiographical reflection on your past. Is there anything that you would like to say about the lyrics and/or the music to the song that is being featured?

That song was originally inspired a couple of years ago when my basement flooded (well, leaked, really — it wasn’t thigh-deep like in the song) and while my husband  and I were picking boxes up from the floor I found a bunch of old drawings and poems and things from when I was in high school. I had totally forgotten any of things even existed, but it just felt like, “Oh right, this is me”. I’m definitely not a “no regrets” type of person, but I started thinking about how so often I’ve just accepted the ways that my life has changed, or that I’ve changed, without really making a conscious effort to direct my life. It was kind of a depressing realization. But I think it’s a side effect of my graceless yet earnest attempts to find real deep connections with others. The line about the runaway dog came from an unusually vivid dream I had, and in a roundabout way I think it kind of illustrates that aspect of connection.

Are you planning on recording a solo LP or is this EP a one-off release at this point?

Since the lockdown started in the spring, I’ve been trying to improve my home recording skills. In that process I’ve recorded several more solo songs, and the end goal is indeed to make a full-length album. It’s going to have a different sound from any of my other projects thus far though, with faster tempos, programmed beats and a higher synth-to-guitar ratio. It’s not going to be full-on electropop but it’s leaning more in that direction than anything else I’ve done, and it’s been a lot of fun to make so far.

Obviously, COVID-19 has thrown a massive wrench in the music industry. It’s looking like live music will not return until next summer at this point. What would you most like to focus on once things return to normal?

I am just so looking forward to being able to get out and support other artists at their shows again. There were so many times when I didn’t want to stay up late because I had to work the next day, or I was depressed or something, and I flaked on shows. But what’s depressing now is seeing venues shut down and friends laid off from their day jobs. I think most of us probably took it for granted that live music would always be a thing but this year has proven that nothing is certain. I just want to show up at all the shows, wearing the t-shirt. As far as my own projects, I would love to do more PNW regional touring. At the beginning of the year I played a solo set at Doe Bay, and with Loose Wing at the Tunnel Tavern in Port Townsend. Those places are such gems, and I miss those little excursions a lot.

Be sure to check out Same Old Hunters. It’s a well produced set of four songs that fits in well with the times and also bubbles with its own unique folk country signature. While you are at it, keep your eyes open for more exciting releases from Drums and Wires Recordings who is also set to release a compilation CD in December that features several of the artists on the label.

Categories
Record Review Sabrina Chap

SABRINA CHAP: POSTCARDS FROM THE REARVIEW MIRROR

Y’all, one of my favorite artists has a new album! “Postcards from the Rearview Mirror” is Brooklyn-based Sabrina Chap’s third full-length album – and it’s a beautiful departure from her usual vaudeville/cabaret-style tunes.

This narrative indie-rock album tells the story of two queer teens who leave home together for the bright lights of Hollywood. Each song starts with Chap reading a postcard sent back home to “R,” describing their adventures in Los Angeles.

As we move through each of the songs, we experience the narrator’s coming-of-age; listening to the heartache and eventual heartbreak she goes through; the hopes and dreams of her youth falling away as she faces the reality of city life and loses the woman she loves.

Chap recorded all the electric guitar, organs, vocals, and synths in her bedroom, and enlisted musical mastermind David Engelhard (Soft Sirens) to program the drums. Bobby McCullough sat on Chap’s bed while recording bass, and Sarah Miller provided backing vocals on three of the tracks.

“Postcards” is an album that will leave you aching with memories of your youth. A PJ Harvey-esque musical with driving guitar, furious keys, and Chap’s throaty, gorgeous vocals – the perfect soundtrack to scream-sing along with on road trips and furiously dance to at full volume in your underwear. I can’t really even call out my fave tracks, because they all need to be listened to, in order, to get the full effect.

“Postcards from the Rearview Mirror” will be officially released on Bandcamp October 15. PURCHASE AND DOWNLOAD, FRIENDS!

For a preview, check out the video for “Hate Becomes You,” directed by Anna Hovhannessian:

 

 

Categories
Imaginary Scoop

Attention all our favorite bands: It’s PlayBack time!!!

For those who haven’t dug into PlayBack yet, this wonderful initiative is…

…an online collection that showcases and shares current local music for free. Seattle’s musical culture is known for its originality, passion and creativity, as our local artists continue to demonstrate. PlayBack helps new audiences discover a wealth of today’s local music. This music collection is intended to reflect the diversity and abundance of Seattle’s music scene.

Through PlayBack, folks can:

  • Explore digital collections of current Seattle music
  • Create streaming playlists
  • Download music to a computer or device

Do you and/or your band want to have some of your songs be part of the PlayBack catalog?

This year’s open submission period runs from
August 17-November 30, 2020!

Who is eligible?

All Seattle-area musicians who record or perform in the city of Seattle are invited to submit a music album. The album must contain four or more songs and have been produced within the last five years.

Ready to send in your submission?

I really really really want you to apply to be a part of the next round of PlayBack music. Do. Not. Delay. The sooner the better. Don’t procrastinate and wait until the last minute to get your submission in! If an album is accepted, the artist will receive an honorarium of $200.

Click THIS LINK starting June 3 for the submission form (there’s a “Submit Your Music” button over on the right side of the page). For more info on how to submit music, read the PlayBack FAQ.

Did I mention that I’m on the PlayBack jury? I am honored to be on the jury panel alongside…

Sharlese Metcalf – Seattle Music Commissioner, Education Coordinator at KEXP, DJ for Expansions and Mechanical Breakdown on KEXP
Kelly O – Storyteller, Photographer, and Local Music Superfan, Kelly O Photography
Jonathan Zwickel – Freelance writer at Pitchfork, Thrillist, and KEXP
Chris Govella – DJ at Night Shift, Night Shift
Abby Bass – Adult Services Librarian, The Seattle Public Library
Kathleen Morley – Selection Services Librarian, The Seattle Public Library
Cameron McCracken – Library Associate, The Seattle Public Library
Kreg Hasegawa – Adult Services Librarian, The Seattle Public Library
Kristy Gale – Teen Services Librarian, The Seattle Public Library
Marcos Chavez – Library Associate, The Seattle Public Library
Daniel Sohn – Library Associate, The Seattle Public Library

 

Your music could live here. Seattle public library - central branch. Photo credit: Jason Mills
Your music could live here. Seattle public library – central branch. Photo credit: Jason Mills

While you wait for new music to be added to the PlayBack catalog…

There’s a huge catalog of previously chosen PlayBack entries are available for listening all day every day. Over the last few years and PlayBack rounds, the PlayBack jury has collected a sampling of some of the best new(ish) music Seattle has to offer.

You can dig deep into indie-rock, but also discover your next favorite jazz, world, electro-space, or hip-hop record. There’s currently 250 albums by local artists to choose from

Go find your new favorite songs and bands now! Some of my favorites from previous rounds include:

Go to the PlayBack site and start listening!

 

 

Categories
Imaginary Scoop

ANTEBELLUM

I’m not sure how (or why) they did it, but writers and directors Gerard Bush and Christopher Renz have somehow created a film that’s both impossible to talk about without spoiling, and super easy to figure out while you’re watching the film.

The first 40 minutes of ANTEBELLUM is just exploitative slavery torture porn. Set in the antebellum South, it’s just a series of atrocities carried out against a group of cotton plantation slaves by their white owner, “Him” (Eric Lange) and Him’s dripping-with-evil second in command, Captain Jasper (Jack Huston). We’re introduced to Eden (Janelle Monáe) as she sees two of her (unnamed) friends get brutally murdered, and then we watch her get beaten and branded for trying to orchestrate an escape.

Later on, we meet Eli (Tongayi Chirisa), a slave who distracts Jasper by “talking back” to help Eden assist new arrival Julia (Kiersey Clemons) after one of Julia’s beatings results in her not being able to stand and pick cotton. Every time they’re able to talk alone, Eli and Julia encourage Eden to try escaping again — but Eden isn’t willing to take the chance because it may cause the death of more of her friends.

The second half of the film pushes us into present day, and introduces Veronica Henley (played again by Monáe). Veronica is a successful activist and author, lives in a gorgeous house with her husband and daughter, and gives old white dudes hell on political news shows. And that’s about all we know of her, except that she also used to ride horses competitively, given the photos we breeze by as the camera tours her show-home.

After an uncomfortable video chat with a very obviously racist Southern white woman named Elizabeth (Jena Malone), Veronica heads off to another city to promote her book (I guess book tours involve TED-like presentations now? Or maybe it’s a conference? I’m not clear on what’s up with this “event”), Veronica meets up with her two, also successful, BFFS: Dawn (Gabourey Sidibe) and Sarah (Lily Cowles). The three head to dinner and of course begin talking about what all successful women talk about: hooking up with hot dudes and dick pics.

ANYWAY. Eventually the two stories converge, and I won’t give anything away about how — but I will say that it’s incredibly easy to figure it out because this film isn’t interested in subtleties of any kind (except when it comes to character development, apparently).

Listen, I understand the “message” that ANTEBELLUM is trying to deliver: there are still a lot of incredibly racist and dangerous people in the world, y’all — but it is one big mess of a movie. Malone campy performance and the cardboard caricatures of the other villains don’t mesh with the gravity of what happens in the slavery setting, and the only reason I found myself caring at all about Eden or Veronica was soley due to Monáe’s fantastic emoting. And the only thing the “twist” they’re promoting elicited from me was an eye roll.

Does it look beautiful? Yes. The cinematography is amazing. Is watching Monáe on screen compelling? Yes. She’s great – truly the only great thing in this film. Do we need to be hit over the head with confusing messaging that plays more like terribly done exploitation? No. I don’t think so. My advice to you is to avoid this one.

But if you feel you must; ANTEBELLUM is now available to watch on demand on most streaming platforms.

Categories
BOAT Imaginary Scoop Record Review

Let’s Tread Lightly with BOAT

In May of 2020 (which is both yesterday and a long time ago), our BOAT friends released their latest album – Tread Lightly.

The new album is a coming of middle age confessional (i.e., they are speaking my language). They hold together their missives with the unexpected and catchy refrains for which BOAT is imaginarily famous (and why we love this band so so much). The songs’ affable lyrics paired with uninhibited melodies make me feel as emotionally satiated as watching a pink sky sunset while surrounded by all my favorite people.

It’s quite the triumphant return after a 7-year hiatus that was filled with a mixture of fun and scary life stuff. While the band members were quiet on the BOAT front, they still kept us in new songs via their other musical endeavors. D. Crane (vocals / guitar) released three records with Unlikely Friends (to much imaginary acclaim). J. Long (drums, keyboards, etc.) focused on his work at KEXP and recording bands. J. Goodman (bass, guitar, keyboards) focused on his band [b r a c k e t s].

There are hints of lessons learned from their other musical projects and personal playlists. There are nods to Supergrass across a few songs (so much so that Supergrass Gaz Coombes gets a song named after him). In parts (especially on “Be as Good as You Want to Be”), they dig deep in the indie-math-rock-guitar-hero well to take things up a notch, likely a result of Josh’s [b r a c k e t s] influence. The songs are solid and satisfying – and listening to it makes me feel grounded and joyful – which is high praise, especially these days.

The album is an obvious collaboration among friends – and it’s rounded out with some help from Pacific Northwest notables:

  • Shelley Short (Portland singer/songwriter) on “Only Without/Lonely Without”
  • Chris Ballew (PUSA / Casper Babypants) on “Zombie State of Mind”
  • Evan Mosher (AWESOME) on “Metabolism” / “(to all the) Sweaty People” / “Be as Good as You Want to Be”/ “The Ballad of Gaz Coombes”

They even created a video for one of our favorite songs from the album, “Loneliness Kills” starring some of our favorite Seattle friends.

 

How’d some of the band member’s favorite songs come together? Well, BOAT was kind enough to share some stories:

D. CRANE {vocals, guitar, bass, piano}:

The song that’s most significant to me from the album is “Metabolism.” It’s just a reflection of my subconscious from the last few years. I don’t remember writing down the words, they just came out like a mantra. I couldn’t add anything more, or take any away, it was just a couple sentences and captured my mind for the last few years in one shot.

I have been inspired so much over the last few years by musicians who are driven by the process or need to make music. Trevor Dickson (The Nightgowns), Karl Blau, Shelley Short, Scott McCaughey are examples of people who just seem to have a need to create music. It doesn’t matter who hears. it, they have a need to make it. I would love to be mentioned on the same list as them. Kimya Dawson is another one recently who is so inspirational. There’s no filter, it just seems like these artists are in tune with their brains and creative powers.

As we get older, it is so evident how important it is to find joy. No one can find it for you, and you don’t know why the world is the way it is, or what’s next. I get so much joy from joking, talking, making music, eating pizza, and just being around the BOAT guys. If that is all there is in life, I think I’m good with it! I am trying to get better at prioritizing people and relationships that I get joy from. I think that is why BOAT keeps making music. A pizza conversation can inspire four new songs and create four more opportunities to eat pizza together. It’s kind of perfect.

 

J. LONG {drums, percussion, keyboards, vocals}:

“Tread Lightly” – the song is most personally significant to me. This was one of the first two songs we made. BOAT has been labeled a joke/funny band, but there are so many of Dave’s lyrics that are meaningful and profound to me. “Tread Lightly” is about Dave having brain surgery (days after our last public show, by the way in early 2018). He can speak more to that, but I love how soul-bearing this one is. I got chills the first time I listened to the demo. I loved it so much that we just used that version for the album with refined drums and overdubbed layers.

My father-in-law has a Seeburg Jukebox from 1957 and I love listening to 50’s-60’s jams with my son on that thing. None of the songs are longer than 2:45. Just like BOAT songs.

One of my favorites is a Beach Boys Medley:

For me, making a new song or sound thing is addicting and transforms my mood. In the time since the last BOAT record, I rejoined the band (2013) and became a dad. One of the things I missed in those years in between was the feeling of having new music percolating. About two years ago, I started cataloging drum ideas, tossing them in Dropbox for Dave to use in GarageBand. We figured out that we could trade GarageBand demos back and forth quickly and seamlessly. Although there was much less time in the space with all the guys, this process feels like the most quintessential way for BOAT to write. Dave’s home demos have always been truest and most unique vision of his songs. I think “Tread Lightly” (the album) finds a sweet spot between those home demos and a studio album.

In the years between, Dave formed Unlikely Friends with Charles from Math & Physics Club. I produced the records (two LP’s “Solid Gold Cowboys” and “Crooked Numbers,” and one all NW cover album “Greetings from the Great Northwest”). Mark (of BOAT) played bass most of the time. Dave and Josh are brothers-in-law. So we were all still very much in each other’s lives. But coming back to do “Tread Lightly” felt fresh, and inspiring and like coming home.

 

J. GOODMAN {guitar, bass, keyboards, shouting}:

“So Many Reasons Your Hair Turns Grey” is a special song for me. I love Dave’s lyrics on this one and think the way Jackson built the layers of sound is just remarkable. I like the guitar part I play a lot and had fun recording different layers and versions of it. My natural tendency is to play a lot and I’ve been learning (over the past 15 years or so) to play a little bit less. Sometimes the spaces between parts are just as important as the parts themselves. That being said, I play a lot of notes on this one, so it feel like I’m right at home! Also, Mark’s bass line is good as hell on that one. And that little haunting piano line (that I think Jackson played) is an example of a small thing that makes a big impact on the overall song.

 

RIYL – BOAT or anything mentioned in this article:

And, if you’re ready to join the BOAT superfan club with me, keep your eyes on the BOAT instagram account. Dave hosts “Boat Song of the Night” shows now and again. It’s a 20-40 minute variety show with guests, band performances, and a kitty dance party. It started as pandemic reprieve in the form of remote hangouts and entertainment. Each episode gives me life and I hope they continue on beyond the chaos that is 2020. I really can’t recommend it enough – you should totally join us in the BOAT instagram live room for the next BSOTN show!!!

 

 

 

Categories
Film Review

Inmate #1: The Rise Of Danny Trejo

“Everything good that has happened to me has happened as a direct result of helping someone else. Everything.”

Known for his intimidating presence and distinctive tattoos, Danny Trejo has carved out an impressive career in film, with 384 acting credits listed on his IMDb page.

Inmate #1 (a reference to his earliest roles on screen): The Rise of Danny Trejo, details the actor’s struggle with heroin addiction and crime as a teen and follows his triumph in beating that addiction, emerging from prison to find himself on a path that included boxing, inspirational speaking, and of course – appearing as a total bad-ass on screen.

Trejo worked consistently throughout the 80s and 90s in small roles, but his film breakout happened in 1995, when Robert Rodriguez cast him as the silent but deadly assassin Navajas in Desperado. Even without lines, Danny’s magnetic presence in the film made a huge impact, and Rodriguez (who is actually a third cousin of Trejo’s; a fact they both discovered during the making of the film), cast him again and again in his films — including giving him an unusual role in the family-friendly Spy Kids (2001) as Uncle Machete.

#1 Inmate: The Rise of Danny Trejo

Expanding that role, Rodriguez also gave Trejo his first starring lead role in 2010’s feature Machete, an exploitation film born out of a fake trailer the director created for his Grindhouse collaboration with Quentin Tarantino. The director and actor worked closely together on the plot of Machete, even working in some of Danny’s real-life declarations such as, “Machete don’t text.”

Contrary to his tough exterior, Trejo’s personality comes across in this documentary as open, humble, and comforting. He still lives in the same neighborhood he grew up in; he knows his neighbors and supports local businesses — and he’s also opened a few of his own: Trejo’s Donuts & Trejo’s Tacos. Today, at age 76, Danny is still touring prisons and attending AA meetings to speak about his redemptive journey, doing what he can to help those in need by imparting his wisdom and encouraging positive change.

Director Brett Harvey includes interviews with industry friends and peers Donal Logue, Michelle Rodriguez, Robert Rodriguez, and Cheech Marin, as well as his family members Gilbert Trejo And Danielle Trejo — but wisely keeps most of the focus on the mesmerizing man himself.

Inmate is a great portrait of a fascinating man. As much as I admired Trejo before, I’m all in now — and I can’t wait for Machete Kills in Space!

#1 Inmate: The Rise of Danny Trejo will be streaming on demand starting July 7.

 

Categories
Film Review

Kate Nash: Underestimate the Girl – one woman’s fight to make her own art

“I’m not gonna sweeten it for anyone; it really SUCKS.”
~ Kate Nash on what it’s like to be a woman in the music industry

What a fucking heartbreaking ride Kate Nash: Underestimate the Girl is. Directed by Amy Goldstein, Underestimate the Girl is the infuriating, inspiring story of British pop star Kate Nash — whom I previously only knew as Rhonda Richardson (aka Britannica) on GLOW.

The documentary covers Nash’s rise to fame on MySpace as a teen; the subsequent tour for her 2007 debut album “Made of Bricks,” which rose to #1 on the UK charts; her pivot from pop music to riot grrrl grunge in 2012 (with a self-recorded track, called … “Underestimate the Girl” that caused her label to drop her), and her fight to continue to make her music exactly the way she wants to — DIY’ing a tour without major label support, moving to America, struggling financially (DO NOT GET ME STARTED ON THAT FUCKING MANAGER), eventually finding a part on GLOW, and using Kickstarter to raise money for a new album and tour.

Kate Nash: Underestimate the Girl (2020) Photo by: Carolina Faruolo
Kate Nash: Underestimate the Girl (2020) Photo by: Carolina Faruolo

Vignettes with Kate speaking add emotional context by describing the incredible pressure on being a pop star, and particularly a female pop star, during her tour. Talking about the ways in which the public and the media feel they “own” you, and can comment on your appearance and your actions. Nash has been criticized for her weight, teased about her acne, cursed at, called names, and received both rape and death threats. Just for, you know, being a woman who makes music.

Goldstein is really great at mixing all the bits and pieces together, creating a solid thread for the viewer to follow — but really what makes this film so good is Nash herself. She’s open, honest, humble, appreciative, and she just really, really, really, REALLY wants to make music. All the time, every day, the way she wants without anyone telling her how it should sound.

Kate Nash: Underestimate the Girl (2020) Photo by: Anouchkavan Riel
Kate Nash: Underestimate the Girl (2020) Photo by: Anouchkavan Riel

And she doesn’t just fight for herself; Nash spoke up when Pussy Riot was imprisoned (related: her song “Free My Pussy,”) became the Global Ambassador for Because I Am a Girl movement, and so. many. more. great. things. She’s that girl you want to be best friends with; she’s so cool and real and gorgeously vulnerable — and she’s also totally kick-ass. A fierce, talented, compassionate goddess.

In case it’s not clear, this film is FUCKING AMAZING and you should watch it! You can find it on Alamo On Demand as of Friday May 22, and and AND! Saturday, May 23 at 6pm PT; there will be an interactive performance and Q&A with Kate Nash. It’s only there for a week, so DO NOT SLEEP ON THIS PEOPLE.

Also by this point it’s obvious that I’ve completely fallen for the woman, and her music – all of it – from her initial super-catchy, poppy emo breakup songs through her punk rock anthems, to her latest hybrid-of-both release – so I might as well end this with a letter to her:

Dear Kate,

I may not have been a huge fan of yours before, but I am now. Thank you for fighting and continuing to make music. Thank you for sharing so much of yourself. Thank YOU and Amy for making this documentary. You’re rad and I love you.

Sincerely,
Amie

Categories
Film Review

Get your tea set ready: Emma. is now on Blu-ray!

As of Tuesday, May 19, 2020 — Autumn de Wilde’s lush adaptation of Jane Austen’s Emma is now available for you to own and OMG do you want to own it. Just the film by itself is positively delightful, and the Blu-ray disc is packed with the kind of special features I love!

Here’s a breakdown of these great additions:

  • Feature commentary with Director Autumn de Wilde, Screenwriter Eleanor Catton, and Director of Photography Christoph Blauvelt
    Man oh man, I really miss the days when Director commentary was the norm for EVERY film! This very comprehensive commentary is perfect — bringing insights from Autumn and Eleanor on location choices, why dialog and scenes were shifted a bit from the novel, behind-the-scenes stories, appreciation for the actors, and just lovely observations. Blauvelt takes a backseat here and lets the two women do most of the talking, but Wilde is very complimentary about his work, calling out his amazing sense of lighting, particularly in the darkest indoor scenes. I also learned that things I thought were over-the-top and deliberately exaggerated were actually period! For example, Mrs. Elton’s Disney-esque wicked stepsister hair shaped into a bow was a thing for real in Georgian society. And those schoolgirl red cloaks aren’t just a subtle nod to The Handmaid’s Tale; they existed in that time. WHO KNEW? (de Wilde knew, because she hired historical experts to guide everything from the set design and costumes to the etiquette of each character).

Emma 2020 Mr and Mrs Elton

A Playful Tease
A short featurette that contains interviews with cast and crew on the making of Emma. This is cute, but pretty straightforward in terms of special features. Like something you would see on the Entertainment Weekly website.

The Autumn Gaze
In this featurette, de Wilde and cast talk about how her unique photographer’s eye informed the look of Emma., discussing colors, sets, costumes, and the art of creating a scene. All things in which I am super into! I’m particularly fond of Mia Goth’s intro here, where she says that de Wilde married Austen’s world with a rock-and-roll texture.

Emma 2020 Anya Taylor-Joy and Johnny Flynn

Creating a Colorful World
In which de Wilde explains how she slightly exaggerated color within each setting to achieve the look she wanted. Another thing I learned specifically from this bonus feature is that in The Georgian Period, color was how you showed your wealth! Which explains why there were so many bright candy colors splashed around the Woodhouse and Knightly estates.

Deleted Scenes
Who doesn’t want MORE Emma.? I mean, I do. I definitely do. There are some gems in here that show the patience required by the actors for scene setups, plus some lovely little additions to flesh out more of the characters we didn’t see a lot of, including Mr. Churchill and Ms. Jane Fairfax.

Emma 2020 Anya Taylor-Joy and Bill Nighy

Gag Reel
I don’t think I’ve ever seen a blooper reel feature that shows just how much fun filming a movie actually was. But really it’s clear from all of these bonus features that the entire cast had THE BEST TIME filming Emma.! Also, Anya Taylor-Joy and Mia Goth’s BFF giggles will make you smile forever.

My Austenite heart is even more complete having devoured every single special feature on this disc, and if you enjoyed the film as much as I do, I heartily recommend a purchase.

Bonus tip: Follow Autumn on Instagram for some GORGEOUS photo content, including behind-the-scenes pics taken on the Emma. set.