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Archive | April, 2016

Hip Hop Hooray (Leah)

April 29, 2016

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Losing Prince has made this a tough month, but at least we have his music. I made you this mix! It doesn’t feature Prince. Sorry.

:DJ Shadow – Nobody Speak feat. Run the Jewels:
:Busta Rhymes – Hello feat. Chance the Rapper:
:10isee Williams – Nat Turner:
:Open Mike Eagle & Paul White – Smiling (Quirky Race Doc):
:BJ the Chicago Kid – The New Cupid feat. Kendrick Lamar:
:Def Jef – God Made Me Funky:
:Royce da 5’9″ – Quiet feat. Tiara & Mr. Porter:
:Domo Genesis – Dapper feat. Anderson .Paak:
:Samiyam – Mirror feat. Earl Sweatshirt:
:Hudson Mohawke – Ryderz:
:L’Trimm – We Can Rock the Beat:
:Azatat – Serpentine:
:Atmosphere – This Lonely Rose feat. Blueprint & Aesop Rock:
:Phoniks x Raashan Ahmad – I Fell in Love wih a B-Girl:
:Cross Border Players – Higher feat. Gift of Gab:

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White Lung

April 28, 2016

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Oh my.  Have you guys been paying attention to White Lung?  You may have caught their singles as I’ve been posting them, but have you been listening and noting just how awesome all of them have been?  If you ask me, they’re on the verge of releasing what might be the best rock album of 2016.  Get in on them now, people.  Below is their latest single.  I also included their two previous tunes.  Enjoy.

:White Lung – Below:

Paradise is due out May 6 via Domino.  The band will be at Sidewinder on July 13.

Bonus Videos:

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Show Of The Week

April 27, 2016

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There’s only one thing that really matters this week, and it’s Levitation.  On Thursday there are a variety of kick off shows happening around town (Coathangers will be at Barracuda!), and then the festival itself will be taking place out at Carson Creek Ranch throughout the weekend.  Be there, or else you’ll totally miss the likes of Brian Wilson (performing Pet Sounds), Ween, Courtney Barnett, Sleep, The Black Angels, Royal Trux and lots more (see the full lineup here).

BONUS Show Recommendations:

Tonight:
- Chvrches, Alvvays at Stubbs
- Ben Ballinger at 3ten

Thursday:
- Chvrches, Alvvays at Stubb’s
- The Front Bottoms, Brick + Mortar, Diet Cig at Emo’s
- Jakubi, My Jerusalem, Hunter Sharpe, Sugar Dirt And Sand at the Scoot Inn

Friday:
- Comforter, Pema, Hunter Jones, Trick Burn, Rain Collectors at Cheer Up Charlies

Saturday:
- Knifight, Momentus at Tellers

Sunday:
Emily Wolfe, Outskirts, The Mystery Acheivement, BEKIND at Spiderhouse

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Seratones

April 26, 2016

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Way back on Saturday I saw the Shreveport, Louisiana-based Seratones open up the sold-out Thao And The Get Down Stay Down show at the Mohawk, and I instantly fell in love with them.  Front-lady AJ Haynes has a great voice and an infectious personality, and the band in general just straight up rocks.  Enjoy.

:Seratones – Chandelier:

Get Gone is due out May 6 via Fat Possum.

Bonus Video:

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Patience

April 25, 2016

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Veronica Falls have always been a favorite of mine, so it was a real bummer to find out that they’re no longer together.  On the bright side, former frontwoman Roxanne Clifford has a new project titled Patience, and it’s pretty grand.  You can check out a video for her first single, which is one of the better synthpop tracks I’ve heard in a while, down below.  Enjoy.

The Church/My Own Invention 7″ is due out May 6 via Night School.

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Movie Breakdown: Green Room (Noah)

April 22, 2016

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Pre-Screening Stance:

Jeremy Saulnier’s Blue Ruin was one of my favorite films of 2014. This one is my most anticipated film of 2016.

Post-Screening Ramble:

Jeremy Saulnier is not a director who shies away from showcasing the bleakness that exists at the hearts of his characters. Though Green Room is a broad step into a more action-oriented “home invasion” type of film than the quieter, perhaps more personal Blue Ruin, both are films about exacting revenge and the not-so redemptive qualities of doing so. Green Room follows a gritty punk band, The Ain’t Rights, on the last few shows of a particularly grueling tour. These are the punks your mother warned you against – they siphon gas to drive, they rough up their hosts when his show falls through, they spit and spew and in general act like precocious fucks. For a variety of reasons the Ain’t Rights end up in the backwoods of some Washington/Oregon seeming locale playing at a venue for a bunch of skinhead, neo-Nazis. Things go badly. And then they go worse, and then a group of snot-nosed twenty-somethings are fighting for their lives against a brotherhood of racist dickheads. I haven’t listened to punk rock since I was 22, and when I did I was a suburbs kid who got his shit handed to him in the circle, but Saulnier has managed to capture the punk aesthetic without dipping into stereotype. These are kids who quote Minor Threat and play Nazi Punks to a group of skinheads; this a venue that even on screen manages to give off the subtle waft of stale beer and staler piss; this is music that gouges you in the face and drags you down the stairs – it is a rough go. But somehow, Saulnier manages to infuse the film with both beauty (it’s a gorgeously dark little nugget of lighting) and small flashes of humor (Imogen Poots really steals this show as the almost feral Sam, a punk rock girl gone too far). This feels like the dark reflection of a Joss Whedon film. The characters interact like real humans – Anton Yelchin’s Pat cries for literally the entirety of the film – but the interactions are perfectly manicured so they still resonate with the sort of fuck-off camaraderie touring bands end up developing. There are great action beats, but Saulnier doesn’t push them to be polished – this is the sloppy violence of real humans, gory and fleshy and accidental. And this is what the film seems to be saying, this is a violent moment, a “nightmare” in the words of Yelchin’s Pat, a horrible thing that just went too far, but at the end, regardless of our viewpoints or political beliefs we are all humans, and we all do the great and terrible things we do because of that version of humanity. Saulnier just wraps that lovely sentiment in barbed wire and blood. And it fucking rules.

One Last Thought:

I don’t know if anyone has ever used Patrick Stewart as well before. He’s a brutal, skinhead tactician but also a reserved Englishmen. It brings all of Stewart’s gravitas to bear on what is a terribly evil role. He is a role model and a leader to his skinhead gang, but as the film rolls out, a more and more horrible human. It’s a beautiful coin to see slowly turn and Stewart absolutely owns the role.

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Movie Breakdown: A Hologram For The King

April 21, 2016

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Pre-Screening Stance:

I love Tom Hanks, and I liked Tom Tykwer’s work on Cloud Atlas, so therefore I should be excited about A Hologram For The King, right?  Eh.  It looks like a really generic drama, and I’ll be surprised if it turns out to be something worth cheering about.

Post-Screening Ramble:

Fish Out Of Water is what A Hologram For The King should have been titled.  Alan (played with muffled enthusiasm by Tom Hanks) is a rundown salesman trying to secure a big deal so that he can get his life back on track, but he’s in the mystical realm of Saudi Arabia, he’s totes exhausted by jet-lag, and the region’s customs are zany and just completely blowing his mind.  So what does he do?  He struggles through a variety of foreigners-sure-are-different discoveries until various metaphors are properly arranged in a row and everything is wrapped up nice and neat.  Once or twice I chuckled or felt a twinge of sympathy for Hanks’ unfortunately burdened character, but mostly I just blankly starred at the screen and wondered who decided that Dave Eggers’ A Hologram For The King needed to be adapted.

A Hologram For The King is not even close to being the worst movie I’ve ever seen, so I won’t tell you to run away from it.  Just know that it’s a generic drama that you’ll largely forget before the credits completely roll through.

One Last Thought:

After giving it some thought, I’d like for Tom Hanks to go full-Liam Neeson and start starring in action films.  It would be so weird and entertaining to see him in something like Taken.  Think about it!

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Deerhoof

April 21, 2016

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Over the last few days Deerhoof have really gotten things moving for their new album.  They first released a song called Debut (it’s down below in video-form), then announced some tour dates, and now there’s another track, Plastic Thrills, that’s made its way into the world.  The first tune (to me anyways) sounds pretty much how you’d expect Deerhoof to sound, but the second is a raw. energetic number that really jams.  I like it a lot.  Enjoy.

:Deerhoof – Plastic Thrills:

The Magic is due out June 24 via Polyvinyl.  The band will play the Mohawk on August 16.

Bonus Video:

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Movie Breakdown: Elvis & Nixon

April 20, 2016

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Pre-Screening Stance:

While I was initially disappointed that Elvis & Nixon wasn’t some sort of Alan Moore-scripted super hero movie set in a bizarre alternate universe, I do think the film looks just peculiar enough to possibly be good (or at least interesting).  I’m in.

Post-Screening Ramble:

Elvis & Nixon is an odd film for two specific reasons.  The first is that it’s based on what is possibly one of the weirder true stories ever, which is that Elvis in the early 70s decided that the youth of America were in trouble (due to drugs, hippie communes, the Beatles and such), and he wanted to help.  So, he set his sights on acquiring a Federal Agent-At-Large badge so that he could use it to infiltrate and then bust groups involved in spreading drug culture (and also communism, to a lesser degree) throughout the USA.  Again, it’s a strange story, but also one that’s entertaining and deserving of its own film.

Where the movie’s other oddity lies is in its casting, and I don’t mean that in a positive way.  As much as I love Michael Shannon, he doesn’t at all look like Elvis Presley.  I only could see Michael Shannon doing an Elvis Presley impersonation.  Is it bad?  No, but it was distracting.  The same can be said for Kevin Spacey as Richard Nixon.  All I could see was Kevin Spacey (who already convincingly plays a President in House of Cards) doing his best to mimic the infamous President.  I understand that a movie like Elvis & Nixon probably doesn’t get made without names like Shannon and Spacey attached as the leads, but they’re such a distraction that it nearly neuters the story that the film is trying to tell.  Even great actors still need appropriate roles, you know?

If you see Elvis & Nixon, make sure to matinee it.

One Last Thought:

You know, I don’t think it would be all that bad if someone actually moved forward with an Elvis & Nixon superhero team-up movie.  Elvis, I imagine, would be kind of like Tony Stark – crafty, suave and funny, and Nixon would be, well … he’d probably just be Nixon.  Either way though, I’d watch the hell out of that film.

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Movie Breakdown: The Huntsman: Winter’s War (Noah)

April 20, 2016

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Pre-Screening Stance:

Did you, or anyone you know, see Snow White & The Huntsman? I mean, I know a few of us might have soldiered our way to the cinema to ensure that our viewing of everything that’s every featured K-Stew was seen, but for the rest of the sanity holding world, I’m pretty show this was a no-go. So, no-go, why do you get another show?

Post-Screening Ramble:

I think it’s safe to say that the question you should have looming over your the entire time you’re watching The Huntsmen: Winter’s War is “Why does this movie exist?” Why does a fairly undeveloped character, from a massively underwhelming film, a film that made chump change in today’s billion dollar market, need a sequel? I guess there’s something to say about the vacuum of fantasy franchises clogging the market. And it could be that with Lord of the Rings a distant memory, some bearded exec is hoping another film with dwarves and goblins and hirsute men fighting could be the proverbial “gold mine.” Another question to ask would be: why does a prequel/sequel that no one seems to want have a cast that features Chris Hemsworth (the titular Huntsmen), Jessica Chastain (the titular Huntsman’s boo), Emily Blunt (bad ice lady), Charlize Theron (bad gold lady, returning for another dose of evil), and a bevy of some truly great Brits resigned to peripheral comedic roles? I couldn’t tell you, but they’re here and they somehow manage to elevate this cliche-riddled, romantic fantasy to somewhere just below decent. In the past, bad things happen and because of the bad things Freya (Blunt) is turned into the Ice Queen and she recruits an army of children (ahem, Huntsmen) to kill her enemies (because, if I watched this right, that’s what people do). Love, forbidden as it might be happens between the Huntsman (the famous one) and another huntsman (the Jessica Chastain one) and they’re banished from the kingdom and, well, seven years later, uh, and then, dwarves, and mirrors and fighting and, hell, it all just blurs down into another CGI-heavy attempt to get a little bit of that nostalgic LOTR money. And you know, as a one time purveyor of bottom of the barrel fantasy novels (Dragonlance, I miss you!), the Huntsman’s trek, with his trusty dwarves at his side, to find the Magic Mirror and return it to Sanctuary kind of works. It doesn’t reinvent the wheel, or do anything of particular note, but it has an okay time playing around in the old fantasy sandbox and yeah you’re going to walk out and try to remember if you just saw Willow or Lord of the Rings, but hey, a bunch of great actors wearing funny outfits and hitting each other is actually pretty alright.

One Last Thought:

This film is pretty much hamstrung by its sequel/prequel structure. The entire time I sat there wondering if something someone was saying (I write those innocuous words because none of the names of any character really stuck in my craw) was an allusion to the first film and that I was supposed to say, “Oh! That makes sense, that expands this universe to a new level!” If it did though, I couldn’t tell, and this film, which posited as just an original bit of fantasy filmmaker could’ve been at least a mild a surprise, just sloughs down the drain, another sequel no one is going to give a shit about.

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Show Of The Week

April 20, 2016

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One of my favorite artists, Thao And The Get Down Stay Down, is in town this week!  I only got to see the act for a brief bit at SXSW, and I need my fix.  All of you should come join me at the Mohawk on Saturday.  By the way, if you do decide to come out, be sure to show up early for Seratones.  They’re out of Louisiana and look as though they put on a fun show.

BONUS Show Recommendations:

Tonight:
- Growl, Dream Version, Good Talk, Dryspell at the Mohawk

Thursday:
- Foreigner at ACL Live at the Moody Theater
- Nic Armstrong & The Thieves at Stubb’s
- RF Shannon, Christy Hays, Jesse Woods at Hotel Vegas
- Calliope Musicals at Waterloo Records
- Brass Bed, Moving Panoramas, Tele Novella at the Scoot Inn

Friday:
- Laura Stevenson, Chris Farren, Crying at the Mohawk
- The Sour Notes, Lou Rebecca, El Campo, Wild Toast at The Sidewinder
- Silver Apples, Alex Maas, Ringo Deathstarr, Al Lover at Space 24 Twenty
- Megafauna, Magic Rockers of Texas, Ben Ballinger, T0MA, Malandros, B.R. Lively at the Scoot Inn
- Keeper at Independence Brewery
- Antwon, Fat Tony, Think No Think at Barracuda
- Duran Duran, Chic featuring Nile Rodgers, Bag Raiders at Austin360 Amphitheater

Saturday:
- Audacity, Grape St, Borzoi, Loteria, Leather Girls at Barracuda
- Eleanor Friedberger, Icewater, Molly Burch at The Sidewinder

Sunday:
- Chipper Jones, US Weekly, Woozy, Hola Beach, Chris Lopez at Hotel Vegas
- Har Mar Superstar, Butcher Bear and the Blades, Neil Z at The Sidewinder

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DJ Shadow

April 19, 2016

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DJ Shadow is rad.  Run The Jewels are rad.  So, naturally, they made a song together that is double rad.  That’s pretty much all there is to say.  Well, that, and I hope that Shadow’s upcoming LP is a good one.  Enjoy.

:DJ Shadow – Nobody Speak (Featuring Run The Jewels):

The Mountain Will Fall is due out June 24 via Mass Appeal.

Bonus Video:

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Quickdraw: The Mystery Lights, Mercury Girls, King Khan, Still Parade, Har Mar Superstar

April 18, 2016

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Music!  Enjoy.

:The Mystery Lights – Follow Me Home:  The mighty folks over at Daptone have created a rock imprint, WICK, and The Mystery Lights’ debut will be its first release.  I’m really digging this slinky single.  The band’s self titled album is due out June 24.

:Mercury Girls – Ariana:  Mercury Girls are pretty new (they just got going in 2015), but they already have a sound that’s rather honed.  Hit play immediately if you love indie pop.  The Ariana single is due out May 20 via Slumberland.

:King Khan – Never Hold On:  King Khan recently crafted the soundtrack for a film called The Invaders, and that’s where this soul-enthused slow burner can be found.  I love it.  The Never Hold On single is available now via Bandcamp.

:Still Parade – Chamber:  Here’s a new one from Still Parade (aka Niklas Kramer).  It’s a sparkly effort that’s very warm and inviting, and you should expect it to leave you feeling excited about his upcoming LP.  Concrete Vision is due out June 3 via Heist Or Hit.

:Har Mar Superstar – How Did I Get Through the Day:  Aside from this being a very appropriately titled track for a Monday, it’s also a lo-fi retro gem that features Har Mar Superstar (aka Sean Tillmann) crooning his little heart out.  Best Summer Ever is available now through Cult Records.

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Beats & Eats: Volume 3 (James)

April 15, 2016

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Beats & Eats is a mixtape and a meal. A collection of tunes (sometimes there’s a theme, sometimes it’s just whatever I’m into this month) and a recipe to cook (bake, mix, whatever) while you listen to the songs. Enjoy!

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Earlier this month, music blog Consequence of Sound published a listicle on the Top 20 Deftones songs of all time. The Sacramento, CA quintet just released their eighth album, Gore, to critical and fan acclaim, so a career spanning listicle seems like the right thing to do. And the critics are right. Gore is really good.

I’ve always loved Deftones. The band changed what I thought metal and hardcore music had to sound like. Moody and emotional with pummeling riffs. Drummer Abe Cunningham’s beats are the unheralded backbone of the band and a huge influence on me as a drummer.

There’s nothing wrong with Consequence of Sound’s Top 20, in fact it’s fairly good, but it wouldn’t be my Top 20.  For no particular reason other than my own enjoyment, here is my Top 20(ish) Deftones songs along with a recipe for Spaghetti Squash Tacos. Because nothing is more metal than Spaghetti Squash Tacos.

Bored, Deftones’ ‘side one, track one, album one,’ kicks things off. Sure — nobody likes the guy who was ‘listening to band XYZ before anyone else was listening to band XYZ,’ but I vividly remember my bestie Ivan Torres Torres bringing Deftones Adrenaline to school and letting me borrow it for the weekend (Ivan’s version of the story may or may not involve the CD being returned scratched to shit and the case cracked – oh well).

I’d like to think this mixtape spans the length of Deftones’ career, including newer cuts from Koi No Yokan (Swerve City), Diamond Eyes (You’ve Seen the Butcher) and new release Gore (Doomed User). But in reality, this mix probably errs heavily on the band’s early stuff, Adrenaline and White Pony, especially.

You might have noticed by now that this playlist is 24 songs long. Missing from the COS Top 20 were the Deftones covers. The band has always chosen good songs to cover, and I love a good cover song. Depeche Mode’s To Have and To Hold kicks off this Deftones cover block, tracks 8A – 8D, followed by The Chauffeur (Duran Duran) and the even more unlikely No Ordinary Love (Sade). Jawbox’s Savory closes out the set of covers, with the last two featuring former Far and Onelinedrawing frontman Jonah Matranga.

An assortment of moody (Passenger, Be Quiet and Drive (Far Away), Good Morning Beautiful), aggressive (Rocket Skates, Hexagram, Acid Hologram) and rap metal efforts (Engine No. 9 cause I had to) round out my Deftones Top 20 (yeah, yeah, 24).

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Spaghetti Squash Tacos

INGREDIENTS:

- 3 lbs (1 large or 2 small) spaghetti squash
- tortillas
- 1 can black beans, rinsed and drained well

SQUASH SEASONING:
- 1 teaspoon chili powder
- 1/2 teaspoon ground cumin
- 1/2 teaspoon ground coriander
- 1/2 teaspoon coarse salt
- 1/2 fresh squeezed lime

GARNISH:
- 4 ounces crumbled queso fresco, feta, or cojita cheese
- 1 avocado
- 1/4 cup finely diced red onion
- 1/4 cup fresh cilantro leaves
- hot sauce (Sontava or Cholula)
- lime wedges

RECIPE:

- Preheat oven to 375 degrees and spray pan with coconut oil cooking spray or coat with 1/2  ounce of olive oil. Cut squash in half lengthwise, scoop out the seeds and roast the halves facedown on baking pan for 35-40 minutes or until flesh is soft.

- Once the squash is cooked, remove and allow to cool 5 minutes, then scrap the flesh with a fork to loosen and separate the strands. Add strands of flesh to bowl and discard skins.

- In a separate bowl, combine chili powder, cumin, coriander, and salt, whisk in lime juice and pour over squash strands. Gently toss to mix seasonings throughout, taste and adjust seasonings accordingly.

- To assemble the tacos… oh what the fuck you know how to assemble a taco. Warm em up, put down some beans, put down some spaghetti squash.

- Garnish with cheese, avocado, cilantro, onion,  couple drops of hot sauce  and a squeeze a lime.

- Serve with an ice cold Modelo Especial.

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Movie Breakdown: The Jungle Book (Noah)

April 15, 2016

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Pre-Screening Stance:

Jon Favreau has been sort of fussing around in his own private playground post-Marvel, and his output has been dodgy at best. His upcoming, almost entirely motion captured adaptation of Rudyard Kipling’s The Jungle Book hasn’t been helped by its saccharine, generic trailers, but, hell, maybe Favreau’s indie sojourn Chef helped stoke his old fires a little bit.

Post-Screening Ramble:

It isn’t that films that are entirely motion captured are the world we live in now, it’s that we are proud of this achievement. As much as we applaud someone like J.J. Abrams for bringing practical effects back to Star Wars, the press tour for The Jungle Book has been an almost non-stop lovefest for the green-screened, mo-capped world Mr. Favreau has created, with actor’s applauding the fact that they didn’t even have to show up on set. It could be frightening, it could be a further stumble down the CGI-whirlpool that will inevitably suck us all down, but in Mr. Favreau’s capable hands, The Jungle Book isn’t only a technical marvel, but a surprisingly straightforward and endearing take on the classic tale. Mowgli (Neel Sethi) is a small boy living under the purvey of jungle animals, mainly wolves and a panther, in the heart of, well, the jungle. It is an idyllic upbringing until a vengeful tiger, Shere Khan (Idris Elba), begins hunting him, forcing him out on his own to discover who he really is. This really might be the first truly successful marriage of motion capture with story. This an almost entirely immersive experience. Even though you are fully aware as an audience member that the world you are looking at is just pixels arranged in different patterns, at some point, early on, the brain just lets go, and there you are, an observer of this magical world of talking jungle animals. It’s amazing, but everyone has slogged through a slickly made mo-cap film, searching for the non-existent heart at its digital core. The Jungle Book transcends its genre. Though newcomer Neel Sethi borders just on the edge of winking rapscallion, for the most of the film’s running time he manages to imbue his quirky, well, childness, with layers of believable emotional output. His interactions with non-existent creatures (Bill Murray’s fantastic bear, Baloo, at the top of the pile) are genuine, authentic relationships and though yes, Favreau so painstakingly detailing his world and his animated movements is a big part of it, Sethi’s ability to stand ground with some of the great actors of all time, is at the heart of it. And, well, that’s where Favreau really scores, he doesn’t sacrifice heart for form, and he doesn’t sacrifice technological wow for overabundant emotional outpouring. No, instead he creates a classic coming of age story, but just uses the next wave of technology to make it very much his own.

One More Thought:

This has still not sold me on Warcraft: The Movie. But it has sold me on Favreau making more films.

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