A Girl Called Eddy - Been Around: When Erin Moran (no, not that Erin Moran) released her debut album as AGCE in 2004, the music hearkened back to the late 60s and early 70s pop and singer-songwriter artistry of Burt Bacharach and Carole King. Last year, Moran finally released her follow-up album and that title track has been a balm for me over the past year. It could not have felt more timely. Although the lyrics speak to jadedness, uncertainty, tears, and missing your heart when it was pure, the feel of the song is that of a hymn--an uplifting ode to keeping on keeping on. I played it more than any other song released last year because, much like the rest of the album it shares a name with, it just felt like hearing from a friend who really got you. And it blooms as it progresses. Horns. Backing vocalists. It reminds you that there is a whole world still out there of wonders, and that the human spirit is indelible. I sure hope we don't have to wait another 16 years for her to come around again.
Bamboozled: I rewatched it this week because it is leaving the Criterion Channel. I hesitate to say it's my favorite Spike Lee film. I mean, if you have seen it, you understand why. Lee makes it clear from the jump it is a satire, and it is, but it plays more like a tragedy. The nods to Sidney Lumet are apparent, particularly Network, and like that film, Bamboozled feels even more timely today despite several dated references. A thorough exploration of racism in entertainment, the film was considered over the top and heavy handed when it arrived in theaters in 2000. It will still strike some viewers as such now, and that's unfortunate. Lee makes some interesting directorial choices--16mm for the fictional minstrel show at the heart of the film and digital video for the rest--and even more interesting narrative choices. By that, I mean he recognizes the talent of the Black entertainers who appeared in the films and shows he is critiquing even as he demonstrates the harm these works have perpetuated. There is no laugh that does not feel uncomfortable. The ending is a series of gut punches. And the montage at the end is particularly heartbreaking. If anything, I felt more haunted by it now than I did when I first encountered it.
Rutherford Falls: There is something odd about a major TV show that consists mainly of Indigenous actors and writers having Ed Helms as the 'lead' character, but I quickly got why. Helms plays clueless, self-involved entitlement so well you kind of cringe when you see him. And that's the point. He's is meant to represent those who don't quite get it, but the handful of episodes I've made it through suggest he will eventually. I suspect, though, that this show will mainly appeal to those who already get it. Like Bamboozled, there is satire here in this story of small town America and its relationship with Indigenous communities. But the show is mostly warmer and subtler. And every time the focus shifts away from Helms, who co-created the show with Michael Schur and Sierra Teller Ornelas, to the rest of the cast, you get the real heart and soul of Rutherford Falls' appeal. Janna Schmieding, in particular, is wonderful, and the more time we are in her company or Jesse Leigh, or Michael Greyeyes, the better. They contrast Helms' broad humor with winning low-key moments.
Scott Walker - It's Raining Today: Because as I write this, it is. Walker is my favorite artist of all time. Here, an eerie string arrangement not only adds tension to the recollection of a long-lost love but also gives it a cinematic quality.
Elizabeth Banks is rebooting the Flintstones for Fox: For those of you who don't know who the Flintstones are, they are a modern stone-age family that made a fortune by pioneering dietary supplements.