The 2009 action-comedy "Zombieland," starring Jesse Eisenberg (above) and Emma Stone, is one of the films that the NRA's magazine has endorsed as really awesome.
When conservatives try to list their favorite pop-culture items to make a political point, the results are often baffling. In 2005, Human Events released the list of "Most Harmful Books" written in the 19th and 20th centuries (Charles Darwin and John Stuart Mill are put in the same league as Hitler and Mao). The following year, National Review compiled a much-discussed "50 greatest conservative rock songs," which for whatever bizarre reason included Aerosmith's "Janie's Got a Gun." In 2012, the Telegraph declared their brazenly idiotic "top 10 conservative movies of the modern era." And just over a week ago, the American Enterprise Institute posted the "21 greatest conservative rap songs of all time," which prominently features Justin Bieber.
And now AmericanRifleman, the National Rifle Association's shooting and firearms consumer magazine, has published its official list of the 10 "Coolest Gun Movies." Writes American Rifleman blogger Paul Rackley, "Many of these movies also take us back to simpler times, when dreaming of saving the day got us through that oh-so boring class." Here's his list:
Radiation City Animals in the Median
Tender Loving Empire
Dreamy and wistful is the default mode for plenty of modern bands that haven't figured out who they want to be when they grow up, but the striking Portland, Oregon quintet Radiation City shows how to do it right. Their second album, Animals in the Median, shimmers like a unearthly mirage, weaving together misty melodies, analog electronics and the siren vocals of keyboardist Lizzy Ellison to create a poignant sense of faded optimism and missed opportunities. Hazy gems such as "Wash of Noise" and "Lark" echo the melancholy retro-futurism of Stereolab, albeit with a more delicate touch, while the gauzy "Wary Eyes" evokes the gently eerie sensation of hearing soft music from another room at 3 a.m. Ellison and company could create a great soundtrack for David Lynch.
You know how when you get a song stuck in your head, you're not always sure how it burrowed its way in there? Well, people who attended The National's May 5 performance at New York's MoMA PS1 museum can be pretty damned sure. Over a six-hour period, the band played "Sorrow," off its 2010 release, High Violet, 105 times in a row.
The special performance, aptly dubbed "A Lot of Sorrow," was technically a work created by the Icelandic artist Ragnar Kjartansson as part of his ongoing "explorations into the potential of repetitive performance to produce sculptural presence within sound."
The following clip, supposedly starting around 2 hours and 40 minutes into the show, includes three of the repetitions.
During a Reddit AMA three days later, a band member reflected:
Actually as the hours went on I think we all realized that this experience was something special for us—there was a weird hypnotic resonance and spirituality to repeating the song over and over. We almost didn't want to stop and we learned something about our capacity for endurance and the song opened up in surprising ways...By the end it didn't feel like we were playing it anymore. We know the idea seemed pretentious in some way, but Ragnar has this mix of humor and sadness that feels quite similar to what our songs about...We're very glad to have done it.
This week, The National, follows up its hypnotic performance with the release of Trouble Will Find Me, their sixth studio album, on the 4AD label.
Trouble Will Find Me
Trouble... is replete with the usual mix of sorrow, longing, depression, and nearly infrasonic tone of singer Matt Berninger's voice that fans of The National have come to know and love. But some of the tracks still provide you with the opportunity to rock out, lest you need a break from your whimpering.
For example, there's "Sea of Love," the video of which the band premiered during its AMA. A fan had asked, "What is your guys' favourite music video?" Whereupon the band replied, craftily, "Actually there's one video that we all really love, so we made this homage." They revealed the link to the new video. And the sleuthing promptly began for the original.
A single-take shot in a sparse, nondescript room, with nothing but a dangling microphone, air-conditioning unit, and boy wandering in from off-screen: It didn't look familiar.
Nor should it. It mimics a video for a song first released in 1995—in Russia—by Soviet-era punk band Zvuki Mu. The song title, "Grubiy Zakat," means "Rough Sunset." Check it out:
Bryce Dessner, who plays guitar for The National, told PRI's The World that he "fell in love with it immediately" when he first saw the video on YouTube. "We have to do something like this," he told his bandmates.
They reached out to Zvuki Mu, but were unable to track down any of its members. Obviously, that didn't deter them from making their own version.
Next up for The National: a vinyl version of their six-hour MoMA performance for charity. Seriously.
If the new album, epic vinyl repetition party, and homage to a Soviet video aren't enough for you, you can get more of The National in movie form. Singer Matt Berninger's brother Tom was brought on tour as a roadie and ended up making a haphazard documentary about the band called Mistaken for Strangers. If you can make it to Australia by June, you can catch the next screening at the Sydney Film Festival. I'll leave you with the trailer.
On April 24, 2005, US Marine Corps lance corporal Adam McCann was on patrol with his fire team, as he had been on many other occasions. His team was inspecting a weapons cache discovered in the city of Hīt in Iraq's Al-Anbar province. As they prepared to head back to base, they were met with a hail of mortar fire launched from the other side of street. The entire team was injured, and McCann sustained shrapnel wounds to his neck and both legs. But all escaped with their lives.
"Seeing my name in the movie credits was pretty nice," McCann says. "And the after-party was pretty amazing."
Eight years later, on May 14, McCann, who is now 27, attended the star-studded Los Angeles premiere of Star Trek Into Darkness—in which he plays a minor role. "Seeing my name in the movie credits was pretty nice," McCann told me. "And the after-party was pretty amazing as well."
McCann is one of four post-9/11 American war veterans featured in the new film as the "Starfleet Ceremonial Guard." (The others are Melissa Steinman of the Coast Guard, Eric Greitens of the Navy, and Jon Orvrasky of the Marine Corps.) All have been involved with The Mission Continues, a nonprofit that awards community service fellowships to vets, and helps them apply the skills they learned in the armed forces to work and life at home. Greitens—an ex-Navy SEAL and Rhodes Scholar—founded the group in 2007, and was included in the 2013 Time 100, where he was praised by former Joint Chiefs chairman Mike Mullen as "one of the most remarkable young men I have ever encountered."
Hollywood megastar and snake-punching virtuoso Samuel L. Jackson is going to be President of the United States.
At least he will be in director Jalmari Helander's English-language debut film, Big Game. This is a description of the upcoming movie, via the Hollywood Reporter (emphasis mine):
The movie is billed as an adrenaline-fuelled action-adventure and tells the story of a shy, nervous 13-year-old boy who, like his forefathers, takes a test of manhood by spending one day and night alone in the wilderness of a vast local forest.
Armed only with a bow and arrow, his task is to return with a prize to prove himself. But when Air Force One is shot down by terrorists, the young man discovers the U.S. president in an escape pod, and they have to team up as the terrorists close in.
One morning in 1972, Nixon chief of staff H.R. "Bob" Haldeman gave press secretary Ron Ziegler some big news: Nixon had just gone to meet with Mao Zedong, head of China's Communist Party, marking the first thaw in a quarter century of US-China relations. In his shock, Ziegler bit into an unpeeled clementine without realizing it. This obscure clip is one of many you'll experience in Our Nixon, a curated collage of 500 Super 8 film reels shot by Haldeman and Nixon aides Dwight Chapin and John Ehrlichman—ambitious men who obsessively documented their lives in the West Wing. The footage, seized by the FBI after Watergate, offers an intimate glimpse into a notoriously secretive administration. "It was a very unnatural kind of life," Ehrlichman reveals. "You had the feeling you were in the middle of a great big, brilliantly lighted, badly run television show."
In this lucid and lively book, Stan Cox, an environmental writer whose last book charted the effects of air conditioning on the American landscape, explains how "rationing" has become a dirty word. Through examples ranging from post-Hurricane Sandy gas shortages to China's one-child policy, he depicts a society anxious about our right to consumer choice. "Whenever there's a ceiling on available goods, no one is happy," Cox writes. But sooner or later we'll almost certainly have to ration food, water, and fossil fuels. "If rationing becomes unavoidable, the way it happens—justly or harshly—will depend very much on whether we have managed to build a more just society."
Albuquerque-based spouses Brett and Rennie Sparks have crafted their idiosyncratic version of Americana for more than two decades, blending his low growl of a voice with her askew lyrics to offer a subtly surreal take on traditional music. In songs like "Frogs," "Caterpillars," and "Eels" (you get their drift), the slow-cooking Wilderness, out this week, charts the uneasy interaction between humankind and the natural world, often to scary effect. "The owls they mock me and have stolen my pills," Brett murmurs on—what else?—"Owls." Things turn downright creepy on "Spider," his account of how "a million little teeth tore me to pieces." Amid familiar fiddles and banjos, the Handsome Family's absorbing vision of decay and entropy is quietly unsettling, and makes most other modern roots music seem like child's play.
The new adaptation of F. Scott Fitzgerald's Americanclassic/required high school reading The Great Gatsby is exactly how I remember the book: With a hip-hop-tinged drunken pillow fight in 3-D starring sweaty Tobey Maguire.
As an elevator pitch, there is absolutely nothing wrong with Baz Luhrmann's ultra-modern take on The Great Gatsby. His thoroughly modern update of Shakespeare—which, like Gatsby, stars Leonardo DiCaprio—is a joy. Plus, the timelessness of the 1925 novel makes any playful anachronisms (rap and rock music in the soundtrack, grinding dancing, and so forth) all the less suspicious.
But the result is almost unforgivably terrible, gratingly earnest in a way that the novel never was. When classic lines of narration from the beloved book start floating directly at your face as a 3-D special effects gimmick, it's a challenge not to groan audibly in your seat.
Liner notes: Joined by White Life's Jon Ehrens, Jenn Wasner reinvents herself as a dance floor diva, with creamy keyboards, yearning voices, and pumping beats evoking a neon mirage of ecstatic rapture.
Behind the music: Besides singing alt-folk in the duo Wye Oak, the versatile Wasner also performs solo as the poppier Flock of Dimes, while her venture with fellow Baltimorean Ehrens harks back to '90s R&B.
Check it out if you like: The latest from Cat Power and Tegan and Sara, other indie faves who underwent a musical facelift.