|Lord of the Rings
Kiwi director Peter Jackson has translated nearly every element of JRR Tolkien’s universe, from a vast, sprawling history implied in the language and the actions of its multi-specied characters, to a completely immersive fantasy realm with nary a seam to spoil the illusion. Moreover, he’s captured the sadness and moral weight of Tolkien’s fable.
|Black Hawk Down
What was intended to be a thirty-minute mission in Mogadishu, Somalia, turns out to be an extended visit to military hell. Ridley Scott very accurately tells the true story of a Delta Force mission that went very wrong. This is an action film that eventually is more wearying than exciting, but still worth the trip.
Much as they did with the similarly witty and entertaining Toy Story films, the imaginative folks at Pixar have taken a simple childhood notion – monsters in the closet, just like toys that are alive and lead their own lives – and turned it into a fun, funny, and completely engaging story.
While an action- and drama-packed Western, this film’s plot also questions the nature of mythology and legend – what is this place, this “old west”, where people like William Munny existed? At the same time, Unforgiven itself is mythical, and Eastwood is larger than life. A great achievement in American filmmaking.
|Simian – Chemistry is What We Are
Strange coves Simian. They’ve set up their own religion, much as they set about creating their own unique sound – an experimental mix of folk, dub and electronica; part Pink Floyd, part Kraftwerk, with odd noises and Beatles style harmonies, all endowed with an eerie, dreamy soundtrack feel. Bewitching stuff.
|Jestofunk – Universal Mother
A tribute to the jazz-funk of the ’70s, but also to modern technologies, underlined by the metronomic pulse of drum machines – like a heartbeat via a sequencer. Special guests include vocalist Jocelyn Brown, reggae legend Freddy McGregor, trombonist Fred Wesley and establishing band member Ce Ce Rogers.
|Nina Nastasia – The Blackened Air
New York-based Nastasia has brewed a batch of succulent, melodic portraits, accompanied by accordion, cello, viola and the cries of a singing saw. She alternately carries the voice of a little girl spooked by ghost stories and that of a sighing grandmother who’s heard it all before. The meat and potatoes of folk, without any fancy napkins.
|Guided by voices – Universal Truths and Cycles
One of the greatest rock bands of the decade, GBV has managed to maintain its child-like enthusiasm that sets it apart from the pack of whiny “alternative” groups. Indie-rock Peter Pan Robert Pollard presents another album of lo-fi anthems with a studio shine – strong vocal melodies and refreshingly atypical song structures.