New sonic explorations from one of the masters

While I’m familiar with most of the seminal works of Sonic Youth, the band members’ solo projects before and after the split were never very big blips on my music radar. I vaguely remember seeing a poster for one of Thurston Moore’s mid-2000s solo tours when I was in college, but not having the time—or the money being a working college student—to go to the show. So out slipped Moore from my consciousness, and thus the boomerang effect brings him back to me.

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The healing power of a natural disaster

Dash Shaw’s film mixes genres and mediums.

To a teenager, the world is a boundless sea of experiences and hopes and fears and people and possibilities. But when the confines of a public high school, with its endless days of tedium, unquestionable authority, and worst of all – other teenagers – impose arbitrary bounds, the dramatic possibilities are endless, and have tempted artists of just about every medium, style, and approach.

My Entire High School Sinking into the Sea, the first feature written and directed by graphic novelist and animator Dash Shaw, manages to jolt the venerable high school film genre with new life from some surprising places, and suggests that nothing short of disaster can save those between thirteen and eighteen years old.

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Film Review: The Promise

by Carrie Kahn on April 21, 2017

Emotionally powerful new film brings story of Armenian genocide to light

Mikael (Oscar Isaac) arrives in Constantinople for medical school.

April 24th is Armenian Genocide Remembrance Day, so opening The Promise this weekend is obviously intentional. Irish director Terry George (Hotel Rwanda) and screenwriter Robin Swicord have made the first major Hollywood picture to tell a story about the horrific event commemorated by that date. If you can’t see the film this weekend, I would encourage you to see it when you can, as a way to both honor the tragedy’s victims, and to learn a history that many non-Armenians know far too little about.
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Five More Spotlights as SFFILM Enters Final Week

The 60th San Francisco International Film Festival wraps up this week, but there’s still time to catch a few screenings before closing day on Thursday; you can browse the schedule and buy tickets here. Stay tuned to Spinning Platters for our final spotlight posts to help finish up the Fest: we’ve got five more here (and you can read Chad’s previous posts here, here, here, and here).

1.) Maudie and Ethan Hawke Tribute
(Canada/Ireland 2016, 115 min. Awards and Tributes)

Everett (Ethan Hawke) and Maud (Sally Hawkins) on their wedding day.

In a true coup for cinephiles, SFFilm presented a tribute to actor Ethan Hawke at the YBCA Theater on April 8th. Following a delightful clip reel of Hawke’s career highlights, Michael Almereyda, Hawke’s director in 2000’s Hamlet, interviewed the actor. Hawke came across as smart, charming, modest, and immensely likable. In a conversation that ranged from Hawke’s start in high school plays to his embodiment of Gen X angst in 1994’s Reality Bites (“It’s a strange feeling to touch the zeitgeist,” he told us), Hawke gamely opened up on topics both professional and personal. His distaste for violence in films drew a round of applause. “It’s very hard to have a career in professional movies and not kill people,” he said, mentioning that Roger Ebert once toasted him for not killing anyone on screen until Hamlet. Movies that deal with connecting with other people are what he’s most drawn to, he told us, which helps explain his continuing collaboration with Richard Linklater, who memorably cast Hawke in the critically acclaimed Before Sunrise trilogy and Boyhood.

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A lovely night with Williams’s score, Ford’s performance, iconic scenes… there are no bad dates here!

Face melting, Nazi punching fun!

Raiders of the Lost Ark is the quintessential action-adventure film. One could confidently claim that it is the greatest action-adventure film of all time! There is nothing about Steven Spielberg’s 1981 classic that isn’t famous — the giant boulder, the snakes, the hat & whip, every single line of dialogue, Marion’s alcohol tolerance, the airfield fist fight, the melting faces, poisoned dates, and so on. Yet, one component of the film is arguably more iconic than all the rest: John Williams’s score. The awe-inspiring, galloping main theme that nearly all humans can identify is a benchmark against which all other adventure film music is compared, and it is the basis for which this amazing night at the San Francisco Symphony exists!

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Two evenings of spellbinding wonder and incredible sound

Sigur Rós at the Fox Theater, Oakland

Sigur Rós at the Fox Theater, Oakland

This is the first of two posts chronicling my journey to see Sigur Rós for five performances in April 2017: two in Northern California, and three in Los Angeles with the LA Philharmonic Orchestra. Be sure to catch them on tour and tune in to Pitchfork on Friday, April 14th for a stream of their second LA Phil performance!

Fifteen years ago, I remember wandering down a dimly-lit suburban lane on a chilly November evening, the street silent as a tomb. I had a copy of ( ), the third record by renowned Icelandic post-rock band Sigur Rós, put that album in a Discman, and the quiet world around me instantly seemed to shift into some strange new world. I’ve always found that record to be an utterly sublime and immensely powerful expression of music, and was supremely pleased that some of my favorite songs from that album were in the set the first time I saw Sigur Rós play live. The band and their production crew are absolute masterminds at blending sound, light and visuals into an otherworldly experience; that show, in 2006 at the Marin Center in San Rafael, is still probably my favorite concert that I have ever experienced. This past weekend, I had the pleasure of seeing Sigur Rós two times, playing two sets each (!), making these my sixth and seventh time experiencing their live performances — and they are just as astonishing as they have always been.

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SFFILM Festival Spotlights #4

April 12, 2017
vimeo.com/20852777

(Films #31-#40 of Chad’s goal of seeing 60 films to commemorate SF Film Festival’s 60th anniversary! #60for60th) The 60th SFFILM Festival is HALFWAY through! Be sure to get your tickets now — visit http://www.sffilm.org/festival for tickets and info. Also, be sure to check back here frequently, or follow along at our Facebook page and on Twitter (or follow film critics Carrie […]

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SXSW 2017: An Exhaustive Guide to a Week of Music

April 10, 2017

At The Drive-In’s surprise appearance at Mohawk was just one of the moments that made SXSW 2017 memorable. Every year in mid-March, music nerds from around the globe gather in downtown Austin to test their ability to handle long lines, blisters, alcohol poisoning, and dead cell phone batteries. Why? To get that first scoop on […]

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Festival Preview: Punk Rock Bowling (Las Vegas)

April 10, 2017
youtu.be/D9srgtTTVwk

Punk’s Not Dead Yet! If you grew up in local punk rock scenes, it is impossible to not have heard about Punk Rock Bowling. The three-day festival has been bringing together a menagerie of fantastic punk bands in downtown Las Vegas for 19 years strong – that’s over half my lifetime – and this year’s […]

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Barry Manilow came out, and we love him for it

April 7, 2017
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Barry Manilow is gay. Surprise! Or, maybe you think it’s not so surprising. Let’s think about that. Barry Manilow’s gayness has nothing whatsoever to do with his earnest, soft pop mellifluous ballads, nor is it in any way related to his ostentatious showiness. If Barry Manilow spent all his time in a parlor clad in […]

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