The New Pornographers: Kathryn Calder

The New Pornographers: Kathryn Calder

When the New Pornographers take the stage at Mass MoCA on Nov. 14,they’ll bring more than their dynamic sound. They’re also bringing a family story. Gathered two decades ago from prominent members of the Vancouvermusic scene by singer/guitarist Carl Newman, who had made a name for himself in the indie rock bands Superconductor and Zumpano, […]

The New Pornographers: Carl Newman

The New Pornographers: Carl Newman

Carl Newman says that he didn’t necessarily want to be the leader of The New Pornographers, that’s just the way it turned out. Currently on tour in support of their new album, “In the Morse Code of Brake Lights,” the New Pornographers are now eight albums away from their beginnings in the Vancouver music scene. […]

Shannon Taggart: Séance

Shannon Taggart: Séance

I was excited when I saw that photographer Shannon Taggart had a new book coming out this year. Séance is a collection of her photography in the community of Lily Dale, New York, the world’s largest populace of spiritualists. She’s spent 18 years documenting this community and I was fortunate enough to interview her about […]

Habibi

Habibi

When Brooklyn-based band Habibi takes the stage at HiLo in North Adams on Saturday, Oct. 19, they’ll bring with them their hybrid sound that pulls from Iranian music and ’60s surf, signifying both the defiance and the joy that accompanies the band’s existence. The band includes lead vocalist Rahill Jamalifard, guitarists Lenny Lynch and Leah […]

Viewer’s Discretion: ‘Herrens Veje’ and ‘First Reformed’

Viewer’s Discretion: ‘Herrens Veje’ and ‘First Reformed’

‘HERRENS VEJE’ (‘RIDE UPON THE STORM’) (NETFLIX) Series creator Adam Price previously gave the world the infectious and intelligent show “Borgen,” which portrayed the fictional first woman prime minister and launched the international career of actress Sidse Babett Knudsen. Here he takes the same attention to detail he showed to Danish politics and applies it […]

Viewer’s Discretion: ‘Deutschland 83,’ ‘Deutschland 86,’ and ‘Skyggenes Dal’

Viewer’s Discretion: ‘Deutschland 83,’ ‘Deutschland 86,’ and ‘Skyggenes Dal’

‘DEUTSCHLAND 83,’ ‘DEUTSCHLAND 86’ (SUNDANCE) The final years of East Germany — or, more properly, the German Democratic Republic — have proven fertile ground for German television, partially, it seems, as an act of atonement. But it’s also a period rich in political corruption, espionage, human drama and cautionary tales about the limits of control that lends itself to […]

Viewer’s Discretion: ‘After Life’ and ‘Bathtubs Over Broadway’

Viewer’s Discretion: ‘After Life’ and ‘Bathtubs Over Broadway’

‘AFTER LIFE’ (NETFLIX) Appreciating the work of Ricky Gervais has always hinged on your taste, and even then, some of his efforts over the years seem to have lost him fans. His problem is that he’s always pushing the boundaries of good taste in ways that some people find mean-spirited, focusing his comedy on concepts […]

Cartoonist Travis Dandro draws on Leicester childhood for ‘King of King Court’

Cartoonist Travis Dandro draws on Leicester childhood for ‘King of King Court’

Cartoonist Travis Dandro lives in Maine these days, but his memories of Leicester are vivid enough to fill a book with them. He did exactly that with his recently published graphic novel, “King of King Court.” Recounting his childhood and teen years in Leicester, it’s a comics autobiography delving into his life in a dysfunctional, […]

C.W. Stoneking

C.W. Stoneking

With a gruff voice that sometimes howls, sometimes grumbles, Australian bluesman C.W. Stoneking sounds like a ghost from another era. With musical styles pulling from the early 20th century, blues and jazz, and painting lyrical images of a forbidden and long-gone world populated by black magic, mysterious sins, jail, shipwrecks, voodoo celebrations, decadent dances and […]

Viewer’s Discretion: ‘The Devil and Daniel Johnston’

Viewer’s Discretion: ‘The Devil and Daniel Johnston’

“THE DEVIL AND DANIEL JOHNSTON” (AMAZON, APPLE, IMDBTV, GOOGLE PLAY, VUDU, YOUTUBE) Given the death last week of Austin, Texas-based singer-songwriter Daniel Johnston at the age of 58, it seemed right to write about the 2005 documentary on his troubled life, “The Devil and Daniel Johnston.” I suppose there are many people out there who […]

Viewer’s Discretion: ‘Alena’ and ‘Jonestown: Terror in the Jungle’

Viewer’s Discretion: ‘Alena’ and ‘Jonestown: Terror in the Jungle’

‘ALENA’ (AMAZON, OVIDTV, SHUDDER) Things aren’t right in a private boarding school for girls, but when are they ever? In this Swedish film, a disadvantaged girl arrives to find animosity among the existing student body, and her already damaged existence becomes further pummeled by elitist bullies. But there might be something else going on as […]

Viewer’s Discretion: ‘A Very Secret Service’ and ‘Now He’s Out in Public’

Viewer’s Discretion: ‘A Very Secret Service’ and ‘Now He’s Out in Public’

‘A VERY SECRET SERVICE’ (NETFLIX) The words “spy comedy” evoke something very specific, but this French period comedy delivers something deliciously outside of those restrictions. Taking place in the early 1960s and featuring an attention to period detail that rivals “Mad Men,” “A Very Secret Service” follows the experience of Andre Merlaux (Hugo Becker) as […]

Viewer’s Discretion: ‘Gentleman Jack’ and ‘Victor’s History’

Viewer’s Discretion: ‘Gentleman Jack’ and ‘Victor’s History’

‘Gentleman Jack’ (HBO) One of the reasons masculinity has done so well hanging on so long beyond any point of positive usability is that we all love a rogue, at least in fiction. But it’s been a misunderstanding that roguishness is a quality reserved for men. Though certainly examples highlighting this mistake have seen light […]

Nellie McKay

Nellie McKay

When singer Nellie McKay performs at Hancock Shaker Village on Saturday, it’s anyone’s guess what shape the show will take, including McKay’s. She’s counting on unseen forces having an influence on the outcome. “Venues inform the music,” McKay said. “You can feel ghosts in a lot of venues and it seems like maybe in Hancock […]

Viewer’s Discretion: ‘Hail Satan?’

Viewer’s Discretion: ‘Hail Satan?’

“ Hail Satan?” (Amazon, Apple, Vudu, YouTube, Google Play) Regardless of where you fall on the spiritual or political spectrum, it’s probable that you will be surprised by the revelation that a documentary following the creation of The Satanic Temple and its short history is easily one of the most feel-good, life-affirming movies to be […]

Viewer’s Discretion: ‘Chernobyl’ and ‘Braguino’

Viewer’s Discretion: ‘Chernobyl’ and ‘Braguino’

CHERNOBYL’ (HBO) It might be surprising that a mini-series dramatizing a devastating nuclear power plant accident in the Soviet Union in 1986 has met success, especially considering the show’s embrace of the gloomy and the grotesque, and rightfully so. But if it is a surprise, maybe you haven’t been paying attention to the state of […]

Viewer’s Discretion: ‘Ministry of Evil’ and ‘The Nightmare’

Viewer’s Discretion: ‘Ministry of Evil’ and ‘The Nightmare’

‘MINISTRY OF EVIL: THE TWISTED CULT OF TONY ALAMO’ (SUNDANCE) We live in a golden age of documentaries about cults and one of the unavoidable thoughts to have once you’ve seen a bunch of them is to wonder when people are going to learn their lesson. Even if the circumstances of the cults are signposts […]

Viewer’s Discretion: ‘Leila’ and ‘Sarah Plays a Werewolf’

Viewer’s Discretion: ‘Leila’ and ‘Sarah Plays a Werewolf’

‘LEILA’ (NETFLIX) This dystopian series from India has been compared to “The Handmaid’s Tale” and though on first glance that seems fair, a closer look suggests that might simplify both series. And, at the very least, “Leila” takes less than half of the time of “The Handmaid’s Tale” to get its point across, while remaining […]

Viewer’s Discretion: ‘The Restaurant’ and ‘Elvis: Strung Out’

Viewer’s Discretion: ‘The Restaurant’ and ‘Elvis: Strung Out’

The Restaurant (Sundance) This new addition to the pantheon of dysfunctional Scandinavian family nightmares, “The Restaurant” (“Var tid ar nu, also known as “Our Time is Now”) distinguishes itself by making its starting-point post-war Stockholm and taking occasional leaps in time to chart the progress of not only the Lowanders and their posh restaurant, but […]

Viewer’s Discretion: ‘The Act’ and ‘Granny’s Dancing on the Table’

‘THE ACT’ (HULU) Based on a 2015 homicide case in Missouri that saw a woman murdered by her daughter, reported as stricken with leukemia and muscular dystrophy, as well as a few other conditions, including brain damage that left her mentally incapacitated, “The Act” takes you into their life together in intimate terms. Following their […]

Viewer’s Discretion: ‘Woman At War’ and ‘Black Lake’

‘WOMAN AT WAR’ (APPLE, GOOGLE PLAY, YOUTUBE) Talk about unexpected achievements, “Woman At War” manages the near-impossible by offering up a feel-good movie about climate change, but perhaps that’s what you can expect from a film product of Iceland. Never a country to wallow in problems, the Icelandic outlook of “Woman At War” suggests that […]

Viewer’s Discretion: ‘I Am Another You’ and ‘Rellik

‘I AM ANOTHER YOU’ (AMAZON, APPLE, GOOGLE PLAY, VUDU, YOUTUBE) In this haunting documentary, Chinese filmmaker Nanfu Wang heads down to Florida after moving to New York City, and decides to film every aspect of her visit there. She’s in search of some mythical America cowboy spirit that leads to total freedom without ties, and […]

Viewer’s Discretion: “Quicksand” and “Rillington Place”

Viewer’s Discretion: “Quicksand” and “Rillington Place”

‘QUICKSAND’ (NETFLIX) School mass shootings aren’t quite a daily occurrence here in the U.S., but it’s sadly gotten to a point where you could imagine that happening. This Swedish series doesn’t come from that depressing reality. Sweden has faced eight school mass shootings since 1967, while in our own country there have been 148 just […]

Viewer’s Discretion: ‘Akta Manniskor’ and ‘A Harlot’s Progress’

‘Akta Manniskor (Real Humans)’ (Hulu) Mainly known as the inspiration for the series “Humans” rather than for any details of its own, Swedish writer Lars Lundstr m’s original surpasses its English-language remake particularly in its satirical scope. Presenting a world where human-like robots, HuBots, have been created to serve “real humans,” the series questions if the […]

Viewer’s Discretion: ‘51 Birch Street’ and ‘Making A Murderer’

’51 BIRCH STREET’ (APPLE, SUNDANCE) Thank goodness for people who like to work out their problems in public, because they have single-handedly enlivened the dysfunctional family documentary genre, and I’m a sucker for those. In “51 Birch Street,” filmmaker Doug Block mourns the death of his mother and then is blindsided when his father decides […]

Viewer’s Discretion: ‘Mole Man’

‘MOLE MAN’ (AMAZON, SUNDANCE) Focusing on autistic 66-year-old Ron Heist, “Mole Man” presents a manifestation of compulsive creativity on a grand scale seldom witnessed. Heist qualifies as an outsider artist for sure, but he could also alternately be proclaimed an outsider architect with the huge structures he has crafted at his parents’ home in Pennsylvania, […]

Viewer’s Discretion: ‘Bodyguard’ and ‘Nico 1988’

‘BODYGUARD’ (NETFLIX) If you want tense, exciting, hard-to-predict crime conspiracy stories that keep you on the edge of your seat, British television writer Jed Mercurio should be your go-to guy. His series, “Line of Duty,” a labyrinthine display of tension and amazing guest performances in the setting of a police internal affairs investigation unit, is […]

Viewer’s Discretion: ‘At Eternity’s Gate’ and ‘Requiem’

Viewer’s Discretion: ‘At Eternity’s Gate’ and ‘Requiem’

‘AT ETERNITY’S GATE’ (AMAZON, APPLE, GOOGLE PLAY, VUDU, YOUTUBE) It seems obvious from the moment he appears on the screen that Willem Dafoe was meant to play Vincent Van Gogh, even though there’s nothing particularly Van Gogh-ish about his appearance. And yet, as he wanders through the fever dream of “At Eternity’s Gate,” Dafoe is […]

Viewer’s Discretion: ‘Love and Terror on the Howling Plains of Nowhere’ and ‘Trust Me’

‘LOVE & TERROR ON THE HOWLING PLAINS OF NOWHERE’ (AMAZON, APPLE, GOOGLE PLAY, SUNDANCE, VUDU, YOUTUBE) In the winter of 2006, a college professor in Chadron, Neb., disappeared, and once he was found, created a mystery that the residents are still struggling with today. Pronounced a suicide by law enforcement, some in the town think […]

Trenton Doyle Hancock @ Mass MoCA

Every art show is the result of the artist’s imagination pouring out into reality, allowing ideas to seize tangible representation in the physical universe. But Trenton Doyle Hancock’s new show at Mass MoCA, “Mind of the Mound: Critical Mass,” is also an effort to pull visitors inside the imagination of the Houston-based artist. The show […]