Love and Mercy
The Brian Wilson of Your Dreams
A film of great ambition and daring, with performances than extend, rather than rescue, the script. And a soundtrack for the ages, both in Wilson’s primary material (and cunning recreations of studio sessions), and the interior soundscapes by Trent Reznor collaborator, Atticus Ross. (Ross also worked on scores for Girl with the Dragon Tattoo and Gone Girl.) Ross’s layered mashups convey Wilson’s inner, psycho-acoustic life, the tension between imagining sound and committing it to tape, inspiration and craft. Paul Dano does a lot of his own singing, and on “Surf’s Up,” you’d be hard pressed to tell the difference (a feat both unlikely and unfathomable). Paul Giamatti digs new pits of wretchedness for Eugene Landy. Insiders claim the film portrays way too much drugging (Wilson took only three acid trips), and goes too hard on Mike Love. But absolving Love of his disdain for Pet Sounds may be too much to ask any critic, or anyone with ears. Whatever distortions it took to get this thing produced, they earn back aesthetically by achieving a higher truth: Wilson appears at the end to sing the shivering title song, proof that Elizabeth Banks might save us all. (Thanks to Peter Carlin.)
Our Democracy Has Been Hacked
Among other things, the summer’s best tag line, a joyous fun-in-the-sun single posing as an addictive dystopic breakout serial. Premise begs the question: when did TV scripts begin catching up with Leonard Cohen’s “Democracy”?
Between the World and Me
Michelle Alexander on Ta Nehisi-Coates
“Initially I was enthralled by Coates’s characteristic brilliance and insight, as well as the poetic manner in which he addresses his son. I found myself highlighting so much of the text it seemed the whole book was gleaming yellow. But by the end, I was exasperated. Under what conditions could Coates possibly imagine that the Dreamers would wake themselves up or learn to struggle for themselves? When in the history of the world have the privileged and powerful voluntarily relinquished their status or abandoned the tactics that secured their advantage, without being challenged, fought, confronted or inspired to do so by some remarkable example?…”
Masters of Sex: Monkey Business
Writer’s Room Discussions
How to justify displaying Lizzy Caplan’s breasts when she’s in bed with her Michael Sheen or Josh Charles but not when the zoo’s gorilla, Gil, needs to ogle them to get busy.
Leeds remains on most top live album lists, eminently messy, grandiose, and authoritative even in its extended deluxe edition. But the next night’s Hull set works through many of the same numbers without reaching nearly the same heights. Very curious, and the more I listen the less sense if makes.