Hiss Golden Messenger, “Quietly Blowing It" (Merge)
M.C. Taylor sounds gorgeously despondent at the outset of his band's new album, a follow-up to his brilliant 2019 record, “Terms of Surrender." But before he's done he has charted his way, musically and lyrically, to a better place.
It's intriguing to imagine Liam Neeson's management team, contemplating his next film. Perhaps “Uber Express”? Maybe “Lyfted Up”?
There’s just something symbiotic about Neeson and vehicles — not only cars, but planes (“Non-Stop”), suburban commuter trains (“The Commuter”), even snowplows (“Cold Pursuit”).
Doja Cat, “Planet Her" (Kemosabe/RCA)
Not to be totally catty, but Doja Cat's third album starts poorly. The first four songs — “Woman,” “Naked,” “Payday” with Young Thug and “Get Into It (Yuh)” — are half-baked tunes mimicking beats and vocals from Nicki Minaj or Rihanna.
Lucy Dacus, "Home Video” (Matador)
This is what the world of teenagers sounds like — intense, earnest, funny and sometimes beautiful.
On “Home Video,” 26-year-old Lucy Dacus revisits her adolescence, and in this case, intimate introspection makes for moving music.
The Mountain Goats, “Dark in Here” (Merge)
“Dark in Here” was recorded in 2020, that calamitous year of fear and mistrust. It shows.
High anxiety fills the Mountain Goats' new album, the product of sessions held in Muscle Shoals, Alabama, just as the COVID-19 pandemic began.
Director Heidi Ewing makes a powerful narrative debut with “ I Carry You with Me,” a dreamy and tender, decades-spanning story about love, sacrifice, memory and immigration.
In 20 years and 10 movies the “Fast and Furious” series has relentlessly insisted that its saga is really, truly about family.
With all due respect to Vin Diesel's Toretto clan, I must disagree.
“A Distant Grave,” by Sarah Stewart Taylor (Minotaur)
Homicide detective Maggie D’arcy has been hoping to heat up a cross-Atlantic romance with her sweetheart, Conor Kearney, but after a body turns up on Long Island beach, her trip to Ireland appears to be off.
Modest Mouse, “The Golden Casket" (Epic)
Uh-oh. It's not a good sign when any band starts referencing death right from jump. Modest Mouse have placed an open coffin on the cover of its latest album and have called it “The Golden Casket.”
“Filthy Animals,” by Brandon Taylor (Riverhead)
Brandon Taylor’s “Filthy Animals,” a book of interconnected short stories, is a chronicle of pain, identity, recovery and the desperation we all feel for human connection.
It’s school picture day at a high school in Southern California's San Fernando Valley in the opening scene of Paul Thomas Anderson’s 1970s-set “Licorice Pizza.”
Laughter and tears. Fun and disappointment. Affection and insults. Anxieties, hostilities, too much food, too much alcohol.
In other words: Thanksgiving.
This year, Thanksgiving stories in the news are about COVID, and how families will navigate inter-generational mingling.
Everything in “House of Gucci” is over the top. The accents. The performances. The fashion. The settings. The runtime. The music. The greed. This movie knows exactly what it is and, sweetie, it is gloriously decadent, ridiculous fun.
It’s that time of year to grab some hot coco, don your coziest sweater and put on some festive tunes. Whether you’re dealing with holiday heartbreak or reuniting with loved ones after an uncertain two years, there’s music for everyone this season.
Mirabel is extraordinary, in that when it comes to her family, she is totally normal.
That's the set-up for Disney's absolutely charming new animated musical “Encanto,” which flips the typical children's movie script.
“Titan of Tehran,” by Shahrzad Elghanayan (AP Books)
When most of us get curious about our family history, we pay a visit to Ancestry.com. Shahrzad Elghanayan is not most of us.
She is the granddaughter of Habib Elghanian, arguably one of the most famous Iranian industrialists of all time, whose rise and fall mirrored that of his homeland.
NEW YORK (AP) — Alice Childress’ searing play “Trouble in Mind” has finally made it to Broadway and the only frustrating thing about the show is that it has taken this long.
The two-act play takes place — appropriately enough — on a Broadway stage and is an uncomfortable exploration of the racial divide in the 1950s.
Tracking shots of a solitary figure striding across a Western plain, seen from within the darkened interiors of a home, bookend Jane Campion's “The Power of the Dog." As the man walks, with wrinkled foothills behind him, the camera glides through the house.
It’ll be a sad day for movies the moment Mike Mills stops finding family members to be inspired by. We got “Beginners” because of his father and “20th Century Women” because of his mother. And now, because of his child, we have “C’mon C’mon.”
“30,” Adele (Columbia Records)
Coming out of a divorce, one might expect Adele to write an album of heartbreak ballads. But, to expect anything short of the full spectrum of emotions from “30” would do the Grammy winner a disservice.
“Raise the Roof,” Robert Plant and Alison Krauss (Rounder Records)
Pairing Alison Krauss’ angelic soprano with Robert Plant’s roguish tenor once sounded like a bizarre idea – until they started to sing together.
“ King Richard ” is exactly what you think it will be, which isn’t a bad thing.
This is the story of the father of tennis greats Venus Williams and Serena Williams when they were just a few (extremely) talented kids from Compton trying to break into the elite sport with little more than heart and persistence.
“Ghostbusters: Afterlife" — the direct cinematic follow-up to the 1984 classic — is haunted, of course. But not in a good way.
Director and co-writer Jason Reitman's sequel leans so hard into his dad's original that it sometimes seems like a checklist of the megahit's touchstones, from the Ecto-1 tricked-out Cadillac, to Stay-Puft marshmallows, appearances from the surviving Ghostbusters and even the same Ray Parker Jr.
“Left-Handed Twin” by Thomas Perry (Mysterious Press)
Since she married a wealthy surgeon, Jane Whitefield has been trying to leave her old life behind, but when a friend sends a terrified young woman named Sara to her, Jane feels compelled to help.
“Unguarded,” by Scottie Pippen with Michael Arkush (Atria Books)
Scottie Pippen would like you to know that Michael Jordan and the rest of his teammates on the Chicago Bulls don’t win six NBA titles in the '90s without him.
“Tick, Tick... BOOM!,” Lin-Manuel Miranda's affectionate, well-crafted adaptation of Jonathan Larson's “rock monologue,” captures all that's grand and beautiful about musical theater, and a little of what can make it insufferable, too.
“Street of Dreams,” Bill Charlap Trio (Blue Note Records)
Jazz pianist Bill Charlap opens his trio’s latest album with four bars of shifting quarter-note chords, the reliable pulse a compelling contrast to the unpredictable colors he creates.
It’s really not that complicated. Kids love dogs. Dogs love kids. Separate them at your peril.
So despite obvious efforts to link the beloved and durable “Clifford” story, about a huge dog and the little girl who loves him, to a bigger and more current message in the CGI-meets-live action “Clifford the Big Red Dog, ” it really isn’t necessary.
If you didn’t know Kenneth Branagh’s new film “ Belfast ” was based (somewhat) on his own childhood, you probably wouldn’t know it by the end either.
“You’ve Reached Sam” by Dustin Thao (Wednesday Books)
Julie is a senior. She wants to go to Reed College and write for a living. She dreams of leaving her small Washington town of Ellensburg and returning to big city life with her boyfriend, Sam.
“The Return of the Pharaoh” by Nicholas Meyer (Minotaur Books)
A missing duke, the tomb of Thutmose IV and Sherlock Holmes all converge in “The Return of the Pharaoh,” the newest installment of Nicholas Meyer’s take on the adventures of the world-renowned detective.
There’s a semi-serious joke on Twitter about releasing the “all-Julia cut” of “Julie & Julia.” Nora Ephron’s generation-hopping tale of Julia Child's rise and the modern young woman trying to follow her lead has its fans, but it’s no secret that the Julia Child section is just more interesting than Julie’s.
“Voyage,” ABBA (Capitol Records)
A bouncy, synthy beat bridges the decades and brings ABBA into the present.
“You look bewildered,” Agnetha Fältskog sings above the retro rhythm, “and you wonder why I’m here today.”
“Thank You,” by Diana Ross (Decca Records/Universal Music Group)
Diana Ross' first album in 15 years cuts through our present cynicism and slices past the despair. “Thank You” is a warm hug of music, less a tightly constructed pop vehicle, than a mood.
The casting, with Kristen Stewart as Princess Diana, is brilliant, and the ending, in a top-down convertible, is sublime. So why is the rest of Pablo Larraín’s “Spencer" such a hollow exercise in high camp?
You can tell “Eternals” is going to be epic right from the opening crawl line: “In the beginning...” That's right, the film actually swipes language from the Book of Genesis. The Marvel Cinematic Universe just got biblical.
Hanson, “Against the World” (3CG Records)
The guys from Hanson are celebrating 30 years as a band next year, and if that makes you feel old, it's not their fault. They've even put out an album to help you feel young again.
“Lightning Down: A World War II Story of Survival” by Tom Clavin (St. Martin’s Press)
American fighter pilot Joe Moser was shot down over France and captured by Germany in August 1944. The P-38 Lightning was the U.S.-made fighter plane Moser was piloting when he went down.
“Blue-Skinned Gods” by SJ Sindu (Soho Press)
Kalki Sami has blue skin. He is an incarnation of Vishnu and a spitting image of Rama. He has the power to heal. But when his cousin Lakshman begins to question Kalki’s godliness, Kalki begins to question his powers as well.
Tom Hanks doesn’t need a human or even a sentient acting partner to make a film or a scene sing. Think Wilson the volleyball, Hooch and even that laptop from “You’ve Got Mail.” So it’s not at all surprising if he’s the first guy on the list for your post-apocalyptic film about a man, a robot and a dog.
"The Future," by Nathaniel Rateliff & The Night Sweats (Stax Records/Concord)
We're not sure what the future holds, but if it sounds anything like “The Future,” we're good.
That's the title of the 11-track Nathaniel Rateliff & The Night Sweats' glorious new vintage R&B album, bursting at the seams with fresh coolness.
“Solid Ivory: Memoirs” by James Ivory (Farrar, Straus and Giroux):
Film director James Ivory knows how to tell a story and engage an audience. His most popular and critically acclaimed costume dramas — “A Room with a View,” “Howards End” and “The Remains of the Day” — earned him three Oscar nominations.
“Equals,” by Ed Sheeran (Atlantic Records)
Huge things have happened to Ed Sheeran since his last solo album — marriage, loss, fatherhood. They're all on the new collection “Equals,” an album that sweetly sounds like a man who now has all he needs.
“Plush," Plush (Pavement Entertainment)
I no longer fear for the future of rock 'n' roll: It is in the capable hands of the four young ladies of Plush, perhaps the heaviest all-female rock group ever to put pick to string, and whose debut album could be the best album of 2021.
Rarely have the hues of black and white, cinematographically speaking, looked so beautifully lush as in “Passing,” the hugely impressive directorial debut of actor Rebecca Hall.
Who knew that digging the Kinks could be so dangerous?
“The Kinks Are the Village Green Preservation Society” (an album good enough to die for, truth be told) is one of the records that Eloise Turner (Thomasin McKenzie) stuffs into her suitcase when she gleefully packs for London.
There’s nothing quite like a decaying industrial town in the middle of a chilly, grey-skied fall to set an immediately gloomy mood in a film. Not that Scott Cooper’s “ Antlers ” needs any help in that department as it already deals with child abuse (sexual and psychological), poverty, bullying, hunger, sickness, generational trauma, environmental degradation and ancient native superstitions.
One of the unlikeliest heroes to emerge from Zack Snyder’s horror-action flick “Army of the Dead” earlier this year was an oddball safecracker named Dieter.
Part nerdy Eurotrash, part pretentious busybody, Dieter was never going to make it out alive.
“Renegades: Born in the USA” by Barack Obama and Bruce Springsteen (Crown)
“Renegades: Born in the USA” is human, vulnerable, smart and passionate. This curated transcript of former President Barack Obama’s and Rock & Roll Hall of Famer Bruce Springsteen’s conversations is accompanied by a thoughtful layout that underscores the dialogue within and brings the authors’ lives into focus.