Using illegal immigration as a frame to explore the slow awakening of a tough-shelled young Texas woman, The Girl is a patient chamber piece about the emotional bruises left by poverty and neglect.
Even before we fully know her circumstances, Ashley (Abbie Cornish) introduces herself as a victim of race and class discrimination. A sullen single mother and minimum-wage drone in a south Texas supermarket, she opens the film with a request for a raise. When denied, she refuses to accept her supervisor's criticism of her attitude.
The Hobbit's path to the screen may have started out as tortuous as a trek through the deadly Helcaraxe, filled with detours (Guillermo del Toro was initially going to direct), marked by conflict (New Zealand labor disputes) and strewn with seemingly insurmountable obstacles (so many that the filmmakers threatened to move the shoot to Australia).
We're long past the point where, at least among half-sentient beings, we need to make a case for the intelligence and sensitivity of Marilyn Monroe. Even when cast as a dumb blonde, she was never just your stock ditzy dame: She always showed a breezy self-effacement that was too sly to be purely accidental.
And to look at her, of course, is to love her, particularly now that her sad story has become part of the cultural landscape: How can you not want to protect such beauty and vulnerability from the cruelty of the world?
The O'Haras don't talk much about what's wrong, but the members of this biracial Queens family — the central characters of Yelling to the Sky -- are bedeviled by alcoholism (dad), mental illness (mom) and adolescent defiance (the two daughters). Indeed actress-turned-director Victoria Mahoney barely explains her characters' circumstances, which makes the movie obliquely intriguing. But whenever the story comes into focus, it's revealed as fairly conventional.
Originally published on Fri December 14, 2012 11:16 am
The indie-folk duo Barnaby Bright makes its first appearance on Mountain Stage, recorded live in Charleston, W.V. The many instruments the two often use reflect the traditions they've picked up in their travels as musicians. It's not uncommon for the pair to employ harmonium, banjo, ukulele, floorboard bass, thumb pianos and multiple guitars in a single set.
If this year the single-artist album looks to be on shaky ground — thanks to the EP's rise, the single's continuing dominance and the neither-nor of hip-hop mixtapes and online dance DJ mixes — the officially sanctioned compilation album would seem even wobblier. In the age of Spotify (not to mention the age of iTunes), most listeners make their own multi-artist playlists as a matter of course.
Originally published on Thu December 13, 2012 6:22 pm
Singer-songwriter and guitarist Josh Ritter has blurred the line between narrator and musician. Beyond music, Ritter is also an author; he published his first novel, Bright's Passage, in 2011. He bridges the divide between his two occupations in his lyrics and performances, which always have an air of storytelling about them.
Originally published on Thu December 13, 2012 6:54 pm
When most drivers get a ticket from a speed-zone camera, there's little they can do but pay the fine. After all, the ticket often includes photographic proof that their car was over the limit. But a Maryland driver is fighting his $40 fine precisely because of what the photos show: his car, sitting at a red light.