The full lineup is out for this year's Beale Street Music Festival, which takes place Friday, May 4th through Sunday, May 6th at Tom Lee Park.
Following last year's more contemporary bent, this year's festival skews young with probably the largest contingent of hip-hop artists ever (Wiz Khalifa, Pitbull, Lupe Fiasco, Childish Gambino, Big K.R.I.T., etc.).
Along with the festival's familiar blend of strong local, blues, jam-rock, and hard-rock acts, the 2012 lineup also showcases emerging stars in blues (Gary Clark Jr.) and folk (the Civil Wars).
Three-day passes for the festival are $75 and are available through April 22nd. Single-day advance tickets are $32.50 and are available through May 3rd. General admission will be $40. See MemphisinMay.org for more info.
Orion Stage: Evanescence, Megadeth, Three 6 Mafia, Volbeat
Early Read: Headbanger heaven in the form of ’80s metal heavyweights Megadeth, led by early Metallica member Dave Mustaine. And local legends Three 6 Mafia, who have been pretty quiet the last couple of years, make a return.
Horseshoe Casino Stage: Girl Talk, Lupe Fiasco, Sponge Cola, Breathe Carolina
Early Read: One-man party Girl Talk brings a new look to Music Fest with his hip-hop-fueled mash-ups, and gets a strong warm-up act in young Chicago rapper Lupe Fiasco.
FedEx Blues Tent: Johnny Winter, Bernard Allison, Will Tucker, Jimbo Mathus & the Tri-State Coalition
Early Read: A lineup that runs the gamut, from veteran blues-rock legend Johnny Winter to young Memphis up-and-comer Will Tucker.
Tomorrow (Tuesday, February 28) night, the Hi-Tone Cafe will host an exciting double-bill of touring blues duos: Lightnin' Malcolm and The Ghost Wolves.
Lightnin' Malcolm is a North Mississippi resident and lifelong student of the blues, who is known for his raw and hypnotic guitar style. Joining him on drums is the frenetic Cameron Kimbrough, the grandson of hill country blues legend Jr. Kimbrough. Here's the duo performing live at a festival in 2011:
Cool nerds everywhere are involved in some manner of Oscar pool, ballot entries, prop bets, or many other methods of adding personal intrigue to the ceremony presentation.
Last week, Memphis Flyer film editor Chris Herrington and I took on ten categories and who we thought would win, who should win, and who got robbed — Editing/Cinematography on Monday, Lead Performances on Tuesday, Supporting Performances on Wednesday, and Screenplays on Thursday, and Director and Picture on Friday.
On Saturday, I went on 560am radio on Memphis Sport Live and participated in the MSL annual Oscars handicapping show. With hosts Kevin Cerrito and Marcus Hunter, we aired our final picks for every category.
Want to know who to select for the relatively obscure Oscar categories such as Best Sound Mixing and Best Animated Short? Listen to the podcast of the show for all the answers.
Best of all, Memphis rapper Frayser Boy participated in the MSL Oscar show as well. The man who wrote the lyrics and title to "It's Hard Out Here for a Pimp," which won the 2005 Academy Award for Best Original Song from the film Hustle & Flow, joined us in studio, talked about his Oscar experiences, weighed in on this year's nominated films, and, significantly, brought with him his Oscar statuette. (Holding an Oscar: cross it off my bucket list.)
The acoustic duo Milk Carton Kids are in town for this week's International Folk Alliance Conference at the Downtown Marriott. Earlier today, they stopped by Ardent Studios to perform their song "Michigan":
Austin, Texas, musician Matt the Electrician is in town for this week's International Folk Alliance Conference at the Downtown Marriott. Earlier today, he stopped by Ardent Studios to perform his song "See You Better":
A legion of folk musicians from across the country and around the globe descended on Memphis this week for the International Folk Alliance Conference at the Downtown Marriott. And a couple of them dropped by Ardent Studios.
Austin, Texas, singer-songwriter Carrie Elkin performed her song "Lift Up the Anchor":
One of them is a little bit Extremely Loud. The other is a little bit Incredibly Close. Put them together? Oscar bait.
The Memphis Flyer's film brain trust closes out a week of Academy Awards revelry — Editing/Cinematography on Monday, Lead Performances on Tuesday, Supporting Performances on Wednesday, and Screenplays on Thursday — with a Friday dedicated to the big two awards, Best Director and Best Picture.
The Nominees: Woody Allen (Midnight in Paris), Michel Hazanavicius (The Artist), Terrence Malick (The Tree of Life), Alexander Payne (The Descendants), Martin Scorsese (Hugo)
Hazanavicius won the Directors Guild honor. The DGA winner has won this Oscar eight years in a row. He also won the mythical BAFTA, and when the same person wins the DGA and BAFTA, they've won the Oscar four out of the five times it's happened since 1996. He didn't win the Golden Globes, however. That went to Scorsese. That's not bad news for Hazanavicius either. Twice in 16 years has a director won the DGA and BAFTA but NOT the Globes, and both times they still won the Oscar. What are the trends for Scorsese to win? Six times in 16 years has a director won the Globes but not the DGA or BAFTA, and only once did that person win the Oscar. And only once in 16 years has the Oscar winner not been predicted by any of the DGA, BAFTA, or Globes.
In other words, Michel Hazanavicius Will Win.
Should Win: Oh, but this is a different story. The idea that Hazanavicius will win, beating out the likes of Scorsese, Malick, Allen, and Payne, galls me. Especially this year, when all-time great Scorsese made a fantastic movie unlike any other in his catalog, Malick made one of the most impressive films in memory, Payne made another solid character drama, and Allen made another pleasing intellectually romantic comedy. Hazanavicius' film is generally unimaginative. It has its charms, but I'd give credit to the acting. The script is a knock-off — strike that, a bold rip-off — of better films. Once you get past the gimmick of the film — let's make a silent black-and-white film in the 21st century — The Artist isn't particularly interesting visually.
As much as I admire Hugo, Terrence Malick's Tree of Life is a juggernaut, and I cannot deny it the highest honor.
Got Robbed: I've mentioned all of this previously this week, so I won't go into great detail, but: Xavier Beauvois made a powerful film about religion — probably the best such since The Apostle — with Of Gods and Men. Lars von Trier finally stopped beating about the bush with his movies and just went out and destroyed all of biological life in Melancholia. A pretty funny joke, if you ask me. Sean Durkin made his debut feature really count with Martha Marcy May Marlene, a complex character study that flirts with a number of genres before settling on horror. Steven Spielberg made his first animated movie, The Adventures of Tintin, and he felt the freedom, coming up with one of his most enjoyable films and his best cliffhanger plot since Raiders of the Lost Ark. Tomas Alfredson paid attention to everything and produced the greatest spy movie ever with Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy. And, my winner, Steven Soderbergh, one of the great American directors, made what is possibly his masterpiece, Contagion. With immense precision and deliberation, Soderbergh creates a lean plague procedural about professionals acting professionally and trying to keep it together in the face of disaster. Plus, it has the biggest shock shot of the year: Gwyneth Paltrow's world-famous face peeled down in an autopsy. Pretty spectacular.
Contagion: A movie you won't be hearing about on Oscar night.
The end is near. It's day four of the annual pre-Oscar conflagration here at Sing All Kinds. Where we've been:
Tomorrow we'll finish up with Best Director and Best Picture. But before that, it's time for the starting point of most film projects, the screenplays:
Best Adapted Screenplay
The Nominees: The Descendants, Hugo, The Ides of March, Moneyball, Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy.
Should Win: I'll say my piece here on Moneyball, which, to my mind, is the most overrated film of 2011. I say this as an amateur sabermetrician since discovering Bill James in junior high and as someone who's read Michael Lewis' book: The book Moneyball is flawed to begin with and the film doesn't seem to really understand the book. The result is a film that pretends to be smart rather than a smart film. It apes the brainy verve of Sorkin's roughly similar The Social Network, but in no way matches it. The Ides of March is even more pleased with itself than Moneyball and has even less reason to be. That's a bad nomination. I think the way Hugo fruitfully personalizes its source material is probably more a function of director Martin Scorsese than the script. And that leaves me with The Descendants and Tinker Tailor, both solid options.
Tinker Tailor is, I'm sure, a terribly impressive distillation of its complicated source material. You've testified to that already and I'm sure you will again. I was impressed by it but also, like a lot of people coming to the material cold, a little confused at times. Where The Descendants wobbles, I think, is in its direction. I think the mix of marital issues, real estate concerns, parenthood, and sense of place are all assembled very well and I can actually imagine this being an even better film in the hands of another filmmaker. So my vote's going there.
Got Robbed: I'll make A Dangerous Method an honorable mention here, but my real choice is going to be an unpopular one: The Help. Having spent some time with Kathryn Stockett's best-seller, I can say that director Tate Taylor's screenplay improves on the source material. The Help was justly criticized for not fully breaking from the "white crusader" dynamic typically deployed in Hollywood films about Southern racism. But it wasn't given enough credit for the interesting and instructive ways it tweaks that formula. I thought much of the negative critique it got felt pre-conceived, and these dismissals and attacks tended to bother me because I recognized myself in them. They're what I assumed I'd be writing before I actually saw it. One piece I saw derided the film as something like "a feel-good movie for white people." I'd say it became a feel-good movie for a lot of critics and social media snarkaholics who were able to use it to make themselves feel superior without really dealing with the film or what it's doing in any substantial way. The Help is an imperfect film, but one that wrestles with its issues with more complication and less comfort than most of its detractors recognized.
And we're back with Day 3 of the Herrington and Akers Oscar parse-aroo. Previously on the series: On Monday we looked at Editing and Cinematography. Tuesday we examined the Lead Performances.Today, we consider the Supporting Acting categories.
Best Supporting Actress
Nominees: Bérénice Bejo (The Artist), Jessica Chastain (The Help), Melissa McCarthy (Bridesmaids), Janet McTeer (Albert Nobbs), Octavia Spencer (The Help)
Greg Akers: Will Win: Octavia Spencer has this one on lockdown. She won the Golden Globes, the SAG, and the BAFTA for her performance in The Help. That trio of wins has happened three times in 16 years, and each time it has netted an Oscar for the supporting actress as well. Only once in 16 years has someone (Marcia Gay Harden, Pollock) won this Oscar and not won at least once out of the Globes, SAG, or BAFTA awards.
Should Win: Octavia Spencer. Her role is meatier than Chastain's in The Help, and Spencer is dynamite. (The relationship between her and Chastain's characters is my favorite in the film.) We'll get into The Artist much more in later categories, but Bejo is very good as Peppy Miller, the starlet with charisma to burn. McTeer is probably better than Close, even, in Albert Nobbs ... but, dangit, she looked too obviously like a woman trying to look like a man, and that annoyed me. As for McCarthy, I LOVE Melissa McCarthy. I would want her to win all manner of accolades for all manner of things, up to and including her great Sookie from Gilmore Girls and Internet vlogger Marbles Hargrove. (Who satirizes people like us in this hysterical video below.) But Bridesmaids underwhelmed me. There, I said it.
Got Robbed: So many people got robbed this year. 2011 was the year of Jessica Chastain, who robbed herself in better performances in The Tree of Life and, in particular, Take Shelter. Kate Winslet was robbed from recognition as the brave, emotionally restrained first responder in the viral horror Contagion. Charlotte Gainsbourg got robbed for being sad the world was going to end in Melancholia. Elle Fanning got robbed for being a great kid actor in Super 8.
But more than any of these, Shailene Woodley got absolutely robbed for her performance in The Descendants, the best thing about a really good movie.
After starting our five-day Oscar talk marathon with the least glamorous of the 10 categories we're considering — Editing and Cinematography — we're swinging to the opposite end of the interest spectrum today to hash out the most glam categories — Lead Actor and Actress. Ladies first:
Nominees: Glenn Close (Albert Nobbs), Viola Davis (The Help), Rooney Mara (The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo), Meryl Streep (The Iron Lady), and Michelle Williams (My Week With Marilyn).
Should Win: And this is an even easier pick for me than it will be for the Academy. I think Rooney Mara does very good work in Dragon Tattoo. Noomi Rapace was very memorable in the first, Swedish, adaptation, and the title performance seemed like the one area where David Fincher's version was doomed to fall short of its predecessor. But, ultimately, I think Mara's conception of the character is better — more hurt and skittish, with a keener since of the victimization at the root of the feminist avenger surface. But, still, it's Viola Davis. I agree with everybody that Davis' performance is better than the film — or rather, I would argue, that it deepens the film — and since I think much more highly of the (still problematic) movie than most, I think Davis' gravity, groundedness, and imperfect humanity as middle-aged maid Abilene is one of the highlights of the movie year.
Got Robbed :It's become cliche to say there aren't enough good roles for women in contemporary movies, and it's often true. But what makes this slate of nominees so depressingly mundane and unimaginative is that, this year at least, there are so many good choices left out. And that doesn't include a couple of lauded performances I haven't been able to see — Anna Paquin in little-seen indie Margaret or Yun Jung-hee in equally little-seen South Korean import Poetry. So, if it were up to me, I'd toss out everyone but my winner-regardless Viola Davis — yes, including even Rooney Mara — and add four new contenders. And such are the riches that even then I wouldn't have room for Tilda Swinton's typically bold work in the dicey We Need to Talk About Kevin, Elizabeth Olsen's subtle shifts in Martha Marcy Mae Marlene, Felicity Jones pumping some blood into an otherwise lifeless Like Crazy, or Kirstin Dunst humanizing her director's corrosive world view in Melancholia.
Instead, my alternate picks, in ascending order, would be: Kristin Wiig's finding physical grace in alleged gross-out comedy — her limber-legged sex scene with an overeager Jon Hamm, her priceless impersonation of an expectant penis, her flapper walk through a roadside sobriety test — in Bridesmaids, where she's been unjustly overshadowed by Melissa McCarthy's broader supporting work. Charlize Theron topping her own Oscar-winning performance in the easier Monster by not caring what you think in the nervy comedy Young Adult. Juliette Binoche's emotionally hungry and flamboyant performance in my beloved Certified Copy. And my ultimate pick here: Keira Knightly not hiding but transforming her natural beauty — all jutting jaw, sharp elbows, and hungry eyes — as patient-turned-student, the true lead in David Cronenberg's deft, subtle study of the birth of psychoanalysis A Dangerous Method. What a great year for lead actresses. What a relatively unexciting group of nominees.
Tomorrow (Tuesday, February 21) evening, the Stax Museum of American Soul Music will host a free listening party from 4 - 6 p.m. for the newly released compilation by the somewhat obscure Memphis soul artist Wendy Rene titled After Laughter Comes Tears: Comeplete Stax & Volt Singles + Rarities 1964 - 65. Chris Herrington wrote a detailed review of the album two weeks ago which you can read here.
In addition to a full spin of the Wendy Rene record, attendees will be treated to a selection of soul 45s from local DJs Scott Bomar, Buck Wilders, Leroy, Beyonda, and Jones.
For Your Consideration:
Chris Herrington and Greg Akers, the Memphis Flyer's film editor and one of its writers, respectively, engage on a regular basis in conversation and occasional debate about the movies. Since 2009, the duo have been pulling out all the stops once a year to delve into the Oscars, with a series of posts on MemphisFlyer.com making predictions about who will win, arguing who should win, and considering who got robbed. Though they disagree a little about the ultimate value of the Oscars ("They suck but I put up with them!" Herrington says. "They suck but I love them!" Akers says.), this veritable Thelma and Louise gleefully put the pedal to the metal and drive off the cliff into the Grand Canyon of Oscar discussion.
Herrington makes his Oscar predictions with a little bit of intuition and a little more reasoned consideration. So long as it doesn't cut into his time thinking about the Charlotte Bobcats bench. (Nerd!)
Akers makes his Oscar predictions with a little bit of intuition and a little more in-depth research into award trends and history. To prepare this year, he made a spreadsheet of the last 16 years showing the winners of the Oscars, Golden Globes, BAFTAs, PGAs, SAGs, WGAs, DGAs, ACEs, and ASCs. Seriously. (Nerd!)
This week, Herrington and Akers will be looking at the categories of Editing and Cinematography (today); Actor and Actress (Tuesday); Supporting Actor and Supporting Actress (Wednesday); Adapted Screenplay and Original Screenplay (Thursday); and Director and Picture (Friday).
Without further delay, wheels up ...
Nominees: The Artist, The Descendants, The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo, Hugo, Moneyball
Greg Akers: As you know, the Eddie Awards (by the American Cinema Editors) haven't been handed out yet as of the time of this writing, so I'm flying dark here a little. The Eddies have predicted the Oscar 10 years in a row, so I reserve the right to change this pick for actual moneyed pool purposes before the ceremony**. All-time-great editor/Scorsese collaborator Thelma Schoonmaker makes the list again, and she did excellent work in a technically brilliant film, so I'm going to guess she'll get her fourth Oscar this year. Will Win: Hugo. **Note: The Eddies went to The Artist and The Descendants, so if you're in some kind of Oscar contest, probably you should pick one of those.
Should Win goes to Hugo as well. The Artist is awfully straightforward and intentionally old-fashioned. I don't remember anything in particular about the editing in The Descendants. Dragon Tattoo is a strong candidate, effectively balancing two time frames and two main characters' stories. As for Moneyball ... well, I'll reserve my disdain for Moneyball for a later category. My problem isn't really the editing, though.
Got Robbed: I'm flabbergasted that The Tree of Life didn't get nominated. Maybe it's because there are five editors credited for the film? Whatever it is, total robbery. Tree of Life is a visually impressionistic film in which a narrative slowly emerges. It's an overwhelming series of images that build no less than from cosmic birth to death, and does so in a manner that suggests both the elastic and linear natures of time (and does THAT in an extremely linear medium). There are probably an infinite number of ways the film could be edited, and, truly, the plot of the film comes from the editing more than the script. The essence of the film is in the editing as much as anywhere.
Local bluesy rock duo Deering & Down dropped in at Ardent Studios yesterday ahead of their record-release show at the Hi-Tone Café and performed their song "Out There Somewhere," the title track off their new album, which was recorded with the late Willie Mitchell and his son Boo Mitchell at his Royal Studios:
The North Mississippi Allstars are planning a series of digital singles this year via their Songs of the South label. This first of these, made available yesterday, is a cover of the blues classic "Rollin' n Tumblin'."
The single is available at iTunes and via the band's own site.
The band has also made a video, directed by member Cody Dickinson, for the single, which features brother Luther going HAM on a canjar — a guitar made from a coffee can:
Jack White — of the White Stripes, Raconteurs, and Dead Weather — is going solo with the April 24th release of his album Blunderbuss. In anticipation of the album, White is playing his first set of shows as a solo headliner, and one will bring him to Memphis.
White will play the New Daisy Theatre on Tuesday, March 13th, the third of four announced solo dates — including March 10th in Chattanooga, March 12th in Birmingham, and March 15th in Tulsa.
Advanced general admission tickets are $33 and will go on sale Friday, February 17th. See the New Daisy's site for more purchasing info.
White, a Detroit native who has relocated to Nashville, has plenty of Memphis connections, having recorded the White Stripes' breakout 2001 album White Blood Cells at the former Easley-McCain Recording and having done post-production work on other projects at Ardent Studios.
White's official site.