Category: New Discoveries

Knock Down the House

The award-winning documentary Knock Down the House by director Rachel Lears, covers four working-class, “regular” women — a registered nurse, a bartender, a coal miner’s daughter — running for Congress during the 2018 mid-term elections, including the sensationally charismatic, eloquent and inspiring Alexandra Ocasio-Cortez, who, most of us now know, shocked the world by defeating an entrenched...

Free Solo

The impossible is possible. We understand the concept in theory; films like “Free Solo” remind us of the thrilling truth. The movie documents climber Alex Honnold’s attempt to scale Yosemite’s iconic El Capitan cliff face — more than 3,000 feet of virtually perpendicular rock — without ropes, clamps, or nets, using only his claw-like hands,...

Vocal Jazz, Old and New

The ethereal jazz singer Jeanne Lee would have been 80 this year. A re-release of her duet album with New England Conservatory titan Ran Blake, “The Newest Sound You Never Heard,” more than 40 years after its 1966-7 recording, reveals a thoroughly modern singer unafraid to sound like no one but herself. This vocal individuality...

The Hate U Give

America’s ongoing oppression of people of color, expressed most viciously in police brutality against unarmed black men, is the subject of director George Tillman, Jr.’s film version of Angie Thomas’s book “The Hate U Give.” (The title refers to a Tupac Shakur lyric riffing on the theme of “you reap what you sow.”) The movie...

Derren Brown’s “Sacrifice”

The British mentalist, magician and showman Derren Brown has long created television specials of enduring power and controversy. Much of his work concerns psychological manipulation and social coercion. In our view, shows like “Russian Roulette” (filmed live on a 15-minute delay) and “The Push” (in which an average member of the public is convinced to...

New Music Menagerie

The Unabashedly Weird: Baritone saxophonist Josh Sinton’s “making bones, taking draughts, bearing unstable millstones pridefully, idiotically, prosaically.” Not your usual trio: drums, cello, and bass clarinet. And not your usual music. Boundary-less, tangential, sly, the music here invites you to find deep meaning in the improvised meanderings, or none at all. The Straight-ahead: Pianist Brad Whiteley’s...

Experimental Documentary: “True Hallucinations”

Based on the autobiographical memoir by the groundbreaking author, lecturer and psychonaut Terence McKenna, the experimental documentary “True Hallucinations,” by filmmaker Peter Bergmann, knits together nearly three hours of consciousness-raising McKenna audio recordings with psychedelic imagery and music. The movie itself becomes a kind of trip, a journey to the subconscious and the edges of...

Johnny Otto’s “Water & Spirit”

The new show from Los Angeles-based artist Johnny Otto contains colored pencil drawings, guerrilla art on cardboard, and a series of large paintings on canvas. Each work employs two or three primary colors mixed with white and black, applied copiously and vigorously. The results are mesmerizing. Otto reminds us of a less busy, more focused...

Colyn Cameron’s “Sad and Easy”

We’ve had “Sad and Easy,” the latest recording from Wake Owl frontman Colyn Cameron, on auto-play. Airy, soft, trippy, light, elegant, real — the music is simultaneously catchy, in the best tradition of pop songs, and ethereal, in the best tradition of anti-pop. Cameron has a singular voice, androgynous leaning toward feminine, that goes down,...

“Nothing But Gifts,” by Edwin Dobb

Published in the current issue of Harper’s Magazine, the essay “Nothing But Gifts,” by Edwin Dobb, is one of the most beautiful pieces of writing we’ve lately had the pleasure of reading. Discursive and tangential in form, the essay nonetheless always returns to the author’s central inquiry: What does it mean to choose to love? The adoptive...