For the alleged Tumblr crowd, Childish Gambino, aka Donald Glover from ‘Community,’ is an angsty, post-Internet messiah. ‘Because the Internet’ isn’t just a album—it’s performance art.
Rap hasn’t been concerned with “street authenticity” in years, and anyone who tells you the opposite is living in a past that’s long since been shattered by the likes of Kanye West, Drake, Kid Cudi, and a wide array of performers who represent the culture’s well-documented shift from the so-called inner city toward the formerly peripheral middle class. It is no longer exclusively the domain of “the ghetto” from whence it came. (That’s not to sideline those rappers whose work is, intentionally or not, intimately concerned with the persistent structural and social inequalities that birthed hip-hop in the first place.)
Debates rage on, but the obvious is obvious: Rick Ross is a former correctional officer turned fictional drug kingpin, 2 Chainz is a near-teetotaling foodie whose rap persona is the embodiment of self-indulgent hedonism. The divergence between their life and art is known, yet they are among rap’s biggest stars. The leeway to their inauthentic portrayals of self comes in part because of the elaborate worlds they’ve constructed around themselves; emotional honesty, be it tied to aspiration or just entertainment, often trumps facts.
Former stockbroker Jordan Belfort once had sex on $3 million in cash. Check out more stats about the man behind Leo DiCaprio’s leading role in Martin Scorsese’s latest.
David O. Russell’s operatic flick ‘American Hustle’ boasts wild hairdos, dazzling outfits, and a stellar ensemble in Christian Bale, Amy Adams, Bradley Cooper, Jennifer Lawrence, and Jeremy Renner. It’s also one of the best movies of the year.
The great Groucho Marx once said, “The secret of life is honesty and fair dealing. If you can fake that, you’ve got it made.” The witty bastard would have loved American Hustle.
Irving Rosenfeld (Christian Bale), Sydney Prosser (Amy Adams) & Richie Dimaso (Bradley Cooper) walk down Lexington Ave. in Columbia Pictures' AMERICAN HUSTLE. (Francois Duhamel/Sony)
Directed by David O. Russell, who’s long specialized in hyperbolic historical tales focused on outré characters (see: Three Kings, The Fighter), this giddily madcap caper flick is loosely based on Abscam, an FBI sting operation in the late 1970s and early 1980s wherein the feds tasked Melvin Weinberg, a convicted con artist, with bringing down a gaggle of U.S. congressmen. The agency cooked up an elaborate ruse: they set up a front company, Abdul Enterprises, Ltd. (“Abscam” is a contraction of “Abdul scam”), and had FBI agents pose as Karim Abdul Rahman—a wealthy sheikh from Abu Dhabi who sought political asylum in the U.S. with the aim of investing in a luxury hotel-casino in Atlantic City.
With ‘Catching Fire,’ ‘Frozen,’ and drunk Oprah cleaning up at the box office, this may have been the best year yet for women in Hollywood.
Studios used to have a simple directive when they wanted a movie to do well: put a guy in a cape and watch the money roll in. (That, or cast Will Smith.) Soon, however, studios may be demanding a wardrobe change: swap the cape for a dress. Or, better yet, put a girl in the cape.
Universal; Lionsgate; Warner Bros.
With the past three weekends finding Katniss Everdeen battling a Disney princess for the box office crown, and bothThe Hunger Games: Catching Fire and Frozen outperforming even the highest expectations, it may be time to crown 2013 the year of women at the box office. Or, rather, it’s finally time to make the pronouncement. Ever since Bridesmaids stunned the industry by grossing $170 million without a caped crusader or leading man in sight, audiences have been waiting for the lesson that was supposed to be learned—a film starring an ensemble of women could get audiences of both genders rushing to theaters—to sink in with Hollywood’s stubborn honchos.
For Chet Haze, Tom Hanks’s wannabe rapper son, any success has the whiff of nepotism and privilege. It’s time to drop the gangster swagger and be authentic.
Making fun of Chester Hanks, Tom Hanks’s wannabe rapper son who goes by Chet Haze is as easy as shooting fish in a barrel. The born-with-a-spoon-in-his-mouth Hollywood royalty has been making a fool of himself, talking in hip-hop slang, and releasing bad rap and R&B videos for the last couple of years. So last week’s Twitter war between Haze, and a former rapper-turned-art dealer, Jensen Karp, was plenty amusing, if not exactly uncharted territory.
The younger Hanks had tweeted:
Karp hit back:
His abuse allegations brought the King of Pop to court. Last week, he wed in front of the prosecutor, his mom—now named Janet Jackson—and a DJ who unknowingly spun an MJ tune.
Gavin Arvizo, who as a boy was at the center of the sensational 2005 Michael Jackson sex abuse trial, has just married his longtime sweetheart. The wedding took place at the bride’s suburban Atlanta Baptist Church on Saturday November 30.
Courtesy of Diane Dimond
The bride, the former Shelby Drake, is a teacher and the daughter of a minister. She spent her early years living in England where her parents were missionaries. Her father, Bill Drake, is an ordained minister and a well-known Christian musician and singer. Drake, along with Catholic priest, Kevin Hargaden, performed the wedding ceremony. Going forward, the Catholic Arvizo intends to worship in both churches.
He’s dry-humping Gaga on ‘SNL’ and promoting his new album, ‘Black Panties,’ but after child porn allegations and a secret marriage to an underage Aaliyah, why is R. Kelly given a pass?
The American Music Awards, broadcast live Nov. 24 from Los Angeles, was like a bad acid trip.
Between the baffling medley by rapper Nelly and the country music act Florida Georgia Line, Bill Maher introducing Rihanna, Miley Cyrus singin’ her achy breaky heart out in front of a blinking cat projection, and Pitbull emceeing, it seemed like popular music had reached its nadir.
But the night’s strangest sight occurred fairly early on in the proceedings when the camera panned over to the stars in the seats. There, pop diva Lady Gaga and America’s Sweetheart Taylor Swift were locked in a gesticulation-heavy chat. Seated between them, however, was a man dressed from head-to-toe in black leather. His face was obscured by gigantic shades, and he casually clenched a cigar. He was cracking a slight grin. It was R. Kelly.
A little essayistic song cycle on the life of Stephen Sondheim, told through half a dozen of the best numbers by American musical theater’s greatest architect.
The most valuable scene in Six By Sondheim, an HBO special premiering Monday night, is an interview clip of Stephen Sondheim recalling a formative afternoon he spent with Oscar Hammerstein II. When he was 15, Sondheim wrote a musical and took it to Hammerstein, asking him to judge it as if the boy were a professional. “In that case, it’s the worst thing I’ve ever read,” Hammerstein said, and the great man proceeded to show his little apprentice everything that’s wrong with the thing, word by word, song by song. Sondheim told a CBS audience in 1961:
A song, like a play, should have a beginning, a middle, and an end. It should have an idea, state the idea, and then build the idea and develop it, and finish. And in the end you should be in a place different from where you began.
It’s a simple composition lesson that not only songwriters, but also journalists, should follow. But, as everyone knows, nothing is simple with Sondheim, and it becomes something of a philosophical lesson coming from the mouth of the greatest architect of American musical theater, who has for more than half a century held dear to his idea of developing a Broadway experience for adults, all the while being more articulate than anybody else in both talk and music.
David O. Russell’s operatic black comedy ‘American Hustle’ boasts the most impressive acting ensemble of the year. Christian Bale, Jennifer Lawrence, Amy Adams, Bradley Cooper, and Jeremy Renner joined the filmmaker in New York to discuss the film. (Note: Some spoilers)
Press conferences are inherently awful to attend. They’re early. It’s packed. People are pushy. The questions are (often) crazy. There’s always a loud, aggressive foreigner in the crowd spouting nonsense.
But the New York press conference for American Hustle was too good to pass up.
Director David O. Russell’s follow-up to Silver Linings Playbook is based on the FBI ABSCAM operation of the late ‘70s. Irving Rosenfeld (Christian Bale, sporting a hideous comb over and huge gut) and his mistress, Sydney Prosser (Amy Adams, ravishing), are raking in plenty of dough through various small time scams. After they’re busted by hotshot FBI agent Richie DiMaso (Bradley Cooper, great perm)—much to the chagrin of his disapproving boss, played by Louis CK—they’re forced into cooperating in an undercover investigation involving Miami mobsters, U.S. congressmen, and the Mayor of Camden, New Jersey, Carmine Polito (Jeremy Renner, bouffant ‘do). Things, however, get dicey when Irving’s fiery Long Island housewife, Rosalyn (Jennifer Lawrence, electric), gets involved.
Surprise, surprise! Showtime’s spy thriller ‘Homeland’ proved it could still be a gripping show with “Big Man in Tehran.” Bring on the season finale. (Warning: spoilers within!)
On Oct. 22, Showtime renewed Homeland a few episodes into its third season.
Damian Lewis as 'Nicholas "Nick" Brody' in Showtime's "Homeland." (Kent Smith/Showtime)
At the time, the deal seemed like a mistake—or at least a decision that had more to do with commercial considerations than creative vitality. The terrorism drama was mired in a slow-motion subplot about Dana Brody's (Morgan Saylor) loose-cannon boyfriend, Leo; meanwhile, Carrie Mathison (Claire Danes) was still stuck in a mental institution, trembling chin and all. A once-gripping show had become kind of monotonous, and I for one wasn't particularly excited by the prospect of a Season 4.
Xbox One really is [censored] listening to you. With new technology, the video game system is punishing those who let the expletives fly while button-mashing.
You are not alone. FIFA 14 and NBA 2K14 are showing us a fascinating—and slightly disturbing—future of gaming. The Xbox One is constantly listening to what you say, specifically key words, including expletives, likely shouted at the screen after a particularly poor play. Hearing these trigger-words, the game reacts: in NBA 2K14, the player is given a technical foul; in FIFA 14, the player receives a strongly worded letter requesting that they improve their manners.
Xbox fans play the latest games during the Xbox One fan celebration and launch party in Los Angeles, California November 21, 2013. (Reuters)
The latter is not actually a new feature (it was included in FIFA 13), but the original Kinect was an addition to the Xbox 360 rather than an integral part of the system. It was more of a silly gimmick. But this new Kinect is every bit as important to the Xbox One experience as the console itself. Although the Xbox One no longer requires the Kinect to function, it comes with every system. Games can assume that it’s there, and many already do, meaning players who don’t have one connected will miss out on features that definitely add to the experience.
Monaural recorded sound has made a comeback, and it’s more than a gimmick—for proof just listen to Miles Davis’s classic work in its original format.
It would take a musicological Borges to write the true history of recorded sound and its effect on the way we hear music. It would be a book full of Wonderland logic about how a technology invented to reproduce sound has, in turn, gradually shaped our expectations of what a song or a symphony sounds like.
Miles Davis in the recording studio in October, 1959. (Hulton Archive/Getty)
Somewhere in that arcane volume you would find a long chapter on the checkered past of monaural recording in the music industry, how it reigned alone for decades, was eclipsed by stereo, and how it rose again—if not to prominence then at least to parity.
The high-cheekboned actor wears a leather jacket and turtleneck and slicks back his hair in ‘Out of the Furnace.’ Is that his O-face in the ‘Nymphomaniac’ posters?
“He has such an interesting face.”
Kerry Hayes/Relativity Media
That’s the first thing Crazy Heart and Out of the Furnace director Scott Cooper says about Willem Dafoe. He’s right. You can’t not stare at Dafoe (and his exceedingly pointy cheekbones) whenever he’s on screen, whether it’s in Platoon, Spider-Man or his newest release, Out of the Furnace. In the film Dafoe plays John Petty, a gambling boss in the crumbling industrial town of Braddock, Pennsylvania, who gets Iraq war veteran Rodney Baze (played by Casey Affleck) into a rigged fight for cash. The fight ends up taking a deadly turn and Rodney’s brother (Christian Bale) takes matters into his own hands, plotting vigilante revenge.
There’s no nudity, only a soft whisper that gives you a euphoric, almost orgasmic, sensation. This is the erotic world of ASMR videos.
Sit back, relax, close your eyes, and listen to my soft voice. Let your mind wander as I whisper sweet nothings into your right ear, then in your left ear. Feel your scalp tingle as my voice gently surprises you from behind. I tell you about my day in a sultry cadence. It's the meter of my words that gives you goose bumps. I describe the pink hued iridescent bubbles in the bathtub, and the way they glide away from my skin as if it's made of silk. Though I don't let you see it, you can hear the water ripple. It sounds like you're in the bathtub with me as I describe the back massage I am about to give you.
I performed a twenty minute ASMR video. ASMR stands for "autonomous sensory meridian response.” It was one of the few custom videos I kept my clothes on for. The video was less about seeing me and all about hearing me: I was a talking head with audio aides around my laptop. Prepared with paper to rustle, rice to shake, and water to ripple. I would whisper to the right and left of the microphone (I even walked around it), and rock back and forth in my chair to create a distance in the sound of my voice. It wasn't one of the craziest things I've done, but it might have been the most unique.
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