Posts Tagged Brooklyn

STEELE PICKS: Best Films of 2015

I’m not a film critic although when I worked at Harvard Business School I was the film critic for The Harbus and it was great fun going to screenings and interviewing actors such as Claire Danes, Rose Byrne, Donnie Wahlberg, Rose McGowan, Aidan Quinn, Andie MacDowell and David Cronenberg.

I’m a music critic and a book critic. That’s my focus. I can’t do everything. Yes, I cover the occasional television program.

I love film. I love indie film. I try to see a new film in the theater each week and my Netflix account [both streaming and DVD] remains quite active. I saw about 200 films this year. I don’t always pick the award winners but I pick what truly moved me. 5/20 of these films directed by women. 9/20 written or co-written by women. Many strong, intriguing female protagonists in these films.

Far from the Madding Crowd
directed by: Thomas Vinterberg
screenplay by: David Nicholls
starring: Carey Mulligan, Matthias Schoenaerts, Michael Sheen


directed by: John Crowley
screenplay by: Nick Hornby
starring: Saorsie Ronan, Emory Cohen, Domhnall Gleeson


directed by: Todd Haynes
screenplay by: Phyllis Nagy
starring: Cate Blanchett, Rooney Mara, Kyle Chandler


The Diary of a Teenage Girl
directed by: Marielle Heller
screenplay by: Marielle Heller
starring: Bel Powley, Kristen Wiig, Alexander Skarsgaard

The Diary of a Teenage Girl_Key Still-0-2000-0-1125-crop

directed by: Tom McCarthy
screenplay by: Tom McCarthy, Josh Singer
starring: Mark Ruffalo, John Slattery, Rachel McAdams, Michael Keaton


directed by: Sean Baker
screenplay by: Sean Baker, Chris Bergoch
starring: Kitana Kiki Rodriguez, Mya Taylor, Karren Karagulian


directed by: Sarah Gavron
screenplay by: Abi Morgan
starring: Carey Mulligan, Helena Bonham Carter, Meryl Streep


directed by: Lenny Abrahamson
written by: Emma Donoghue
starring: Brie Larson, Jacob Tremblay, Sean Bridgers


While We’re Young
directed by: Noah Baumbach
screenplay by: Noah Baumbach
starring: Ben Stiller, Naomi Watts, Amanda Seyfried, Adam Driver


Love and Mercy
directed by: Bill Pohlad
screenplay by: Oren Moverman, Michael A. Lerner
starring: Paul Dano, John Cusack, Elizabeth Banks

love and mercy

directed by: Paul Weitz
screenplay by: Paul Weitz
starring: Lily Tomlin, Sam Shepard, Julia Garner, Marcia Gay Harden

grandma f

directed by: Denis Villeneuve
screenplay by: Taylor Sheridan
starring: Emily Blunt, Benecio Del Toro, Josh Brolin

sicario film

Mistress America
directed by: Noah Baumbach
screenplay by: Greta Gerwig, Noah Baumbach
starring: Greta Gerwig, Lola Kirke


Steve Jobs
directed by: Danny Boyle
screenplay by: Aaron Sorkin
starring: Michael Fassbender, Kate Winslet, Seth Rogen

steve jobs film

Infinitely Polar Bear
directed by: Maya Forbes
written by: Maya Forbes
starring: Mark Ruffalo, Zoe Saldana, Imogene Wolodarsky


McFarland, USA
directed by: Niki Caro
screenplay by: Christopher Cleveland, Bettina Gilois, Grant Thompson
starring: Kevin Costner, Maria Bello, Ramiro Rodriguez, Carlos Pratts , Johnny Ortiz


The Age of Adaline
directed by: Lee Toland Krieger
screenplay by: J. Mills Goodloe and Salvador Paskowitz
starring: Blake Lively, Michiel Huisman, Harrison Ford


directed by: Jennifer Phang
screenplay by: Jacqueline Kim, Jennifer Phang
starring: Jacqueline Kim, James Urbaniak, Freya Adams


Digging for Fire
directed by: Joe Swanberg
written by: Jake Johnson, Joe Swanberg
starring: Jake Johnson, Anna Kendrick, Brie Larson, Rosemarie DeWitt, Sam Rockwell, Orlando Bloom


I Smile Back
directed by: Adam Salky
written by: Paige Dylan
starring: Sarah Silverman, Josh Charles


directed by: Spike Lee
written by: Spike Lee
starring: Nick Cannon, Teyonah Parris, Wesley Snipes, Angela Bassett, Samuel L. Jackson, John Cusack


notable performances: Bryan Cranston in Trumbo; Charlize Theron in Mad Max: Fury Road; Will Smith in Concussion; Amy Schumer in Trainwreck

, , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

Leave a comment

New Music: ARI HEST


Ari Hest has stage presence. Between his baritone voice, his tall stature (standing at least 6’2” by my estimation) and rugged good looks—dark hair, dark eyes– he instantly captivates audiences at first verse. If he weren’t such a good songwriter he’d just be a pretty boy with a guitar which isn’t a terrible thing but he’d never have the career longevity he’s had. Hest’s music has been featured on numerous television shows including Private Practice, Army Wives, and One Tree Hill. He’s also scored a film called Dreamriders which won several independent film awards.

Brooklyn-based Hest recently released his seventh album The Fire Plays on November 13. He recorded the album in one week in Rhinebeck, New York. It features guest vocalist Valeska Steinter [of the German band Boy] on the track “Couldn’t Have Her” and Tony Levin on bass on “Untitled Part 2.”

I’d not heard Ari Hest before as I spend most time listening to alternative music and less folk music. I appreciate superb song-writing though and that’s what you get with Ari Hest. A friend of Hest’s sends out phrases each week to a group of songwriters as a wonderful prompt and workshop with fellow songwriters. Hest said during a recent performance at Club Passim in Cambridge that sometimes you’ll write one line and that’s it and sometimes you’ll write an entire song. Several songs from this exercise ended up on the album.

On the upbeat “The Winter of Yes,” Hest sings, “I was born cynical and ready to burst . . . now I may not find a reason to smile. . . And my face is so cold that I tear, but I won’t let this be like any old year.”He sings in a dreamy and melancholic manner on Concrete Sky– “Someday, I’m gonna cut through to you, and you won’t put up a fight.” The song “Couldn’t Have Her” showcases the melodious, gently romantic Hest. The exquisite fetching song “Set in Stone” seems a throwback to the 60s. It’s a gorgeous, layered song. The entire album “The Fire Plays” is beautiful. Seeing Ari Hest live is a true treat.


Upcoming Tour Dates:

January 5 — The Barns at Wolf Trap – Vienna, Va.
January 11 — Ginos Place—Danville, Ill.
January 12 — Shedd Theater—Columbus, Ohio
January 18 — The Wildey Theatre –Edwardsville, Ill.
January 19 — Wheeler Arts Building—Indianapolis, Ind.

purchase at Amazon: The Fire Plays

, , , ,

Leave a comment

film review: Brooklyn’s Finest

These streets have an expiration date.
–Tango [Don Cheadle]

Boasting an outstanding [albeit mostly male– though in a small role Ellen Barkin blasts through the few scenes she has as a hard ass top brass] cast, Brooklyn’s Finest is a gritty, violent and shocking film. Three police officers, with vastly different career trajectories, struggle to rise above the filth and danger in Brooklyn. All three officers fight off job fatigue to hit individual goals: retirement, a house, a promotion. Eddie [Richard Gere] is mere days away from collecting a pension and moving to the idyllic quiet of Connecticut. Sal [Ethan Hawke] lives for his family and plans to buy a house so that his pregnant wife [Lili Taylor] won’t be so sick. Tango [Don Cheadle] aches to be done with undercover work and be promoted to detective.

So over his police officer job and just counting the days, Eddie aims to stay out of trouble. When a rookie cop gets in the middle of a domestic dispute, Eddie pulls him away and tells him that they don’t act of their precinct even though the guy totally smacked the woman while arguing outside their car. Sal becomes so desperate for money that he starts eying that of the drug dealers he busts. He’s frantic and going to blow [Hawke is so entrenched in this role that I didn’t immediately recognize him]. Tango finds himself in the ultimate dilemma: help take down a drug dealer or protect sometime he’s grown to care about. Caz [Wesley Snipes in a nearly unrecognizable, toned down performance] is not the flashy prototype but he’s one cool cat.

In the end, all three men end up in the same dangerous location with tragic and stunning consequences. Director Antoine Fuqua [Training Day] helms this stellar examination of what motivates the three officers. Delving into each officer’s life and telling separate yet intersecting stories catapults Brooklyn’s Finest beyond the predictable, clichéd cop film. Gere exudes wear and tear and numbness. Hawke rocks the Brooklyn accent and turns in a darkly nuanced performance. Cheadle exudes coolness with this bold, layered role. It’s a disturbing, bloody and provocative film. The brilliant, solid cast and potent writing, makes Brooklyn’s Finest an authentic, unflinching film.


, , , , , , , , , , ,

Leave a comment

%d bloggers like this: