Category Archives: Film and Television

Movie Reviews and TV Shows

Recommended Viewing: Rolling Stone, Life and Death of Brian Jones

Brian Jones Movie Poster By Gail Worley
All Photos By Gail Worley

Growing up with an older sister who came of age amid the fever pitch of Beatlemania, I received an excellent education in British rock starting at about the age of five. I knew the music of The Rolling Stones because their hits were all over the radio and, because he was the lead singer, I thought of them as “Mick Jagger’s band.”  For whatever reason, I don’t recall even hearing the name of the Stones‘ original guitarist and foundling member, Brian Jones, until I was in high school, which would have been in the late ’70s. At that time, I was completely obsessed with The Who.

One afternoon, I was pouring over an interview in Circus magazine with Who guitarist Pete Townshend, in which he cited Brian Jones as a key influence; not only on his playing, but on his personal image and sense of style. Townshend also mentioned having written and recorded a song called “A Normal Day for Brian, A Man Who Died Every Day” — the title based on an off-the-cuff quote he’d given to a reporter on hearing about Jones‘ untimely death in 1969. And I very distinctly remember pausing to think, Who the fuck is Brian Jones, because I had no clue. What I realized though is that if Pete Townshend — who was like a god to me — held him in such reverence that he wrote a song about him, then I need to do my homework. Sadly, the Internet did not exist in the seventies, so the life of Brian Jones remained a mystery to me beyond what I could glean from listening to his work with the Stones, which spans many studio albums including Their Satanic Majesty’s Request, which is a work of genius.

For decades Jones’ death at age 27 was ruled to be an accidental drowning: he was an admitted drug user, and there appeared to be no reason to suspect foul play. It took the 2005 biopic, Stoned (which features great performances and excessive nudity – two thumbs up) to explore an alternate version of Jones‘ demise, based on the deathbed confession of his (alleged) killer Frank Thorogood, who was employed as a builder at Jones‘ estate. Now, an exhaustive new documentary directed by Danny Garcia gives equal time to both Brian Jones‘ extraordinary life and his mysterious, controversial death.

Brian Jones Movie Invite By Gail Worley

Rolling Stone: Life and Death of Brian Jones, which I was fortunate to see at a NYC screening in late January, is a wildly engaging and meticulously researched documentary that I believe any music fan — whether or not they even know who Brian Jones‘ was  — would enjoy viewing. Pardon the pun, but while the surviving Rolling Stones declined to participate in the making of this film, no ‘stone’ was otherwise left un-turned by Garcia in his quest to paint a complete picture of a vastly talented and charismatic musician who remains a juggernaut of pop future influence four decades after his death.

Life and Death of Brian Jones tells its story through archival footage augmented by dozens of first-hand interviews with the people who knew Jones personally — his friends, family, and fellow musicians — so the viewer really gets to know what Brian was like as a person from childhood through adolescence and adulthood. We learn that Brian was musically gifted, headstrong and rebellious from an early age (he had fathered 3 illegitimate children by age 19!) as he grew into the original Bad Boy of Rock and Roll who set trends on and off the stage, and raised the bar very high for living a hedonistic lifestyle. It’s truly amazing how much he accomplished in his short life.

The film also dives deep into the circumstances and the aftermath of Brian’s apparent drowning, including various conspiracy theories and documented evidence, building a very compelling case that Jones did not suffer a death by misadventure but, rather, was murdered; and there are more than a few suspects. Equal parts nostalgia-inducing, pop culture time capsule and riveting true-crime procedural, Rolling Stone, Life and Death of Brian Jones, is a story that likely took as long as it did to tell because Danny Garcia — who specializes in making films about controversial music icons — was the only filmmaker who could do it justice. It’s a film that will haunt you, as you think on who Brian Jones was, and who he might have become had he lived.

Rolling Stone, Life and Death of Brian Jones, will receive a very limited, select-market run of theatrical screenings in April 2020 before the film’s release on DVD later that month. Check the website of your favorite local Art House theater to find out if it will be playing in your area, and watch the trailer below:

Shark Attack Lobby Display!

47 Meters Down: Uncaged
Photos By Gail

I just got back from a vacation trip to Chicago, where I had all kinds of crazy fun, but also found lots of cool stuff to put on this here blog. Once such cool thing is this lobby standee for an upcoming thriller/horror film called 47 Meters Down: Uncaged, which is due to open in theaters on August 16th, 2019. You can infer that it stars a Really Big Shark and assorted unsuspecting victims, but you may not realize that it is also a sequel to a 2017 film also called 47 Meters Down. So clever.

47 Meters Down: Uncaged

Take a closer look at the lobby standee and you will see there is a place for your two feet marked right in from of the shark’s gaping maw, so that you can stand there and your friends can snap a pic for The Gram of you looking like you are about to be shark food. Shark Attack in the Lobby!

Beavis And Butthead Homage: The Great Cornholi-Os Breakfast Cereal T Shirt!

Cornholios T Shirt

MTV’s subversively groundbreaking animated sitcom, Beavis and Butt-Head, has been off the air for two decades at this point, though it has enjoyed a lively pop cultural resurgence in the past few years due to Trump’s useless male progeny bearing an uncanny resemblance to the idiotic duo. The important difference being that Beavis and Butt-Head are at least somewhat loveable.

But if you were ever a fan, you will immediately recognize the design on the above T-Shirt, advertising a fictional breakfast cereal called The Great Cornholi-O’s, as a reference to Beavis’s maniacal alter ego, CornholioConholio is known for uttering several memorable catch-phrases — “I am the Great Cornholio!,”  “I need TP for my bunghole!” and “Are You Threatening Me?” — all of which are represented in this fun and nostalgia-inspiring shirt. Own yours now by clicking on This Link, and enjoy free shipping this week only! Perhaps your Bunghole will thank you!

Alamo Drafthouse Cinema Hosts Pineapple Express Movie-Themed Dinner!

Pineapple Express Movie Poster
Image Source

If you enjoy eating and watching movies, and you aren’t lucky enough to have an Alamo Drafthouse Cinema in your city, then you are missing out on an opportunity to do both at the same time while also being outside of your own living room. Alamo Drafthouse is a cool chain of theaters where you can order food and drinks (read: alcohol) from your seat and servers bring it to you while you watch the movie. It is very fun and cool, and it definitely saves time and planning efforts when you are on a date and are trying to decide if you should eat dinner before or after seeing the film. We’ve all been there.

Alamo Drafthouse Theaters Film Reel Lights

The theaters are very comfy and cozy, with ample arm-rest room, and a little table right at your seat. Select theaters even have these cool Film Reel Light Fixtures on the walls, which get you all in the mood see a film!

Alamo Drafthouse Logo

About once a month, Alamo Drafthouse in Downtown Brooklyn (which is the one closest to me) takes in-theater dining to the next level with a special Food & Film event, where a dinner menu is created to go with the theme of a popular classic movie. I was recently lucky enough to score an invite to attend a screening of David Gordon Green’s stoner romp, Pineapple Express, which was accompanied by a four-course movie-inspired meal from Alamo’s Executive Chef Ronnie New, and drink pairings from Beverage Director Vincent Favella. What a great entertainment value!

Pineapple Express

If you have not already seen Pineapple Express, let me tell you a little bit about the plot.  Pineapple Express is an absurdist black comedy starring Seth Rogen as Dale — an underachieving stoner who works as a process server —  and James Franco as his pot dealer Saul, who sells Dale a rare, extremely potent strain of weed called Pineapple Express. When Dale inadvertently witnesses a murder, he puts both himself and Saul in danger when he tosses a joint of Pineapple Express from his car as he flees the scene. Since the hitman just happens to know that Saul is the only dealer who sells that kind pot, the bad guys know exactly where to find him. It just gets more ridiculous from there as Dale and Saul try to stay alive while being high out of their minds.

Post Continues After The Jump! Continue reading Alamo Drafthouse Cinema Hosts Pineapple Express Movie-Themed Dinner!

Spider-Man Subway Car!

Spiderman Subway Car
All Photos By Gail

Just as ABC did for a TV Show Reboot that is, thankfully, no longer on the air, Playstation has launched an immersive ad campaign for the upcoming Marvel’s Spider-Man Game in the Subway Cars that run on the S Shuttle line along 42nd Street between Times Square and Grand Central Station.

Spider Man Subway Car Interior

As you can see, the cars are quite vibrant and inviting on the exterior, but the interiors are also full of fun details that you might miss if you don’t look closely.

Seat Detail

Check out the Spider on each seat back!

Daily Bugle

And while at first glance it appears that some inconsiderate riders have left their newspapers behind on the seats, let’s take a closer look.

Daily Bugle Detail

It’s the Daily Bugle!

Spider Man Subway Car Interior

The trip is only one-minute between stations, but the car was still a kick to ride in!

Marvel’s Spider-Man Game for PS4 will be released September 7th, 2018. Find out more at This Link!

Marvels Spider-Man for P 4

Pink Thing of The Day: Rose Quartz Cosplayer From Steven Universe!

Rose Quartz Cosplayer
Photos By Gail

Five Points Fest did not really have a ton of cosplayers running around, at least not on the day I attended, but this dedicated fan of the animated TV show Steven Universe definitely stopped me in my tracks, dressed as they were as the likeness of Rose Quartz, a character from that show. Oh, the Pinkness.

Rose Quartz

Here’s what Rose Quatrz‘ character looks like on the show, so you can see they did a bang up job replicating her costume! You can read more about Rose Quartz on her fan-created Wiki Page!

Rose Quartz Cosplayer

Rose Quartz Cosplayer Spy Pic!

Movie Review: Bo Burnham’s Eighth Grade

Eight Grade Movie Poster
Photo By Gail

Let’s play a game: would you rather be poked incessantly with sharp objects, or be forced to relive the eighth grade? You might need a minute to think it over. No one wants to be tortured, but eighth grade is a special kind of hell. It only lasts for one year; but what a socially awkward, puberty-riddled, emotionally agonizing year it is. Eighth grade blows, but now you can vicariously cringe your way through the gauntlet that is the last week of middle school for an earnest, 13-year old wallflower in director / writer Bo Burnham’s fantastic debut feature, Eighth Grade. He went back to eight grade, so you don’t have to.

Best known for his hilarious Netflix stand-up comedy specials, Bo Burnham has admitted to this much: that he retired from doing stand-up due to incapacitating stage fright, and that he’s often been referred to as “the comedian for 13 year old girls.” So it’s not so mysterious that this 27-year old man could write a film that completely nails a coming-of-age scenario of an adolescent girl. Because of course he did. Eighth Grade’s sympathetic protagonist is Kayla Day (Elsie Fisher in a career-launching role), who suffers from a merciless case of acne and a crippling shyness that she attempts to combat with a fake-it-til-you-make-it approach to social media-assisted survival. While she has no siblings, and doesn’t appear to have a close circle of friends, Kayla is absolutely dedicated to the “fans” of her YouTube channel, on which she posts frenetic self-help videos, giving advice on how to “just be yourself” and “put yourself out there.” Obviously, she is her own target audience.

There is no huge dramatic arc in Eighth Grade, but rather the film is peppered with many significant moments of the ‘real life drama’ that is puberty, as Kayla and her classmates struggle to define themselves as soon-to-be-high-schoolers when there is so much they feel totally clueless about. This theme of transition and initiation reminded me very much of another film that is set during the final day of school, Richard Linklater’s Dazed and Confused (1993), which is one of the best movies about authentic teenage behavior ever put to film. If that sounds like high praise, it is.

Eighth Grade Kayla and Dad
Kayla (Elsie Fisher) and her Dad (Josh Hamilton) in a Scene from Eighth Grade

Kayla is being raised by her single dad, Mark (Josh Hamilton in a thoroughly charming performance) who loves her unconditionally enough to disregard her constantly rebuffing his every attempt at meaningful father-daughter conversation, giving her the space and encouragement she needs to figure stuff out on her own. Mark is hilarious as he tries to not ’embarrass’ Kayla merely by existing. It’s easy to imagine that he was once in her shoes: the geeky kid who grew up to be a pretty cool dad. It takes a while for Kayla to figure this out, letting their relationship unfold with great sweetness, and one excruciatingly comedic moment when he walks in on her practicing fellatio on a banana, a fruit he knows she absolutely hates.

Eighth Grade Kayla Pool

The scenes in which Fisher’s performance inarguably earns the label ‘brave’ are those that take place during a coed swim party hosted by the most popular girl in Kayla’s class, Kennedy (Catherine Oliviere) – a one-dimensional “mean girl” caricature who has no issue telling Kayla to her face that she’s only being invited because Kennedy’s mother insisted. I had to watch through my fingers as I recognized the horrifying self-consciousness of being seen by peers in a bathing suit. Kayla wastes no time plunging herself to the bottom of the swimming pool, where she can most easily disappear. When she panics and retreats into the house to play games on her phone, she is interrupted by Aiden (Luke Prael) the cute, popular boy she’s desperately crushing on, who has come to retrieve his own charging phone. Kayla becomes so flustered at being in unexpected close proximity to her dream beau, the most impressive thing she can manage to nervously stammer is, “Sometimes, I charge my phone, too.” Oh my god, I am Kayla.

Over the course of the film, Kayla cracks her shell a bit, building the confidence to take the mic at a Karaoke party, make friends with a cool high school student, tell off the mean girl, and go on a hilarious first date with an adoring nerd-boy classmate Gabe (Jake Ryan) who first flirted with her at the pool party by challenging her to see who could hold their breath the longest underwater. Clearly, they are perfect for each other. Through a brilliant combination of sensitive direction, spot on casting, and authentically awkward dialogue that resonates so deeply, you’ll swear you’re watching a documentary, Eighth Grade is ridiculously successful and a remarkable achievement, especially for a first-time director. The parts that make us the most uncomfortable are also the most hilarious, because we all lived through it. And life is funny.

Except for one tense scene in the back seat of a car — which you will see coming a mile away — Eight Grade never goes Welcome to the Dollhouse-level dark. This film has more in common thematically with sleeper hits like Little Miss Sunshine (2006), and Napoleon Dynamite (2004), in that the protagonist is encouraged to embrace and celebrate her inner geek. Kayla is already the “Coolest Girl in the World.” She just had to figure that out for herself.

Eighth Grade opens in Los Angeles and New York (where it’s playing at the Angelika Film Center on Houston and Mercer) on July 13th, 2018, with Nationwide distribution to follow.

Grade: A

Watch the Trailer Below!