The pop culture luminaries at the AV Club return to recommend some of their favorite new releases. Josh Modell suggests a listen to the new album Amok from Atoms for Peace, a supergroup featuring Radiohead’s Thom Yorke and Flea of The Red Hot Chili Peppers. Scott Tobias recommends a new Romanian drama, Beyond the Hills. The movie enters limited US release on March 8th.
Josh Modell is the AV Club's Managing Editor and Scott Tobias is the site's Film Editor.
When he was a kid growing up in Omaha, Nebraska, Andrew Rannells never pictured his face beaming out to millions of television screens. He loved acting, but his future was on the stage. The most realistic way to make it big? Broadway.
Now, he's garnered a Tony nomination for his portrayal of Elder Price in the Broadway run of The Book of Mormon and made his way to TV, co-starring in The New Normal on NBC and popping up as a regular on HBO's Girls.
Andrew talks to us about growing up gay in Nebraska, finding his characters' voices for The Book of Mormon and The New Normal -- and how to avoid uncomfortable moments when
filming nude scenes.
The New Normal airs Tuesdays at 9:30 / 8:30c on NBC. A new episode, "Rocky Bye Baby", airs this evening.
Thao Nguyen fronts the folk-pop band Thao and the Get Down Stay Down. The band's new album, We The Common, has an intense and spirited sound. The songs feature rhythmic guitar, taut drums, and Nguyen's clear and passionate vocals.
Thao remembers when music became important to her and the song that changed her life -- Smokey Robinson's "You've Really Got a Hold On Me."
Thao and the Get Down Stay Down head out on a cross-country tour this week. Find their tourdates and more information here.
Jim Lehrer anchored the Newshour on PBS for more than three decades and remains its executive editor to this day. He's also moderated twelve presidential debates and in 2011 he wrote a memoir about those experiences called Tension City. Yet another hat that Lehrer wears is that of a novelist. He's written 20 of them, the most recent of which is a charming mystery called Super.
Lehrer talks to us about his early job at a bus depot, the benefits of producing media on a tight budget, and the role public broadcasting ought to play in the future.
[This interview originally aired in May, 2010]
Jesse suggests a look at his favorite Mike Judge creation. It's not Beavis and Butthead, and it's not Office Space. It's a low-key workplace comedy starring Jason Bateman, called Extract.
Hugh Bonneville, Dan Stevens and Joanne Froggatt from the totally unstuffy costume drama Downton Abbey talk about the peerage system, upstairs and downstairs love affairs that make us swoon, and the show's bridge between the old customs and modernity. The second season of the show begins airing January 8th on PBS's Masterpiece.
I'm interviewing Errol Morris later today, one of my all-time favorite film makers. Shoot, maybe my #1 all-time favorite film maker. I may have time to ask him about his commercial work, but I thought I'd throw in a couple of pieces here just in case I don't.
Above: "Stay Curious," for PBS. Below, "Olive Loaf," for Miller High Life.
I've just finished watch the first season of Downton Abbey. It's currently running on PBS' Masterpiece in a slightly abridged form, and ran I guess last year on ITV in the UK.
Frankly, it's one of the best TV dramas I've ever seen. I'd put it on par with Mad Men and within spitting distance of The Wire.
It's a period drama, and an upstairs/downstairs drama, but it won't meet your expectations for either of those things. Well, maybe it will in part... if you're into that kind of thing, you'll enjoy it. But I'm not, and I was blown away.
Basically the first season is about an Earl and the danger to his estate. Because he lacks a male heir, the estate, including his American wife's fortune, will pass to a second cousin he's never met, who doesn't even want it. Because of the laws of the nobility, that's how it has to be. This is also a tremendous threat to his three daughters, who are thus forced to marry into the aristocracy or lose their positions in life, and to the entire household.
That hardly begins to describe how elegantly written, acted and directed the series is. It has all the twists and turns of a soapy TV drama (or at least many of them), but I found it absolutely compelling throughout. I never felt forced away from the material, which is usually my reaction to all but the best TV drama.
Do yourself a favor and watch it on PBS. Or buy the DVD, which is only $17 right now on Amazon, and is unabridged.
For those already on board, I've started a thread on the forum for discussion. Let's keep it spoiler free at least until the PBS run ends.
Here's a quote from our pals at The Comic's Comic about the guests at Tina Fey's Mark Twain Prize ceremony:
"Others who appeared onstage to testify to Fey's work as a humorist included Fred Armisen, Steve Carell, Jimmy Fallon, Jon Hamm, Jennifer Hudson, Jane Krakowski, Steve Martin, Seth Meyers, Tracy Morgan, Amy Poehler and Betty White."
Wait... Jennifer Hudson?
Maybe watching it will explain things: