Bob Geldof once asked us, “Where is the filtered excellence!?” It’s right here. Once a week we take a break from comedy to bring you this week’s picks of the best things to watch, the most interesting things to do, great things to try, the best picks to read, our favorite things to listen to and more.
The 59th Annual Grammy Awards. It’s billed as ‘music’s biggest night’ and this year’s Grammy Awards has all the makings of living up to the title. Actor and comedian James Carden will host with artists ranging from Metallica, The Weeknd, A Tribe Called Quest, Katy Perry, Lady Gaga, Sturgill Simpson, Bruno Mars, Andra Day, John Legend and a parade of other stars slated to perform. As for the actual awards, it could be a big night for Beyoncé, who is up for nine awards including Album of The Year for Lemonade. Standing in her way is Adele, whose album 25 was the only album released last year to go platinum several times over. Hip hop and R&B are also poised to have a big night with Drake, Kanye West, and Rihanna up for 8 awards. Special salutes to Prince and George Michael among the slew of amazing artists we lost in 2016 are also slated to happen. Don’t be surprised if the unexpected goes down – especially in the wake of the 2016 election and proposed cuts to vital arts services and programs. Who will take music’s biggest prize? Tune into CBS on Sunday night at 8pm Eastern to find out. You can also go to www.grammy.com for additional information.
Homeland. The Emmy Award-winning Showtime series returns for a 6th season. Claire Danes is back as Carrie Mathison, who has left the CIA and is now living in Brooklyn working for a foundation that provides legal aid to Muslim-Americans. She finds herself drawn back into the intelligence world when she takes an interest in Sekou (J. Mallory), a young Muslim whose blog posts have drawn the attention of Homeland Security. Meanwhile, her old mentor Saul (Mandy Patinkin) and Dar Adal (F. Murray Abraham) are assisting President-Elect Elizabeth Keane (Elizabeth Marvel) in the tradition of power and are getting frustrated by her indifference to intelligence briefings. It’s further hampered by her positions on foreign affairs, which tend to lean more personal than practical. The two worlds come to a head when evidence points to a new attack on New York City. Can Carrie help stop another 9/11 level event from happening again? Tune into Showtime Sunday night at 9pm Eastern. You can also go to www.sho.com for bonus features and additional info.
I Am Jane Doe. Many people associate sex trafficking of underage as something that happens outside of the United States. But in the powerful new documentary by Mary Mazzio, it’s not only happening here, it’s openly advertised. Narrated by Academy Award nominee Jessica Chastain, the film follows the young victims and their mothers as they take on Backpage.com, the adults classified section that’s featured in several publications including The Village Voice. Their fight for justice puts them in the front lines against corporations, special interest groups, judges and even Congress, as they tried to bring attention to an outdated internet law that protects such sites from any and all legal ramifications. You can’t figure out what’s more crushing: The stories from the young girls and their mothers or the helplessness you feel when you discover how easy it was for them to get caught up in these dark, sordid world. What’s worse is how the law – which is supposed to protect them, did the opposite, which led to an investigation that has reached the top levels of Congress. It’s a staggering wake up call for women, parents and families. I Am Jane Doe opens in select cities this weekend. 50% of all profits from this project will go to organizations that serve Jane Doe children. You can go to www.iamjanedoefilm.com for more information.
Eagles Of Death Metal: Nos Amis (Our Friends). For his second documentary, director Colin Hanks (All Things Must Pass: The Rise & Fall Of Tower Record) wanted to show the bond between Eagles Of Death Metal co-founders Jesse Hughes and Josh Homme as well as the bond between the band and their fans. All of this hit incredibly hard on November 13, 2015 when a series of coordinated attacks in Paris left 130 people dead – 89 of which were attending an Eagles Of Death Metal show at the Bataclan Theatre. The film covers the events before and after that tragic night (including harrowing first hand accounts of attacks from the band’s vantage point), and how the group felt compelled to not only continue as a unit, but felt determined to go back to Paris to finish the show that was so cruelly interrupted. Its a powerful story of friendship, resolve, resilience and how music can help heal emotional wounds. Eagles Of Death Metal: Nos Amis (Our Friends) premieres Monday, February 13th at 10pm Eastern on HBO. You can also go to www.hbo.com for more information.
LISTEN TO THIS
Little Fictions by Elbow. Elbow has been one of England’s top bands for close to 20 years, headlining some of Europe’s top music festivals, opening for such bands as U2 and Coldplay and winning The Mercury Prize in 2008 for their album The Seldom Seen Kid. After taking a break to work on various solo projects, Elbow is back with their eagerly awaited 7th studio album. Written shortly before getting married, Guy Garvey captures all of the beauty, wonder and subtitles of the impending nuptials without making it sound sentimental and sappy. With tracks that run from sweeping and epic, to elegant and understated; straight forward and experimental, Elbow has added an another great album to what is already a solid body of work. Little Fictions by Elbow is available now through Amazon, ITunes and all major music retailers.
New York City: Ming Smith. Ming Smith’s dreamlike, almost surreal depictions of every day Black life has thrilled and astounded audiences for over 40 years. Incredibly, Smith has never been the subject of a full retrospective. That all changes with this new exhibition happening at the Kasher Gallery in Chelsea. Featuring over 75 vintage black and white photographs, it covers everything from early interiors and streetscapes from the 1970s to her current large scale Transcendence series. It was an outstanding look at one of the greats of the medium. The Ming Smith exhibit runs at the Steven Kasher Gallery through February 18th. You can also go to www.stevenkasher.com for more information.
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