It's hard to believe, but it is officially fall! Volume 91 is packed with creators bending genres and pushing the boundaries, so whether you are riding out another September heatwave or dreading the autumn chill, there is something to keep you going!
The Star Wars universe gave the keys back to Tony Gilroy, and this week we finally get to see the results. Gilroy is one of the great living screenwriters, and he helms the new series Andor that dropped on Disney+ this week. Andor is a follow-up to the creatively successful film Rogue One, and gives Star Wars a dark, gritty turn into the spy/crime thriller genre. It stars Diego Luna as the titular Cassian Andor and serves as a prequel to the original Star Wars, watching the birth and rise of the rebellion. While the Star Wars universe has been in a pretty major slump in the 21st Century, Rogue One was really great, and delivered a film that was made for adults, not just children. It was mostly a war movie, and while Disney will only allow Star Wars to get *so* dark, we trust Gilroy to give us something worth watching. After all, he is the man behind the Bourne trilogy as well as Michael Clayton, so he was quite the dramatic track record. We've also seen The Mandalorian successfully mine the darker side of Star Wars in the last few years, so there is definitely hope. Even if you aren't that into the movies, we recommend giving the three-episode premiere a chance -- it definitely didn't disappoint.
The Woman King
On the topic of spectacles and action movies, The Woman King delivers on a type of movie we don’t get much of anymore: The war epic. Like Gladiator before it, The Woman King takes on the true story of a group of legendary fighters — this time, the all-female Dahomey warriors. Viola Davis absolutely crushes it, which we love to see, especially from a fellow Rhode Islander. She’s one of the most dynamic actors of her generation, and now she's proving she can be an action star, too. While it might not break the most new ground, we love a good war epic, and haven't seen a *good* one in a while. The Woman King is also another excellent addition to the growing list of diverse action blockbusters, after Prey earlier this summer, and it's definitely the type of movie to go see in theaters. If you're still living through fall heatwaves like us, go escape to the air conditioning and enjoy The Woman King!
If you aren't heading to the theater to check out the latest action-packed blockbuster, you might want to go have your mind blown by the music and visuals of Moonage Daydream. While it is technically a David Bowie documentary, the film is very unconventional. Instead, we'd think of it as more of a Bowie retrospective. There are spectacular lights and colors, never-before-seen concert footage and Bowie interviews, and a TON of killer music. But filmmaker Brett Morgen opted to bend the form in a way that would make Bowie proud, ditching the standard talking heads and letting the audience just be immersed in the world of Ziggy Stardust. Morgen also made a remarkable 30 for 30 on the OJ Simpson car chase, and he's no stranger to tinkering with the documentary medium. Whenever a rock doc like this comes around, we always strongly recommend seeing it in theaters, so you can get the full effect of the soundtrack over the stereo system. But Moonage Daydream is also special, and it is an immersive audio-visual experience that deserves to be seen on the big screen. So if you're looking for something to do this weekend, why not go out and celebrate one of the greatest creative minds to grace rock 'n roll.
Epicly Later'd: Spike Jonze
Spike Jonze is another filmmaker that likes to push the boundaries, and given his unorthodox rise through the directing world, that shouldn't be a surprise. Back in 2017, Vice's documentary series Epicly Later'd featured Jonze for an episode, and for some reason, the Youtube algorithms sent it our way this week. But we definitely aren't complaining. Jonze somehow went from being a daring, enthusiastic, 17-year-old kid making skate videos with his friends to an Academy Award winning writer and director, and the doc covers the whole ride. It is inspiring to watch someone that is so driven creatively, and who is so willing to take risks to make his vision come to life. Beyond that, it is also really cool to see how a director as successful as Jonze has stayed down-to-earth and close to his roots. Whether he was making Jackass or Where the Wild Things Are or just on a skate trip with his friends, Jonze stayed true to who he was. It's pretty mind-bending to think that the filmmaker behind Her first made his mark by shooting a ground-breaking skate video. Jonze has been constantly hustling and grinding since he was 17, always challenging himself with new approaches, whether it was out skating, working on a music video, or making a big-budget blockbuster. If you need a little motivation or creative inspiration, you should take 45 minutes out of your week to watch.
Tai Verdes - HDTV
Tai Verdes has been one of our favorite new artists of the last few years, and he just released a new album that we're pretty excited about. One of the first singles off the album, Last Day On Earth, was one of the first songs of 2022 featured on the Friday Five. Now, as we get late into the year, we finally have the full album. HDTV is littered with the unique sound, upbeat energy, and fun lyrics that we've come to expect from a Tai Verdes joint. The beats and bass lines are propulsive, and each track gives something unique that draws you in. We have to admit, this is a tough album to work to -- at least the first time through. Because each change in the melody, rhythmic switch, or beat drop makes your ears perk up. Last Day on Earth is probably still our favorite song on the album, but there's a lot to like beyond his first hit single. "Shut Up" will get your foot-tapping with its funky, almost disco-inspired groove. "Clyde & Bonnie" pops with its piano part and choir-like harmonies. "sheluvme" has a killer horn part and shares a lot of DNA with Verdes' biggest hit, "A-O-K." Whatever mood you're in, HDTV has something for you.