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. Beyond Comedy.
The Cotton Club Encore. On paper, it was a dream matchup: The creative team behind The Godfather movies – Francis Ford Coppola, Robert Evans and Mario Puzo – reuniting to do another gangster film set amidst the famed Harlem nightclub. Cost overruns, numerous re-writes and lawsuits plagued the production, then Coppola – under intense pressure by the film’s producers – was forced to make significant changes to the film’s narrative. Released in December 1984, The Cotton Club bombed at the box office further damaging the careers of Coppola and Evans. In 2015, Coppola found an old Betamax video copy of his original cut and spend the next two years (and his own money) to restore it. After making the rounds at various film festivals, The Cotton Club Encore is now being released in select theaters in New York and Los Angeles. It runs 25 minutes longer than the original and features show stopping musical performances by Lonette McKee and Gregory Hines that amazingly didn’t make the final cut. It’s also great to early performances by future stars Diane Lane, Laurence Fishburne and Nicholas Cage alongside equally strong performances by such veterans as Bob Hoskins, Fred Gwynne, and Gwen Verdon. With stunning visuals, costumes and an amazing soundtrack, this is a film that is begging to be re-discovered. The Cotton Club Encore is out now in New York and Los Angeles.
LISTEN TO THIS
Rude Boy: The Story Of Trojan Records. Founded in 1968, Trojan Records played in an essential role in exposing the world to the sounds of reggae, ska, rocksteady and dub music. As the label celebrates its 50th Anniversary – and with a new documentary making the rounds around the world – this new 2-CD set presents some of the best songs and artists that put Trojan on the cultural map. It includes tracks by Lee Perry & The Upsetters, Toots & The Maytals, Desmond Decker, among many others. With deep rhythms, soulful vocals and heavy grooves, this is a virtual greatest hits of Jamaican music. Rude Boy: The Story Of Trojan Records is available now through all major streaming services.
Face It by Debbie Harry. The dynamic frontwoman for Blondie recalls her colorful life in this new memoir. Harry recalls how she walked away from a typical suburban life in New Jersey to go to New York City on the brink of financial collapse, yet the hub of a artistic and cultural revolution. Harry tells it all in rich detail and with a matter of fact style that paints a vibrant and accurate picture that is jolting at times. There’s some very dark detours along the way – surviving a sexual assault, drug addiction and an extended illness by her long time partner in music – and life – Chris Stein. But through it all, it’s a fascinating, often riveting look back at a rock icon. Face It by Debbie Harry is available now through Amazon, Barnes & Noble, and all major book retailers.
New York City: David Byrne’s American Utopia. After performing to sold out crowds during his last world tour, David Byrne brings his American Utopia show to the Great White Way. Supported by musicians from every corner of the globe on a sparse, minimalist stage, Byrne performs tracks from his 2018 album of the same name, along with a selection of Talking Heads songs that compliments the new material. Thought provoking and just plain fun, Byrne manages to take the concert experience back to basics yet leaping it straight into the future. Another triumph from a true musical visionary. David Byrne’s American Utopia is currently running at the Hudson Theatre. You can also go to www.thehudsonbroadway.com for tickets and additional information.
New York City: NYC ‘81. Todd Phillps’ Joker tries to recapture a city that’s on the height of moral and economic decay. But there were a series of films shot during 1981 that perfect snapshots from that chaotic period. Metrograph is running a two week retrospective featuring an assortment of cinematic time capsules that run the gamut from grindhouse (Abel Ferrara’s Ms. 45), indie cult classics (‘My Dinner With Andre’,) to full blown studio features (Eyewitness, Escape From New York). There will also be a screening of Downtown 81, directed by Maripol and Glenn O’Brien and starring Jean Michael Basquiat in his only starring role. It’s a great look back at a New York City that has all but disappeared. NYC ‘81 will be at Metrograph through October 20th. You can also go to www.metrograph.com for tickets, a complete rundown of films and more information.