Overrated/Underrated: L.A.'s skyway dreams, and ‘The Endless’ is strong low-fi sci-fi
“The Endless” (2018): Directed by Justin Benson and Aaron Moorhead, this time-twisting indie film requires setting aside our conditioning toward effects-heavy spectacle for an intimate, strangely affecting story. Starring Benson and Moorhead as brothers who escape a mysterious cult in the Southern California wilderness, the movie centers on their return to where they once escaped to try and unravel the strange hold that time holds on their lives. It a story that’s not always easy to follow but stays with you in a way human stories tend to do much more so than movies with far greater budgets — and predictability.
Justin Brown’s “Nyeusi”: A hard-hitting, relentlessly inventive drummer whose list of collaborators includes Kenny Garrett, Ambrose Akinmusire and Thundercat, Brown released his first album as a bandleader last month, and it’s not to be overlooked. Steeped in a woozy, West Coast-shaded school of jazz-funk heard on recent recordings by Robert Glasper and Terrace Martin, “Nyeusi” is far from a collection of deftly drawn grooves (though those are definitely on hand as well) and instead delivers an ear-catching, edgy update on electro-fusion that points to another shape-shifting drummer (whose music Brown covers here): Tony Williams.
Overusing Rag’n’Bone Man’s “Human”: Released in 2016, this jangly, soul-dusted anthem from a boomy-voiced U.K. singer-songwriter known as Rory Graham is a fine song, but after two years it has become a go-to for selling would-be Hollywood blockbusters, appearing in the trailers for both Dwayne Johnson’s “Skyscraper” and Amazon’s upcoming series “Jack Ryan.” Graham deserves every penny he can earn at a time when getting paid for your music isn’t easy, but maybe Hollywood can look a little deeper when shopping for themes for its many stories of extraordinary men on a mission? R.E.M.’s “Superman” might be available.
The Hollywood sign’s tramway plan: Proving there’s no call to action quite as strong as the all-encompassing urge for a selfie, Warner Bros. this week revealed a $100-million plan to build a tramway that would take tourists on a six-minute ride to the Hollywood sign from its Burbank lot. While it’s an impressive display of a (profit-motivated) solution for snapshot hunters and traffic-besieged hillside residents alike, wouldn’t it be something if the studios put that kind of money toward alleviating congestion on our many other gridlocked streets as well? We hear there’s a huge need for a gondola connecting downtown and El Segundo.
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