From YouTube, to Pandora, to Spotify, streaming music is piloting our listening habits in fascinating new ways that both upend old hierarchies and recall innovations of previous eras. Eric Harvey explores how these developments are affecting ideas of taste, access, and ownership today—and what this shift means for fans and artists alike—in our latest Cover Story.
Last week was my 11th visit to the Sundance Film Festival held in Park City, Utah, and the 30th anniversary of the festival. Here are some brief reviews.
Dinosaur 13 – A top pick of mine before Sundance started that greatly exceeded expectations. Dinosaur 13 is the true story of an epic dispute that erupted over Sue, a rare near intact T Rex fossil discovered in South Dakota by a talented cadre of independent paleontologists. The story may feel familiar to those of us who grew up in the state and have friends and family intertwined with the principles, but the format and pacing is what propels this doc.
The riveting narrative is organized around several set pieces like the army of Feds that stormed the Black Hills Institute to seize the fossil and a courtroom drama. And the interviews with key players, including hardcore optimist and paleontologist Peter Larson who was at the center of the controversy, make this a near perfect documentary. Bought by Lionsgate and CNN, everyone should get a chance to see Dinosaur 13 soon.
Nick Offerman: American Ham – On TV Offerman plays everyone’s favorite government hating municipal employee as Parks and Recreation’s Ron Swanson. At this year’s festival he premiered a concert film of his stage show, American Ham.
Offerman’s comedy is aimed right at the sweet spot for so-called South Park libertarians. His hilarious take on his nine rules for life success combines praise for American farmers with socially progressive views, disdain for vegetarians and pleas to heartily enjoy intoxicants — only after a day of hard work.
Dear White People – is a deft, well-crafted comedy with similarities to Spike Lee’s School Daze. Black students at a fictional and mainly white Ivy League college struggle, often humorously and occasionally affecting, to find their identities and direction. The film did stumbled a bit toward the end and could have a more cohesive resolution, though overall a strong debut by director Justin Simien.
Rich Hill - won the Grand Jury Prize for U.S. documentary and I couldn’t wait for the dam movie to end. The film is a remarkable achievement, letting viewers into the lives of three at risk boys in the economically depressed town of Rich Hill, Missouri. Viewers are given a stark window into the soul crushing existence endured by the boys and their families. While dizzying in its intimacy, Rich Hill is relentlessly hopeless.
Lambert and Stamp - My biggest disappointment is the rockumentary about legendary mentors/managers of the Who. The first hour is rollicking and kinetic while the second drags. Pete Townshend and Chris Stamp are two of rock ‘n roll’s wittiest and engaging commentators, sadly they are allowed to prattle on for far too long about minor ego infringements. Like for miles and miles and miles…