Every time I hear about a movie starring George Clooney and Matt Damon that is based on a true story, I am pretty sure it’s going to be huge. Usually, that’s how it is and The Monuments Men is no exception.

The new film created by Columbia Pictures and directed by George Clooney premiered this February and has an amazing WWII-set story to tell. The Nazis have stolen more than 5 million pieces of artifacts. Basically, one thousand years of history, culture and art were stolen by Hitler. His plan was to destroy it all, in case Germany falls or he dies. How sad that would have been, not only for Europe, but for the whole world. President Roosevelt decided to task seven men with finding, saving and protecting the stolen artworks. Those seven individuals were named The Monuments Men. They were art industry people who entered the Germany’s territory at the worst time of the war. They tried their best and were brave in everything they did. The Monuments Men were the ones who protected one thousand years of culture.

An amazing true story is shown in this gorgeous movie. There is so much to see and experience, because this film has an outstanding cast, starring stars like John Goodman, Matt Damon, Cate Blanchett, Bill Murray and many others. “The Monuments Men” is a must see for all of us. We should know the story of the ones who protected the European culture and its art, because if there was no art, there would be much less beauty in life. The Nazis tried to destroy it, but the Monuments Men defended it all for future generations to have and treasure.

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Do you want to watch a movie that has murder, mystery, fun and great actors? If you do, then The Grand Budapest Hotel is the right choice for you. It is directed by Wes Anderson and it has an incredible plot. The Grand Budapest Hotel trailer says it all. Once you watch it, you simply understand that this movie is different from anything you have ever seen. The movie centers on M. Gustave, a concierge at a famous European hotel, and his lobby boy, Zero Moustafa.

M. Gustave has a delicate relationship with the old ladies that visit the hotel. One of them, Madame D., who adores him with all her heart, gets killed in a mysterious way. Suddenly, everyone finds out that she left a huge fortune for her friend M. Gustave. That’s the moment when all the drama starts, as our main hero is accused of murder and the family of Madame D. in turn fight hard for the fortune.

M. Gustave and Zero Moustafa start a journey that shall never be forgotten. It is spiced up with incredible adventures. The story quickly becomes an adventure like no other. The Grand Budapest Hotel is the kind of the movie that will make you feel many different emotions, starting with sadness and ending up with incredible fun. It has mystery, murder, comedy, snow, prison, first love, struggle, guns and many other grand storytelling devices. The film is going to get into your heart and mind. It will make you laugh while showing you real art. And that’s what The Grand Budapest Hotel is: art.

The creativity of the director and the great play of the absolutely amazing actors will be, I think, greatly appreciated world wide. The critics are saying that is movie is brilliant and it should be seen by everyone. This March, watch the new dramedy The Grand Budapest Hotel and dive into the artistic adventures of M. Gustave and his lobby boy.

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BEST PICTURE: 12 Years a Slave
BEST ACTOR: Matthew McConaughey
BEST ACTRESS: Cate Blanchett
BEST SUPPORTING ACTOR: Jared Leto
BEST SUPPORTING ACTRESS: Lupita Nyong’o
BEST ANIMATED FEATURE: The Wind Rises
BEST CINEMATOGRAPHY: Gravity / Emmanuel Lubezki
BEST COSTUME DESIGN: The Great Gatsby
BEST DIRECTION: Alfonso Cuaron
BEST DOCUMENTARY FEATURE: The Act of Killing
BEST EDITING: American Hustle
BEST FOREIGN LANGUAGE FILM: The Great Beauty
BEST SCORE: Her
BEST ORIGINAL SONG: Happy
BEST PRODUCTION DESIGN: 12 Years a Slave
BEST ADAPTED SCREENPLAY: 12 Years a Slave
BEST ORIGINAL SCREENPLAY: Her

BEST PICTURE: Gravity
BEST ACTOR: Leo D
BEST ACTRESS: Cate Blanchett
BEST SUPPORTING ACTOR: Michael Fassbender
BEST SUPPORTING ACTRESS: Jennifer Lawrence
BEST ANIMATED FEATURE: The Wind Rises
BEST CINEMATOGRAPHY: Gravity / Emmanuel Lubezki
BEST COSTUME DESIGN: American Hustle
BEST DIRECTION: Alfonso Cuaron
BEST DOCUMENTARY FEATURE: The Act of Killing
BEST EDITING: 12 Years a Slave
BEST FOREIGN LANGUAGE FILM: The Great Beauty
BEST SCORE: Her
BEST ORIGINAL SONG: The Moon Song
BEST PRODUCTION DESIGN: Her
BEST ADAPTED SCREENPLAY: Before Midnight
BEST ORIGINAL SCREENPLAY: Her

BEST PICTURE: Blue is the Warmest Color
BEST ACTOR: Joaquin Phoenix in Her
BEST ACTRESS: Adele Exarchopoulos in Blue is the Warmest Color
BEST SUPPORTING ACTOR: Daniel Bruhl in Rush
BEST SUPPORTING ACTRESS: Lea Seydoux in Blue is the Warmest Color
BEST ANIMATED FEATURE: The Wind Rises
BEST CINEMATOGRAPHY: Larry Smith / Only God Forgives
BEST COSTUME DESIGN: Her
BEST DIRECTION: Nic Refn for Only God Forgives
BEST DOCUMENTARY FEATURE: The Act of Killing
BEST FOREIGN LANGUAGE FILM: Blue is the Warmest Color
BEST SCORE: Cliff Martinez – Only God Forgives
BEST ORIGINAL SONG: Karen O – “The Moon Song”
BEST PRODUCTION DESIGN: Inside Llewyn Davis
BEST ADAPTED SCREENPLAY: Blue is the Warmest Color
BEST ORIGINAL SCREENPLAY: Inside Llewyn Davis

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Mogwai :: Rave Tapes

by J. Hubner on February 14, 2014

It was July of 2004 and my best friend and I headed to Chicago to the Curiosa Festival. We were psyched, man. The Cure, Interpol, The Rapture and a bunch of other bands. Who cares who else was there – The Cure and Interpol, that’s all we needed to know. So we arrived in the early afternoon, headed to the beer garden and bought ourselves a guitar-shaped liter cups of watered-down lite beer. We made our way to the stadium seats under the pavilion of the amphitheater and noticed immediately that the noise emanating from the stage had taken a sharp turn to the grating. No longer could we hear ourselves speak or think. There were four or five guys on stage creating a wall of noise. This shrieking flaming phoenix of noise began rising from the stage, filling every square inch of seat, concrete, dirt and fence within the Tweeter Center. Pretty soon people were running from their spots directly in front of the stage, clasping their hands over their naked ears. Blood began flowing from their earholes as if this sonic assault from a relatively underwhelming stage was liquifying their brains.

If memory serves me, I remember finding it hard to breathe as if the squall from the Marshall amps and motionless guitars were thickening the air. It was a wave of dense, bright, razor wire-sharp noise that I’d never heard the likes of before. I turned to my best friend to see if we should exit the place before it imploded but it was too late. He’d succumbed to the nuclear blast of Marshalls and Gibsons and was lying on the beer-stained floor of the seemingly harmless amphitheater; his guitar-shaped liter of warm lite beer snapped in half from the seizure he’d endured. He was foaming at the mouth, what looked to be grey matter seeping from his earholes and a mixture of Miller Lite and urine staining the front of his cargo shorts. I knew I was going to have to carry him out in order to save what little bit of sanity and brains he had left. I began pulling him by his Curiosa Festival Tour shirt up the aisle to possible safety. All he could do was stare up at me, eyes half crossed, guyliner running down his cheeks, saying something that sounded like “Moebye … Moebye … Moebye.” I think he’d had a stroke by the droop in his left eye and left side of his mouth. Before I could get us to row B in the upper section of the amphitheater the aural assault suddenly stopped. Silence reigned in the former World Music Theater, the only noise was the ringing in our collective ears. Pretty soon someone came to the stage and said “Give it up for Scotland’s Mogwai!” I looked down at my urine-soaked best friend, he smiled at me with a tooth missing (how’d he lose a tooth?) and said “Mogwai … Mogwai … Mogwai.” And so began my introduction to Mogwai.

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Tops at the Box: Warner Bros. new animated flick, The Lego Movie, opened big last weekend, selling $69 million in the U.S. over its first three days. If you’re not one to follow box office trends, then let me tell you that $69 in three days during February is no joke. Reviews thus far for the flick are very strong, Variety’s Peter Deburge writing that directors “Phil Lord and Christopher Miller irreverently deconstruct the state of the modern blockbuster and deliver a smarter, more satisfying experience in its place, emerging with a franchise for others to build upon.” So, in short, this Lego thing is for real.

Also at the Box: George Clooney’s latest directorial effort, The Monuments Men took the No. 2 spot over its first weekend, selling just under $23 million over its first three days. Not a bad number for a semi-artsy ensemble period piece released during the Dump Season. Monuments stars Matt Damon, Clooney, Bill Murray, Cate Blanchett, John Goodman, Jean Dujardin, Hugh Bonneville and Bob Balaban and is produced by Grant Heslov and Clooney, who produced Best Picture winner Hugo together. Buddy cop flick Ride Along took the No. 3 spot at the U.S. box office, selling another $9.3 million over its fourth weekend, bringing the film’s total to $105 million so far. Taking the No. 4 spot at last weekend’s box was Frozen, which sold another $6.9 million, upping the flick’s total to $368 million in the U.S. and $913 million worldwide. That’s right, I said $913 million worldwide – good enough to make it a Top 25 grossing film of all-time. All-time. Rounding out last weekend’s Top 5 was something called That Awkward Moment, a Tom Gormican-directed buddy rom-com starring Zac Efron, Miles Teller and Michael B. Jordan. The film sold $5.5 million over the weekend, bringing its 10-day total to just under $17 million. Looks like it might be a good lightweight comedy, especially if they let the hugely talented Teller (who is basically a hybrid of young John Cusack and Swingers-era Vince Vaughn) do his thing.

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Like many people, I considered every movie featuring Philip Seymour Hoffman to be mandatory viewing. Even when the film itself wasn’t the greatest (Mission: Impossible III, Along Came Polly, etc.), PSH was always worth seeing. In most cases he either blew his co-stars off the screen or inspired them to be better than ever (Joaquin Phoenix, Laura Linney, etc.). When I heard news of Hoffman’s passing this past Super Bowl Sunday I stopped what I was doing and sat quietly for a while, thinking, surprised at the news. Heroin? Who’d have thunk it. Not me. Sure, the guy often looked disheveled when he wasn’t working, but the rate – not to mention the quality – of his production over the last decade would alone suggest a level of sobriety. Needless to say, I was a bit tore up about the news, as were, I’m sure, just about all the other cinephiles around the world. PSH was, almost undeniably, one of the top three or four screen actors of his time. As something of a tribute, I figured I would take this week to talk about my five favorite Philip Seymour Hoffman performances. Looking over the very lengthy list of films I considered for my Top 5 I was shocked by how cool, how tasteful, how good Hoffman’s filmography was. And so, of course, it was hard to pick just five, but here they are …

5. Happiness (dir. Todd Solondz, 1998) - Todd Solondz very eerie, unsettling family sex drama is the only movie to ever make me physically ill. It’s one of the most uncomfortable, odd, divisive films I’ve seen, and much of that drama is driven by Hoffman’s very powerful performance as the sexually frustrated Allen. Chances are good that, if you read this column regularly, you’ve seen this film and already have an opinion on it; if not, definitely rent or stream or steal it ASAP.

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Warpaint :: Warpaint

by Greg W. Locke on February 4, 2014

Warpaint is the kind of record that would have kept a young David Lynch up late into the night. It’s a dark, expensive, moody, cinematic, gothic, dreamlike listen that rewards familiarity more than most recordings. Pretty, creative, thoughtful, skilled girls sing and rock, embracing time changes and pro rock bravery in a way very few have the courage to do these days. It’s a long, balls-out set of songs that sees a band going all out, trying to make a major classic without ever blushing. In this era of abundant sarcasm and scarce sincerity, it’s a rare record that is more concerned with being good than cool.

In order to expand their sound from the dreamy, proggy rock of their 2010 debut, The Fool, the gals of Warpaint (bassist Jenny Lee Lindberg, guitarists Emily Kokal and Theresa Wayman and drummer Stella Mozgawa) have changed things up quite a bit. In addition to getting a new drummer between recordings, they’ve also embraced new instruments into their mix, prominently featuring keyboards and drum machines throughout. Also added to the forumla this time around are two of the great studio men on the planet – Flood (who producer) and Atoms for Peace’s Nigel Godrich (who mixed the album). To say that Warpaint is a great sounding recording is an understatement.

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Quilt :: Held In Splendor

by J. Hubner on February 3, 2014

As soon as Quilt’s new album, titled Held In Splendor, begins playing you get the feeling you’ve been transported to 1968. The room is a little wobbly, the air is thick and the beanbag you’re sitting in is strangely comfortable. A goofy grin forms across your face and opening track “Arctic Shark” has done its job. It’s made you giggly without a single puff. Quilt are all about the contact high. “Saturday Bride” sounds like low key Besnard Lakes. A Besnard Lakes sitting in a cabin in the woods reclaiming their inner nature child. There’s a jauntiness to the track that is completely infectious, reminding me of a time when Gomez used to win Mercury Prizes and get themselves arrested. “Eye of the Pearl” has these beautiful harmonies that float above simple instrumentation that needs to be nothing more than simple. The vocals are reminiscent of Jim Noir in this song, and that’s kind of a cool thing. Speaking of vocals, John Andrews, Anna Rochinski and Shane Butler all contribute, making for some pretty amazing moments on Held In Splendor. Something like The Black Angels without the death cult vibe. City kids playing peace and love chants under the influence of realism.

So many bands that are retro-centric can do the vintage dance just fine, but once they step out of the past they seem to be lost. Quilt hit all the right cornerstones of the 60s and 70s aesthetic, but then they jump into a tune like “Tie Up the Tides,” bringing us back into the 21st century without confusing our brittle psyche. Rochinski with her Eleanor Friedburger-like vocal delivery makes for a nice change up from the psych-pop goodness. Fear not, the short-but-sweet “The Hollow” takes us quickly back into space-y, kaleidoscope of color territory.

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Tops at the Box: Tim Story’s Ride Along once again took the No. 1 spot at the U.S. box office, selling another $21 million over the weekend, bringing the buddy cop film’s 10-day total to $75 million in the U.S. and $0 million abroad. Ha. Look for this one to continue to bring in some decent dollars for a few more weeks. Oh, and we can pretty much just assume there will be more Ride Along films to come, as every Ice Cube-led film aside from Boyz N tha Hood, Three Kings and Anaconda that grossed over $40 million ended up getting a sequel. Can’t win ‘em all, guys.

Also at the Box: Peter Berg’s ensemble war film, Lone Survivor, took the No. 2 spot at last weekend’s U.S. box office, selling $12.6 million, bringing the $40 million film’s five-week total to $93 million in the U.S. While Lone Survivor isn’t exactly a surprise hit, I have to say that it’s doing much better than I had expected. That said, very few people seem to actually like the film, which stars Mark Wahlberg, Taylor Kitsch, Eric Bana, Emile Hirsch and Ben Foster. Great cast, though. Taking the No. 3 spot at last week’s box office was animated children’s comedy The Nut Job, selling $12.3 million over its second weekend, bringing the film’s 10-day total to just over $40 million in the U.S. Disney’s latest animated mega-hit, Frozen, took the No. 4 spot at last weekend’s box office, selling another $9 million, bringing the blockbuster’s 10-weekend total to $347 million in the U.S. and $810 million worldwide. Dang, Disney. Rounding out last weekend’s Top 5 was Jack Ryan: Shadow Recruit, which sold just under $9 million over its second weekend, bringing the terrible-looking action flick to $30 million over its first 10 days. Meh. Also of note, David O. Russell’s American Hustle continued to roll, selling another $7 million, bringing the film’s seven-week total to $127 million in the U.S. and $162 million worldwide.

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Maybe I’m wrong, but I think Damien Jurado is having his mid-life crisis. Not the kind of crisis where you get a red car, lose 25 pounds, shave your mustache and get a new girlfriend but, rather, the good kind. The kind of crisis where you look back at your life and realize that you’re not doing what you wanted to do. After spending over a decade writing soft, lyrics-focused singer/songwriter albums, Jurado has seemingly emerged anew over his last three records, all of which he’s made with Richard Swift.

From a sonic standpoint, the albums have been increasingly adventurous and creatively risky, Jurado now making music that could almost even be described as progressive. Maybe it’s not a personal crisis that’s pushed Jurado into new creative territory, maybe it’s simply the partnership with Swift. Whatever it is that prompted Jurado to do such radically new things is his business; all I know is that, as a fan, I’m very happy about it. Rather than being the guy with great lyrics and maybe four very good songs per record, Jurado has become a full-blown recording artist over the course of 2012′s Maraqopa and the just-released Brothers and Sisters of the Eternal Son.

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