Cultural Hot List, Fall 2010

Posted in Cultural Hot List on Sep 10, 2010

Books, Music, Film, TV, Museums…your month-by-month Fall guide



9.28 – David Sedaris, Squirrel Seeks Chipmunk

Short stories that have human themes but use animals as characters. For instance, in “The Toad, the Turtle, and the Duck,” three strangers commiserate about animal bureaucracy while waiting in a complaint line. Illustrations by Ian Falconer of the Olivia series of children’s books. Sedaris’ unique voice is always entertaining.


10.19 – James Franco, Palo Alto: Stories

Franco’s debut is a collection of linked short stories that follow the lives of troubled and misfit teens. The book has been described as violent, harrowing and disturbing, as well as compelling and vivid. I’m not sure if the writing will be appealing or not, but I’m intrigued by what Franco is doing: living his life kind of like performance art, seemingly in a million places at once as he morphs from acclaimed actor to graduate student to soap opera star to author.


11.23 -  Steve Martin, An Object of Beauty

A novel by the accomplished writer/actor about the highs and lows of the New York art world from the 1990s to today as told through the life of a young, ambitious, charming woman who works her way through the selective scene. If you only know Martin as a “wild and crazy guy” or “The Jerk,” you’ll be pleasantly surprised by his astute writing.



9.14 – Of Montreal, False Priest

NPR describes this album (the band’s 10th release) as “bonkers…a gloriously unpredictable sonic joyride….(that) swirls together bits of Motown funk and dirty guitar noise with disco, ’80s new wave, techno beats and neo-psychedelic soundscape.” Sounds like a monster cookie – a mish mash that promises to offer something for everyone. I really like this album for its originality and upbeat sound…even when the lyrics might seem contrary to that tempo as in this happy tune “You Do Mutilate?”)

Listen to the album here.

Other September notables:

9.21 – Michael Franti & Spearhead, Sound of Sunshine – 5th release of songs that alternate between making you feel good and making you think about issues. I think “Shake It” will be the “Say Hey (I love you)” of this album.

9.21 – John Legend and the Roots, Wake Up! – old-school covers of 60s and 70s conscious-raising soul songs, plus one original John Legend song – “Shine” – which he wrote for this Fall’s documentary Waiting for Superman (read my post about that film here.)


10.5 – Donavon Frankenreiter, Glow – Wistful and sweet…his vibe is pure “beach at sunset.”

Glow by Donavon Frankenreiter

Other October notables:

10.19 – Kings of Leon, Come Around Sundown – The music from the new album of this wildly popular band has been described as “bluesy, hard-rocking sensibilities with just the right amount of Americana twang.”

10.26 – Bryan Ferry, Olympia – I LOVE his voice. He has the Don Draper of voices – smooth and sexy.  On his new album he not only collaborates with some of his Roxy Music band mates, but also with legends like Nile Rodgers and Pink Floyd’s Dave Gilmour, as well as current musicians like Groove Armada and Scissor Sisters.

By the way, if anyone has tweens or teens around them, you should know that Taylor Swift releases a new album in October.


11.16 – Bruce Springsteen, The Promise

This album is a huge deal. It features 21 songs previously unreleased by Bruce that he recorded or wrote (but didn’t use) while recording his album Darkness on the Edge of Town (released in 1978.) These aren’t throw-away songs (it is Bruce, after all) – in fact, some of the songs became hits for other artists (“Because the Night” for Patti Smith and “Fire” for Robert Gordon.) The 2-CD album will be released on its own, as well as in a box set with a remastered Darkness on the Edge of Town CD, a DVD of a documentary titled The Promise: The Making of Darkness on the Edge of Town and 2 DVDs of live performances. Over the years, Bruce did perform some of the unrecorded music in his live shows, as you’ll see in this concert footage of him doing “Because the Night” with REM’s Michael Stipe. I hope he tours to support the release – he puts on one of the best live shows I’ve ever seen…no pyrotechnics or wild costumes needed.



9.22 – You Will Meet A Tall Dark Stranger (dir. Woody Allen)

No one does neurotic like Woody Allen…can’t wait for this one! Starring Josh Brolin, Antonio Banderas, Naomi Watts, Freida Pinto, Anthony Hopkins


Kings of Pastry – A documentary about the ultimate pastry competition in France where 16 chefs vie over 3 days for title of “Best Craftsman in France.” The film has been making the festival rounds; if you don’t manage to see it in the theater but love cooking shows or watching grown men cry, put it in your Netflix cue.


10.1 in theaters; available on iTunes and some on-demand cable systems as of 9.3

The documentary based on the bestselling book was created by 6 acclaimed directors and features the book’s authors, Stephen J. Dubner and Steven D. Levitt, talking about everything from how money might buy you happiness after all, to the effect names can have on success (hate to break it to you, Mr. Saddy McLoser.) Watch the trailer here.


10.29 in NY; check the film’s website or put it in your Netflix queue -
The Kids Grow Up – This documentary is the panacea when feeling parenting stress: it reminds us that 18 years goes by too fast and we need to savor each moment. Film maker Doug Block follows his daughter from babyhood to college as he and his wife contemplate their empty nest. My heart hurts just watching the trailer, but it seems like the story will be poignantly told and perhaps shed some useful wisdom on getting through the transition. As a generation of parents that is highly involved in our kids’ lives, the separation as they go off to college is likely to hit us harder than it did our parents. Tissues please. (check out the film’s website for more about the film.)

10.1 – The Social Network – A feature about the founding of Facebook…the buzz is great, but then again, they do have the social media system working in their favor!

10.8 - Nowhere Boy – A biopic about John Lennon


(11.24) Burlesque

I don’t know if this film will truly be good or not, but it’s certainly an option for Thanksgiving weekend if you’re looking for a big Hollywood movie. It does star some good actors including Cher, Stanley Tucci and Alan Cumming so that’s a bonus. The film revolves around Christina Aguilera who plays a girl from somewhere small who comes to Los Angeles to make it, ends up working Cher’s club which features dancers and somehow all involved – from the club to Christina – become transformed. Judging by the trailer, I get the sense that you go to this movie for the big entertaining numbers, not the dialogue…you can see for yourself here.


(11.24) The King’s Speech – An Eliza Doolittle story, but featuring royalty and actually true. This film is about the unconventional speech therapist who helped Queen Elizabeth II’s father, King George VI, overcome his nervous stammer and lead his nation through challenging times. Great actors including Geoffrey Rush, Colin Firth, Helena Bonham-Carter and Derek Jacobi.

One more notable film making the film festival rounds and hopefully coming to a theater or DVD near you:

Waste Land – A documentary following the New York-based, Brazilian-born artist Vic Muniz as he travels back to Brazil to meet the eclectic group of people who pick through the world’s largest landfill (on the outskirts of Rio) to find recyclables. His intention to collaborate with them on an art project becomes a message of “the transformative power of art and the alchemy of the human spirit.”



“Outsourced” (ABC; premieres 9.23) – An American manager of a novelties company is relocated to India and culture clash hilarity ensues.

“Running Wilde” (FOX, premieres 9.21) – If you like “Arrested Development” you’ll like this new comedy because it’s brought to you by that show’s creator and stars Will Arnett, who also starred in “Arrested Development.” Arnett plays the wealthy, self-absorbed son of an oil who pursues his childhood sweetheart (Keri Russell) who is now an environmental activist.

“Hawaii Five-O” (CBS, 9.20) – Remake of the 70s cop show. At the very least, it might boast the best theme song of any show on tv.

“$#*! My Dad Says” (CBS, 9.23) – Based on real life tweets from a 20-something guy who moved back in with his dad and tweeted his dad’s comments, which were inadvertently funny. Making the colorful language from the @shitmydadsays tweets prime-time ready might be challenging, but with William Shatner delivering the lines it has a chance.


“God In America” (PBS, October 11-13) – A 6-hour documentary from American Experience and Frontline about the historical role of religion in the United States. Whatever you believe (or don’t), there’s no question that the American story – from the Salem Witch trials to the Civil War to debates raging today – has been intertwined with religious beliefs.


“LennonNYC” (PBS – airing on the “American Masters” series, 11.22) – Archival concert footage and interviews with musicians who worked with John Lennon. He wasn’t actually an American citizen, but he most definitely was a master.


New Museum (New York) – “The Last Newspaper,” opening 10.6
The museum’s site describes it as “a major exhibition inspired by the ways artists approach the news and respond to the stories and images that command the headlines. The exhibition will animate the Museum with signature artworks and a constant flow of information-gathering and processing undertaken by organizations and artist groups that have been invited to inhabit offices within the museum’s galleries.”

Museum of Contemporary Art (Chicago) – “Without You I’m Nothing,” opening 11.20
As described on the museum’s website: “Over the past fifty years, artists have increasingly engaged the presence of the audience in the conception, production, and presentation of their work. Without You I’m Nothing comprises works drawn from the MCA’s Collection that demonstrate a cultural shift towards a greater engagement for the individual in the public realm.”

Walker Art Center (Minneapolis) – “From Here to There: Alec Soth’s America,” opening 9.12
The first US survey of Alec Soth’s work, this exhibition features more than 100 photographs from 1994 to today. Mom Culture featured an interview with Alec last December – you can see it here.

San Francisco Museum of Modern Art – “Henri Cartier-Bresson, The Modern Century,” opening 10.30
“This major retrospective, the first in the United States in three decades, offers a fresh look at Cartier-Bresson’s entire career. It reveals him as one of the great portraitists of the 20th century and one of its keenest observers of the global theater of human affairs.” (from SFMOMA website)

High Museum of Art (Atlanta) – Dali: The Late Work
It opened August 7 and runs through January 9, 2011. The first exhibition to focus on Dali’s art after 1940.

Museum of Fine Arts (Boston) – Scaasi, American Couturier, opening 9.25
The museum recently acquired more than 100 of this Arnold Scaasi’s garments. Scaasi made his mark on American fashion starting in the mid-50s as a designer who focused on custom-made rather than ready-to-wear designs.

  • One response to "Cultural Hot List, Fall 2010"

  • krista
    13th September 2010 at 23:26

    hello my friend! thoroughly enjoyed reading this, as usual! LOVE the bruce/michael stipe rendition of “because the night!”

    hope you’re well, happy new year!