TV Series: Game of Thrones

This huge fan and critical hit on HBO had yet to engage me until now, when its fourth season is upon us. So, yes, I have some catching up to with this loosely Dark Ages-based fantasy show. Its florid palette of characters, families/dynasties, rivalries, liaisons and intrigue is daunting as one enters the realm in its pilot episode. But by the second segment the lay of the land starts to come clear (aided by both episodes being explained afterwards in short segments featuring GOT’s actors and creators). It is a bit glossy and racy in contrast to any actual historical era, yet for all its complexity GOT quickly seduces you into its quite entertaining if not compelling realm. Hence it’s perfect for intensive viewing over the summer while many (if not all) of the other shows I follow are on hiatus. And I suspect I will be won over to its appeal.

Movie: Dallas Buyers Club

A must see movie alone for Matthew McConaughey’s masterful and bristling performance as a hard-partying, male-slutty homophobic rodeo rat who contacts the AIDS virus in the early days of the epidemic (also see this issue’s column). And Jared Leto’s rich and affecting portrayal of an HIV-infected transsexual who becomes his partner-in-crime in attaining unapproved drugs to treat their afflictions and that of many others they help. Yes, the main character that McConaughey plays is a far cry from the one in the real-life story this film is based on. But the construct serves the story superbly to offer a vivid, lively and quite affecting tale of personal transformation and even in a way rebirth while nonetheless dying.

CD: All Or Nothin’ by Nikki Lane

This North Carolina lass who arrived in Nashville via New York City is touted as a modern-day Wanda Jackson and country neo-outlaw, but such comparisons only go so far here. Yes, she’s is firmly rooted in the tradition and has hip girl-power attitude to spare. But on this album rather skillfully and interestingly produced by Dan Auerbach of the Black Keys – other than burying Lane’s clear bell of a voice in the mix – what she evokes is a sense that’s all too rare in the Americana alternative to commercial country’s crap parade of taking roots and expanding and progressing them into a sound that’s fresh and imaginative.

From The Progressive Populist, August 1, 2014


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