Today Adam Yauch, originally known to many as MCA of the Beastie Boys, passed away at 47. He was diagnosed with cancer in 2009 and was declared cancer-free months later. The precise cause of his passing is yet to be reported.

We don’t often comment on the passing of figures in the music scene, but for several generations Yauch was part of the gateway to great films and music. Years ago I loved picking apart the ingredients in sample-heavy songs. Beasties tracks were a treasure hunt; if something had stuck with them long enough to make it into a track, it was probably worth looking into. Way before the internet was an easy to way to learn about forgotten media, Yauch and the Beastie Boys (with help from Spike Jonze) pointed the way to films like The Taking of Pelham One, Two, Three, and Danger: Diabolik. There was a bigger lesson in there, too: everything was fair game, every experience fed back into others. It’s all connected.

Yauch also founded Oscilloscope Laboratories, part of which is the film label that in the past few years has consistently distributed movies worth seeing: We Need to Talk About Kevin, Exit Through the Gift Shop, Bellflower, Dear Zachary, A Film Unfinished, The Messenger, and William S Burroughs: A Man Unfinished, just for starters. Oscilloscope has Wuthering Heights, Samsara, and Shut Up and Play the Hits coming up. Being part of the effort to bring those movies to audiences would be a great legacy even without the decades of influence Yauch had with the Beastie Boys.

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Because our world is truly wondrous, there is still power in the magnificent image. In the documentary Samsara, Baraka director Ron Fricke uses 70mm photography to explore and define “the links between humanity and the rest of nature.” A trailer for the film is below, and it is stunning. Read More »

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In the past decade Andrea Arnold has emerged as a promising art-house filmmaker, even if she has only two features to her name. Her 2009 film Fish Tank rightfully impressed many, thanks in no small part to Michael Fassbender’s effective performance. (His follow-up to Hunger.) And if her 2006 film Red Road is less impressive overall, it is photographed and assembled so beautifully that I couldn’t help but be drawn in to the dour, lonely world it depicts. Track down her Oscar-winning 2005 short film, Wasp, too.

Arnold’s command of visual language is enough to make me automatically interested in any new film she delivers, even if said new film is a version of the well-worn Emily Brontë novel Wuthering Heights. The picture premiered at Venice and played TIFF, where it was picked up by Oscilloscope for US distribution. That means we’ll get a chance to see it at some point in the next year. For now take a look at a dreamy, seemingly Malick-influenced teaser trailer, below. Read More »

‘Bellflower’ Review: Everything Ends, Badly

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But what the hell is Bellflower? The first teaser showcased only Medusa, albeit with footage triple-dipped in atmosphere and solidly confident style. Now a new full-length trailer is the first real look non-festival audiences can get at the blend of ideas that is Bellflower. Read More »

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