Enigma – The Fall of a Rebel Angel (2016)

Enigma is, for the most part, a take-it-or-leave-it musical experience. With an emphasis on slow-burn, ethereal ambiance and omnipresent sonic heaviness, it’s certainly not for casual fans. But long-time Enigma fans will plenty to enjoy with the musical project’s first album since 2008’s “Seven Lives Many Faces,” with a handful of collaborator songs like “The…

Alanis Morissette – Havoc and Bright Lights (2012)

A disappointing and surprisingly bland addition to Alanis Morissette’s otherwise strong discography, “Havoc and Bright Lights” feels like a near-anonymous dad-rock album as sung by a woman. There’s little to tie it to Morissette’s identity as a musician and songwriter, while her vocals are muted and underwhelming. Only the closing track “Edge of Evolution” shows…

The Killers – Wonderful Wonderful (2017)

Although I’m admittedly not overtly familiar with The Killers, 2017’s “Wonderful Wonderful” feels like a return to their debut album, 2004’s “Hot Fuss.” The songs are mostly hook-heavy and recall the best of 1980 synth pop, while modernizing the sound with guitars and electronica-infused beat pop. It’s not a demanding album but that’s part of…

Coal Miner’s Daughter (1980)

Based on Loretta Lynn’s own autobiography and adapted with the greatest care and attention to detail by director Michael Apted, “Coal Miner’s Daughter” is surely one of the best film versions of a public performer’s rise to stardom. Sissy Spacek is pitch-perfect as Lynn, expertly capturing Lynn’s distinctive speech patterns and doing her own impressive…

Body Snatchers: The Invasion Continues (1993)

Yet another effective take on Jack Finney’s 1955 novel, this time transplanted by director Abel Ferrara to an American military base. Given the themes of the source material, the military setting is a bit on the nose, and there are certainly a few weak performances here and there that mar some of the tension. However,…

Cinema Paradiso (1988)

Giuseppe Tornatore’s tribute to cinema as an emotional, expressive and formative artistic expression is unlike anything else that’s ever been done. From the few opening frames it’s clear this movie is something special, following its central character Totoro from impoverished 1940s Sicily as he abandons himself to the functional worlds of the movies he sees…

Invasion of the Body Snatchers (1978)

A rare remake that manages to outdo its original, Philip Kaufman’s tense, unsettling thriller is a masterpiece of paranoia unto its own. Donald Sutherland and Brooke Adams share remarkable chemistry, which makes their familiarity feel all the more important as the movie’s titular invasion quickly gets under way. Jeff Goldblum and Veronica Cartwright are tremendous…

Grease Live (2016)

Just as good as the 1978 original film adaptation of the Broadway musical, this live television broadcast of “Grease” is a miracle to behold. From the first few minutes, it’s incredibly fun and energetic, with a star-studded cast perfectly at ease with the immense pressure of a live broadcast and seemingly thrilled to be there….

The Babysitter (2017)

A surreal blend of “Home Alone” and “You’re Next”, “The Babysitter” is pretty much unlike anything else I’ve ever seen. Director McG clearly has a great type playing with the conventions of both types of movie, throwing everything at the viewer but the kitchen sink and managing to strike the perfect balance between gory violence…

Edward Scissorhands (1990)

My favorite Tim Burton movie, “Edward Scissorhands” is a once-in-a-generation fable that has stood the test of time. Its charm, haunting score and set design are just as striking upon repeat viewings as they are to new viewers, thanks to director Tim Burton’s facility with visual narrative conventions and remarkable attention to detail. However, this…

Bill Ryder-Jones – West Kirby County Primary (2015)

I can’t offer any perspective or context on this latest offering from Bill Ryder-Jones because it’s my first exposure to his music, but I found his brand of alternative folk-rock to be absolutely charming and beguiling. From the opening track “Tell Me You Don’t Love Me Watching” it’s clear what type of album this is,…

Bee Gees – The Ultimate Bee Gees (2009)

One of the best compilation albums I’ve ever had the pleasure of hearing. Aside from their disco smashes like “Stayin’ Alive” and “Night Fever” (among many, many others of course), there’s so much early-Beatles-like tracks here that I was blown away. Recorded between 1967 and 2001, the music here sounds entirely unified despite the various…