The Talented Mr. Ripley (1999)

Matt Damon stars in this creepy thriller about a guy who falls in love with another man’s life. Some of the moments in this study of identity are difficult to watch. Set throughout Italy, this drama is well-scripted, perfectly cast, and has a beautiful look that evokes the 1950s. Grade: B. IMDB: The Talented Mr. […]

Cinderella Man (2005)

Russell Crowe stars as James J. Braddock alongside Paul Giamatti (in an Oscar-nominated supporting role as Braddock’s trainer) in this inspiring based-on-a-true-story biopic. The boxing scenes are gritty and believable, with action that will make you jump out of your chair and cheer out loud. Grade: A. IMDB: Cinderella Man.

Nowhere in Africa (2001)

This stunning Oscar-winning German film chronicles a Jewish family’s escape from the Nazis to a farm in Kenya, their struggles to understand and accept the native culture, and the aftermath of the war. Beautifully-scripted and believably acted, the inspiring story brought powerful emotionality and tough-to-watch moments. Grade: B+. IMDB: Nirgendwo in Afrika.

Ali Ryerson – Blue Flute (1991)

Ali Ryerson, flute, jumps into her debut with an astonishing rhythm section with gusto. Leaving no room to question her jazz chops, she holds her own with a group that includes Red Rodney and Kenny Barron. I Fall in Love Too Easily, Waltz for Harry, and Asterie especially stand out. Grade: A+. AllMusic: Blue Flute.

Roger Sanchez – Come With Me (2006)

Roger Sanchez delivers a delicious set of eleven original tracks on this surprising CD. House music is refreshed with poignant and sometimes humorous song lyrics. The production is sharp and very clean. The vocal work is beautiful, the composition is rich and funky, and the tracks flow together very well. Grade: A. AllMusic: Come With […]

Roni Size & Reprazent – New Forms (1997)

The definitive set of Drum and Bass, this magnificent opus, which spans two CDs, brings jazzy horn solos, astonishing acoustic bass riffs, ethereal vocals, and punchy breakbeats together. Roni Size and crew deliver a seminal work of art—a goliath set of tracks that delivers from the very first beat. Grade: A. AllMusic: New Forms.

Bare Essentials, Vol. 1 (2000)

This unmixed compilation of Naked Music tracks features a gorgeous set of soulful deep house. Blue Six, Petalpusher, Summerland, and others contribute lush reflective jazzy grooves with laid-back vocals. Each of the tracks fits well with the others. This compilation is a great introduction to the deep house sound. Grade: B. AllMusic: Bare Essentials, Vol. […]

The Chronicles of Narnia: The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe (2005)

A big-screen version of the first of C. S. Lewis’ famous seven-part children’s fantasy, this picture is well-scripted, solidly acted, and features a gaggle of computer-generated animals that aren’t terribly over the top. The film takes small liberties with the source material, but delivers the goods. Grade: B. IMDB: The Chronicles of Narnia: The Lion, […]

Capote (2005)

Philip Seymour Hoffman shines as Truman Capote in this examination of the process of researching and writing his masterpiece, In Cold Blood. The acting performances were fantastic, the screenplay was compelling, and the look of the film brought the story alive. While slow-paced, the film was entertaining and interesting. Grade: A-. IMDB: Capote.

Filtered: The Best of Filtered Dance (2001)

This Tommy Boy compilation of “filtered” house music features the most predictable mix of the most overplayed tracks in the history of electronic music. What isn’t predictable is the nearly inexcusable way that the DJ stumbles over what should be some relatively easy transitions. Skip this yawnworthy heap of mediocrity. Grade: D+. AllMusic: Filtered: The […]

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