WARNING – SPOILERS!!! Pac Man, Back to the Future, and Blade Runner are only a few titles that make up the 1980s cinematic nostalgia trip in Steven Spielberg’s Ready Player One, now playing in theaters. Based on the novel by Ernest Cline, Ready Player One follows a young man named Wade Watts who lives in a dystopian United States in 2045. Humanity, as Wade knows it, is plagued by a failing economic system, an ominous corporate-governing body, and a tainted outdoor environment, all the result of an energy crisis caused by global warming, corporate greed, and the depletion of Earth’s fossil fuels. Since the real-world is no longer a pleasant place to spend your time, Wade, like most people, spends his days in the OASIS, an interactive virtual reality comprised of games and puzzles from every video game, movie, book, or television show made primarily between 1980 and 1990, although there are a few exceptions. The OASIS is the mind-child of James Halliday (obviously Cline’s own doppelganger) who, prior to his death, left a hidden Easter Egg inside the OASIS that, if found, provides the winner with his massive fortune and control of the corporation running the OASIS, and that’s where Wade’s (or Parzival as he is named in the OASIS) story begins. Continue reading →
Today (May 26th) marks the 50th anniversary celebration of The Beatle’s revolutionary album Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band. The LP was the first released by the band following their retirement from touring after their final performance at Candlestick Park in 1966. Although The Beatles had already begun a steady transition from being a more traditional pop-rock group with albums like Rubber Soul and Revolver, Sgt. Pepper’s has been hailed as their ultimate creative masterpiece, followed closely perhaps by 1969’s Abbey Road. Released at the beginning of the Summer of Love, it set a new precedent for what a rock and roll record could be. The concept behind the album began following the exhaustion the group experienced after the whirlwind of Beatlemania. Paul McCartney came to Lennon, Starr, and Harrison with an idea that they would record an all new album under an alternative persona, which would free them from the weight of being the Beatles and usher in a fresh wave of musical creativity. Sgt. Pepper’s not only ushered in a new era for the Beatles; it also marked the beginning of the psychedelic rock movement that would see new groups like The Doors, Pink Floyd, and Jefferson Airplane begin to climb the pop music charts. Now, 50 years later, Sgt. Pepper’s is known not only for its conception and importance to 60s rock (and music in general), but also for the history of its production. Continue reading →
Director John Brewer (Jimi Hendrix: The Guitar Hero, Nat King Kole: Afraid of the Dark) released his documentary on the late B.B. King back in 2012, but it wasn’t released in the US officially until 2014. That said, the film, titled The Life of Riley (B.B. King’s name was Riley B. King), is now available on Netflix. Narrated by Morgan Freeman (The Shawshank Redemption, The Dark Knight), the film features a plethora of musicians, friends, and family, who discuss B.B. King’s long and revolutionary career as an American bluesman, including Buddy Guy, Eric Clapton, Carlos Santana, Ringo Starr, Bono, Ronnie Wood, Dr. John, and Solomon Burke. B.B. King hailed from the flat delta land in Mississippi and eventually made his way to Memphis, Tennessee, where he began regular work as a blues artist. He secured a number of record deals, and when rock music took off in the ’60s, a new interest in King’s and other blues artists of his era as they had never experienced before. Continue reading →
This May will mark the 30th anniversary of acclaimed writer/director John Hughes‘ iconic tribute to truancy, Ferris Bueller’s Day Off. Like most of Hughes’ films, the movie was filmed in Chicago, where the director was from, and features some of the city’s most memorable sites, including Wrigley Field, Calder’s Flamingo in downtown’s Federal Plaza, and Von Steuben Day, during which Ferris hijacked a parade float and led the city in a fanfare of The Beatles‘ Twist and Shout. To celebrate, the city of Chicago is planning an all out Ferris Fest celebration on the weekend of May 20th-22nd, which will feature a bus tour that follows Ferris’s “tour de Chicago” on that day off. There will also be a recreation of Ferris’s bedroom, and fans will get the chance to sit in Ferris, Cameron, and Sloane’s seats in Wrigley Field. The day will wrap with a screening of the movie at Hughes Theater. Thus far none of the original lead actors, namely Matthew Broderick, Alan Ruck, and Mia Sara, have committed to making an appearance, but the event organizers are still hopeful at least a few of them will make an appearance. If you’re a fan of the movie, or just want an excuse to visit Chicago for the weekend, be sure to mark your calendar for the event. Tickets will most likely be sold in advance, but so far as we know they are not yet available. Check back for more updates.
Today marks what would have been John Lennon‘s 75th birthday. Lennon is best known as one of the members of The Beatles and for his hit songs ‘Imagine’, ‘Come Together’, ‘Strawberry Fields Forever’, and ‘Whatever Gets You Through The Night’. Happy Birthday John!
Fans of classic rock, and more specifically of The Who, rejoice! The new documentary from film-cinematographer James D. Cooper (Kiss Daddy Goodnight, Brother’s Keeper) titled Lambert & Stamp is now playing in theaters. The film reveals how The Who was discovered by filmmaking duo Kit Lambert and Chris Stamp while they were searching for appropriate subject matter for their new movie, the goal being to reflect the social unrest of teenagers in post-World War II England. Instead of making that film, however, they ended up managers of one of the most famous bands of the infamous rock n’ roll British Invasion that also included The Beatles, The Rolling Stones, Creme, Pink Floyd, and The Animals. The documentary comes just in time for The Who’s 50th Anniversary and will include archival footage of the group as well as new interviews with both Lambert and Stamp, and surviving band members Pete Townshend and Roger Daltrey. John Entwistle, The Who’s original bass player, famously died of a heart attack in 2002 on the night before the band was set to head out on a new American tour and was hastily replaced by Pino Palladino. Keith Moon died of an overdose of Heminevrin in 1978 while trying to overcome alcoholism; the drummer had gradually fallen further into drink during the progression of The Who’s career, causing increased tensions between himself and Pete Townshend, who already quarreled with Moon over his non-traditional style of playing. This one definitely looks like it will be worth the watch; be sure to check your local listings for showtimes near you!
If you want a reason to support your local and underground artists like we make a point of doing here on MADE, here’s another you can add to your list. Fifty years ago a guy named Paul McCartney formed a rock n’ roll band with John Lennon that called themselves The Beatles, and wrote a catalogue of songs that would set and influence record sales for the remainder of the twentieth century. John Lennon was killed in 1980, at which time McCartney became the only living composer of the majority of The Beatles music, but since 1985 the singer/songwriter has seen virtually no revenue from sales, covers, or modernized use of Beatle music ranging from The Beatles Rock Band to director Julie Taymor’s psychedelic-60s musical Across The Universe. That’s because the rights to most of those songs were purchased by pop star Michael Jackson in 1985, when he paid $47.5 million for the Associated Television Corporation‘s backlog of record music, including countless Beatles songs. The kicker is that the U.S. Copyright Act of 1976 stipulates that the rights to all songs written before 1978 (those that are copyrighted by a record label at least) will go back to the songwriters after a period of 56 years, so even though he went through a fairly bitter feud with Jackson over the rights to the music (which lead to an ultimate falling out), McCartney would still most likely not have been able to acquire the rights to his music before 2018 anyway. Sony Music purchased half of the rights from the Michael Jackson Estate in 2005 for $95 million, so they have and will continue to cash in on them until that time, but 2018 is only four years away now, so McCartney is about to really cash-in. The point is, record companies have been corporately running the major music industry since the time of The Beatles, and they continue to turn an otherwise great industry that has the power to bring popular art to the masses into a financial prison fenced in by clauses in contracts that turns otherwise great collaborators into business adversaries. We are here to support the artists who have found a way of sharing and promoting their work without the restraints and bullshit financial bickering that has ruined so many great musical acts in the past Keep supporting our local artists here on MADE!
William Safire, a Pulitzer Prize winning author who also served as speech writer for President Richard Nixon in the late 1960s, regretfully passed away back in 2009, but he left us some interesting material from that era of history that saw the Civil Rights Movement, anti-Vietnam protests, and the rock-n-roll fueled British Invasion that brought The Beatles and The Rolling Stones to the American counterculture. A speech by Safire was discovered upon his death, entitled “In The Event Of A Moon Disaster,” which was written for President Nixon in the event that the 1969 Apollo 11 mission that took Neil Armstrong to the moon did not go according to plan. Now the screenplay, which was black-listed back in 2011, is being picked up by director Tate Taylor (The Help, Get On Up) for a feature-film. Former journalist Mike Jones, who wrote the screenplay, will be working with the director on the film, which they hope to be filming early next year.
In light of the 50th anniversary of The Beatles first movie and the onset of Beatlemania across the Atlantic, Richard Lester’s A Hard Day’s Night is being prepped for re-release this summer. The film featured John, Paul, George, and Ringo in their first big screen appearance, which coincided with the release of the album of the same name and featured most of the same songs, including A Hard Day’s Night, Can’t Buy Me Love, And I Love Her, and I’ll Cry Instead. Although the film was not particularly praised by critics, and was even totally bashed by John Lennon in later years following the band’s breakup, it has remained a beloved classic in Beatle-lore. Following the band’s breakthrough performance on the Ed Sullivan Show, which introduced the group to a new generation of Americans, A Hard Day’s Night was released a month later and only further propelled the group to a new level of international stardom. You can catch the movie in theaters this summer starting on July 4th.