Hey friends! After a week off, I’m back with Monday’s Weekly Roundup. How’s everyone doing? Leave us a comment if there’s anything we can do so the Roundup serves you better.
It’s a week of religious significance. Saturday is the beginning of Passover and Palm Sunday follows right behind. As a 50% Armenian and 25% Jew, I say Mazel Tov and Amen to all!
Best movie to include Palm Sunday: Jesus Chris Superstar
Best movie to include Passover: Exodus: Gods and Kings
Gotta give the edge to the Gentiles, unless you want to consider Shawshank a Passover movie??!
According to the Jerusalem Post:
[Shawshank Redemption is] not the most obviously Passover-themed film, but this cinematic classic has a lot to offer for deeper meaning. The movie follows the lives of prisoners in a state penitentiary and their struggles to retain both humanity and hope. Themes include the multi-faceted exploration of freedom in both its physical and spiritual manifestations – and the struggle to adapt to life outside prison walls after being incarcerated for so long behind them.
Also before we dive in, I was tickled to find out that Thursday, March 25th is National Read Tolkien Day. Hell yea! This is big for me to even say this, but we do a lot of watching around these parts, perhaps Thursday is a good day to turn off the tube and dust off the ol’ Fellowship paperback (don’t tell anyone I said that).
Oh here’s the coolest part, why did they pick March 25th? Because it is the day Sauron fell! Speaking of religion– Hallelujah!
Music /// Dr. Lonnie Smith Breath
I love funk organ. It’s one of my musical weaknesses. Great organ playing gives me the same feeling as a new Denis Villeneuve trailer or a perfectly executed Euro step. It’s smooth, it’s funky, it’s soulful, it cuts. If you grew up in MA in the early 2000s and were even remotely engaged with funk, R&B, soul–Soulive was king. Neal Evans cooks it up right. His left-hand bass playing alone… lord have mercy. After falling in love with Soulive, I went backward and discovered the legendary Jimmy Smith and have since looked forward and fallen for Cory Henry–who I maintain is one of the baddest boys in the business.
My organ infatuation journey brought me to the great Dr. Lonnie Smith. Smith is a 78-year old organist from New York State who rose to prominence playing in George Benson’s band. Dr. Smith combines Jimmy Smith’s smooth swing with John Medeski’s angular funk for a style that is as masterful as it is colorful.
I saw him in person a few years back. He played with an organ trio. They were fantastic. The show ended and the band bowed and walked offstage, the crowd on its feet chanting “Encore! Encore!” Dr. Smith limped back out guided by his cane and walked to the front of the stage. Everyone wondering why isn’t he heading to the organ?
When he got to center stage, he picked up the cane and started playing it…like an instrument. It had some kind of pickup or sensor. And as he hit it in a sort of slap-bass-style, it made different bassy-percussive sounds. It was out of this world. This sketchy iPhone recording is the best video I could find of it, please take 10 seconds and check this thing out:
Breath, Dr. Smith’s 29th studio album comes out on Friday. Six of the album’s eight tracks were recorded in 2017 at the Jazz Standard in New York City. The remaining two are studio collaborations with Iggy Pop of all people! Love that. Check out the duo’s first single “Sunshine Superman.”
Movies /// Zack Snyder’s Justice League
It’s out. You can watch all 4:02 of Zack Snyder’s Justice League, colloquially called the ‘Snyder Cut’, on HBO Max right now! This is a remake(?) of the 2017 film directed by Joss Wheadon. Snyder was originally pegged to pilot the super film but stepped away to be with his family.
Justice League went on to be a critical disaster and Snyder did what any of us would do if something we were half-part of was tarnished: blame its failings on others and remain steadfast that we can save it. Well, because we live in a world where Donald Trump can be president and Texas can be hit with a blizzard where everyone loses power during a global pandemic when you can’t go to other people’s houses.. HBO Max forked over $70 million to Mr. Snyder to see his vision through to fruition.
What we have now is something truly distinct from anything I’ve seen before. It’s like the 2017 version, but different? It has the beats of the Wheadon film but stuffed with exposition like a hoarder at a tag sale. I lumbered through the odyssey this weekend–over all three nights. Is it bad? No. Is it good? No. Not really.
Listen, if you’re a comic book movie junkie, voilà! With theaters closed and MCU releases delayed, if you’re sustaining on a meager diet of WandaVision/Falcon and Winter Soldier crumbs, here are FOUR HOURS of pure grade, uncut comic book movie straight to the veins. Break it up, power through, watch it with the Ringer commentary, have at it!
If you watched the original and thought meh, I’m not sure you need to dive in for four more hours.
If you don’t know who Cyborg is, just keep watching March Madness!
Nate Mondshein, our comic expert, is writing a reaction piece set for Thursday. I asked him what we can expect from his column: “Still trying to reconcile the nonsensical and overlong mess of a movie I know it was with how much I enjoyed watching it, deeply unsure of what that says about me.” Well put Nate.
Then I asked him to sum up the four-hour epic in one word, his answer: “slow mo.”
Hoops //// NCAA Tournament!
Guys, it’s March Madness! We’re here. Have you been watching? Cody covered the tournament in his piece this morning. I got to keep it 100 with everyone, I have not been following the tournament closely. That said, I thought it would be inappropriate if the Roundup covered the NBA during March Madness. So I am trying to split the difference with some light schedule updates.
The second round of the tournament ends today with the marquee matchups including:
LSU (8) vs. Michigan (1) at 7:10 PM ET on CBS
Maryland (10) vs. Alabama (2) at 8:45 PM ET on TNT
USC (6) vs. Kansas (3) at 9:40 PM ET
This crazy year has delivered expectedly crazy outcomes. Oral Roberts upset 2-seed Ohio State and then beat Cody’s Florida Gators to earn a spot in the Sweet 16! 13-seed Ohio also knocked off the recently reliable 4-seed Virginia.
My 3-seed Texas Longhorns lost to a school I truly had never heard of before. I’ve lived in Austin for seven years and never seen them win a tournament game…
The Sweet 16 tips off on Saturday at 2:40 PM ET on CBS with Oregon State (12) and Loyola Chicago (8).