April 2015 AV Reviews

Scene & Heard A/V


     Big Eyes is a exciting biographical drama from director Tim Burton and stars Amy Adams who plays the American artist Margaret Keane, and her husband Walter Keane played by Christoph Waltz.  The film starts in the 1950’s where Margaret (then Ulbrich) packs here things and takes her young daughter away leaving her husband and driving to San Francisco.  She needs to start supporting her daughter and since she has a talent for painting (she studied at an art institute), but had no formal work experience, she gets a job at a furniture gallery painting illustrations. 

     On the side she draws peoples portraits at an outdoor art show, there she catches the eye of Walter Keane who is selling street scene paintings nearby.  Walter and Margaret get engaged and then married in Hawaii.  Margaret continues to paint her photos which are very unique, all children with “big wide eyes” and she starts signing her portraits Keane.  At the same time, Walter is out trying to sell his street scene paintings and no one is biting, until they see the paintings of the children with the big eyes.  Everyone wants to buy them as they are very alluring.

     Walter ultimately takes credit for these paintings without Margaret’s knowledge until one day she catches on to him.  Initially, she agrees to go along with the scam saying that he is the artist.  Eventually the truth is revealed, as we view the legal, and personal battle.   I found the journey the movie takes us to be very fresh and exciting.  I was very eager to see all of the events unfold throughout the movie and the acting and directing were suburb. 

Street Date- 4/14/15
Weinstein Company/Anchor Bay
DVD UPC 013132617800 ISBN 9786315911361 SLP $29.98
Blu-ray UPC 013132617817 ISBN 9786315911378 SLP $34.99

by  Denise Chiodo
Account Manager
Baker & Taylor

Acoustically Yours; two quality CDs you’re not likely to hear on commercial radio

           The only radio that I listen to is college radio and a few other listener supported stations that play quality adult oriented music, music by artists that write their own material, and, perform it without extreme electronic enhancement.   Two currently available CDs that are getting repeated airplay on my stereo belong on this category of radio station.  They also belong in your collection too.

Robert Earl Keen is a Texas based singer-songwriter.  Some categorize him in the ilk of Steve Earle or an acoustic Lyle Lovett, and like these artists, he is an apple that does not fall far from the Townes Van Zant tree.  An example of his exceptional story songs is Shades of Grey from his 1997 CD, Picnic, in which he depicts the coincidence of a petty crime crossing into the aftermath of the Oklahoma City terrorist bombing in 1995. Keen’s latest  release, Happy Prisoner is a bluegrass album.  Tracks include traditional songs such as The Long Black Veil, and Wayfaring Stranger which includes a cameo by the Dixie Chicks’ Natalie Maines.    In addition to Maines you will hear others such as Lyle Lovett on the CD, and there is an excellent bluegrass cover of Richard Thompson’s, 1952 Vincent Black Lightning.

James McMurtry’s latest release is entitled Complicated Game  McMurtry can claim Texas singer-songwriter bloodlines as he lived parts of his life in the state and, based on his music, is apparently influenced by the regional musical traditions.  Accomplished artists are likely to resent referential descriptions, but it is worthy to note, especially for literary types, James’s father is Larry McMurtry.  Yes the Lonesome Dove Larry McMurtry.  Complicated Games is an example of the best of the work of Texas singer-songwriters.  The CD is a great display of fine guitar work and great stories that will be appreciated by any fan of real artists that create and perform, without the need for over-engineering.   My favorite track on the CD is South Dakota, in which the narrator talks of the transition from being an active duty soldier, to civilian.

It was too good to be true, but my discharge came through

And I was on the first bird out that I could find

Rode that C-17 into Stuttgart

Fall roundup on my mind

When my brothers picked me up

We got way deep in our cups

We must’ve tore old Rapid City down

My big brother Jack said “Boy it’s good to see you back

What you gonna do now, what you gonna do now?”

                If you collect artist like this or in these categories of music and need two exceptional examples, Keen and McMurtry’s latest works fit the bill.

Complicated Game  | UPC 00889326045816 | Universal Music Group | Street Date  | SLP $
Happy Prisoner  | UPC 00803020168527 | Dualtone/ADA | Street Date | SLP $

by Martin L. Warzala

Director, Collection Management Group



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