Skepta has released “Bullet From a Gun,” the first song from his new album Ignorance Is Bliss. Check out the track, produced by Skepta and Ragz Originale, below. Another new Skepta song is due later today, according to a press release.
The follow-up to 2016’s Mercury Prize-winningKonnichiwa arrives May 31 on Skepta’s Boy Better Know label. In 2017, Skepta released the EP Vicious, featuring Lil B, A$AP Rocky, A$AP Nast, and Section Boyz.
The Pitch: A rag-tag crew of crusty punks evade the law by leaving the city and heading out into the woods, where one of their friends has a secluded family cabin. Unfortunately for them, they’re not alone as they come face to face with the titular terror, who may or may not recognize said friend. Will these punks survive this sordid “Police Story”?
Police On My Back: Okay, so it’s a little Green Room, it’s a little Evil Dead, and it’s a little Cabin Fever, but what really elevates this woodsy story from being, well, another woodsy story is its capitalization on authority horror. At a time when those red and blue lights have taken on an ominous turn, a villain like Jeremy Holm’s Ranger really works.
It helps that Holm rips apart every scene with his bare hands, dialing back to ’90s DTV villainy in the most complementary way. Whether he’s swinging axes into people’s jaws or pressuring a snotty teen to tear their leg from a bear trap, he’s always grinning like an asshole, and you can’t help but relish every second he magically appears.
Yet you also can’t help but shudder, either, no pun intended. Holm’s caricature is a haunting image whose power comes in his tyrannical sense of self. Writer-director Jenn Wexler and co-writer Giaco Furino really squeezes the butane on that Duraflame log, roasting mallow on the palpable notion that he actually feels entitled to this carnage.
Holm sprints with that idea, too, spitting out all sorts of legal mumbo-jumbo, as if what he’s saying gives him a pass to, say, shotgun someone’s head off or leave a hapless victim for the wolves. It’s all played with tongue-in-cheek, admittedly, but there is something powerful in that brand of horror, and likely worth more kindling in the near future.
Career Opportunities: After two shorts and several producer credits to her name, Wexler makes her feature film debut with The Ranger and leaves quite an impression. Using buckets of neon paint and boomboxes chock full of brash punk rock, Wexler adds a stylish layer to the action that saves this entry from the onslaught of digital horror.
What also benefits the story is how Wexler doesn’t simply indulge in the confines of nostalgia. Like It Follows or The Guest, there’s a sense of respect for VHS horror, but not a slavish devotion to it, and that’s a relief. If anything, she indulges in the narrative minimalism of yesteryear, while keeping the gore disturbingly modern.
Police and Thieves: The problem is that the characters are insufferable. Well, most of them. Despite the economy, namely the refreshing inclusion of a interracial queer couple, everyone is so goddamn vicious and brutal to one another, and while that may be the point (they are jerkstore punks, after all) the vitriol doesn’t add much.
If anything, you kind of want them to hit the road, so you can get to the core conflict at hand, which is between Holm and Chloë Levine’s Chelsea. Wexler and Furino clearly reserved any pathos and empathy in the film for Chelsea, bleeding out her story with a rare kind of patience that works both for and against the story.
It wouldn’t work without Levine, though, who says so much with so little. You get a sense of this early on, too, particularly when they reach the cabin and she struggles to lay down her own rules. There are so many natural tics to her delivery, all of which come to head by the end, when she’s taking the law into her own hands.
Wexler and Levine … keep an eye on both.
The Verdict:The Ranger is the type of Friday night rental you’re stoked to have found by Saturday morning, which is why it makes sense that Shudder picked it up. Pulpy, sensational, stylish, and merciless, Wexler shows a ton of promise as a filmmaker, and may even have a potential muse in Levine as she continues her hike into horror.
Where’s It Playing?The Ranger can be found watching over Shudder starting May 9th.
The Pitch: The good guys (so far as there are any good guys in Game of Thrones) are licking their wounds and burying their dead after the Battle of Winterfell. But after a time to mourn, there’s also a time to celebrate, and to start thinking about what tomorrow looks like, now that there is a tomorrow to think about. The first half of “The Last of the Starks” builds to that festive atmosphere, one that lets our heroes bask and joke and revel in the afterglow of their victory, before whatever comes next.
What comes next, though, is more goodbyes, more friction, and more plans to firmly and finally take the Iron Throne. After “The Great War” is finished, Daenerys Targaryen (Emilia Clarke) and company want to immediately turn their attention to dethroning Cersei Lannister (Lena Headey) and taking King’s Landing before her enemies have time to regroup. But Sansa (Sophie Turner) and Arya (Maisie Williams) have their doubts over whether she’s fit to rule, while Euron’s (Pilou Asbæk) forces have been lying in wait all this time.
It’s a series of blows from within and without for the Dragon Queen, and a big win for Cersei. It all leads to one last mutual demand for surrender, before both forces retrench around the Iron Throne and await the final battle to decide who’ll rule the Seven Kingdoms once and for all.
Can’t Hardly Wait … For the Throne: It’s remarkable how Game of Thrones manages to take an initially solemn feast, one that takes place after our heroes commit so many of their fallen brethren to their final resting places, and somehow capture the fun, awkwardness, and, at times, dispiriting atmosphere of a raucous college party, to absolute perfection.
The same things you’d expect from a freewheeling kegger in a ’90s frat house comedy are present here: friends playing drinking games and trying to hook up, different vibes ebbing and flowing as various cliques clash and crash into one another, couples devolving into tumultuous relationship drama, and pseudo-philosophical conversations about how things might change after graduation. “The Last of the Starks” has it all.
But those feast scenes also feature some of the most heartening and harrowing moments in an episode with much more explosive events at play. Gendry (Joe Dempsie), having become the Lord of the Stormlands, professes his love to Arya and asks her to be his wife. She lets him down as easy as she can, reaffirming that she isn’t a lady and never has been, in a scene that is both heartbreaking and rousing at once. Instead, Arya partners with The Hound (Rory McCann) once again, off to try to cross one more name off her list.
And after years of the most roundabout flirting imaginable, Brienne (Gwendoline Christie) and Jaime (Nikolaj Coster-Waldau) consummate their long-simmering-never-spoken romance. It is the most cheering thing to happen this season and maybe in the series, with the promise of a happily ever after, or what passes for it in Westeros, fleetingly grasped by the two of them.
Of course, this being Game of Thrones, that happy ending’s snatched away from them when Jaime learns what his sister did, and decides that such happy endings are not meant for a man who’s done the things he’s done. He heads back to King’s Landing and devastates poor Brienne in the process.
These scenes, and much lighter ones, are filled with glimpses of messy relationships, uncomfortable reminders of the past and the future, and bits of camaraderie and commiseration. They expertly depict those unmistakable moments when the party is winding down, all your friends are breaking off, and everyone tries to figure out where they fit into whatever’s left.
Loose Lips Sink Dany’s Ships: Like all big parties, the one at Winterfell ends with major rumors being spread. Despite Dany begging him not to, Jon (Kit Harington) confides in Sansa and Arya about his parentage. That leads to Sansa telling Tyrion (Peter Dinklage) who tells Varys (Conleth Hill), and all of a sudden we have a full blown crisis of faith in our queen-to-be on our hands.
But it’s not just Jon’s bloodline connection to the throne that complicates things. It’s the fact that he might be right for it. Tyrion, Varys, Sansa, and even Dany herself are not just hesitating because Jon is the next Targaryen in the line of succession. They consider changing or pressing their allegiances because the people, at least the people who know him, want to follow him.
Jon inspires loyalty, and unlike all the other people plotting and scheming for power, he genuinely doesn’t want to sit on the Iron Throne. As Varys notes, in yet another superb throne-adjacent rumination with his impish counterpart, that may be the very thing that makes him perfect for it.
It’s also the thing that makes Jon a threat to the woman he loves, and that worries his family, especially due to his willingness to bend the knee. As Jon marches south towards King’s Landing, Sansa notes that the men of Winterfell haven’t done well in the capitol, particularly when carrying information that could weaken another ambitious ruler’s claim to the throne.
Information is currency, and as the major operators of Westeros admit to one another, when that information reaches the people who don’t know or care about Dany’s adventures on the other side of the Narrow Sea, that secret may change everyone’s lives, whether they want it to or not.
It’s a Mad Mad Mad Mad Queen: That’s not the only reason Daenerys’ advisors are having second thoughts. One of the biggest questions remaining after “The Last of the Starks” is whether Dany will remain patient and wait to starve out Cersei and her allies or if she will follow in the footsteps of her ancestors and reign fire down upon the city in order to extricate her rival from within it … whatever the cost.
Game of Thrones, and Cersei herself, seem poised to bring out whatever part of The Mad King still lies within Daenerys Targaryen. Cersei invites (or potentially forces) her citizens into the Red Keep, using them as human shields so that if Dany descends on King’s Landing intending to bathe it in flames, she’ll have to kill scores of innocents to do it.
Euron slays Rhaegal, her child, in his ambush, testing whatever bit of mercy remains in a queen who is already chomping at the bit to take what she’s been taught is her destiny and birthright. And in the final moments of the episode, Cersei orders The Mountain to kill Missandei (Nathalie Emmanuel) who, when given the chance to offer her last words, utters only one — “Dracarys.”
It’s the same bit of old Valyrian Dany uttered back in Season Three, when she freed the Unsullied and Missandei herself by unleashing a torrent of fire upon those that enslaved them. With her dying words, Missandei invites her queen to do the same once more, to shed the advice of her worried counselors and get revenge for her best friend, for her child, and for the father who once threatened, at the peak of his own madness, to do the same.
The Verdict: “The Last of the Starks” is a lumpy outing for Game of Thrones. Half-epilogue for the Battle of Winterfell, half-table setting for the Battle of King’s Landing, and held together by questions of whether Jon Snow or Daenerys Targaryen are the right fit to rule these lands, it’s an episode filled with plenty of fine pieces that don’t always fit together.
Those early scenes have that same warm, if fraught, hangout vibe that the first two episodes of the season did, making the audience glad for the chance to spend time with these characters and say our goodbyes before even more of them meet an untimely end.
The middle section is full of those high-minded but pointed conversations that ask, but don’t answer, the big questions about leadership and the right to rule that the series has been asking since the beginning.
And the end of “The Last of the Starks” is full of those unwelcome surprises and tense standoffs that keep your heart-pumping in that characteristic Game of Thrones way.
Whether it all amounts to something worth this eight-season wait remains to be seen. But one thing is for sure — as it heads into its final two episodes, Game of Thrones isn’t afraid to test the mettle of hero and villain alike, or to question whether, and when, one might become the other.
–When will the remaining good guys fight Cersei? We’re still banking on it happening in the next episode, unless this whole deal is one big swerve. Expect the aftermath of the Battle of King’s Landing and final struggle for whether Dany, Jon, or some mystery contestant should take the throne to happen in the final episode.
–How do the remaining good guys stack up against Cersei’s forces? When plotting their next move, Dany’s advisors take any number of Dothraki and Unsullied warriors off the board, declaring that the balance between her army and Cersei’s is much more even now. That is, however, before Euron’s army takes out Rhaegal and another big chunk of the Dragon Queen’s fleet. Now, Qyburn rightly points out that Daenerys’s remaining forces are battle-weary and her last dragon is vulnerable to his spear-shooting contraptions. We’d still bet on Team Dany coming out on top, but the fight just got a lot more risky for her.
–Will Bronn kill Jaime and/or Tyrion? He sure as hell will if he doesn’t end up with Highgarden! Bronn (Jerome Flynn) makes his first appearance since the premiere here, threatening his former employers at the end of a crossbow, but also hedging his bets. We’d expect that hedging to continue, with Bronn taking out one brother and trying to extract a concession from the other.
–Is/Was Cersei pregnant? She seems legitimately moved by Tyrion’s appeal to her love for her children, almost against her will. Whether that’s due to the thought of her unborn child, or of a child who will never be born, remains to be seen. Whatever the answer, she’s still claiming to be pregnant, only now she says that Euron’s the father. (Maybe she can have a joint baby shower with Gilly who, if her prior naming convention holds, will be calling her new child Li’l Jon. Okay!)
–Are the White Walkers gone for good? The Freefolk are heading back to the North (the real North), so by god, we hope so.
–Who makes it to the end? We lose Missandei and a dragon here, which narrows the field a little, and both Arya and The Hound make fatalistic (if vaguely-worded) declarations about never coming back to Winterfell. Still, we expect most, if not all, of the Starks to make it, especially Sansa, who’s playing grandmaster-level four dimensional chess these days.
–Who will sit on the Iron Throne? Just for a change of pace this week, let’s say Varys. As Tyrion notes, he’s seen multiple kings rule, and as his throwback throne room speech suggests, he has the good of the people in mind. Sure, Varys doesn’t have much of a claim, but that makes him as wheel-breaking and untyrannical a new ruler for the Seven Kingdoms as we can imagine.
Back in 2017, it was announced that screenwriter Diablo Cody (Juno, Tully) had penned a musical based on Alanis Morissette’s 1995 album Jagged Little Pill. Now, it’s coming to Broadway. The production will open for previews at New York’s Broadhurst Theatre on November 3, with an opening night slated for December 5. Pre-sale tickets for the play will be available May 6-8, and you can purchase them here. Check out a version of “You Learn” from the production below.
Jagged Little Pill is directed by Tony Award-winning director Diane Paulus, and will feature songs off of Morissette’s landmark album as well as other tracks from her discography. Last year, the musical made its debut with a sold-out, 10-week run at the American Repertory Theater in Cambridge, Massachusetts. The cast of the show has yet to be announced.
(Editor’s note: The following article contains descriptions of sexual assault, domestic abuse, and animal abuse.)
Reports have emerged from The Blast regarding court documents from an ongoing case between veteran actor (and longtime voice of Winnie the Pooh) Jim Cummings and his ex-wife Stephanie. In them, Stephanie accuses Cummings of rape, animal abuse, and sustained harassment of her over several years. The couple initially separated in 2011.
The Blast reported the news based on court documents obtained (which were not included in the article), from legal filings between the two in their divorce proceedings. In the documents, Stephanie alleges that Cummings “has engaged in physical, sexual and emotional abuse including but not limited to death threats, rape, and various sexual deviant behavior forced upon me without my consent.”
The court claims speak to a battery of abusive behavior during and after their marriage, from harassment in front of their children (the ) to drug abuse to repeated violations of restraining orders. In the filings, Stephanie also alleges that “…she was raped by Jim in 2013, and allegedly filed a police report over the incident but did not give more detail. In open court testimony, Stephanie describes how she entered rehab after the rape for ‘co-dependency’ and Jim showed up to the facility unannounced and was asked to leave.” She also alleges that Jim attempted to extort sex from her in exchange for the fulfillment of his child support obligations.
For his part, Jim has vehemently denied all allegations. In court, he reportedly claimed that “[Stephanie] will have outbursts of hostility directed at me, and often change in her behavior and attitude comes without warning.” He claimed she threatened to ruin his career, quoting her as saying, “I will go and I will ruin your reputation … I am going to tell people Winnie the Pooh is a woman beating, drug addicted freak!”
Jim Cummings, 66, has voiced Winnie the Pooh since 1998. His other film credits include playing Dr. Robotnik in Sonic the Hedgehog, the Tasmanian Devil, and Darkwing Duck.
Hetfield plays Officer Bob Hayward, the highway patrolman who arrested Bundy in 1975. While it may be his first dramatic acting role, Hetfield had previous experience working with the film’s director, Joe Berliner, who co-directed the infamous Metallica documentary Some Kind of Monster.
Last night on Jimmy Kimmel Live!, Efron was asked by the late-night host about working with the Metallica legend, and the actor immediately applauded at hearing Kimmel utter Hetfield’s name. “He comes on the set, and it’s one of the more pivotal moments,” began Efron. “It’s the moment that Ted actually got caught for the first time — he ran a stop sign. And James Hetfield plays the policeman that picks him up.”
Efron continued, “And James Hetfield, to his credit, and absolutely nailed the part, he just crushed it. It’s like he’s been acting his own life. He had no fear. He did a great job. I was ready to maybe give James Hetfield [an acting] tip, but he didn’t ask for a single one. James Hetfield is the sh*t!”
Kimmel then quipped, “Of all the stories about Ted Bundy, I never knew he was arrested by Metallica. I had no idea.” To which Efron responded, “Even though I was acting … when I got pulled over by James Hetfield, it was kinda like a dream come true. [For] a lot of dudes, it would be their dream come true.” Watch the full exchange below.
When he’s not crushing film roles, Hetfield is busy touring with the biggest metal band on the planet. Metallica closed out the North American leg of their “WorldWired Tour” in March (read our review of the final US show), but kick off a European leg tonight (May 1st) with supporting act Ghost in Lisbon, Portugal. In October, they’ll embark on a tour of Australia and New Zealand with Slipknot, preceded by a pair of “S&M2” performances with the San Francisco Symphony in September. Tickets for Metallica’s upcoming shows are available here.
On Sunday, April 28, BBC Radio 3 program “Unclassified” shared brand new music from Thom Yorke. “Unclassified” presenter Elizabeth Alker played Yorke’s first-ever classical piece “Don’t Fear the Light,” as well as a recording of the live premiere of Yorke’s song “Gawpers.” Listen to “Don’t Fear the Light” around 27:30 and “Gawpers” at 47:20 on the archived “Unclassified” episode.
Both original songs were debuted in concert during the “Minimalist Dream House” performance at the Philharmonie de Paris on April 7. Neither have been unavailable until now, “Gawpers” having been performed live only four times as part of Yorke’s recent tour. “Unclassified”’s broadcast of the pieces marks the first time they’ve been played on the radio.
“Don’t Fear the Light” is a three-part composition for two pianos, electronics, and modular synthesizer. “Minimalist Dream House” was orchestrated by sisters Katia and Marielle Labeque, and featured performances by the National’s Bryce Dessner, French composer, and producer David Chalmin, in addition to Yorke.
Sunday’s episode of “Unclassified” also aired Yorke’s performance of “Suspirium,” a track his recent soundtrack for Luca Guadagnino’s remake of Suspiria.
Nerds are currently in a tizzy about Jeopardy! ’s reigning champion James Holzhauer. Using hyper-aggressive betting tactics backed with quick reflexes and a massive knowledge base, the pro sports bettor has been breaking records on a near nightly basis and is close to surpassing Ken Jennings’ $2.5 million in total winnings.
During a discussion about Holzhauer’s unique gaming style, Jennings divulged details of a rule that prevents contestants from wagering certain amounts during Final Jeopardy. The conversation started after Jennings quipped that “I don’t feel I get enough credit for making small, sensible Jeopardy wagers, which helped the show with its prize budget.” After a fan joked about him consistently betting $69 each night, Jennings confirmed that the amount was now “officially forbidden on Jeopardy now, as of last year.”
Turns out $69 is one of five banned wager amounts, though the other four are drastically less sexy. The devil’s number, $666, is similarly banned, as are three numbers associated with neo-Nazi propaganda ($14, $88, and $1488).
this is officially forbidden on Jeopardy now, as of last year. not even joking.
In other Jeopardy! related news, in March, Alex Trebek revealed that he was diagnosed with Stage 4 pancreatic cancer. However, as of two weeks ago, the beloved game-show host announced that he was “feeling good” and had plans to host the long-running program’s 36th season.
Metal Swim 2 was curated by Laura Sterritt, a producer that has been part of the Adult Swim team since 2015. She had this to say about the music available on this comp: “The spirit of metal manifests for listeners in all kinds of ways: as an art form, as an emotional outlet, and just good ol’ fashioned fun. I was excited to curate this group of forerunners from metal’s wide swath of subgenres, so both longtime metalheads and newcomers alike could find something within that resonates with them.”
The full tracklist for the compilation has yet to be revealed and won’t be until stream goes live on May 3rd. What we do know is that in addition to the artists mentioned above, Metal Swim 2 will feature tracks from The Body, Akvan, Nervosa, Dreadnought, Volahn, and Dark Castle, as well as something from Kat Katz and Andy Gibbs of Thou. The collection also boasts original artwork (see above) from Becky Cloonan, the Italian comic book creator who became the first female artist to draw the main Batman title in 2012.
Adult Swim has been a huge supporter of metal over the last decade, releasing exclusive tracks from the likes of Mastodon, Absu, and Sleep as part of their ongoing Singles Program series. And in 2010, they released the first Metal Swim compilation, which featured rare and unreleased work from Isis, Death Angel, Ludrica, and Skeletonwitch, among a host of other tunes. All of them are still available for download through their music site.
This Friday, ScHoolboy Q will return with his latest album, CrasH Talk , via Top Dawg Entertainment. In anticipation, he’s unveiled one final preview track.
“CrasH” comes on the heels of previously revealed offerings “Numb Numb Juice” featuring Tyler, the Creator and “CHopstix” featuring Travis Scott. While these past two singles sported special guests, this latest number finds the Los Angeles rapper on his own, spitting an easy flow over the two-and-a-half-minute song’s laidback beat. Listen to “CrasH” below.
CrasH Talk follows up ScHoolboy Q’s acclaimed 2016 Blank Face LP and a handful of one-off songs and collaborations. The 14-track collection also sports cameos from Kid Cudi, 21 Savage, Lil Baby, Ty Dolla $ign, and YG