This week in popular culture: “Doctor Strange” “Moonlight” and a mess of albums

“The Lyrics, 1961-2012” by Bob Dylan (Simon & Schuster). As you might have heard, this guy just won the Nobel Prize in Literature. Here’s why, more or less. (Nov. 1)

“Avengers” #1 (Marvel). Good jumping on point for all things Avengers. Current roster includes Captain America (Sam Wilson), Thor (Jane Foster), Vision, The Wasp (Nadia Pym), Hercules, and Spider-Man (Peter Parker). Mark Waid writes, Mike Del Mundo draws. (Nov. 2)

“Champions” #2 (Marvel). Mark Waid is also writing this fun book, which focuses on younger heroes disillusioned with the old fogey Avengers.

“Doctor Strange.” The next chapter in the Marvel Cinematic Universe stars Benedict “Sherlock” Cumberbatch as Dr. Stephen Strange, an arrogant surgeon who becomes humbled after his hands are damaged in a car accident. Seeking answers to life, the universe and everything, he travels to the East to study that which man was maybe not meant to know and becomes a master of the mystic arts. There was a bit of drama over Tilda Swinton cast as the Tibetan-in-the-comics Ancient One, given that she is not Asian. Chiwetel Ejiofor plays Baron Mordo (who may or may not be a bad guy; he is in the comics), and Mads Mikkelsen plays the super-obscure baddie Kaecilius.

Dr. Strange is the creation of Marvel creative godfather Stan Lee and Steve Ditko, also the creative team behind Spider-Man (whatever happened to that character?). While Spider-Man was very much the Hero Who Could Be You (school/work stress, lived with weirdly old aunt, girl trouble) who fought (in the beginning, anyway) street crime and midpowered supervillains, Dr. Strange was the hero who lived in a weird pad in Greenwich Village, had a servant named Wong (mercifully not a servant in the movie) and fought bizarre baddies in other dimensions while holding his hands in really odd ways. In an era when Marvel was giving comics fans increasingly psychedelic work, “Strange” was the trippiest. With luck, this will be a Marvel movie with a look and feel unlike any other. (Nov. 4)

moonlight-poster “Moonlight.” Barry Jenkins writes and directs this adaptation of Tarell Alvin McCraney’s play “In Moonlight Black Boys Look Blue.” Starring University of Texas graduate Trevante Rhodes, André Holland, Janelle Monáe and Mahershala Ali, the film is the first in-house production from indie powerhouse A24. It is also absolutely, positively one of the year’s very best movies. (Nov. 4)

 Common, “Black America Again” (Artium/Def Jam). America’s favorite rapper-turned-actor who isn’t Will Smith (OK, maybe he’s more popular than Smith at this point) delivers a new album complete with Stevie Wonder, John Legend, Bilal, Syd tha Kid and more. (Nov. 4)

Jim James, “Eternally Even” (ATO/Capitol). The My Morning Jacket frontman produces an allegedly political album, so, you know, it’s come to this. (Nov. 4)

Alicia Keys, “Here” (RCA). It’s the singer and “Voice” co-host’s sixth album and her first since “Girl on Fire” from 2012. The collection will likely include “Blended Family,” “In Common” and “Hallelujah” (not the Leonard Cohen song). (Nov. 4)

Tad, “God’s Balls (Deluxe Edition),” “Salt Lick (Deluxe Edition),” “8-Way Santa (Deluxe Edition)” (Sub Pop). Everything grunge is new again with the re-release of this Seattle outfit’s 1989, 1990 and 1991 albums. (Nov. 4)

This week in popular culture: John Grisham, Alejandro and “Inferno!”

“The Whistler” by John Grisham (Doubleday). In the newest by legal thriller savant John Grisham, an investigator for the  Florida Board on Judicial Conduct gets a top about a corrupt judge from a sketchy lawyer and gets pulled into a world of Native American casinos, the Gulf Coast mob and deadly secrets. (Oct. 25)

detail “Vision” #12 by Tom King and Gabriel Hernandez Walta. (Marvel). Here it is, the long-awaited conclusion to the year’s most emotionally affecting series from Marvel.  King and Walta have crafted one of the all-time great superhero fables. Look for writers to be ripping off this series for years to come.

Neil Diamond, “Acoustic Christmas” (Capitol). The Jewish Elvis is still out there, making that music. Mazel tov, Santa! (Oct. 28)

“Inferno.” The third movie in the Dan Brown series, following “The Da Vinci Code” and “Angels & Demons,” wherein Tom Hanks again plays Dr. Robert Langdon and Ron Howard directs him once again (likely) giving a whole lot of exposition about vast conspiracies. (Oct. 28)

Nina Diaz, “The  Beat Is Dead” (Cosmica). Girl In A Coma’s solo joint is more of a big-beats-n-bigger-guitars rock album than Coma’s punkish roar. Not too shabby. (Oct. 28)

Kyle Dixon & Michael Stein, “Stranger  Things (A Netflix Original Series) – Volume Two”  (Lakeshore). Another volume of soundtrack work from two Austinites in S U R V I V E. (Oct. 28)

Alejandro Escovedo, “Burn  Something Beautiful” (Fantasy). Peter Buck and Scott McCaughey helm the NOW DALLAS-BASED rock icon’s new album. YES, HE LIVES IN DALLAS NOW, PEOPLE. (Oct. 28)



Posters, toys and “A Clockwork Orange:” MondoCon3 is here!

It’s time for MondoCon 3, which takes place Oct. 22-23 at the Austin Film Society Cinema (6226 Middle Fiskville Road) and the Holiday Inn Midtown Conference Center.

Mondo is, of course, the graphics and merch arm of the Alamo Drafthouse. Mondo is most famous for their limited-edition, screen-printed posters based on film, television and comic properties, and MondoCon is a celebration of all things Mondo.

It is a celebration of, in a word, stuff.

con_beer_square_grandeNo, really. The “stuffness” of Mondo is very deliberate, what with its focus on collectibles, vinyl records and things one can hang on a wall.

One of the stuff achievements Mondo unlocked this year? Their own beer, called Con Beer, a hoppy lager brewed by Austin Beerworks.

“It is being canned even as we speak,” MondoCon head cheese Justin Brookhart said Wednesday.

The halls at AFC will be packed with poster artists such as Austinite Becky Cloonan, Olly Moss (a British artist Brookhart describes as a huge get for the fest), comics artist Jock, and Jay Shaw.

At one event, called “Mondo Live: Draw & Design,” Moss, Jock and Shaw will be participating in a live jam to create a poster in real time.

“The audience will pick the movie, and then those three will draw it,” Brookhart said.

Elsewhere, composer Clint Mansell will be in attendance to celebrate the 10th anniversary of Darren Aronofsky’s “The Fountain” and the release of a new Mondo vinyl for the soundtrack. “A Clockwork Orange,” also celebrating an anniversary (45 years), will screen in glorious 35mm at the convention with a surprise limited-edition screen print from artist Rory Kurtz.

The Graduate by Rory Kurtz 24"x36" Screen Print, Edition of 325
The Graduate by Rory Kurtz
24″x36″ Screen Print, Edition of 325 (This is not the Clockwork Orange poster. Obviously.)

Panels include such topics as a behind-the-scenes look at how Mondo creates its collectible toys, a discussion of the state of soundtracks in 2016 and a panel on the popular site (Look for a review of OMGPosters’ new book next month in the American-Statesman.)

There is also a silent auction featuring rare posters and a mess of food trucks, including Frank Hotdogs, Micklethwait Craft Meats, Vegan Nom and many more.

Tickets are $90 for both days and $45 for Saturday or Sunday only. While 75 percent of the seats have been held for RSVPs, there will be a line for the remaining 25 percent of seats, plus any no-show RSVP spots. It is possible the screenings will be sold out at press time; check for updates.


The week in popular culture: “Supergirl,” “Boyhood” comes to Criterion and Moby

Superman and Supergirl in "Supergirl" (photo: The CW)
Superman and Supergirl in “Supergirl” (photo: The CW)

“Supergirl” (The CW). The often-extremely charming superhero series, which co-stars former Austinite Mehcad Brooks as James “Jimmy” Olsen, returns for a second season. The show moved from CBS to sister network the CW, filming moved from LA to Vancouver,  and the cast is joined this year by Tyler Hoechlin (“Everybody Wants Some”) as Clark Kent/Superman, which insures that the Man of Steel will always have five o’clock shadow.  (Oct. 10)

“The General vs. the President: MacArthur and Truman at the Brink of Nuclear War” by H.W. Brands (Doubleday). The Austin historian breaks down one of the most dangerous periods of 20th-century American history. (Oct. 11)

8192l4agb0l-_sx342_“Boyhood: The Criterion Collection” (Criterion). It was only a matter of time, really. With a 2K digital transfer, supervised by Austin director Richard Linklater, a new audio commentary featuring Linklater and nine members of the film’s cast and crew, a new documentary chronicling the film’s production, a new discussion featuring Linklater and actors Patricia Arquette and Ellar Coltrane, moderated by producer John Pierson, a new conversation between Coltrane and actor Ethan Hawke, a new video essay by critic Michael Koresky about time in Linklater’s films, an essay by the great Jonathan Lethem and more. (Oct. 11)

The Austin Film Festival. The 23rd annual fest kicks off with a screening of Austin director Jeff Nichol’s “Loving.” (Oct. 13-20)

Darkthrone, “Arctic Thunder” (Peaceville). Magnificent black metal from some of the best in the game. Drummer Gylve Fenris Nagell, aka Fenriz, was recently elected councilman of Kolbotn, Norway. No, really. (Oct. 14)

The Dillinger Escape Plan “Dissociation”  (Party Smasher Inc. / Cooking Vinyl). The math-metal titans’ first album since 2013. The riffs will be very complicated indeed. (Oct, 14)

Dr. John “The Musical Mojo of Dr. John: A Celebration of Mac and His Music” (Concord). Concert at New Orleans’ Saenger Theatre celebrating John’s music; with  Bruce  Springsteen, John Fogerty, Irma Thomas, Widespread Panic, Warren Haynes,  Mavis Staples, Aaron Neville, etc.

Kings of Leon “Walls” (RCA). To the surprise of many, possibly including the band themselves, this is the band;s seventh album. Expect a different, larger sound.  (producer: Markus Dravs; Read here; MP3)

Moby & The Void Pacific Choir “These Systems Are Failing” (Mute).   Most timely, accurate album title ever.