Exclusive video premiere!: Harper Simon’s “Wishes and Stars.”

Exclusive video premiere!: Harper Simon’s “Wishes and Stars.” (photo)

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Sometimes the apple don’t fall far from the tree, and thus seems to be with the case with Harper Simon, son of Paul Simon. Quite thankfully. There are hurdles enough in staking a claim as a singer songwriter in your own right without being the son of a living legend. Were I in his place…Well, I would say that I’m just drifting. Here in the pool.

[Harper Simon. Photo by Autumn De Wilde]

And it seems Simon has done his share of drifting in the past, oh yes. But this was no easy vanity record dropped, just because he could. It wasn’t all simple as a bee/as a melody in C as he sings in this song, but a long journey to this point for a man now in his late 30’s and fresh from a tumultuous past. See and hear for yourself with this viddy for “Wishes and Stars,” directed by Joshua Leonard, off Harper Simon’s self-titled debut album.

“Wishes and Stars,” Director’s cut.

Simon co-wrote this winning melancholy ballad with the poet Ben Okri. There are more wishes than stars. That’s just a tremendous line and a hard truth more recognized today than it was back when Simon’s pops released Graceland and we were all bopping around to “You Can Call Me Al” in our PJ’s. All along, there were incidents and accidents, there were hints and allegations. But don’t let it get you down.

In the end, “Wishes and Stars” is just coming to terms with this as we all do, and we’re all right. Just look at that old guy, the motel owner at the end. See? It’s all right. That’s John Perry Barlow, who used to write lyrics for the Grateful Dead. Those are all various friends of Simon’s you see, actors, artists, writers. The clown that looks like he might lose it any minute is Money Mark best known for his dope keyboard work on Beastie Boys records.

Players on the album include folks like Sean Lennon (who plays celeste on “Wishes and Stars”), Aaron Espinoza (Earlimart), Yuka Honda, and Steve Nieve (Elvis Costello) as well as old schoolers like Charlie McCoy (Bob Dylan’s Blonde on Blonde) and even, Paul Simon. But make no mistake this is the the blood and tears of Harper Simon. It’s also an homage to the 60’s and 70’s and the LP. I’m so pleased about that and his desire to craft an album, something those of us in our 30’s (and 40’s) tend to covet more than most.

“The long playing album is the great artistic medium invented in the second half of the 20th century, [it’s] not just ten songs thrown together randomly. It has an arc. It has a structure,” Simon says. “It is the attempt to make ten songs that are all as good as each other, and fit together in a seamless whole. Long playing albums like Sgt Peppers, Bridge Over Troubled Water, Pet Sounds, Blonde On Blonde, Sticky Fingers — these albums have helped define our culture.”

A culture at risk of being lost, drowned out in a digital din, save for artists like Harper Simon.

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Weird Roles

Anthony Michael Hall’s Most Rotten Movies

Catch Anthony Michael Hall in Weird Science on Friday at 8P on IFC.

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Photo Credit: Universal/Everett Collection

Anthony Michael Hall was the quintessential ’80s nerd. We love him in classics like The Breakfast Club and National Lampoon’s Vacation. But even the brainiest among us has his weak spots. In honor of Weird Science airing this Rotten Friday, we analyze Hall’s worst movies.

Weird Science (1985) 56%

A low point for John Hughes, Weird Science is way too wacky for its own good. Anthony Michael Hall’s Gary and his pal Wyatt (Ilan Mitchell-Smith) create the “perfect woman.” Supernatural chaos ensues. The film costars a young Bill Paxton, floppy disks, and a general disconnect from all reality.

The Caveman’s Valentine (2001) 46%

This ambitious drama starring Samuel L. Jackson couldn’t live up to its rich premise. Jackson plays Romulus, a Juilliard-educated, paranoid schizophrenic who lives in a cave. Hall co-stars as Bob, a rich man, who wants to see Romulus play the piano. The plot centers around Romulus investigating a murder, but with so much going on, the movie never quite finds its rhythm.

All About the Benjamins (2002) 30%

Ice Cube plays a bounty hunter who teams up with Mike Epps’ con man to catch diamond thieves. Hall plays Lil J, a small-time drug dealer. It’s definitely a role we’ve never seen Hall in, but overall the movie isn’t funny or original enough to justify its violence.

Freddy Got Fingered (2001) 11%

This showcase for Tom Green’s goofy gross-out comedy is often hailed as one of the worst films of all time. Green plays Gord, a 20-something slacker, who dreams of having his own animated series. Hall is Dave Davidson, a CEO of an animation studio who eventually helps Gord find success. Too bad Tom Green wasn’t so lucky.

Johnny Be Good (1988) 0%

Hall plays against type as Johnny Walker, a star quarterback. Robert Downey Jr. is his best friend and Uma Thurman plays his devoted girlfriend. Despite the support of a future A-list cast, the movie lacks central conflict and charm. Or, as TV Guide put it, “Johnny be worthless.” Ouch.

Catch the “Too Rotten to Miss” Weird Science this Friday at 8P on IFC.

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Season 6: Episode 1: Pickathon

Binge Fest

Portlandia Season 6 Now Available On DVD

The perfect addition to your locally-sourced, artisanal DVD collection.

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End of summer got you feeling like:

Portlandia Toni Screaming GIF

Ease into fall with Portlandia‘s sixth season. Relive the latest exploits of Fred Armisen and Carrie Brownstein’s cast of characters, including Doug and Claire’s poignant breakup, Lance’s foray into intellectual society, and the terrifying rampage of a tsukemen Noodle Monster! Plus, guest stars The Flaming Lips, Glenn Danzig, Louis C.K., Kevin Corrigan, Zoë Kravitz, and more stop by to experience what Portlandia is all about.

Pick up a copy of the DVD today, or watch full episodes and series extras now on IFC.com and the IFC app.

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Byrning Down the House

Everything You Need to Know About the Film That Inspired “Final Transmission”

Documentary Now! pays tribute to "Stop Making Sense" this Wednesday at 10P on IFC.

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Photo Credit: Cinecom/courtesy Everett Collection

This week Documentary Now! is with the band. For everyone who’s ever wanted to be a roadie without leaving the couch, “Final Transmission” pulls back the curtain on experimental rock group Test Pattern’s final concert. Before you tune in Wednesday at 10P on IFC, plug your amp into this guide for Stop Making Sense, the acclaimed 1984 Talking Heads concert documentary.

Put on Your Dancing Shoes

Hailed as one of the best concert films ever created, director Jonathan Demme (Silence of the Lambs) captured the energy and eccentricities of a band known for pushing the limits of music and performance.

Make an Entrance

Lead singer David Byrne treats the concert like a story: He enters an empty stage with a boom box and sings the first song on the setlist solo, then welcomes the other members of the group to the stage one song at a time.

Steal the Spotlight

David Byrne Dancing
Cinecom/Everett Collection

Always a physical performer, Byrne infuses the stage and the film with contagious joy — jogging in place, dancing with lamps, and generally carrying the show’s high energy on his shoulders.

Suit Yourself

Byrne makes a splash in his “big suit,” a boxy business suit that grows with each song until he looks like a boy who raided his father’s closet. Don’t overthink it; on the DVD, the singer explains, “Music is very physical, and often the body understands it before the head.”

View from the Front Row

Stop Making Sense Band On Stage
Cinecom/Everett Collection

Demme (who also helmed 1987’s Swimming to Cambodia, the inspiration for this season’s Documentary Now! episode “Parker Gail’s Location is Everything”) films the show by putting viewers in the audience’s shoes. The camera rarely shows the crowd and never cuts to interviews or talking heads — except the ones onstage.

Let’s Get Digital

Tina Weymouth Keyboard
Cinecom/Everett Collection

Stop Making Sense isn’t just a good time — it’s also the first rock movie to be recorded entirely using digital audio techniques. The sound holds up more than 30 years later.

Out of Pocket

Talk about investing in your art: Talking Heads drummer Chris Frantz told Rolling Stone that the members of the band “basically put [their] life savings” into the movie, and they didn’t regret it.

Catch Documentary Now!’s tribute to Stop Making Sense when “Final Transmission” premieres Wednesday, October 12 at 10P on IFC.

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