Culture Lust's November Picks
The chill of fall has arrived, bringing a refreshing feeling of change in the air. After the spookiness of Halloween, the noise of the election and natural disasters of epic proportions, it’s easy to feel the sense of impending doom. But fret not. Amidst this chaos, so too, comes excitement for the new and innovative. This month is no exception — from psychedelic musicals and scorned stars, to Midwestern bands and revamped film festivals, it’s all happening in November.
After seeing the highly criticized documentary film "Catfish" two years ago at the Berkeley Pacific Film Archive, I was blown away. My friends and I argued over whether the film was a documentary, but in the end it didn’t matter. It left its mark and reminded us that Internet personas are often the most mysterious of them all. Yaniv “Nev” Schulman, the star of the 2010 film, decided to take aspects of the film to reality TV. His new MTV show "Catfish: The TV Show" will debut this month and focuses on the lives of others in online relationships. Many and most of these couples haven’t met each other in real life, promising enough drama for the post-MySpace era. "Catfish: The TV Show" premieres Friday, November 9 on MTV.
The 13th annual San Diego Asian Film Festival (SDAFF) returns this month under a brand new production name: the Pacific Arts Movement (Pac-Arts). Formerly the San Diego Asian Film Foundation, the nonprofit organization name change is due in part to confusion with their festival of a similar name, and a desire to raise awareness about other projects. With the festival’s return comes an eclectic mix of films — from classic martial arts pictures of the 1970s, to contemporary romantic comedies about divorce. Be on the lookout for more from Pac-Arts in the months to come, including a project titled “Drive By Cinema.” The SDAFF kicks off Thursday, November 1 and runs through Friday, November 9 at the Birch North Park Theatre.
North Park continues to be regarded as a happening place, and was recently rated by Forbes as one of the nation's top hipster neighborhoods. With so many bars and restaurants, it's often difficult to plan for the perfect night out on the town. Good news: the monthly SD DrinkAbout provides a fun bus ride journey to bars in Normal Heights, North Park and South Park — from Sea Rocket Bistro and the Station, to Ritual Tavern and Bar Eleven. It's a smart (and free) way to drink without driving. DrinkAbout occurs on the third Wednesday of every month; this month's event is Wednesday, November 21 (the day before Thanksgiving so you don't have to work the next day).
Given the title, it could be easy to write off the film “Save the Date” as yet another female-driven comedy about a wedding in the guise of “Bridesmaids” or “Bachelorette.” Based on the trailer alone and the all-star indie cast, it looks like this may not be the case. The film, from the producers of “Garden State,” follows the story of two sisters on very different roads to marriage. Perhaps it’s the concept of a failed wedding proposal at a concert or the fact that Lizzy Caplan and Alison Brie star, but I can’t wait to see this film. “Save the Date” is released on iTunes on Thursday, November 8, and opens in theaters Friday, December 14.
Omaha-based Cursive has been around since the mid-1990s and achieved cult music status with front man Tim Kasher leading the way. The band broke up, got back together and worked on side projects in between (see The Good Life). Following the 2000 album "Domestica," with its punk sounds drenched in heartache and angst, it was clear that Cursive was here to stay. Fast forward 12 years later and the band is still kicking it with Kasher. I caught them at FYF Fest earlier this fall and even amidst the dust and distant wildfires, they seemed at home playing to a moshing crowd. Cursive plays with Minus the Bear on Sunday, November 11, at the House of Blues in downtown.
On Tuesday, November 6, all eyes were glued to TVs and Twitter feeds, anxiously awaiting election results. New York-based artist Jonathan Horowitz uses this “politics of politics” for his latest work. His exhibition “Your Land/My Land: Election ’12” currently on view at the Hammer Museum in Los Angeles, features two TVs: one streaming MSNBC election coverage and another streaming Fox News election coverage. Divided by red and blue carpeted floor, this work invites visitors to both watch and discuss the election and its aftermath. What may be the most intriguing (besides the final results) is the interactive nature of this piece and that it will be on view at museums across the country. Cast your vote, enter the gallery space and let the games begin. The exhibition is on view through Sunday, November 18.
The much-buzzed-about musical “Yoshimi Battles the Pink Robots” opens at the La Jolla Playhouse this month, featuring the music of wacky psychedelic rockers the Flaming Lips. The show takes its name from the band’s 2002 album of the same name and follows the story of Yoshimi, who must choose between two boyfriends, while taking down an army of pink robots. Acclaimed, former Playhouse artistic director Des McAnuff returns to La Jolla to direct this larger-than-life musical, which includes a 14-foot robot, video projections and glowing LED-costumed dancers. If the show has any hint of classic Flaming Lips concerts (think confetti and balloons), this is bound to be a lasting visual for years to come. The show begins previews on Tuesday, November 6, and runs through Sunday, December 16.
Lana Del Rey
Singer Lana Del Rey has generated much Internet hype in the past year. As a star both born and scorned by music blogs and critics alike, it’s difficult to say what her future holds. Disastrous SNL performances, followed by criticism of her authenticity, have prompted many to loathe her entirely. But she’s still here. This year she starred in many music videos — each its own little Lana world with something that stuck. She’s currently the face of H&M, crooning a cover of “Blue Velvet,” while rocking a pink angora sweater. She recently released an extended video for her upcoming single “Ride,” that was both eerie and honest. This month the real release of her debut album, "Born to Die: Paradise Edition," drops with eight new tracks. It looks like Miss Del Rey may not in fact be “born to die.”
Chocolate: The Exhibition
As the holidays near, chocolate and sweets will be consumed as an indulgence and a distraction. Luckily, there’s a way to both enjoy the beloved treat and learn something. “Chocolate: The Exhibition” is now on view at the San Diego Natural History Museum and explores all things chocolate. From the origins of its consumption and the roots of the cacao tree, to modern chocolate manufacturing, there’s much to absorb. So get smart and feel better about that next truffle. “Chocolate: The Exhibition” is on view through Sunday, March 10, 2013.
Tilly and the Wall was born in the Omaha music scene during the early 2000s, taking its name from a children’s book. Its upbeat sound is infectiously danceable, prompting a tour with standout indie acts, including Rilo Kiley and Of Montreal. Perhaps most notable is that tap dancer and band member Jamie Pressnall dances in place of a drummer. With its latest album “Heavy Mood” and a nationwide tour alongside fellow Midwest dance band Icky Blossoms, this will be the perfect post-election season show. Tilly and the Wall play Monday, November 12 at the Casbah.