The best movies of 2017 were challenging, thought-provoking and human

The best movies of 2017 were challenging, thought-provoking and human

2017 was fraught, to say the least, a year of dirty politics, propaganda, white supremacy, natural disasters, sexual harassment allegations and, against it all, a rising tide of resistance. Whether or not this year's films were knowingly made with our country's current moral temperature in mind, it was often impossible to separate the fractious social climate from what was happening on the screen, especially when some of the most disturbing headlines came from within Hollywood itself.

Film

Music

Victor Wooten, one of the greatest bassists ever, stops in Spokane this weekend

Victor Wooten remembers sitting on his mother's lap backstage at a Curtis Mayfield show. He was about 6 and, along with his four older brothers, had just finished playing the opening set for the influential soul musician.

Music

Erik Walters keeps the dream alive with Silver Torches

When Erik Walters and his bandmates in Silver Torches started making their new album Let It Be a Dream, they did so... sort of by accident. "We weren't even looking to make a record," Walters says in a telephone interview.

Music

Indie-pop band the Hugs aren't rough enough for Portland, and they like it that way

Over the past decade or so, the Hugs have carved out a niche in the Portland music scene as a DIY group with more polish than most indie-rock groups. In a place where roughness is celebrated, they "try to play as perfect as possible," says frontman Danny Delegato, so they've taken a fair bit of crap from snobby scenesters for being too polished and poised for commercial success.

Music

2018 already promises some high-profile live music, from Miranda Lambert to Bully & more

Heading into the first week of 2018, it's mostly quiet on the live music front, with everyone seemingly recovering from the onslaught of holidays or nursing their New Year's hangovers. But we're already looking ahead at what's coming down the pike, marking our calendars for some of the big shows happening on Spokane stages between now and early March.

Music

Our picks for the best albums of 2017

Kendrick Lamar, Lorde and more
NATHAN WEINBENDER, music editor 10.

Music

We recommend some Christmas music for people who hate Christmas music

CHRISTMAS CHRISTMAS

Music

The Long Haul

Von the Baptist has exploried new sounds over five years, and still has room to grow
Considering how quickly bands form and dissolve, five years of steady gigging and collaboration is a rarity for most local bands. But somehow, Von the Baptist frontman Vaughn Wood sees the band as entrenched as ever within a sound that makes the project still feel new.

Music

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Film

I, Tonya is an undeniably entertaining, morally questionable comedy

I've often heard Tonya Harding's life story described as a uniquely American one, which I think says more about America than it does Tonya Harding. Growing up amidst poverty and abuse in Portland, her rise was as precipitous and perilous as her fall: She went from scrappy figure skating underdog to world-famous athlete to late-night TV punchline, all before she was 25.

Film

Jessica Chastain takes a gamble in the fact-based, Aaron Sorkin-helmed drama Molly's Game

I don't want to jinx it, but is it possible that Hollywood is warming up to the idea of flawed women as appropriate — even riotously entertaining — protagonists of their own stories? There's been a solid handful of really great examples of movies this year about women as fully human people, and 2017 is going out on a wonderful high note with the bold, tough Molly's Game.

Film

Gary Oldman anchors stirring, satisfying Darkest Hour

Darkest Hour is about a controversial leader's steadfast refusal to engage in peace talks in favor of going to war. Not the sort of message you'd expect people to support these days — but I should mention that the leader is Winston Churchill and the war is the one to stop the Nazis.

Film

Pitch Perfect 3 forgets why anyone liked the first two movies

Pitch Perfect 3, the third entry in the comedy series about the young women of a competitive university a cappella singing group, opens with them belting out a massive rendition of Britney Spears' "Toxic" on a yacht off the south of France, and then leaping off the boat in slo-mo while it explodes. This is really rather remarkable: I don't think I've ever seen a movie jump the shark — or the exploding yacht — in its opening scene.

Film

Alexander Payne's Downsizing is absurdly funny, thought-provoking social satire

Among the many curious surprises offered by Downsizing, a social satire about mankind's efforts to reduce the entire population down to an average height of five inches, is the fact that Alexander Payne made it. Co-writing with regular collaborator Jim Taylor, Payne (Election, The Descendants) is no stranger to tongue-in-cheek commentary, but Downsizing has the loopy, unpredictable, melancholy plot line of something by Charlie Kaufman (Adaptation, Anomalisa).

Film

A spoiler-laden breakdown of Star Wars: The Last Jedi and modern fan expectations

Note: This essay contains spoilers for Star Wars: The Last Jedi.

Film

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Hell's Belles, Elephant Gun Riot, Dogtown 420

Hell's Belles, Elephant Gun Riot, Dogtown 420 @ Knitting Factory

Fri., Jan. 19, 8 p.m.

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