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Film

Inflammatory Vices: Is Joanna Newsom starring in P.T. Anderson's new film?

Joanna Newsom via Wikipedia
Joanna Newsom via Wikipedia
You might know Paul Thomas Anderson's work, from Boogie Nights to Magnolia to There Will Be Blood. Let's pause right there because I have to give a small shout-out to the latter, which I consider to be Anderson's masterpiece. From the elaborate landscapes to Jonny Greenwood’s sinister score to Daniel Day-Lewis' thrilling performance as oil man Daniel Plainview, the movie marked a new turn for Anderson, showing that while his artistic eye can hone in on masterful shots with specific detail, he can also take on grand ideas with the gusto of a man who has a firm handle on his craft. And who can forget the “I drink your milkshake” scene. Fantastic stuff.

Several blogs are thrilled at the possibility that famed singer/songwriter/harpist Joanna Newsom may be making an appearance in Anderson's upcoming flick, Inherent Vice, based on a novel by Thomas Pynchon. As The Playlist states, production of the film has been kept tightly under wraps, so the only way news sources have been able to verify the cast is by capturing photos of them on set. And snapshots of Newsom have surfaced. Other confirmed cast members include Joaquin Phoenix, Benicio del Toro, Josh Brolin, Jena Malone and Reese Witherspoon.

Although it’s pure speculation at this point, it would be pretty exciting for Newsom to be in a feature film; she has already made her mark in the music world, releasing three fantastic records, including the incredible Ys, but she's started popping up in other places, including a guest spot on “Portlandia,” playing a busy mother in MGMT's music video for “Kids,” and appearing on “7 Minutes in Heaven” with Mike O'Brien. The last thing we saw from P.T. Anderson was last year’s The Master. While that film was an excellent addition to Anderson's already impressive cinematic portfolio, here's hoping the next one tops it.

Joanna Newsom on “7 Minutes in Heaven” with Mike O’Brien

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Music

I’m Happy When it’s Sad

Study concludes sad music evokes positive emotions

A group of researchers from Tokyo University of the Arts and RIKEN Brain Science Institute have decided to tackle an interesting subject: Why do we love sad songs? It's a valid question, considering many sad songs have entered the top-40 and kept listeners on their toes while belting out minor chords over hopeless lyrics. Adele's “Someone Like You” is one example that comes to mind. These researchers not only wanted to discuss the various reasons why people listen to sad music but also to see if they could pinpoint certain characteristics within the music that pique certain emotions.

They had 44 volunteers listen to two pieces of sad music and one piece of happy music, and they basically came to the conclusion that sad music actually made people feel more positive about their own lives. They concluded that while the volunteers listened to these despairing, emotionally-driven opuses, they found “sad music to be more tragic, less romantic, and less blithe than they felt themselves while listening to it,” according to an article in Science Daily. So maybe we do listen to sad music to realize how good we have it?

This got me thinking about what sad songs I enjoy listening to, or better yet, got me thinking what my favorite sad song is. As a music journalist, that's a hard question to answer because I like different things at different times. But one sad song that did come to mind was Joanna Newsom's “Go Long,” from her 2010 album Have One On Me. It's one of those songs that if you see her play it live, it utterly kills you. I witnessed the most rough-looking dudes crying like babies when the song was over. I don't cry when I hear it, but I do really enjoy it. It's a beautiful number that dissects the “Bluebeard” story in its most poetic, morbid sense. But now I'm curious … what's a notable sad song for you?

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