Much has been written about the McConaissance, so much so that Google Docs doesn’t even mark the word McConaissance as a typo, once I figured out how to spell the damned thing. Now that the idea of affixing the descriptor “prestige” to the phrase “actor Matthew McConaughey, star of Sahara, Failure to Launch, and Fool’s Gold” is old hat, it has reached the time for the cultural consciousness to move on and bring a different performer to the spotlight. And that actor is one of our all-time greats, Lily Tomlin. Now, I know this comparison doesn’t quite work; McConaughey went from rom-com dreck to mumbly, apocalyptic greatness, Tomlin has been consistently great throughout her entire career. Also, Tomlinaissance doesn’t quite have the same ring (and Google Docs insists it isn’t a word.) But for some reason, Tomlin doesn’t quite have the resonance amongst the younger generations that she should have. After seeing the new film Grandma, now playing at the Hollywood Theatre, I think that may change. In the film, Tomlin plays a semi-retired and penniless Californian lesbian poet-academic, basically the spirit animal/future self of many a Reed student. Over the course of the movie, she assists her granddaughter scrape together the money she needs for an abortion. Many reviews are positively assessing Grandma as being a progressive step forward following last year’s Obvious Child in terms of abortion plots; the idea of abortion is thoroughly normalized throughout the film, and the narrative never second-guesses the character’s intention to follow through with the procedure. The abortion is really a backdrop for Tomlin to work her magic, though. She wields tremendous emotional power in every scene, mixing mirth, sadness, and disgust into singular facial expressions. There’s one episode in the middle of the movie that features Tomlin squaring off with Sam Elliott, and it is definitely up there with the best scenes of the year. Hopefully films like this, will lead a new generation of viewers (shall we call them… the TOMLINELLIALS?) to delve into her deep back catalog of hits, especially 9 to 5, the workplace comedy/proto-third wave feminist tract featuring her alongside Jane Fonda and Dolly Parton. 9 to 5 has firmly integrated itself into the lexicon of my partner and I, so much so that we have decided who would be each character (I think I would be the Dolly, but she insists I’m the Jane. Whatever, she’s definitely the Lily.) Rumor has it a 9 to 5 reunion might be coming soon, fingers crossed.
So yeah, I recommend going to see Grandma. Besides that, there’s a hearty dose of concerts you should probably check out coming up very soon. This Friday, sexy sax man Colin Stetson and violinist Sarah Neufield are gonna be at Mississippi Studios. If you are into experimental jazz post-minimalist drone music, check it out. On Monday the 28th, two very different shows are happening: disco-pop ingenue Shamir will be at the Star Theater (if you want to dance your ass off, go here) and doom-folk noise-queen Chelsea Wolfe will be at the Hawthorne Theater (if you feel nostalgic for your Evanescence days, go here). The following day Hawthorne hosts Godflesh and Prurient; I saw Godflesh last year and it was the most facemelting a show featuring a drum machine could be. Prurient put out one of the best albums of the year, so this ticket is the perfect thing to get you out on a Tuesday night. Finally, on Friday October 2nd, Titus Andronicus are playing at Mississippi Studios. By this point, you probably know how you stand on Titus’s particular brand of rock; if you are on the pro side, hopefully I’ll see ya there yelping along.