Seattle-based musician Michael Benjamin Lerner has been releasing music as Telekinesis for over a decade now, culminating in his most recent album Effluxion, which has just come out on Merge. Aside from being a diligent recording artist and performer, Lerner is also a known cinephile, so it was natural that we would ask for him to take part in our 5 Easy Pieces feature. He did not disappoint, presenting five diverse and surprising choices that have effected him from childhood to the modern day.

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The Sandlot

The Sandlot was a ridiculously formative movie for me as a youngster. It really ticked all the boxes. I was a little league baseball player, a slugger and pitcher, and I absolutely cherished that time, even more so looking back on it as a 32 year old. Summers hanging with my friends, sunflower seeds spit all over the ground, that feeling of connecting on a home run, it was all sort of presented in this film. I’ve watched again multiple times, and it still stands the test of time. It’s a total feel good movie.

That Thing You Do

I grew up in a musical family, my Dad was a disc jockey here in Seattle for around 30 years, so I suppose music was always a pre determined destiny. He also brought me and my sister up in a Beatles household, where that was a giant part of all of our family moments since I can remember, and heck, it still is. But when I watched That Thing You Do for the first time, I think I knew then that the drums were going to be my thing. I wanted so badly to be Guy Patterson. I think now, watching it under different circumstances, I appreciate the movie even more (having actually made a profession out of being a drummer for 10 years now), because Tom Hanks portrayed the drummer as the smart one who ultimately ends up coming up roses at the end of the film, unlike the rest of the band. That doesn’t follow the narrative most drummers get in the music industry (for reasons that I can’t really argue with), but I think I really appreciate that watching it now. Fun fact, when I was in elementary school, my Mom made me a drum set out of tin foil and construction paper, and I did a lip sync to the song ’That Thing You Do’.

Dancer In the Dark

I had a real thing for Björk when I was a teenager and into my early twenties. I was also getting really into foreign and indie films around that time, and I remember seeing this film for the first time and developing an absolute giant mega crush on Björk. I mean, how you could you not? She’s absolutely amazing in this movie, and even though it’s tremendously dark (like most of Lars Von Trier’s films), she really stands out both in her performance as an actress, but also because the soundtrack to this film is a mega jam. I just watched this again on a plane trip from the West to East coast and this movie is a total classic to me still. There were some heavy hitters in this film besides Björk that I only now recognize too.

This Is Spinal Tap

My sister and I used to have this barometer for friends or potential girlfriends or boyfriends. We’d watch this movie with them and if they didn’t get it, we’d slowly dissolve the friendship. Sounds harsh, I know, but would you really want to be friends with anyone who doesn’t absolutely, unequivocally adore this movie? I didn’t think so.

Wall-E

It’s rare that you can get some really deep shit told via a children’s movie made by Disney / Pixar, but Wall-E really nails it. If you really start to think about the story line it is bleak as fuck, but it’s shrouded so well in this wonderful love story between Wall-E and Eve. The films makes you fall so hard for these characters because they are presented so perfectly.

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Telekinesis' new album Effluxion is out now on Merge.