CRITICS CHAPTER

'Criticism is the only thing that stands between the audience and advertising.' - Pauline Kael


WHO WE ARE

Dr David Archibald, University Of Glasgow
Film International, Financial Times, Cineaste


Liza Bear,
Bomb Magazine


Dan Bessie
Filmmaker and Culture Critic

Prof. Dennis Broe
Jump Cut, NY Newsday, Boston Phoenix

Dianne Brooks
The Film Files, Writemovies.com

Lisa Collins
Filmmaker

Benjamin Dickenson
Bright Lights Film Journal, UK

David Ehrenstein
Quarterly Review of Film and Video

Miguel Gardel
Proletaria Press


Michael Haas
Culture critic

Laura Hadden
Pacifica Radio

Gerald Horne
University Of Houston

Reynold Humphries
British Film Historian

Sikivu Hutchinson
BlackFemsLens.org, KPFK Radio

Jan Lisa Huttner
TheHotPinkPen.com, Films For Two

Cindy Lucia
Cineaste Magazine

Pat McGilligan
Film Historian

Prairie Miller
WBAI/Pacifica National Radio Network

Logan Nakyanzi
Go Left TV, Huffington Post

Gerald Peary
Boston Phoenix

Steve Presence
Radical Film Network, UK


Louis Proyect
s
Counterpunch, Marxmail.org

Sandy Sanders
BlueJayWay.net

Nancy Schiesari,
BBC, Channel 4,
Univ. of Texas, Austin

Rebecca Schiller
Culture Critic

David Spaner, Hollywood Inc.

Luis Reyes
, Arsenal Pulp Press

Christopher Trumbo
RIP, January 8, 2011

Dave Wagner
Mother Jones, Film International

Linda Z
LFC Film Club

Noah Zweig
Telesur


Paul Robeson With Oakland, Ca. Shipyard Workers, 1942

Black August

So in order to best cover all bases, progressive film critics tend to consider three categories of assessment, rather than two: The Good, The Bad and The Ugly. The first two are self-explanatory. And the third category is reserved for movies that may have been impressively put together, but there's just something offensively anti-humanistic about them.

Stay tuned......

The Organizer

Saturday, February 18, 2017

The JAMES AGEE CINEMA CIRCLE ANTI-OSCARS

The JAMES AGEE CINEMA CIRCLE ANTI-OSCARS 2016:
**Free State Of Jones Rebel Cinema Rules!


*THE TRUMBO: The Award For BEST PROGRESSIVE PICTURE is named after Oscar-winning screenwriter Dalton Trumbo, a member of the Hollywood Ten, who was imprisoned for his beliefs and refusing to inform. Trumbo helped break the Blacklist when he received screen credit for "Spartacus" and "Exodus" in 1960.

 *FREE STATE OF JONES

 **THE GARFIELD: The Award For BEST ACTOR is named after John Garfield, who rose from the proletarian theatre to star in progressive pictures such as "Gentleman's Agreement" and "Force of Evil," only to run afoul of the Hollywood Blacklist.

*Matthew McConaughey, Free State Of Jones 
*Mahershala Ali, Free State Of Jones: Best Supporting Actor

 *KAREN MORLEY AWARD: For BEST ACTRESS Named for Karen Morley, who was driven out of Hollywood in the 1930s for her leftist views, but who maintained her militant political activism for the rest of her life, running for Lieutenant Governor on the American Labor Party ticket in 1954. She passed away in 2003, unrepentant to the end, at the age of 93.

*Taraji Henson, Hidden Figures
*Lily Gladstone, Certain Women: Best Supporting Actress 

*THE RENOIR: The Award For BEST ANTI-WAR FILM is named after the great French filmmaker Jean Renoir, who directed the 1937 anti-militarism masterpiece, "Grand Illusion."

*Free State Of Jones

* *THE TOMAS GUTIERREZ ALEA AWARD: Named after the late legendary Cuban filmmaker. For best depicting mass popular uprising or revolutionary transformation in movies. And Best Action Heroes, for revolutionary rebellion and activist uprising redefined.

*Free State Of Jones
*The Women of Free State Of Jones: Best Female Action Heroes




*THE GILLO: The Award for BEST PROGRESSIVE FOREIGN FILM is named after the Italian director Gillo Pontecorvo, who lensed the 1960s classics "The Battle of Algiers" and "Burn!"

*The Measure Of A Man 

*THE DZIGA: The Award for BEST PROGRESSIVE DOCUMENTARY is named after the Soviet filmmaker Dziga Vertov, who directed 1920s nonfiction films such as the "Kino Pravda" ("Film Truth") series and "The Man With the Movie Camera."

*13TH
*Prescription Thugs

*THE BOUND FOR GLORY AWARD: The Award for BEST ANTI-CAPITALIST FILM is named after the 1976 Hal Ashby directed biopic about Woody Guthrie, played by the late David Carradine.

*Christine

*OUR DAILY BREAD AWARD: For the most positive and inspiring working class images in movies this year.

*I, Daniel Blake

*THE ROBESON AWARD: Named after courageous performing legend, Paul Robeson. The award is for the movie that best expresses the people of color experience, in light of their historically demeaning portrayals in films.

 *Loving

*LA PASSIONARA AWARD: For the most positive female images in a movie, and in light of the historically demeaning portrayal of women in movies.

*Hidden Figures
*Shailene Woodley: For her Water Protector activism at Standing Rock

*THE LAWSON: The Award for BEST ANTI-FASCIST FILM this year, is named after screenwriter John Howard Lawson, one of the Hollywood Ten, who wrote Hollywood's first feature about the Spanish Civil War, 1938's "Blockade," with Henry Fonda, and anti-Nazi movies such as 1943's "Sahara," starring Humphrey Bogart.

 *Free State Of Jones

 *THE MODERN TIMES: The Award for Best Progressive Film SATIRE is named after Charlie Chaplin, who made 1936's "Modern Times" and 1940's "The Great Dictator."

*Moonwalkers

 *THE ORSON: The Award for BEST OVERLOOKED OR THEATRICALLY UNRELEASED Progressive Film is named after actor/director Orson Welles. After he directed the masterpiece "Citizen Kane" Welles had difficulty getting most of his other movies made.

*Free State Of Jones 
 *Snowden

ELIA KAZAN HALL OF SHAME

The Oscars: For nominating as documentary and also inviting The White Helmets, who are ISIS collaborators and ISIS Fake News producers in Syria, to the Oscar Awards Ceremony.

The Oscars: For nominating as documentary Joe's Violin, a promotional infomercial for corporate, anti-labor charter schools.

STX Entertaiment: For burying Free State Of Jones, and refusing to make it available for awards consideration. 

Tribeca Film Festival: For removing Vaxxed from the festival, under pressure from the US pharmaceutical corporations who profit from vaccines exposed in this documentary.


**For more information, please contact The James Agee Cinema Circle at Miguel Gardel, ProgressiveCritics@gmail.com. Guest submissions are welcome.

Friday, February 17, 2017

Thursday, February 16, 2017

Generation Zero Review: Steve Bannon Fascist Frolicking On Screen

 COUNTERPUNCH
Tells The Facts, Names The Names
Fearless Muckraking Since 1993

MARCH 26, 2010
Teabagger Cinema
by PRAIRIE MILLER

Dredging up tired old myths about America while concocting misleading new ones, the documentary Generation Zero assembles a host of valid gripes currently troubling the nation, but is more than careful to detour around any proposed remedies anchored in reality. In other words, all dressed up in undercover Republican in rebel’s clothing, and with basically nowhere new to go.

Written and directed by reactionary Reagan partisan propagandist Stephen K. Bannon (In the Face of Evil: Reagan’s War in Word and Deed, and Border War: The Battle Over Illegal Immigration) the inaugural Tea Party cinema documentary Generation Zero boasts an exceedingly odd couple combo of assorted right wing egghead think tank rhetoric talking heads and angry white middle class rants. And all wrapped up in highly sophisticated production values fueling alarmist high speed imagery, and topped off with a musical score seemingly gleaned from really scary slasher movies.

Invoking intimidating biblical scriptures that are fused visually with looming tornadoes, rotting fruit, paper money on fire, and a man versus lion beatdown, Generation Zero gets down to business on fast forward by blaming the current economic crisis retroactively on Lucifer, Woodstock, Dems, post-hippie yuppies lighting up cigars with burning Ben Franklins, Hollywood, Black Panthers, anti-war protesters and disrespectful post-WWII youth. Which might leave the marginalized left in this country scratching their collective heads while caught between pondering these neo-McCarthyite attacks, and shock that they seem to wield such enormous power over the course of history.

At the same time, the right wing populist thrust of this documentary mourns the economic tragedy of the Great Depression, while reticently longing for the good old days of capitalism unregulated by the government. History alert, that’s exactly what led to the Great Depression. And in glaring contradiction, the current ‘incestuous’ relationship between government and big business is condemned as contributing to the economic woes facing us today. But if in reality those two entities have merged into one and the same with politicians the actual under the radar conflict-of-interest corporate partners, isn’t that unregulated capitalism after all?

In a case of repeatedly not saying what you mean moviemaking in the extreme, Generation Zero is ironically advocating in its own way, a utopian nation grounded in a prevailing small business society that no longer exists, and is in effect hardly different from the hippie fantasy back to nature version of the world. And in this small business interests butting of heads with big capitalism that is the core grievance of this film, where exactly do the American masses you’re inflaming – with no businesses of their own, let alone even a job or home in many cases – fit in?

Now while there’s nothing wrong with spouting your opinions loudly in a movie, at the same time it’s respectful of your audience to come out of your political closet and say so. Instead of manipulatively shouting at viewers about everything that’s ailing America and rightly so, while quietly tiptoeing around your own hidden agenda solutions that’s really a same politics, different day, voting booth Republican pep rally.

Generation Zero: A Tea Party animal all steamed up, but whose tempest in a teapot is basically empty.



WATCH GENERATION ZERO HERE

PRAIRIE MILLER is a WBAI film critic, and host and executive producer of Arts Express. She can be reached at: pmiller@wbai.org.

Tuesday, January 24, 2017

NOT MY PRESIDENT



Monday, January 16, 2017

HITLER FINDS OUT ABOUT TRUMP'S GOLDEN SHOWERS

ERNESTO: Samurai Who Fought with Che in Bolivia Featured in New Film


  • “The movie tells the genuine, visionary and revolutionary aspects of Freddy," said the Cuban actor playing Che.

    “The movie tells the genuine, visionary and revolutionary aspects of Freddy," said the Cuban actor playing Che. | Photo: "Ernesto"



The movie is now in post-production and will be released later this year, for the 50th anniversary of the death of both guerrillas.

The friendship between samurai Freddy Maymura and Ernesto Che Guevara in Bolivia will be the topic of a film titled, "Ernesto," as a reference not to the Argentine fighter, but the “samurai of the Revolution,” whose nickname was Ernesto.

The Bolivian samurai was the son of a Japanese immigrant who took part in the Ñancahuazu guerrilla war after he met Che in Cuba.

The movie is now in post-production and will be released later this year, for the 50th anniversary of the death of both guerrillas. It was shot in Hiroshima and Tokyo, Japan, as well as in Havana and Naranjal in Cuba at the end of 2016.

Born in Trinidad, Bolivia in 1941, Maymura went to Cuba as part of the first group of Bolivian students to study medicine with a grant offered by the Cuban Revolution in 1962.

Sakamoto explained that he hoped the film will make more visible to the public the fascinating story of Maymura. He discovered the character while investigating Japanese immigration to Bolivia at the end of the 19th century.

The main role was given to Joe Odagiri, who started studying Spanish four months before shooting began, while Juan Valero was cast to play Che's character.

“The movie tells the genuine, visionary and revolutionary aspects of Freddy, which were very similar to that of Che's when he was young,” said Valero, a Cuban actor.

Before Sakamoto, Steven Soderbergh directed a movie focusing on Che's Bolivia's experience in 2008, called "Che."

Sunday, January 1, 2017

Courage In Filmmaking: Bolivian Actress Turned Filmmaker Carla Ortiz Championing Peace As Doc Director In Syria

READ THE ARTICLE HERE


Actress Carla Ortiz returns from Syria, pleads on CNN and Fox to end war and intervention

Thursday, December 15, 2016

Arts Express: "A political moment desperately needs a new story about race to be told."

** "A political moment desperately needs a new story about race to be told."

                      Ava Duvernay, Director Of The 13TH
  
In this movie awards season when The 13TH, one of the most important films of the year is forgotten, Arts Express sits down with a roundtable gathering of eminent racial justice advocates who participated on screen in this documentary: Malkia Cyril, director of Oakland's Center For Media Justice and daughter of a Black Panther; Lisa Graves, executive director of The Center For Media And Democracy in Madison, Wisconsin; and Kevin Gannon, alias 'The Tattooed Professor' - director of The Center For Excellence In Teaching And Learning, and Professor of History at Grand View University in Des Moines, Iowa. 
Ava DuVernay's explosive documentary The 13TH, is a crushing indictment of the 13th Amendment of the US Constitution, generating through a malevolent escape clause, mass incarceration, institutionalized criminalization, racial injustice, and exploited neo-slavery enriching prison corporations today. The 13TH was the Opening Night Premiere in September at the NY Film Festival - and the first ever honor for a festival documentary.

LISTEN TO THE SHOW HERE

** "This was a story that said, you've got to write me now."

  
What are the unique choices and challenges for that rarely acclaimed, behind the scenes creative force in movies - the screenwriter. A conversation with Allan Loeb, who composed two rather disparate films - Oliver Stone's Wall Street: Money Never Sleeps in 2010, and now the David Frankel [The Devil Wears Prada] directed Collateral Beauty. In which Will Smith as a grieving father, attempts to cope in a highly unusual way as a writer himself - penning letters to the universe while going toe to toe with a possible figment of his imagination, Helen Mirren.


Happy Anniversary!


 On this day in 2008, journalist Muntadhar al-Zaidi threw both of his shoes at President Bush in protest at US occupation of Iraq. "When I threw the shoe in the face of the criminal, George Bush, I wanted to express my rejection of his lies, his occupation of my country, my rejection of his killing my people."
 

Why I Threw The Shoe |
Muntazer al-Zaidi
December 14, 2008.


Prairie Miller

Arts Express: Thursdays 2pm ET: Airing on WBAI Radio in NY 99.5 FM, and streaming live and archived everywhere at wbai.org.

Wednesday, November 9, 2016

I, DANIEL BLAKE: INTERVIEW WITH PAUL LAVERTY, LONGTIME KEN LOACH COLLABORATOR




By Liza Bear

In this piercingly relevant contemporary drama, Laverty's tightly structured script tracks Daniel Blake (Dave Johns), a joiner in his fifties recovering from a heart attack as he confronts implacable bureaucracy when his benefits are inexplicably denied, meanwhile befriending Katie (Hayley Squires), a single mother with two children and her own survival problems. The film is also a richly detailed portrait of community solidarity and resourcefulness.
 

Palme d'Or winner I, Daniel Blake's screenwriter Paul Laverty talks to Liza Bear about his early career, his 20 year collaboration with director Ken Loach and the political background to the film: the UK's austerity-driven Strivers Versus Shirkers campaign that targets the disadvantaged. 
Filmed by Liza Bear at the 54th New York Film Festival.

Liza Bear is a member of the James Agee Cinema Circle
.

Sunday, September 11, 2016

'Where The Fuck Is Snowden' - Oliver Stone Tackles Surveillance State Espionage Thriller


Oliver Stone's surveillance state docu-thriller Snowden delves with detailed scrutiny into the controversial life and defiant courage of NSA whistleblower and fugitive Edward Snowden. Revisiting much of what we already know through media accounts and the prior Laura Poitras Oscar winning documentary, Citizen Four, there are nevertheless several fascinating details gathered along the way.

And burrowing into the Snowden's introverted egghead personality with as much demonstrative emotional energy as is possible under the circumstances, Joseph Gordon-Levitt sensitively expresses a dual conflict plaguing in succession the profoundly psychologically and politically torn Snowden. Including his deeply held conservative ideological family roots, a brief stint as a Special Ops soldier until he broke both legs in training, and unquestioning patriotism sorely tested by both his shocking cyberspace discoveries of unethical government mass espionage of its citizens as a CIA and NSA computer analyst - along with the leftist politics of Lindsay (Shailene Woodley), a romance ironically ignited online as well, at a dating site.

The evolving and occasionally politically divisive contentious romance between Ed and Lindsay, though lingering for too long as time out interludes between the far more serious and sobering matters, does lend a few welcome casual digressions from the heavy duty narrative wrought with unrelenting anxiety and danger. In particular when they first kiss and Snowden in a rare moment of humorous abandon, jokes that her lips taste too liberal. And a pause for thought to wonder just how much his activist girlfriend's influence may have kicked in, leading to such a tremendous ideologically subversive transformation. And with Lindsay remarking at one point, 'I've been watching your inner liberal grow, and I like it.'

Likewise an ironic addition to the proceedings, is Snowden's army commander at boot camp early on in the film, searching around for the missing injured recruit and in hindsight rather prophetically barking, 'Where the fuck is Snowden!' While in summation audiences are left to ponder - Snowden: patriot, fugitive, soldier, spy, hacker, traitor, hero. With Stone somewhat suggesting that viewers call the shots on their own.

Prairie Miller