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

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

Wednesday, August 3, 2016

Bro on the Euro Cultural Beat: View from Afar


Games of Thrones, Season 7, The Acclamation
Shoring up the Wall to Protect Westeros,
Poisoning the Challenger so the Queen can Reign

I was not able to attend the coronation of Queen Hillary the First of the Royal House of Clinton at King’s Landing this week nor the usurpation in the midlands of the Bush Line by the bastard Trump the previous week but I was able to read some of the reports sent by the ravens and here are my comments on 2016’s Game of Thrones.  

Above ground the Republicans pledged allegiance to god, country and morality but the unconscious of a repressed party was on display as even while they praised righteousness from the podium, in their psychoanalytic basement right wing demagogue Roger Ailes was canned from the party network Fox for multiple complaints of sexual harassment. Also on display were Trump’s blatant corruption; it’s flashy, gaudy and on the surface (he’s so scared of being found out he will not show his tax returns) and contrasts with Clinton’s slightly more subtle concealed corruption. Trump’s incompetence was also front and center in his overture to his Ohio rival John Kasich to be the most powerful vice president in history (next to Dick Cheney?) in charge of foreign and domestic affairs so the Donald could spend his time “making American great.” But the Republican convention was democratic as was the nominating process, the financial elite and the party leaders were absent, and like him or not Trump was the candidate of the people while the democratic convention was nothing but a carefully orchestrated as Mumia Abu-Jamal described it ‘show’.

LISTEN TO THE SHOW HERE

The Clinton campaign and the DNC had utterly sabotaged the primary process and when that was revealed on the opening day of the convention in the leaked DNC memos, Clinton acknowledged the meddling by quickly appointing dethroned DNC chair Debbie Wasserman to her campaign. We saw a clear indication of how a Clinton presidency will work when, instead of confronting this utterly undemocratic chicanery, which may have contributed to stealing the nomination, the Clinton campaign diverted attention away from the revelations by blaming the leaks on the Russians (though WikiLeaks Julien Assange who would not reveal his sources suggested that was highly unlikely). Meanwhile a poll revealed Clinton trailing Trump, but now the Democrats, instead of fielding Bernie Sanders who not only trumped Trump in every poll but also would have engaged him in a spirited debate for the heart and soul of the American working class, are now saddled with a candidate whose major claim to fame is that she ran an efficient State Department bureaucracy while of course bombing Libya back to the stone age, abetting a coup in Honduras, and backing the dictator Mubarak in Egypt against the democratizers of the Arab Spring.

The democratic show was all about restoring Clinton’s liberal caring credentials but given her record as an ultimate corporate shill, backing NAFTA, the very dangerous TPP which despite wide opposition at the convention she will likely still promote, and her stunning reception at this point of almost all corporate campaign funding, 43 million to Trumps 1 million, she is at best a Kissinger-esque center-right neoliberal which makes this a race between the Right and Far Right. And the majority of Americans are disgusted with what the two-party oligarchy has produced, with each candidate’s disapproval rate at 58%.

The larger issue here is that there is a point where a neoliberal and a neofascist agenda converge and we are close to that point. When the world economy stops growing and the promises of globalization fade, corporate interests become more and more naked and inequality accelerates, now having regressed, as Thomas Piketty explains, to levels similar to the pre-World War I colonial era. Law and order then becomes the order of the day. But equally important, and this is the point of the ‘show’ in this election, is that those white workers feeling the pain of deindustrialization and globalization in the heartland and minority workers in the cities, enlisted by the Democrats as part of the neoliberal order but not benefitting from it (how wonderful is life in Black America under Obama?), never unite because if they did they would be the most powerful force against Clinton’s neoliberalism and Trump’s neofascism. And so the two camps see each other as diametrically opposed, offering really nothing except they are not the other and the other is unthinkable. But what is really unthinkable—that is, to the oligarchy-- is healing this centuries old rift--the replacement of racism by class solidarity. As the apparent differences between the candidates supposedly grow greater, the actual pain and suffering of their core constituencies, concealed by the personality quirks of these two buffoons, increases and will worsen under either after the election; quickly under the proto-fascist Trump, more slowly but more methodically under the corporate neoliberal bureaucrat Clinton.

Dennis Broe lives in Paris. He is a cultural and political correspondent for Arts Express on the Pacifica Network, a professor of film and television at the Sorbonne, and the author of Class, Crime and International Film Noir: Globalizing America’s Dark Art from Macmillan and Maverick or How the West Was Lost, an entry in the TV Milestones Series. 

Wednesday, July 20, 2016

Hillary's America: The Not So Secret History Of The Democratic Party


As the rather mix 'n match title implies, Hillary's America: The Secret History Of The Democratic Party, is really two separate films rolled into one. And with the lion's share topically reserved for the latter assertion, while the former regarding the current presidential candidate feels tacked on, hasty and scattered. And actually, a rather redundant indictment of Hillary that has received a far more in-depth examination and incriminating revelations lately, by experts and civilian journalists alike online.

Which positions filmmaker Dinesh D’Souza and this followup to his 2012 critique Obama's America, in the rather ironic ideological space of concurring with those he aligns himself with (the Republicans on the right), but also at the other end of the political spectrum, the left who've embraced Bernie Sanders or the Green Party's Jill Stein. A peculiar place indeed for D'Souza to find himself, and only further reinforced by imploring conclusively that Americans therefore needs to vote Republican in this presidential election - without actually saying why.

So what is ultimately presented, is the unfortunately all too common one side to ever story reporting, delineating the historical sins of the Democratic Party while whitewashing the Republicans across the centuries - primarily through that other sin, of omission. And no, Inaccuracy Alert, Lincoln was not against slavery for quite some time ["If I could save the Union without freeing any slave, I would do it,” Lincoln wrote to Horace Greeley in 1862], while viewing the black population as inferior to whites [“I am in favour of the race to which I belong having the superior position...Free them [slaves] and make them politically and socially our equals? My own feelings will not admit of this. We cannot, then, make them equals.”] And in fact, Lincoln and the early capitalist North settling on anti-slavery as a war tactic, primarily to break the competitive economic back of the rebel South.

At the same time, D'Souza appears to tiptoe around the biggest Hillary elephant in the room - seeming ironically on the same side with her about this biggest of her current crimes most substantially outed in Wikileaks revelations - namely her covert collusion in rigging the Democratic presidential primaries in league with the DNC and corporate bought big media - and seemingly D'Souza carefully avoiding any defense or support for the victim on the left of those very questionable primary 'victories' - Bernie Sanders. Ideological Walking On Eggshells Alert. And, a potential backfiring of just what D'Souza is intending to do here - namely draw audiences into voting Republican, but potentially sending them off in droves to Jill Stein and the Green Party.

Political ironies aside here, D'Souza may come out of this with the appearance of being his own worst enemy. That is, regarding the extended sequences in the film where he seethes in jail about being railroaded there by Obama and the Democrats, following a campaign contribution conviction. A directorial state of mind which can readily be interpreted as subjectively motivated retaliation as - opposed to a measured critique.

And with such determined scrutiny, why in contrast is there a glaring omission of the historical crimes of the Republican Party. And actually, both parties behind the profit crazed ,genocidal military industrial complex mass murder of millions across the planet, under the superpower guise of US exceptionalism. While in fact at the same time, the modern history of presidents from both parties is ironically inconsequential. As those presidents function merely as the greased palms middlemen and the face of the secret permanent government behind the scenes - the banks and corporations.

Then there are several other assorted elephants in the room that inevitably comes to mind here, with the evidently elaborate and expensive production values lavished on this documentary, and that receives no explanation not to mention disclaimers in the closing credits  - Who funded your movie. And, if you're an apparently proudly guilty as charged advocate for the contemporary Republican Party, will you be following up with a professionally impartial sequel about that equally abhorrent entity - both of which have driven most voters this round to seek out candidates outside the political establishment?

That question may have already been answered in D'Souza's abrupt and swift sign-off at the end of his documentary - You know, just go vote Republican. Period.

Prairie Miller
WBAI Radio

Saturday, June 11, 2016

Los Angeles Plays Itself on DVD: LA In Life, Not Movies


By Sandy Sanders

A short while ago, by chance, I ran into the filmworks of Thom Andersen, including a 2004 feature length video essay titled "Los Angeles Plays Itself". Andersen's filmworks make personal observations about the movies by sequencing snippets of films to disclose non-obvious content and meaning. Andersen has lived in Los Angeles since 1946 and uses brief cuts from films made in, or about LA, along with first person narrative and city location photographs. The film discusses the differences between the Los Angeles he experienced and the LA as depicted by the movies. The film was initially shown only at limited screenings but officially released by Cinema Guild in 2014 and is available on DVD. 


For anyone who has lived in Los Angeles this film is a must see. For movie aficionados curious about Los Angeles and Hollywood image- crafting, this insider's take on "LA", is equally interesting. It runs 2hrs and 49 minutes with an intermission which allows two viewing periods, for those pressed for time. But the film moves breathlessly through known and lesser known film depictions of Los Angeles as Background, as Character and as Subject, presenting a personal tour of what has made Los Angeles unique. Andersen contends that Hollywood created the acronym of "LA" as a part of generating a mystique-of-place to keep moviegoer's attention. The historic modernist architecture, the hillside mansions, views of the ocean, the mix of urban and rural, the endless suburbs, anonymous streets and ubiquitous freeways, and post-industrial downtown, that make background for film noir, glamour, spectacle or the seedy, of Hollywood movies.

Andersen asks us to see the documentary aspect of films as nearly equal to their fiction. To see film with the "voluntary attention" of a conscious observer instead of the usual suspension of disbelief required of moviegoers. As we begin to see, Los Angeles was first used by Hollywood as a blank slate for their story-telling, then actually affecting the further development or exploitation of the City and surrounding towns to re-image the illusions of the movie industry. The real Los Angeles lies outside the film reel and includes the ordinary realities of a mixed urban culture of Blacks, Latinos, Asians... and Whites creating disparate but unique places and spaces from a dynamic sprawling region that started exploding in the 20's.

Also on track for discovery is the corrupt history of a city that has been run by the rich and powerful, Hollywood and LAPD. "Kiss Me Deadly", "LA Confidential" and "Chinatown" are period pieces explored for their reconfigured depictions of real events sorted differently timewise, to discuss the power, corruption and lies simmering under the surfaces of Los Angeles. Hollywood does tell tales that expose the power brokers and their scams on society, but, as Anderson comments, aren't these just "crocodile tears"? Do Hollywood movies clandestinely disclose nasty truths for citizen action, or do they merely placate guilty souls until the theater lights come on?

For me the most intriguing part of "Los Angeles Plays Itself" is the discovery of a group of neo-realist LA filmmakers quietly working on the fringes that deserve viewing. Kent MacKenzie's "The Exiles" is a 1961 black and white film about a group of Native Americans coping with being outsiders near downtown, that includes unique views of the now lost Bunker Hill area. Billy Woodbury's "Bless Their Little Hearts" (1984) and two other black filmmakers Charles Burnett and Haile Gerima make unique black & white films of black lives struggling in urban Los Angeles.
Another highly recommended Thom Andersen feature is "Red Hollywood", created in a similar method, about the blacklisting period. 

Sandy Sanders creates art and the future at BlueJayWay.net. He is a member of The James Agee Cinema Circle.

Thursday, June 9, 2016