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


Steve Ashton,
Filmvision.net

Dan Bessie
Filmmaker and Culture Critic

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

Dianne Brooks
The Film Files, Writemovies.com

Paul Buhle
Brown University

Lisa Collins
Filmmaker

Benjamin Dickenson
Bright Lights Film Journal, UK

David Ehrenstein
Quarterly Review of Film and Video

John Esther
Los Angeles Journal

Miguel Gardel
Proletaria Press

David Spaner
KPFK Los Angeles, UprisingRadio.org,
Vancouver Georgia Straight

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

Victor Navasky
The Nation

Gerald Peary
Boston Phoenix

Louis Proyect
Counterpunch, Marxmail.org

Luis Reyes
Film historian

Nancy Keefe Rhodes
NPR Radio WAER-FM,
Syracuse City Eagle

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

Rebecca Schiller
Culture Critic

Michael Slate
Beneath The Surface, KPFK Radio

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

Thursday, January 29, 2009

JACC Nominations Announced On WBAI Radio



TAKE-OUT: Nominated for OUR DAILY BREAD AWARD, for the most positive and inspiring workingclass images in a movie, and also for THE GILLO for Best Progressive Foreign Language Film, named after the Italian director Gillo Pontecorvo who lensed the 1960s classics, The Battle of Algiers and Burn! TAKE-OUT signifies a commendable new direction in US filmmaking, in long overdue recognition of the multicultural reality of this country, as a foreign language film entry about the United States.


CLICK HERE TO LISTEN TO THE SHOW

The JACC Progie nominations, also known as *THE ANTI-OSCARS* were presented with commentary on Pacifica Radio's WBAI Arts Magazine in NY 99.5 FM at 2pm, on 1/27/09 and archived at WBAI.org. The winners will be announced in mid-February on Air America Radio, just prior to and in oppositon to the Academy Awards.

Tuesday, January 20, 2009

Bill Meyer Debriefing On The *Anti-Oscars*: The 2008 Progie Nominations

PROFIT MOTIVE AND THE WHISPERING WIND:

Buried History Of US Labor Struggles
Hidden In Plain Sight


The newly formed James Agee Cinema Circle has announced this year’s nominations for the Progie Awards honoring the best in progressive cinema. The group is named after the noted playwright, author and longtime writer for The Nation, James Agee, and is charged with advancing the awareness of progressive cinema. Members include such names as Ed Rampell (Progressive Hollywood), Prairie Miller (WBAI Radio), Gerald Horne (Houston University), Victor Navasky (The Nation), Paul Buhle (Brown University) and many other noted writers. Hidden In Plain Sight


Rampell premiered the Progies in an article that first appeared last year in The Progressive magazine. This year’s nominees, submitted by the members of the James Agee Cinema Circle, were announced by Rampell on the Thom Hartmann radio show.

The 20 categories are named after prominent names in the film world. Awards include Best Progressive Film, named after Dalton Trumbo, noted victim of the Hollywood blacklist; Best Progressive Activist named after Marlon Brando; Sergei award (after the great Soviet director Eisenstein) for Best Lifetime Achievement; Renoir (after Jean Renoir) for the best anti-war Film; and several other appropriately named awards.




LUDLOW MASSACRE MONUMENT
From Profit Motive And The Whispering Wind
*OUR DAILY BREAD AWARD* Nominee


Some of the films nominated for progressive awards this year include “Milk,” “Che,” “The Visitor,” “Waltz With Bashir,” “Battle In Seattle” and “Wendy and Lucy” for Best Picture. The nominees recognize artistry and commitment to progressive ideas in the film industry. Phil Donahue’s “Body of War,” the Katrina documentary “Trouble the Water,” and popular films such as “Gran Torino,” “The Changeling,” “Frost/Nixon,” “War, Inc.,” and “Wall-E” all received nods from the progressive writers.

Winners will be announced on the Hartmann show one week before the Feb. 22 Academy Awards.

CLICK HERE TO READ ARTICLE

Bill Meyer writes about progressive cinema for the People’s Weekly World and is a member of the James Agee Cinema Circle.

Friday, January 9, 2009

JACC Member Sparks SLUMDOG Brouhaha in Wall Street Journal



LOVELEEN TANDAN


Dear Friends of Women Filmmakers,

The SLUMDOG brouhaha has reached today's Wall Street Journal, with a few quotes from/references to yours truly, especially this:

"After the 2009 Golden Globe nominations were announced in December, a Chicago film critic launched an online campaign to question the governing Hollywood Foreign Press Association about why Ms. Tandan had not been nominated for best director along with Mr. Boyle. "If she's co-director during the filmmaking and marketing process, why isn't she co-nominee when the awards are passed out?" says campaign organizer Jan Lisa Huttner."

"Ms. Huttner hasn't dropped her effort. She says her real mission (with Oscar nominations coming Jan. 22) is to spotlight how rare it is for female directors to be in the awards race. Only three women have been nominated for best director Golden Globes (Barbara Streisand won for "Yentl"), and three have been nominated in that category at the Oscars, with no winners."

"Ms. Tandan's link to Hollywood has been as a casting director. Director Mira Nair hired the New Delhi native to fill the sprawling cast of her 2000 film "Monsoon Wedding" and recommended her to Mr. Boyle. "She is hugely responsible for the foundation of 'Slumdog,' " says Ms. Nair. "Once you trust that it is authentic, you can go with the pop quality of it. She had the nose for it."


CLICK HERE TO READ COMPLETE ARTICLE



Jan Lisa Huttner
JUF News/Fund for Women Artists
& Managing Editor of FILMS FOR TWO
www.films42.com
www.TheHotPinkPen.com
Chicago Film Critics Association
James Agee Cinema Circle
Women Film Critics Circle

The next International SWAN Day (Support Women Artists Now) will be on Saturday, March 28, 2009! Read all about it at: www.SwanDay.org

Thursday, January 8, 2009

Grand Theft Auto: The Underbelly of Cadillac Records




By Sikivu Hutchinson

Midway through the recently released Cadillac Records, director Darnell Martin’s film on the groundbreaking record label Chess Records, Martin depicts rock pioneer Chuck Berry unleashing his signature “Sweet Little Sixteen” guitar riffs against scenes of surfing revelry. Berry’s song was notoriously pilfered by the Beach Boys in their song “Surfin’ USA,” a homage to white California youth subculture. Chewed up and spat out by an imperialist marketing machine, Berry’s music becomes yet another Jim Crow soundtrack for Americana pleasure. The first African American female to direct a studio film, Martin’s take on the Chess saga breathes new life into the all too familiar history of gifted black musicians ripped off by a white record promoter. Chronicling the rise of Chess artists Muddy Waters, Howlin’ Wolf, Berry, Little Walter and Etta James, Martin highlights their struggle to gain just compensation and recognition in a culture whose appetite for “black music” would ripen into a multi-million dollar industry during the 1950s. The avarice of record company owner Leonard Chess, who amassed a fortune from the music of these artists, paying them off with Cadillac cars and shady contracts, is a vivid reminder of the plantation ethos that drives American pop music.

It’s no revelation to say that white appropriation of African American derived music and idioms has been a cornerstone of mainstream American cultural identity, yet Martin’s film throws the question of consumption, commerce and the capitalist subtext of white pleasure into vivid relief. In the film young white women flock to black guitar players at segregated concerts, parading their relative racial and sexual freedom, oblivious to the consequences for black men. For white Americana, the rise of 1950s rock and R&B transformed racial otherness into a more mainstream adventure, a resort vacation into unexplored vistas of self-discovery that even white consumers with a few cents for a 45 record could take. White postwar prosperity and suburbanization made blackness all the more appealing because of its transgressive potential. As long as actual black people remained “out there,” in segregated urban ghettos and rural communities, black cultural production would continue to be a seductive bromide. The 1956 Interstate Highway Act paved the way to white suburbia and ignited a car culture that was baptized in the sounds of rock and R&B. As suburban white flight exacerbated residential segregation, black music became the commodity of choice for a new generation of young white consumers. Yet in the film, scene after scene of crushing poverty, racist police abuse and public humiliation endured by Waters and company underscores the parasitic relationship between white consumption and spatial apartheid. For scores of white record buyers and musicians, classics such as Wolf and Willie Dixon’s “Backdoor Man” and Berry’s “Roll Over Beethoven” would become standards, while segregated black spectators would grow up watching Hollywood scenes of white romance and redemption against the backdrop of black music.

Like Motown, Stax Records and other black-dominated labels, the work of the Chess artists established a new language for white self-invention while foregrounding the disparity between white and black postwar opportunities. The parallels between this history and the commodification of hip hop are compelling. As hip hop has spanned the globe netting mega millions for white corporations it has become another metaphor for imperialist exploitation of black America. Though Berry ultimately won song writing credit on Surfin’ USA after a threatened lawsuit, the film leaves us with the image of the hip swiveling Elvis Presley; his legacy and global empire forged on the backs of African American geniuses unknown and unrecognized in American music history.

Sikivu Hutchinson is a Los Angeles-based writer and editor of blackfemlens.org, an online journal of feminist criticism. She is also on KPFK Radio's Beneath The Surface in Los Angeles, a member of the Women Film Critics Circle, the James Agee Cinema Circle, and a contributor to The WBAI Radio Womens Show in New York City.

Thursday, January 1, 2009

Mumia Abu-Jamal On Eartha Kitt: Artist And Political Martyr


EARTHA KITT (1928-2008)

By Mumia Abu-Jamal
Mumia.org

For generations, the name, Eartha Kitt, was synonymous with sexy, sultry, and outspoken.

In an industry where careers can sometimes be measured in minutes, Eartha Kitt was the real thing, for quite a while; dancer, singer, actress, and on occasion, a comedian.

Since the tender age of 14, she worked the stage, and for nearly 7 decades, she left her indelible imprint by her work on the big screen, TV, and on recordings.

On Jan. 26, 1928 she was born in South Carolina as Eartha Mae Kitt.

She danced, sang, and acted her way into the hearts of millions.

In 1968, she dared speak out against the Vietnam War, when the war was raging at it's hottest, and was both blacklisted and hounded for doing so. That's because she spoke at a photo op at the White House in the face of First Lady, Lady Bird Johnson (wife of Pres. Lyndon B. Johnson). For daring to speak her mind at the heart of the empire, and for denouncing an Imperial war, the media and the state tried to 'disappear' her. She had to go abroad to find her freedom of speech, where she remained for nearly a decade.

For those who want to see her as a seductive chanteuse, the 1958 film, St. Louis Blues, starring Nat King Cole, Ruby Dee, Pearl Bailey and the gospel great, Mahalia Jackson, is a great source. For a slightly comic turn, see her as an amorous entrepreneurial cougar on the hunt for a young Eddie Murphy in the 1992 film Boomerang starring Halle Berry as the principal love interest.

Although she was known as the quintessential sex kitten for her acting, her public outspokenness came at quite a cost. Her comings, goings, doings and sayings were tracked by both the FBI and the CIA.

She moved through life with an intelligence, wit and nerve that made her distinctive and unforgettable.

Eartha Mae Kitt was 80.

--(c) '08 maj

[Source:African Arts and Letters, eds, Appiah, Kwame Anthony and Henry Louis Gates, Jr., (Phila., PA: Running Press, 2004.]
==============

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