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


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

Tuesday, January 19, 2010

JACC Anti-Oscars Discussed On The Air!

Brownie approved

And Janet Napolitano is still in the news. And she will not live her phrase down. She can speak of context, being misquoted, you name it. She said it. It is on her.

Today I listened to
WBAI's The Arts Magazine which focused on Marx At The Movies today. Click here for WBAI archives and it is under 2:00 p.m. for today's broadcasts. I wish WBAI would keep their programs up longer than 89 days (it is no longer even 90).

It was a very entertaining hour. The blacklist was discussed included Karen Morley who was blacklisted for refusing to answer McCarthyism questions. She went on to run for office on the American Labor Party's ticket in 1954.

Louis Proyect was the guest for the first half hour. C.I. includes Mr. Proyect in the Iraq snapshots from time to time. This was my first time hearing Mr. Proyect on the radio and I found him to be a very entertaining guest and wondered why I -- with all my hours and hours and hours of listening to Pacifica Radio had not heard him before?

They addressed the James Cameron film. Gilad Atzmon reviewed the film at
Dissident Voice ("A Humanist Call from Mt. Hollywood"). I did disagree with the call thatThe Hurt Locker has no point of view. I would suggest they both go back and watch again. But that is fine, we can disagree. And we agreed on "King Rat" at least. Elia Kazan. I cannot draw a line between the man and his art, sorry. I think he did a despicable thing (naming names, etc.) and really did not believe that there was any comeback from that.Click here for Mr. Proyect's view of 2009 in films.

A woman was the guest for the second half hour and they spoke more about the blacklist in that section and also had a lively discussion on how (badly) mothers were portrayed in 2009.
Ruth's Report
An excellent show. I was driving into NYC, and could concentrate on it. Packed with good info, wished I had been able to write down all the movie titles you mentioned, you presented an excellent context for the reviews. Congrats.
B. Aziz

Friday, January 1, 2010

Peace On Earth 2010

A friend sent me this, I had never heard of this 1939 anti-war cartoon by MGM.
Bill Meyer, JACC

Peace On Earth (1939) Christmas Classic MGM Cartoon. World War II Academy Award Nominee for Best Short Subject (Cartoon), 1940. Originally Released on December 09, 1939.


On Christmas Eve, two squirrel children ask their grandfather what men are. He describes them, then narrates the story of how humanity destroyed itself by war, as chilling scenes of armed conflict play on the screen. After the last human dies, the animals take their war implements and build homes from them, to live forever in peace.

Peace on Earth is a one-reel 1939 Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer cartoon short directed by Hugh Harman, about a post-apocalyptic world populated only by animals. The only cartoon ever nominated for a Nobel Peace Prize! It was broadcast in the US just after Germany had pre-emptively invaded Poland, a protest against Bush-Iraq-style pre-emptive wars, and before the US was attacked at Pearl Harbor and thus entered WWII.

At first glance this looks like just another typically Disney-esque cartoons featuring cute animals, but once you see those battle scenes you can see that it is so much more than that. This is an anti-war tale with well animated battle scenes that are scary as anything else that has been seen on the silver screen. Those scenes are very unsettling and tapped into the fears that many people held as Europe was at war with itself.

This film was nominated for the 1939 Academy Award for an animated short feature (it lost to Disneys "The Ugly Duckling") and was also, according to Hugh Harmon, nominated for the 1940 Nobel Peace Prize. Unfortunately the 1940 Nobel Prizes were cancelled because of World War II, so it did not win or lose that award.

Fifteen years before this release, Hugh Harman and Rudolf Ising were employees of Walt Disney - in Kansas City. Disneys first animation studio was in that Midwestern city and it was, ultimately, a failure. Following the companys demise -- and with dreams of becoming a live-action director - Walt headed west. After shuffling around Los Angeles for a while, Disney realized that his best prospect for making a living was the cartoon business.

World War II was barely four months old when Peace landed on theater screens. Given the fact that a mood of patriotism and sacrifice was soon to grip the United States, the cartoons unapologetically anti-war stance is surprising. In the short, woodland creatures elebrate the Christmas season.

Two squirrel children stumble over the lyric peace on earth/good will to men because they have no idea what men are. Grampa squirrel explains that all of the men are gone; they succumbed to the fever of war and annihilated one another. Woodland creatures rebuild civilization and mourn their loss.