Tag Archives: Film

Mad Max Fury Road is hardly feminist. It’s Dances With Wolves With Women.


I confess I never saw “Dances with Wolves” but I’m pretty sure the number Kevin Costner pulled on Native Americans is what this loner White Savior just did for Women. Saved them. What feminists needed was a MAD MAXINE. Instead they got another strong silent type, who drove for them, defended them, and made decisions for them. So he wasn’t as good a marksman, once, as one-armed Furiosa. I went to see Mad Max Fury Road with some skepticism that it was an adventure about saving damsels in distress. Art directed by Victoria’s Secret. Objectified not merely as helpless models, but as the patriarch’s incubators. Steam Punk already has a feminist heroine, Tank Girl.

Poster for 2015 Telluride Film Festival

TELLURIDE, COLO- The Nugget Theater boasts two in its window but posters for the 42nd annual SHOW have yet to be distributed. [Update: they’re at TFF online]. This year’s festival poster is by Laurent Durieux and stars the mining town in its box canyon backdrop, a chem-trail, a bear, and most implausible, a theater marquee and box office on the main street. As usual the festival lineup will not be announced until the Thursday before Labor Day.

“Ex Machina” heralds creation of life, but Doctor Geekenstein’s blueprint imitates pornography

ex-machina-tits-ass-mouth
“WHY DID YOU GIVE HER SEXUALITY!?” asks the geek tasked with debugging the anthropomorphic robot. Except they didn’t. Unless by sexuality you mean just the “female” bits and transluscent circuits where her belly and cranium should be.

These filmmakers gave Ms. Machina just the tangibles to titillate pre-sexuals: tits, ass, and a face for, um, facials. Their ideal is basically a blowup doll, upgraded to show off CGI; the Bionic Woman pared of nonessentials for viewers fixated on orifices; imagine the Six Million Dollar Man a cyborg whose flesh parts are lips and phallus. For male heterosexual tastes, a nubile female would have a womb. Otherwise the bare midriff would not be a thing. Nor belly dancing. But no mate of any age can lack a cranium. And a soulmate needs a soul. I think we can say the soul lives in the heart, but I’m pretty sure we manifest its presence under the cranium. A sexual mate, even as a sexual object, must be “all there” in the head, or is that just me?

The film “Her” pared the romantic partner down to a disembodied voice, this film preserves the body but disembowels her.

Presumably the filmmakers screen-tested their heroine on a focus group. If the results decided which virtues a virtual sex object requires for allure and which could be dispensed to skimp on parametric objects, I’m not impressed. Is hair no longer an asset to attractiveness? Ex Machina takes our depilation fetish to its nadir.

Spoiler: I haven’t seen the rest of Ex Machina. Does she have toes? Why or why not? How could she not have toes?

And what about “chemistry”? By chemistry I mean whatever electricity or scents we exude to guide ships in the night. Okay, no doubt biomechanical robots can be modelled to emit pheromones, but I’m sorry that’s about as romantic as boutique soap.

Whatever social commentary we are to make of this “high concept” thought experiment, I’m reminded of attending a lecture given by a geek who Time Magazine listed among the world’s most influencial people. He had coined the term “virtual reality” or some such and had shaped what the internet has become. I wondered why we entrust social engineering to antisocial engineers, then look to them as philosophers endowed with clarevoyance. With arrested adolescents for our gurus, of course “the internet is for porn.”

BLACKFISH has a name, it’s TILIKUM

Yes, Orcas aren’t fish. “Blackfish” is the English translation of a word Pacific Northwest indigenous peoples gave to killer whales, holding them in respectful regard while keeping a traditional safe distance. BLACKFISH is also the title of a new docummentary about how the sea mammals are mistreated by Sea World Marineland circus zoos and about instances of animal rebellion, instigated more often than not it turns out by one captive male named TILIKUM whose record of fragging trainers has been obscured by an entertainment system desperate to sanitize the plush-toy image of its “Shamu” brand. Documentary director Gabriela Cowperthwaite accuses Sea World of carelessly humanizing the ocean’s top predator, albeit whose social evolution appears to have exceeded that of humans. When it becomes apparent to audiences that Tilikum is actually the title character of Cowperthwaite’s expose, isn’t it unfair to refer to him in the generic? Yes “Blackfish” is a catchy title, but outside its Native American context the term is sinister and sub-mammalian. Let’s not vilify actions with which audiences find sympathy. Tilikum murdered his trainers wilfully and with premeditation. If we excuse him of murder it should not be because that’s his animal nature but because we understand his reason.

ARGO is a near deftly crafted thriller, jingoist agitprop, full-on Islamophobic mockumentary

This movie is rated AYFKM– Film critics are unanimous in their praise of ARGO, Ben Affleck’s retelling of an Iran Hostage Crisis era escape caper. Either these reviews also reflect media agencies uniformly shrugging off Argo’s obvious anti-Iranian jingoism or these authors are inured to crude Islamophobic propaganda. Whatever the film’s highly praised period piece accuracies, the Angry Arab and bearded terrorist stereotype are pure post-9/11 refinements. The ill-fitting eyeglass frames, face-obstructing Prell hair, and presumed fitness-less sloop-shouldered physiques pretend to lampoon everyone of that era, but the character assassination is precision targeted at Iranians, all of them.

“Mockumentary” is meant to describe a mock documentary. Argo is not a documentary, although it asserts to be historical, but most assuredly it mocks.

Borat couldn’t have made this film more offensive. If the Muslim world wasn’t in an uproar about a fictional Hollywood video disparaging to Islam, Argo would do it. What a mockery to pretend that real Zionist movie moguls aren’t laughing about a story that depicts Jewish movie industryists pranking Iran with a fake production they called Ar-Go Fuck Yourself.

Let’s dispel right away the pretense of historical accuracy. The painstaking period details, and mimicked video footage is meant to lend a scent of authenticity to a CIA personnel expatriation that did happen, but much of the villain-at-their-heels tension was fabricated. Poetic license might excuse drama, were it not for the added perk of vilifying, parodying and humiliating a people.

I counted no insult spared. Angry Arabs (the Persians aren’t Arab — do they filmmakers know or care?) never attenuating their cacophonous accusatory gibberish. Death squads circulating house to house, Muslim-garbed women hypocritically enjoying Western fast food, every dark face a humorless compassionless fanatic, their soldiers hirsute menacing mongrels who do everything by force.

I’m off to research Argo’s fabrications which so flavor the Iran-bashing. For the time being I can surmise two. The film assert that the White House pulled the operation at the last minute, prompting ballsy improvisation when our hero agent went rogue. Later he was awarded the CIA’ highest honor. How likely was it that they gave a medal to an agent who really defied every link of his chain of command? Unless he didn’t. And second, the movie plot has Iran’s Revolutionary Guards so hot on their heels that the guards shoot their way through airport doors and mount pickup trucks to brandish guns as they chase a departing jumbo jet along the runway, providing Argo that Black Hawk Down, post-apocalypse Iraq, Libyan rebel stereotype sent up so well in Team America. The tarmac scene is witnessed only by the movie audience and the CIA extraction specialist as he looks out the airplane window. None of his charges sees it because they are of course real people who could do interviews and swiftly confirm the exaggeration.

Slavoj Zizek Not Gaga for Pop

Slovenian philosopher Slovaj Zizek has a cult following like Lady Gaga, but denied this weekend any romantic connection. I write this with tongue in cheek, Slavoj’s, because of his comic protestations. Zizek was cajoled by Amy Goodman at Saturday’s London Fronline Club event: did he categorically denied the rumor? Zizek said “Absolute denial on everything.” But he wasn’t dissing Gaga or the notoriety of the mischievous meme, even as he protested: “I didn’t even listen to not one of her songs!” The audience ate it up; how total a rejection. Except Zizek continued playfully: “My God, I listen to Schubert and Schumann songs. Sorry, I’m a conservative.” And there you have the reigning academic of pop cultural references, who cannot make a point without recalling a movie scene, rejecting not Lady Gaga, but Pop. Obviously Zizek’s pop culture isn’t yours.

It may escape the notice of average film goers that when themes evoke cinematic moments to Zizek’s memory, they’re not from There’s Something About Mary. Saturday’s discussion brought up Marx Brothers, yes, in the company of Lubitsch and Truffaut, moments of cinema verité, touches of social comment with Zizek’s nuance already scripted. Yes he’s famously evoked Tom & Jerry, and more recently tried to project Hosni Mubarak’s attention to Wiley Coyote’s fatal overrun of the cliff, but I think it’s clear, like Schubert and Schumann, we’re talking about classics. Academia may like to paint Zizek a populist, but his material is not plebeian.

For the curious, from the Marx Brothers: “My client may look like an idiot, and act like an idiot. That shouldn’t distract you, he is an idiot.” (About Rumsfeld being a liar.)

From Night And Day: A young lover finally yields unceremoniously to her suitor’s whining entreaties, to which he puts on the brakes like a reluctant prude. (About the West’s rejection of what it’s always pretended to want, a secular revolution in Egypt.)

From Ninotchka: Customer “May I have a coffee with cream?” Waiter: “We don’t have cream, we have milk. May I offer you a coffee without milk?” (About speaking the unspoken pretense.)

Where Zizek hits low perhaps are his wildly off-color jokes, gleaned from friends over drinks –I like to imagine– as opposed to circulated in morning emails. Zizek was full of sexism-loaded analogies on Saturday, and one joke in particular looks to have fallen between the edits which Democracy Now is re-airing, and even off the published transcript of the full event.

So I’ll retell it, and you tell me if Zizek could have made his point without getting so obscene. He’s addressing human nature’s desire for favorable news, even as by definition it masks atrocity.

A man’s wife is treated in the hospital for a potentially fatal condition. The doctor comes out and tells the husband, there’s good news and bad news. The good news is, we saved your wife, she will live. The bad news is, well, due to circumstances we couldn’t avoid, her rectal muscles no longer function, so she’ll be shitting uncontrollably the rest of her life, and her vagina will be secreting a substance, very unpleasant, and so on, her mouth, her nose, disgusting, and so on. Noticing the husband’s discomfort increasing to an unbearable pitch, the doctor tells him: Relax, I’m kidding, don’t worry, your wife died.

Zizek was illustrating the new Wikileaks state of affairs, our corporate government and its press rejecting the truths which emerged from the leaks, preferring the more palatable, no matter the horrors it perpetuates. Between reality and Zizek’s joke, which was the more obscene?

I also love Zizek’s propensity to drop “and so on” between statements, like verbal checkmarks on the points he’s hit. It’s post-graduate lecture shorthand for “you know the rest.” Chomsky does it too, by fading into mumbles, and it is frustrating to those of us who haven’t covered the assigned reading. But it’s a reminder too, of how much out there we cannot hope to master. That shouldn’t stand in our way of trying to grasp the bigger picture.

Am I right, Slavoj Zizek big picture speaks to us using the vocabulary of the big picture show? It’s the silver screen to be precise, and as yet he’s limited himself to visuals, not lyrics. I think Zizek’s candid revelation about his musical preferences leaves a hint for us that the bigger picture isn’t to be found in today’s compression sculpted pop sound, no matter how politically clever or Gaga the music.

The future of photography is time

I know little about fine art photography, darkroom craft or print collecting, but I will foolishly assert this: the future of the two dimensional print is the time-dimensional print. It’s only with the evolution of high definition that I dare say it, video. THE FUTURE OF 2D IS NOT 3D IT’S 4D. (Actually 3-D is a tech injected myopia, by 4D I mean two dimensions plus time plus sound) I do know that photo technology for everyman has breached the fourth dimension, mounted paper prints are a throwback for older generations like mine, who think of the past in terms of stills. Before us it was black and white. Moving picture snap shots are no gimmick. Purists can mourn losing the split-second frozen in time, but who can argue that elapsed time does not add an infinity of fractions more? Yes color film lost the contrast of monochrome, just as paint left the shading of charcoal. Movies have long since eclipsed slide shows and now it’s time that single-frame photographers step up to digital video, same fixed shot, same composition, time exposure set to however long will hold the viewer’s gaze. Soon online videos will embed as smoothly as static images, and two dimension visuals will be lifeless.

And like its archival predecessors, devoid of the information we already want to glean from the past.

I offer two examples for this argument. If modern galleries can break the silence barrier, the visual arts would also benefit by retaining the dimension of sound too.

Michael Deppisch’s montage of the 2010 Nashville flood.

Hector Thunderstorm Project by Murray Fredericks

Hector Thunderstorm Project from Murray Fredericks on Vimeo.

Film: Maafa 21, Black Genocide in 21st Century America, a white anti-abortion shockumentary of execrable mendacity

Martin Luther King Jr. was an advocate of birth control, it remains a key tool to escape poverty, but that didn’t stop organizers of MLK tribute festivities at Colorado College from ending today’s program with a screening of MAAFA 21: Black Genocide in 21st Century America, a completely contrived shockumentary attempting to incite African American anger toward reproductive rights activists. Both UCCS and Colorado College fell for the propaganda, even though the pseudo-documentary by Life Dynamics Incorporated, a virulent Christian anti-abortion project, has been thoroughly debunked since its debut in 2009. Add Colorado Springs’ higher educators to duped churches nationwide who are diverting the black struggle against the legacy of slavery, economic oppression, racist yahoos like the makers of Maafa, and endemic racism, into animosity for the social workers of Planned Parenthood and their eugenic agenda of genocide via abortion. While the black community, like its indigenous brothers, does face a real genocidal program of forced poverty and violence, these agitators invoke race baiting to divide class war allies, MLK be damned. CC’s clueless invitation read: This movie has been called “stunning,” “breathtaking,” and “jaw-dropping.” You have only to watch the opening minutes on Youtube to add –execrable, mendacious and absurd. You can be against legal abortion without conniving to blame the Black Holocaust on those who disagree with you.

To argue the “facts” offered up in this “documentary” is to give them credence they don’t deserve. And the issue of abortion is so polarizing, there really is no discussing it. Throw in slanderous accusations and you’re arguing with fools. Imagine decrying that the abolitionists were racists because they would deprive the slaves their free lunch. Well okay then.

My solitary concern here is that this video has escaped the bounds of the dogma-skulled religious extremists unto the screens of higher education campuses. By presenting this video in the context of a celebration of Martin Luther King, reveals the absence of a skeptical eye. Of course academics will recognize the logic-dissonance self-evident in Maafa, but a TV-type audience will eat it up like every other hate-mongering offering. Giving the Maafa screening the appearance of a college endorsement is unforgivable. But Colorado College of course has not been shy about promoting similar quacks, neoclassical economists, climate change deniers, Zionists, pro-war imperialists, and free-trade globalists. That’s what you get when you appoint politicians as deans, politicized pro-establishment education.

The video begins with a premise almost too corny to believe: once the slaves were emancipated, America’s ruling elite needed to get rid of them. This might sound like a plausible motive for a Bond villain, but it ignores the demands juggled by real-life capitalist villains who need a steady workforce to exploit. The slaves were freed, but someone still had to shoulder the work. The fields of the South and the industrial centers of the North still needed its laborers. The obscenity of Maafa’s lie is that abusers of labor have always been against birth control because it threatens to shrink their supply of impoverished, desperate people. And we can trace back to ancient times the role religion has always played in keeping the laborers in line.

Again, you can be against abortion, but don’t pretend your interests don’t dovetail with those who want to perpetuate poverty and human suffering. If you are safely in the middle class, by all means discourage your children from limiting your progeny through birth control, but don’t force that choice on those who can’t afford it.

The sad reality of racism is that a disproportion of African Americans are poor. It’s no coincidence that poor black women account for a greater share of abortions. To attribute that reality to creepy, long-shunned writings of eugenicists of a century ago is dishonest.

PPLFF says no BDS of Israeli Apartheid

Crap. The Anti-Apartheid BDS campaign targeted Cannes because of it, Hollywood luminaries boycotted the Toronto Film Festival over the same principles in 2009, you’d think the Springs gay community might have paid heed. Instead the 2010 Pikes Peak Lavender Film Festival opted to screen the Israeli melodrama Eyes Wide Open, Zionists’ illegal appropriation of Jerusalem be damned. When Canadian gays made international news for allowing Queers Against Israeli Apartheid to march in their pride parade, in spite of Jewish philanthropists pressuring the City of Toronto to withdraw funding, I hoped that COS pride festivities might opt to climb aboard. Instead this weekend Colorado Springs gets a full-on endorsement of Israel’s ongoing illegal invasion of Palestine.

It was a false hope. The Pikes Peak area gay community has found itself so embattled since Amendment Two’s 1992 measure to legalize discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation, that common social causes are easily crowded out by Gay Marriage, DADT and brand recognition for LGBT. So much so that social justice activists can only participate in the pride parade on the condition that it be about solidarity, not antiwar. With gay issues being so politicized, should gays and lesbians get a pass on staying apolitical about war or racism? Whatever excuses we make, it’s a perfectly flamboyant example of silence equals consent. I count apolitical queens every bit as complicit with US military criminality as the above-it-all new-agers and NASCAR jackasses.

Set in an Orthodox neighborhood of Jerusalem, Eyes Wide Open doesn’t address the Israeli-Palestinian troubles, it ignores them, effectively normalizing an ethnically-cleansed Palestine. The film tells the story of an extramarital gay affair between Jewish scholars, blablabla, minus the evictions of Palestinians in the path of encroachment by Israeli settlers, and the hijacking of Muslim holy sites . “Beverly Hills 90210” was fine without scenes of the LAPD repression of Watts or East LA, but 90210 wasn’t pretending to be taped on non-Jewish land.

Eyes Wide Open was the title of the 2005 American Friends Service Committee antiwar boot-counting exercise to open American eyes to the enormity of casualties of the Iraq War — before the Eyes Wide Open slogan was adopted by a 2008 Israeli PR project to encourage American Jews to pay more attention to their birthright offer of Israeli citizenship. The death count of US soldiers in Iraq and Afghanistan (now that the AFSC has been cleared to consider both wars illegal) has long since outgrown the AFSC budget for buying boots or lugging them around in rented trucks, and now EWO (Einaym Pkuhot) is a miserable tale about infidelity and sin.

Frankly, Trembling Before G-d was an incredible documentary about gay Orthodox men struggling with the DADT policy of Orthodox Judaism. I remember seeing it at the 2003 PPLFF, or so. I remember Rabbinical experts expounded on both sides of the argument with authority and humor. But that was before the BDS movement to curb Israel’s racist apartheid system. You either support the picket or you scab.

Objective reviews of EWO are scarce in the Zionist-dominated press, and increasing numbers are honoring the cultural and academic boycott of Israeli Apartheid. Refusing to see EWO is by no means concluding it is bad. For all I know the film may be using the ostracism of homosexuals within the Orthodox community to represent the growing alienation Israelis are feeling in the face of the open revulsion expressing itself by the rest of the world. Maybe it’s brilliant.

But I’m not deliberating about whether to see it. BDS means no to Israel, to its statesmen, artists, scholars and products. And the American companies which support Israel’s policy of Apartheid, several dozen, and now that includes our own PPLFF.

Mondovino: globalization and terroir, Robert Parker versus your good taste

American wine cowboy conquest with tankFor those with a curiosity for how wine terroir is holding up against the onslaught of wine factory farming, the 10-hour miniseries version of MONDOVINO is finally available on DVD. For viewers curious about viniculture globalization under Californian colonial domination, the original feature length documentary delivers, with a long finish. Any time critics accuse a film of being one sided, you know it’s about class war.

I had my first lesson in vineyard terroir when my college-aged aunt visited my family in Alsace and spent a season picking grapes. She informed us to our horreur that everything gets stomped in that barrel, bugs and all. I didn’t drink wine then, so what did I care, but it was easy to decide that such was the artistry that probably made French wines great.

But as I said, Mondovino was about much more than wine, and now I’ll get to the point. We may lament the new commercialization of wine, but historically the occupation has always had its strictly-business types. Vintners were rarely agriculturalists who subsisted, they were wine lovers subsidized. We can wince at the Napa Valley nouveau gauche, but even Bordeaux’s great chateaus, and especially all the Premiers Crus, are owned and have been owned by businessmen money lenders, going back centuries.

The modernization and standardization which is destroying contemporary wines is simply the evolution of production control. At last, technology and the ascent of a gilded age have brought vintners to believe they’ve bested nature. It’s true if you don’t care about wine, if you’re content to bottle a soft drink as opposed to allowing wine the breathing space to develop personality. Basically this documentary demonstrates that these gentlemen hobbyists, now plaintively bourgeois about profit, welcome the new global fascism.

Old World Fascists
Of course it is no stretch to imagine that the Mondovino filmmakers are going to ask, how did your father or grandfather like Fascism under the Nazis? They point the question at an Italian family who date their wealth back 900 years as bankers.

Any European documentary delving into family histories will always ask particularly about the war years. In America it’s what did you do during the war Daddy? In Europe it’s about weathering the occupation. Most working class French want to tell you what they did in the Resistance. Rich people you don’t ask because of course they were collaborateurs.

Mondovino’s subjects are the perpetually wealthy, who don’t even register the affront. Of course their families thrived under Fascism, quelle betise to imagine it would be otherwise. How curious it is we are surprised they embrace it so again.

Such moments are the highlights of Mondovino, rich folk posing in elaborate foyers, plaintively matter of fact about Fascism.

One opulent reception room in Florence is packed with ancient paintings, among them a painting of the very room full of paintings, you imagine if you peered closely enough you would see the infinity of mirrors scheme, a Baroque era black velvet number. The Grande Dame mentions that Prince Charles inquired about that painting at breakfast.

Let me add, critics have held Jonathan Nossiter’s camera work to be unstable. Actually he was very easily distracted by momentously relevant tchotchkes and biographical details few commoners are granted audience to encounter.

Fascists in the New World
Mondovino allowed the Napa Valley entrepreneurs to hang themselves. Open mouth, insert vacuous blather, often racist. These nouveau riches landscaped new vineyard for themselves, praising the terrain like it was classic architecture, their aesthetic tributes could only reference the National Mall. That classic.

Over at Mondavi, talk fixated of expansion and conquest. The film’s main plot addressed the Mondavi’s ongoing acquisition of the world’s most treasured appelations. For the worse of course, because what do they know about wine but that it should all taste the same? Son Mondavi dreams of someday having a vineyard on the moon, for no other reason than he thought of it. Wouldn’t it be exciting, he asks, to be able to say: “hey, let’s open a bottle from the moon,” my paraphrase.

The issue of terroir, English readers, has entirely to do with terre which is French for “earth.” Terre with a capital T is “Earth.” Of course the earthbound distinction was lost on this Californian.

Yes, Mondavi is surely alone in pondering what earth, sun and elements would have feed his moon vines.

Most vile of all the New World vintners was a family outfit in Argentina. They sit on a spacious veranda and explain how every boy in the family is named for founding father, the original title holder. Their wealth goes back to the early Spanish settlers and they express the perennial colonizer’s lament, that Los Indios of the regions have no work ethic. Centuries ago the Spaniard had to devise cruel torments to drive their slave laborers to produce. It was an inefficient system to impose on the indigenous and transplanted tribes, unaccustomed to a hierarchical workforce supporting do-nothings at the top.

Globalization
Key to Mondavi’s quest for wine world domination, is a market that has standardized the consumer’s taste. No longer are customers hopping in their car for a Sunday drive, to stop by a neighboring chateau to sample a vintage take a case home. Today the global consumption of wine has meant having to market it without being able to taste it. For that consumers have come to follow the ratings of critics. It was inevitable of course, but Mondovino reveals how hilariously flawed and phony the system is.

Mondovino focuses on two celebrity tasters who make or break wines. Robert Parker and James Suckling. Let’s dispatch the latter quickly.

James Suckling
James Suckling made a niche for himself nurturing Italian wines and coined the term “Super Tuscan.” I didn’t know that, but Mondovino records Suckling attributing the phenomena to the ether before being made to admit that the meme was his own.

More hilarious was a hypothetical question posed to the critic after confessing in an unguarded moment that he might have been too generous with the rating he gave a friend’s wine. The friend, a wealthy vintner, was letting Suckling a villa, which meant he was also his landlord. Naturally Mondovino asked if a discount on the rent would move Suckling to consider a more favorable rating. Suckling took the bait, laughingly nodding, of course, his friend under his breath suggested in such case he could have the villa for free.

It’s not corruption, merely a gentleman’s game. Can we even assert that the ordinary consumer suffers? Taste is subjective. Suckling’s ultimate rating is of negligible consequence to wine drinkers, except to commerce.

Robert Parker
I’m sorry to be getting around to Parker’s scheme so late in this article, because he plays such a profound part in the homogenizing of world wine production. The mechanism is beyond the pale, but it’s simple. Parker is influential and has a distinctive appetite, he has a best friend who consults with vintners about how to make their wine to Parker’s taste. The result has been devastating. Vines that have for ages had their own distinctive gouts have now been McParkered. The consultant charges a large fee to monitor an increasing stable of wines, for the camera his preoccupation was “micro-oxygenate,” and after it’s bottled parker comes around and bestows the high marks. The more they pay, the higher the score.

Mondovino underscores this plot by filming a Burger King billboard as Parker drives past it, while he sings the praises of uniform quality. The filmmakers notice an FBI cap on Parker’s desk and make sure to keep it in the frame. Parker is quite candid and friendly in Mondovino, probably because he had no inkling they did not share his eagerness to see viniculture’s eccentricities ironed to a uniform flat.

When the film was released and Robert Parker emerged as enterprising accomplice to Mondavi’s villain, Parker was enraged. He wrote rant after rant against the film and its makers. I’m not sure he’s over it yet. I wanted to be sure to document what I thought was Mondovino’s most brilliant assault on the witless benefit the Parker-Mondavi venture think they’re bequeathing with their anschluss of world wine. It’s about the subjectivity of taste. Robert Parker’s.

A recurring motif of Mondovino’s interviews was a fascination with dogs. It’s cute, and often we give ourselves leave to believe we have learned something about the owner by just looking at their dog.

In one memorable scene, we’ve met a quite unassuming South American vintner who has only one hectar, but is none the less generous with his wine, his time and friendship. He has a black dog, and when the filmmaker asks his name, the vintner laughs such that the revelation is self-effacing. “Luther King” is his name, because, he tells us in Spanish, he’s “negro.” Mondovino’s dark hats are so distasteful, it’s important that the heroic characters aren’t too pearly clean.

All the asides with the dogs were entertaining in their own right, but could have served entirely to set up Robert Parker’s scene. We’re invited to Parkers home and immediately discover he has something for bulldogs.

Do you like bulldogs? Taste is of course subjective. Robert Parker and his wife love their bulldogs, two, and their home is festooned with Bulldogephemera, statuettes, paintings, the camera frame’s worth. Imagine a wall covered with watercolors and oil portraits of bulldogs as you consider the subjectivity of taste.

Then just as Parker is prompted to discuss that his nose is ensured for a million dollars, we discover that one of the dogs has become incontinent, and there’s the near unbearable dog flatulence from which not even conversation can escape. Imagine Robert Parker’s nose not ensured against that. The interview concludes with Parker rambling about something as a bulldog sits sneering on the carpet forcing the filmmaker to keep a safe distance, and so he focuses in close capturing the ugly, perhaps infirm, definitely defensive, unlikable mug.

The next time you chose a wine because it has a high Parker score, ask yourself how it integrates an atmosphere of dog.

Gravity was everywhere back then

Nervous Films - Brent GreenNYC- Brent’s first feature film, Gravity Was Everywhere Back Then premiered at Manhattan’s IFC Center this weekend and runs until Thursday May 13. Catch screenings at 3:30 and 7:30 daily. Production artifacts are on view at concurrent gallery exhibits: the Andrew Edlin Gallery in Chelsea until June, and the Berkeley Art Museum, CA, until September. See the NYT review (!!!), read the production blog. Interview below:

Wolfman is a man’s werewolf, no Olalla

Poor wolf man, he’s the bastard of the horror big three. Dracula and Frankenstein have antecedents in folklore but bloomed on the quills of novelists. The werewolf traces back to the Greek, yet no one will pull him from the doghouse, not that Hollywood doesn’t keep trying. Whenever I see the cinematic transformation of man to beast, from An American Werewolf in London to the latest Wolfman offering, I can’t help but recall the terrifying hairification of Jerry Lewis in the Nutty Professor, RLS painting itself a spoof of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde, regarded as the most literary of inferences to lycanthropy. But Robert Louis Stevenson wrote another short story seldom cited as a werewolf tale. Curious, because I think it holds the key to the man- wolf allure, when it’s not gay teen cheese. In his 1887 Olalla, RLS described the entrancing menace and tormented fate of the lupine-afflicted without mentioning the word.

Of course Stevenson’s angle separated man less from beast.

…the sudden disclosure of her eyes disturbed me. They were unusually large, the iris golden like Felipe’s, but the pupil at that moment so distended that they seemed almost black; and what affected me was not so much their size as (what was perhaps its consequence) the singular insignificance of their regard. A look more blankly stupid I have never met. My eyes dropped before it even as I spoke, and I went on my way upstairs to my own room, at once baffled and embarrassed. Yet, when I came there and saw the face of the portrait, I was again reminded of the miracle of family descent. My hostess was, indeed, both older and fuller in person; her eyes were of a different colour; her face, besides, was not only free from the ill-significance that offended and attracted me in the painting; it was devoid of either good or bad – a moral blank expressing literally naught. And yet there was a likeness, not so much speaking as immanent, not so much in any particular feature as upon the whole. It should seem, I thought, as if when the master set his signature to that grave canvas, he had not only caught the image of one smiling and false-eyed woman, but stamped the essential quality of a race.

Avatar: novel push for noble savage

Avatar movie poster based on the novel by SapphireI’d like to contrast the high-profile critical receptions being given two Hollywood films about darker-skinned-ness. Precious is about an African-American girl so dark she absorbs the light, without being about race at all. The movie tells a story of poverty, incest and the cycle of abuse, while tipping the scales with gratuitous stereotypes of Hottentot welfare mamas attendant their usual good-for-trouble black males. Vilifying the subjects it pretends to rescue, Precious has the blessing of the media, a shameless Oprah included. James Cameron’s Avatar on the other hand, opened to depth-charges of faint praise calculated to dim the buzz, perhaps because it packs the most subversive black-is-beautiful message since Muhammad Ali.

Avatar evokes rudimentary indigenous spirituality, peppered with what even elementary-schooled audiences can associate as Native American themes, from which we can infer the concepts are eternal, but idealizes an athletic aesthetic more human than the movie’s live-action characters. The “blue cat people,” as the critics have chosen to describe its Na’vi tribe, are but fantasy-striped, tailed Spartans, computer iterations of the Williams sisters and NBA dream teams. The real humans of Avatar tower in prowess, dignity and luminescence over their modern mensch oppressors.

Where racial equality on film is plotted according to how black figures are granted access to the world of white priviledge, Avatar celebrates the sovereignty of dark skin in its environment, where it’s not a barbershop, rapper’s crib, or street corner in Harlem. And instead of prepping the more palatable light-skinned negro for easier assimilation to the welcome-diversity crowd.

Precious: Based on the Novel “Push” by Sapphire, is an ugly project by and for gentrified American, whose title character is White-America’s usual avatar into their mysterious conception of Black America. I can do it no better justice than this review excerpt published Counterpunch:

A fiction whose “policy message is that welfare recipients are black women who wish to avoid work, who use their time having sex with their daughters, watching television and dining on pig leavings.” Is this a film – or a crime?

A crock and defamation that reinforces white man’s supremist burden.

Under Iran’s culturally repressive Islamic Revolution, the artists have produced a golden age of film. The greatest of these films have had to disguise their social message in analogies surrounding the concerns of children. Avatar takes perhaps a similar tack. Behind diversions of fantasy and special effects, is a profound morality tale. Critics can attack James Cameron for his simplistic storytelling, it’s the price to pay to bring the simplest of viewers along. Perhaps the director can release a final cut for cineastes which omits the redundant exposition. I don’t mind that Cameron uses a highlighter for the Cliftnote set. A survey of online comments shows me that some fans applaud themselves for getting Avatar’s message where they are certain their fellow audience members might not.

Most certainly the alarm most critics are raising has to do with the unpatriotic attitude which Avatar takes toward Capitalist imperialism. In GWOT America where we still “Support Our Troops” and still refrain from labeling our military contractors as mercenaries, this film will rub flag wavers the wrong way. I’d hate to be an active duty US soldier, watching Avatar in my uniform, as the audience roots for good to vanquish evil. It will probably be some time before Americans will want to see Iraqi or Afghan freedom fighters depicted as heroes. We’ve yet to see sympathetic accounts for example of the Vietcong holding down the Ho Chi Min Trail, or for that matter, the real Germans or Japanese beyond the Allied propaganda. But by disguising his story in science fiction, James Cameron has rehabilitated the Vandal and Visigoth, from the shadow of the Roman Empire. The shadow of man’s civilizing drive which grows darker the more it is illuminated.

And best of all, Cameron’s pagans are not whites like the typical Anglo Semites of the Christian holy lands. Cameron’s indigenous humans have the beautiful noses, skin and haunches indigenous to the climates which cradled humankind.

I was watching Jacobs Ladder just now

I was watching Jacobs Ladder just now. Just a little bit intense. Definitely not your standard war flick. You know, the guy who recommended the film to me, he’d been there, in Nam. And in the VA outpatient clinics too. One of those from Louisiana-East Texas that I just slip right into jawin’ with, easy… we call each other Cousin even if we’ve never met before. God Damn this is a bad movie. Not bad scripting or acting or plot. The bad part of it is that it’s something real.

Would they, if they could? Agent Orange. LSD. Depleted Uranium. They denied they ever did any of that. Denied it and killed people who stood in their way of keeping it secret. They killed them with lack of care, with the denials that the conditions and most importantly the causes of it.

Agent Orange is just a weed killer. One of thousands of chemicals they use on military bases routinely.

DDT is illegal in the U.S. and in countries that have treaties. But if the Army is “in country” in a nation that has no government, or at least none that the Pentagon recognizes… well, you do the math.

Depleted Uranium, they almost killed my cousin Hank with it. And denied that it WAS uranium poisoning. They said that the uranium is encased in titanium thus harmless. Ever see a bullet casing? not the shell that ejects out of the back of the chamber, the Bullet. The Projectile. See what it looks like after slamming into whatever mass is big enough to stop it. At anywhere from just under the speed of sound to twice the speed of sound, like the DU rounds.

The Peace Activists put enough heat on the Army to actually get them to DO something about it.
This won’t fit on a bumper sticker or tee-shirt. But when they ask what the hippies ever did for anybody, along with their bullshit lies about ending slavery and fascism…

Tell them Sgt T. Hank Brown, United States Army. Alive today.

No thanks to any of the Pentagon supporting Loudmouths who infest the “counter protest” part of any Peace Rally.

No God-Damn thanks to ANY of them.

If that’s not enough for any of them to accept, add in Sgt Howard Lanning, USAF.

NOT alive today, and the people who chant about “love it or leave it” or “my country right or wrong” or well… you know the rest of their Brainless Chants.

Their Lock-step Alle Sieg Heil approach to any criticism of their Beloved Army is what killed him, and a literally uncounted number of other Agent Orange victims. They killed him with their condemnation of anybody who opposed their War-mongering and all it’s nasty tentacles. Tentacles like giving Monsanto a blank check immunity to prosecution or lawsuits for their money-grubbing part in the War.

They’re slowly killing his widow too.

Because of the intervention of the Civil Liberties Union, among others. ACORN. Urban League. All those who the Army condemns as being worthless…

Because of their intervention Hank is still ALIVE. Dude is 6′ 5″, makes ME look short. Before he got the treatment they had denied him for more than ten years he was down to under a hundred pounds.

Some of our readers live in more civilized countries where there’s actually standardized measurments.

That’s two meters tall and only 47 kilos.

The treatment he got, that saved his life, is a purgative treatment that gets the poisonous heavy metal out of the system.

See, it’s not the Radiation that gets you, with uranium in small doses. The Right Wing Stooges deny loudly that it could be possible for uranium to poison people because of the low radiation.

But it’s more on the order of OTHER metal poisons.. Mercury. Lead. White Arsenic. Sodium.

It took Hank a year of treatment to get the shit out of his system.

Somebody thanked me yesterday for “serving”. I tell them all the time not to thank me. But the Propagandists keep telling them to do it.

For all those who opposed the Military, who opposed the slaughter, who opposed the shameless exploitation of anybody dumb enough to get caught up in their recruitment or conscription net…

For the lawyers and poets and peace activists. I Say, THANK YOU.

The face of the health insurance lobby

Nurse Ratchet torments Jack Nicholson and Brad DourifNurse Ratched, to my imagination, was the most despised movie villainess of all time. She didn’t murder anyone, but by the sheer frigidity of her indifference, Nurse Ratched caused debilitating anxiety and heart-break. She’s my nominee for the face of the US health insurance lobby.

When Nurse Ratched –yes, it’s not spelled Ratchet– callously provoked the suicide of Brad Dourif’s vulnerable character in One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest, I would defy any viewer to deny they wanted to see the evil nurse dismembered. Couldn’t we rekindle a little of that seething anger for those who are obstructing health care reform?

How is their dispassionate defense of our nation’s feudal profit-based medical system any less homocidal than Jeffrey Dahmer? The health insurance business is doing the deed, but their DC lobbyists, like Richard Umbdenstock (AHA), Karen Ignagni (AHIP), Nancy Nielsen (AMA), Billy Tauzin (PhRMA), and David Nexon (AMTA) are keeping would-be rescuers at bay. They’re riding shotgun on genocidal manhunts.

Health coverage triage isn’t some genteel game of music chairs in the waiting room. These are wheelchairs, and the losers who fall are swept out the door and in the gutter. And the for-profit health industry is removing thousands of chairs at a time.

What is this polite respect opponents are showing one another over the immoral behavior of health insurers? Signa and Humana are killers plain and simple. They deny coverage, delay approvals, withhold disbursements, and throw up bureaucratic barriers until their patients are too enfeebled to fight, or too dead to sue.

While the public is made to debate whether our nation can afford to offer health care to its citizens, and feeling like cheapskates for wanting to deprive the insurance industry of its cleverly earned, admirable profits.

Another ACORN thought…

DumFox Noose and their Demented Minions (selectively) Strike Again!?
 
Now, I used to work for ACORN. Twice. Once in Texas and registering votes in 2004.?

Since Fox “investigators” tried many times to set-up the ACORN people before finding ONE who would bite, it jogged the ol’ Memory Cache and out popped this notion… ACORN does NOT do background checks on their workers. This is NOT a bad thing. The Pentagon does background checks and look who they hired… George Bush for instance. General Betrays-Us. Lt Calley. Ronald Reagan and John Wayne (to do Pro-War propaganda films). ?All the Torturers at Gitmo, Khandahar, Bagram and Abu Ghraib. “Civilian Contractors” in Egypt and a few rather unsavory NATO countries…

On the other hand, What If DumFox Instigators (my what a difference three little letters makes!), tiring of their attempts to get somebody, anybody, to give them the “goods”, what if they simply had one of their people planted in ACORN?

I mean, it’s not like they’re ABOVE dishonesty in any way.

They lie, steal, cheat, blaspheme and (get other people to) Murder (for them because it violates their Cowardice Policy to do it themselves) all day every day.

Let’s Investigate the Instigators. Who are they, what exact methods did they use to attack ACORN and by association, every decent person in America? Meaning, those of us who don’t take orders from Rupert Murdoch and his Ministry of Lies.

ACORN doesn’t need defending, Fox needs being ATTACKED, using their rules, just not their Lying Tactics.

FDR wanted an Economic Bill of Rights

You think Dwight D. Eisenhower’s farewell address was a zinger, you should see FDR’s. Unearthed by Michael Moore for his new movie, the footage records Roosevelt declaring his intention to pursue a Second Bill of Rights. FDR died before he could make it happen, and you’ll never feel more sorry for yourself. FDR proposed these economic rights because our “political rights proved inadequate to assure us equality in the pursuit of happiness.” They were: equal rights to a job, fair pay, a home, medical care, retirement, and education. All these would have been affordable to the prospering industrial superpower, before the richest 1% took ownership of 90% of America’s wealth.

Curiously, as revealed in the film, FDR’s diplomats sent to rebuild Europe and Japan, did survive the president, and were able to draft new constitutions which guaranteed those rights. As a result, our former enemies, the refashioned Germans, Italians and Japanese, have all these protections. Theirs are now the most prosperous economies on Earth.

FDR in 1944: Read it and weep.

It is our duty now to begin to lay the plans and determine the strategy for the winning of a lasting peace and the establishment of an American standard of living higher than ever before known. We cannot be content, no matter how high that general standard of living may be, if some fraction of our people—whether it be one-third or one-fifth or one-tenth—is ill-fed, ill-clothed, ill-housed, and insecure.

This Republic had its beginning, and grew to its present strength, under the protection of certain inalienable political rights—among them the right of free speech, free press, free worship, trial by jury, freedom from unreasonable searches and seizures. They were our rights to life and liberty.

As our nation has grown in size and stature, however—as our industrial economy expanded—these political rights proved inadequate to assure us equality in the pursuit of happiness.

We have come to a clear realization of the fact that true individual freedom cannot exist without economic security and independence. “Necessitous men are not free men.” People who are hungry and out of a job are the stuff of which dictatorships are made.

In our day these economic truths have become accepted as self-evident. We have accepted, so to speak, a second Bill of Rights under which a new basis of security and prosperity can be established for all—regardless of station, race, or creed.

Among these are:

The right to a useful and remunerative job in the industries or shops or farms or mines of the nation;

The right to earn enough to provide adequate food and clothing and recreation;

The right of every farmer to raise and sell his products at a return which will give him and his family a decent living;

The right of every businessman, large and small, to trade in an atmosphere of freedom from unfair competition and domination by monopolies at home or abroad;

The right of every family to a decent home;

The right to adequate medical care and the opportunity to achieve and enjoy good health;

The right to adequate protection from the economic fears of old age, sickness, accident, and unemployment;

The right to a good education.

All of these rights spell security. And after this war is won we must be prepared to move forward, in the implementation of these rights, to new goals of human happiness and well-being.

America’s own rightful place in the world depends in large part upon how fully these and similar rights have been carried into practice for our citizens.

Capitalism Love Story at 3 COS screens

Michael Moore’s CAPITALISM: A LOVE STORY opens today in Colorado Springs, at Tinseltown, Cinemark Carefree and Hollywood Interquest. Showtimes and a note from Moore below.

Tinseltown at 1pm, 3:55pm, 6:50pm, and 9:45pm; Cinemark at 11:40am, 1:15pm, 2:50pm, 4:25pm, 6:00pm, 7:35pm, 9:10pm, and 10:30pm; and Interquest at 1:20pm, 4:10pm, 7pm, and 9:50pm.

Moore sent out this encouragement:

Friday, October 2nd, 2009

Friends,
For two months, we’ve sat and watched the rabid right achieve the unimaginable: Derail universal health care and send the Democrats in Congress running for cover. Many have asked, “How did this happen? How could a small minority of angry people control the public agenda? Where is the majority’s response? Why the silence?”

I don’t have the answers to all these questions. But I do know this: I’ve had enough. As far as I’m concerned, Tea Bag Nation ends today — at noon to be precise. For that’s when I set loose, on a thousand screens across this great land, a movie I’ve made that’s so relentless, so dangerous, so damning in its humor, that it will — I can only hope — do what no movie has done before: Take them down, take them all down, once and for all.

The days of the majority of Americans being ignored and played for chumps are over as of right now. This weekend, consider your local cinema the REAL town hall meetings! Come and spend two hours with hundreds of other people who are fed up and in need of a bit of inspiration — and a good hearty laugh at the expense of all the S.O.B.s who’ve wrecked our economy and laid ruin to our democracy.

I’m personally inviting you to come see what many critics are saying is my best film yet: “Capitalism: A Love Story.” You will not be disappointed. I will show you things and tell you things about how the captains of corporate America have stolen our country from us. No one on the nightly news is bringing these truths to you. Beginning at noon today, I pull back the curtain and reveal who’s responsible for the calamity we’re in. That’s right — I name names and I explain why this economic system we have is nothing more than legalized greed, and Wall Street is nothing more than a crime syndicate in suits. You will be blown away by what you see, but you will not leave the theater in a pit of despair. I’m counting on your response to be one of exhilaration and determination. I’ve watched this movie in sneak previews with audiences from Pittsburgh to L.A. and I’ve never seen more hooting and hollering during a documentary in my life. There are actually standing O’s during the movie! Weird. Cool. Down in front!

Please see “Capitalism: A Love Story” this weekend. Take a bunch of friends and make it an event. Last weekend in New York and L.A. many shows sold out (making “Capitalism” the biggest per screen average at the box office for 2009), so get your tickets early. And if you get a chance, send me a photo of what opening night looks like in your city and I’ll post it on my website.

C’mon, friends — RISE UP! This is our moment. And it comes with popcorn! Not bad!

Thank you so very much for all your support and encouragement over the years.

Yours,
?Michael Moore

Capitalism, a Love Story, out OCT 2

michael moore 2009 documentaryMichael Moore’s documentary about the bank robber barons behind America’s financial collapse will hit the theaters on October 2. Though the Venice Film Festival gave its premier four screenings, and a ten minute standing ovation, American editorials have of course begun to cut Moore down. The fimmaker’s tweets that the LA audience rose from their seats with torches and pitchforks, were quickly doused as hyperbole. Really? The celebrity theatergoers were really just rushing the catering tables. REALLY? That’s less probable.

Who says there is no good news?

1. Celebrity activists have joined to condemn the Toronto Film Festival’s celebration of the movie industry of Tel Aviv, inappropriate while an Israeli regime ruthlessly exterminates its Palestinian Problem by seizing their lands, driving them into exile, and interning those who refuse to leave in the ghettos of Gaza and the West Bank, then making warm fuzzy movies about it.
2. Iraqi Bush Shoe-Thrower Muntadhar al-Zaidi has been freed! He says he was tortured for his act, but he didn’t regret it. “I got my chance and I didn’t miss it,” he said, now missing a few teeth. The US media is equating Joe Wilson’s affront to earnest debate to al-Zaidi’s internationally-hailed angry repudiation of a lying mass-murderer. Good luck with that.
3. Activists have been arrested for protesting war recruiting in a Philadelphia mall where children were being offered an “Army Experience Center”. Alright, arrests are not good news, in particular when they include the OpEdNews reporter covering the action, but it’s always encouraging to see Americans stand between Army recruiters and their prey.

Note on #1: Signers of the complaint to the TIFF, who include Naomi Klein and Howard Zinn, explain that they are protesting the festival’s framing of the Israeli films, they are not “black listing” the films as the defenders of Israel charge. To me, equating a protest of the festival to blacklisting smacks of decrying “anti-Semitism.”

The chief celebrities rushing to counter the TIFF complainants are, according to the Toronto Star: Jerry Seinfeld, Natalie Portman, Sacha Baron Cohen , Lisa Kudrow, David Cronenberg, Minnie Driver, Simon Wiesenthal Center founder and filmmaker Marvin Hier, Cineplex Canada CEO Ellis Jacob, Norman Jewison, Lenny Kravitz, Sherry Lansing (former head of Paramount Studios), producer Robert Lantos, the UJA Federation of Greater Toronto and the Jewish Federation of Greater Los Angeles. Interesting pattern?

In the interim, a UN probe determines war crimes were committed in Gaza incursion, and US envoy seeks to reach compromise with Israel over illegal settlements.

US govt spreads terror to Yemen

Yemen-fighting-bombingHundreds of thousands of new refugees and yet another country, Yemen, is now being destabilized by the US’s relentless drive to control the Middle East’s oil resources. Yemen is not oil rich but sits in a strategic locale between Iran and Saudi Arabia, and Iran and the Horn of Africa (Somalia, Ethiopia, Eritrea, Djibouti, Kenya). That makes it a key battle zone (like Lebanon and Syria to the West) in US efforts to destabilize and topple the current Iranian government in order to replace it with a servile puppet regime under US government control.

If you hear anything about this new outbreak of fighting, it will be described by the corporate media as being nothing but a battle between Yemen government forces allied with US ally, Saudi Arabia, and Northern Shia Houtha rebels allied with Iran. No hint beyond that of this civil war being part of anything much larger in size. No hint of US government involvement in the hostilities.

Hiding in the shadows though, is the US government and their traditional European allies, Britain, Germany, France, Italy, and so on. This is just one more front line in their neo-imperial expansionism, and thus Yemen joins Pakistan joins Lebanon joins Gaza.

The direct casualties of these imperialist wars by the US government and the Pentagon can be seen in this film, and make up, as usual, many very innocent civilians, including many small children. Barack Obama doesn’t care though. These children victims of US government war making live far away and are quite defenseless. Out of sight out of mind to the Big Shots in D.C.

See Yemenis flee to Saudi border – a film from Al Jazeera for a snapshot picture of the new conflict.

The Devil’s Miner

TioAre you looking for a good children’s film, and a film for the whole family to watch? Are you looking for a film where your children can learn about an alternative universe, and one that our American government has helped make? Then check out The Devil’s Miner.
 
Bolivian children labor in the silver mines of Cerro Rico, dating back to the 16th century, where devout Catholic miners sever their ties with God upon entering the mountain.

Top 10 Westerns, if you ask the French

rio bravo directed by Howard Hawks
 
Are you a fan of the American Western? How do you think your taste might match a survey of French film critics? Though we mock their high regard for Jerry Lewis, let’s allow that France has a film history that predates ours, and a legacy of critical journals beyond the reach of our Hollywood shills. Besides which, the golden age of the movie western lies well between the brothers Lumiére and the Nouvelle Vague. Perusing John Cawelti’s The Six-Gun Mystique published in 1976, I found a list of the TOP TEN GREATEST WESTERNS. Think any of your favorites made the list?

Your odds improve because ties were listed as individual ranks, so the entire top ten comprises almost 100 titles. The survey excludes works made after the early seventies obviously.

Joan Crawford stars in Johnny GuitarTOP TEN WESTERNS

1. Johnny Guitar — Nicholas Ray

2. Rio Bravo — Howard Hawks

3. The Big Sky — Howard Hawks, w. AB Guthrie

4. (tie)
The Naked Spur — Anthony Mann
Rancho Notorious — Fritz Lang
Man Without a Star — King Vidor

5. (tie)
My Darling Clementine — John Ford
The Left-Handed Gun — Arthur Penn, w. Gore Vidal
The Searchers –John Ford
Ride the High County — Sam Peckenpah

6. (tie)
Silver Lode — Allan Dwan
Red River — Howard Hawks
Duel in the Sun — King Vidor
The Hanging Tree — Delmer Daves
Run of the Arrow — Sam Fuller
Seven Men From Now — Budd Boetticher

7. (tie)
The Last Hunt — Richard Brooks
The Far Country — Anthony Mann
Colorado Territory — Raoul Walsh
Wagonmaster –John Ford
The Unforgiven — John Huston
Man of the West — Anthony Mann
Heller in Pink Tights — George Cukor, w. Louis L’Amour

8. (tie)
Man From Laramie — Anthony Mann
The Plainsman — Cecil B. DeMille
Western Union — Fritz Lang
Winchester 73 — Anthony Mann
Warlock — Edward Dmytryk
They Died with their Boots On — Raoul Walsh
The Last Frontier — Anthony Mann
The Last Wagon — Delmer Daves
River of No Return — Otto Preminger

9. (tie)
Stagecoach — John Ford, w. Ernest Haycock
The Outlaw — Howard Hughes, w. Ben Hecht
Billy the Kid — King Vidor
Comanche Station — Budd Boetticher
The Wonderful Country — Robert Parrish, w. Tom Lea
Wichita — Jacques Tourneur
3:10 to Yuma — Delmer Daves, w. Elmore Leonard
The Magnificent Seven — John Sturges, w. Akira Kurosawa
Gunfight at the OK Corral — John Sturges, w. Leon Uris
Tennessee’s Partner — Allan Dwan, w. Bret Harte

10. (Another 45 titles, including)
Shane — George Stevens
The Misfits — John Huston, w. Arthur Miller
Major Dundee — Sam Peckinpah
One Eyed Jacks — Marlon Brando
The Treasure of the Sierra Madre — John Huston, w. B. Traven
The Gold Rush — Charlie Chaplin
Go West — Buster Keaton
Fort Bravo — John Sturges

Richard Brautigan was my favorite Beatle

Richard Brautigan recorded on Apple RecordsYou know you’re a Post- Baby Boomer when you had to learn that Lucy in the Sky With Diamonds was not an Elton John song. I remember being told by a nanny that you liked either the Monkeys or the Beatles. They broke up before I began listening to pop music. John became an activist, Paul was determined to return to commercial sounds, and George and Ringo faded to slackerdom, having ever only composed While My Guitar Gently Weeps and Octopus’s Garden between them, so I thought. I knew only the Beatles Red and White anthologies.

Barbara Bach and Got My Heart Set on You redeemed Ringo Starr fairly enough, and later I came to appreciate George Harrison. Actually later I heard Ravi Shankar liken Harrison’s exertions on the sitar to a monkey handling a violin, and we come full circle.

But before that was Handmade Films, Harrison’s project to finance Monty Python adventures, and something I’ve just come upon, recordings of my favorite post-beat writer Richard Brautigan. Someone at Apple Records, and I like to imagine it was George, approached RB about putting his poems on vinyl. Someone in the production process knew what to add to the poetry to please his fans. The tracks recorded Brautigan taking off his clothes, answering the phone, and brushing his teeth. I knew of the recordings, I didn’t know it was on Apple.

I came upon Richard Brautigan late too. In 1986 I read The Springhill Mine Disaster, and In Watermelon Sugar, and was pleased enough to imagine one day meeting him. It wasn’t until I was standing in the reference shelves of Penrose Library several years later, that I read a jacket liner which referenced Brautigan in the past tense. I was profoundly shattered that he lived no more, and I am still confused that a voice so lyrically optimistic could choose to commit suicide. I collected all his books but eventually lost a curiosity to read them.

Brautigan wrote: “All of us have a place in history. Mine is clouds.”

He took his life two years before I encountered The Confederate General and Trout Fishing. There is something uniformly post-mortem about my generation.

Richard Brautigan is considered a beat writer, although he came on the scene a decade later. Which oddly leads me to mention my favorite of his, The Abortion.

the food revolution starts here. only the healthy will survive.

food incThere is a spate of recent films spilling the beans about the corporate takeover of the global food economy. Many are available online or through Amazon and Netflix.
 
Please watch some of these. Show your kids. Host a screening in your community. Donate a copy or two to the local library or public school system. Encourage teachers to show the films. Spread the word! Subvert the dominant food paradigm! Refuse to play along anymore!

Food, Inc., the first enviro-food movie to be screened in major theaters across the country, has brought food consciousness in the United States to a new level.

Fresh: The Movie is the perfect follow-up screening to Food, Inc. because it shows the flip side—positive change being created by farmers, students, thinkers, and business people in the U.S. today.

French Fries to Go documents Telluride, Colorado’s quest to run city buses on recycled fryer oil.

Garden Cycles: Faces From the New Farm is the story of three women on a three-month bicycle-powered tour of urban gardens throughout the Northeast.

Polycultures: Food Where We Live looks at communities in Northeast Ohio that are coming together to grow a more sustainable, just, and local food system.

The Greening of Southie is about Boston’s first LEED-certified residential green building and the way it affected a community.

Eating Alaska is a documentary by a vegetarian filmmaker who moves to Alaska and marries a hunter. The film looks at the ethics behind food choices and how politics, society, religion, and taste all play a role.

Sustainable Table: What’s on Your Plate? traces West Coast food production from field to table.

To Market to Market to Buy a Fat Pig tours outstanding farmers’ markets from Baltimore to Hawaii.

The Real Dirt of Farmer John looks at one man and his family farm. Farmer John and his story will have you reconsidering stereotypes about farmers.

The Garden examines the largest community garden in the U.S., 14 acres of green in South Central Los Angeles, and the fight to keep it there.

The World According to Monsanto looks at this behemoth of a multinational agricultural biotech corporation and their dominance of patents on genetically engineered seeds and pesticides.

Seeds of Deception focuses on how genetically engineered food is making its way into our daily diets.

Bad Seed: The Truth About Our Food looks at who is controlling the world’s food supply and the consequences of genetically modified food on health.

The Future of Food examines the complex web of market and political forces that affect what we eat and what we will eat in the future.

Food Matters takes a look at the often overlooked connection between food and our nation’s current state of health. With the health-care debate raging, watching this film feels extra-timely and important.

King Corn investigates the staggering scale of the corn related food economy in the U.S. in an entertaining way. While you’re at it check out Carey’s two part quest to go corn free.

Two Angry Moms shows two angry (and awesome) moms striving to improve school lunch with simple changes, like having fresh fruits and vegetables included on cafeteria trays.

Our Daily Bread is shot like a high end art-house film sand hows minute after minute of shocking footage of industrial food production and high-tech farming.

Super Size Me now feels like a classic among all these newer films. Watch as Morgan Spurlock spends 30 days eating nothing but McDonald’s while investigating the companies’ extremely long reach into school cafeterias and countries around the world.

Media That Matters: Good Food is a collection of 16 short films on food and sustainability.

The Greenhorns is an upcoming film on enterprising, hopeful, and young farmers that are bringing an infusion of youth and a wave of excitement to the one of the oldest professions of all.

The End of the Line chronicles how demand for cod off the coast of Newfoundland in the early 1990s led to the decimation of the most abundant cod population in the world, how hi-tech fishing vessels leave no escape routes for fish populations and how farmed fish as a solution is a myth.

Mondovino explores the impact of globalization on the various wine-producing regions. It pits the ambitions of large, multinational wine producers, in particular Robert Mondavi, against the small, single estate wineries who have traditionally boasted wines with individual character driven by their terroir.

We Feed the World is a film by Austrian filmmaker Erwin Wagenhofer about food and globalization, fishermen and farmers, long-distance truck drivers and high-powered corporate executives, the flow of goods and cash flow – a film about scarcity amid plenty.

McLibel is a story of two activists who took on McDonald’s in the longest trial in English history. They won.

The Cove follows a team of activists and filmmakers as they infiltrate a heavily-guarded cove in Taiji, Japan where more than 20,000 dolphins and porpoises are being slaughtered each year and their meat, containing toxic levels of mercury, is being sold as food in Japan, often times labeled as whale meat.

The Power of Community – How Cuba Survived Peak Oil tells the story of the Cuban people’s efforts to feed the population and create a low-energy society after losing access to Soviet oil in the 1990s.

Information from the Serious Eats website. Thank you, Serious Eats!