Wednesday, May 20, 2015

Arts Express: The Book Of Negroes, Cannes Film Festival Report, Dolph Lundren Talks Skin Trade



The Book Of Negroes: The second secret American Revolution in 1776 that freed thousand of slaves, in this historical drama. And featuring that rare celebrated phenomenon, a female rebel leading a victory against human bondage in America. A conversation with the African Canadian filmmaker Clement Virgo and female freedom fighter on screen, star Aunjanue Ellis.

The Cannes Film Festival Report: Professor Dennis Broe reporting on location for Arts Express. And deconstructing the continued cultural imperialism of the cinematic marketplace, and the infiltration of the red carpet economy at all levels of the global film industry. And how Professor Broe accidentally wandered into a French street rally promoting fascism and monarchism.

LISTEN TO THE SHOW HERE

Skin Trade: A conversation with actor Dolph Lundgren. Delving into combating global sex trafficking as an action hero on screen, trading in brains for brawn as a former Fulbright Scholar, and how he got involved in movies by chance when asked to point a gun at Christopher Walken's head during a visit with girlfriend Grace Jones, to the set of her James Bond movie.

Prairie Miller

Thursday, May 14, 2015

Arts Express: Most Dangerous Man In America, Drones, Secret Second American Revolution, Churchill The Play


Please tune in Thursday, May 14th 3-5pm ET to WBAI-NY 99.5FM or streaming and archived at wbai.org, to help support Arts Express and the station. You can call in then to pledge to Arts Express, to 212-2092950. Thank you!

Black Lives Matter: Past, Present, Future

Arts Express is offering:
*Pairs Of Tickets to Most Dangerous Man In America
*Plus Bonus DVD The Book Of Negroes.
*CD Of Most Dangerous Man In America Director Interview, Amiri Baraka Reading Excerpts From This, His Last Play Never Before Produced. And The Book Of Negroes Director, Star And Writer Interviews. And, Most Dangerous Man In America director Woodie King reflecting on the play's legacy for the Black Lives Matter struggles in progress. And, its significance for the 90th anniversary of the birth of Malcolm X on 5/19, and in connection to the 1981 biopic King wrote and directed in tribute, Death Of A Prophet, starring Morgan Freeman as Malcolm.

Most Dangerous Man In America is a dramatic reflection of one of the most traumatic events in the terrible period of McCarthyism. W.E.B DuBois, a co-founder of the NAACP, a scholar and political activist, known and recognized throughout the world, was indicted in 1951 by the US government at the age of 82 as "an agent of a foreign power." In the play, the focus moves back and forth between the Harlem community and their opinions, the witnesses' testimony and the courtroom battles. This is Amir Baraka's last play written just before his death, and never before performed on stage.

The Book Of Negroes Bonus DVD,* Limited Edition: The Canadian dramatic miniseries excavating the recorded buried history of the secret second American Revolution in 1776 this country has never been forthcoming about - 3,000 slaves who fought with the British to win their freedom and flight from bondage as liberated refugees  - something they knew would not be granted by the Americans, ironically even as they battled for their own freedom. And though the Americans demanded the return of their slaves as 'property' in conjunction with the Paris Peace Treaty and dubious Declaration of Independence, the British refused.

Also, Pledge gifts include Churchill on stage, Drones, and The Art Of Magic classes.

Stay tuned!

Wednesday, May 6, 2015

Arts Express: Russell Brand, Helen Hunt, Swoosie Kurtz, Subway Showtime, And Sexism In The Supermarket




**Tribeca 2015: The Long And The Short Of It.

The Emperor's New Clothes: Russell Brand political fashion statements in the Michael Winterbottom documentary delving into what is to be done about the One Percent. Or maybe not.

We Live This: The lives and struggles of the Showtime Kids, subway performer ghetto youth breakdancing underground for spare change, in this compassionately crafted short doc. Who are they and where do they live, after showtime is over. If anywhere.

LISTEN TO THE SHOW HERE

**Mothers Day, Unconventional Mothering: Conversations with actresses Helen Hunt and Swoosie Kurtz. Touching on womanhood, work, family, Vietnam, McCarthyism, Melissa McCarthy and the new generation of funny women, Lillian Hellman, and sexism in the supermarket.

Arts Express, airing every week on the WBAI/Pacifica National Radio Network and Affiliate Stations.

Prairie Miller

Wednesday, April 15, 2015

The Emperor's New Clothes: Russell Brand Politically Fervent But Feeble Fashion Statement


While the corporate media, with its own conflict of interest stake in the entrenched status quo, is always insistent that communism doesn't work whenever issues within that structure arise, the same accusation would never be leveled against capitalism. However much mass economic suffering and imperialist military carnage that system as an always assumed given, has generated at home and around the world.

And though UK actor-comedian Russell Brand displays noble intentions in fixing that broken entity with selective repairs in Michael Winterbottom's documentary The Emperor's New Clothes, those simplistic sentiments however subversive are, sorry to say, not noble enough. Fashion statements aside, those emperor's duds, literally and figuratively, need long overdue discarding - along with whatever conniving and repressive emperor happens to be parading in them. Or not.

Borrowing generously but substantially ineffectively from Michael Moore with a bit of Brecht tossed in too, Brand mostly limits his bandit capitalism critique to a single diluted reformist issue - corporate and billionaire tax evasion. And tracing the economic dilemma back a mere seven decades to what he terms as the decisive scourge - free market fundamentalism. Which essentially lets off the hook any oligarchs exploiting and massacring the masses for centuries - and all the related misery, persecutions and assassinations in its wake into the present time.

What does come to light incidentally at one point, is Brand admitting though quickly brushing this particular personal detail aside, that he himself is a member of the one percent. And actually, along with director Winterbottom, no stranger to feeding at the lucrative trough of Hollywood.

So what remains of this ideological deviation, is a hunch that what both Brand and Winterbottom are after is a call to fellow one percenters to pay their fair share of taxes as they themselves do - rather than hiding billions in offshore accounts around the planet. And that somehow the disclosed money will trickle back into the system to provide for the poor.

Reality check alert: This proposal sidesteps that other invisible entity along with those regal garments in question - the elephant in the room known as lobbyists. The ones who ultimately control those pseudo-democratic capitalist governments through bribery, no matter who the masses vote for. And who will always protect the robber barons and their riches, no matter what arrangements have been made for hoarding their wealth.

So what remains in The Emperor's New Clothes, aside from Brand as anti-corporate court jester performing nonstop for an annoying nearly two hour stretch - an occasional mildly amusing agitprop moment like the masked billionaire fun bus aside - is essentially nothing new about that monarch makeover. And unlike most such traditional fairy tales, with conclusively no prospective happy ending in sight.

The Emperor's New Clothes is screening at the Tribeca Film Festival, which takes place through April 26th throughout Manhattan. The Festival will highlight hundreds of feature films, documentaries, shorts and special events. More information is online at Tribecafilm.com.


Prairie Miller

Sunday, April 12, 2015

Good Kill Review: Bad Logic, Even Worse Convictions, Droning While Drunk

  Good Kill Plays Good Cop, Bad Cop. Good US Military, Bad CIA

Though the anti-drone warfare psychological drama Good Kill may have its heart in the right place, its morally ambivalent head may be another matter. Dabbling first of all, in a contradictory duality of concepts when it comes to the courage of one's convictions concerning Good Kill's ironic title. And intimating unfortunately multiple unintended meanings regarding the conflicted remote control US military warrior in question, and New Zealand writer/director Andrew Niccol's motivations as well.

Ethan Hawke is Tom Egan, an Air Force war pilot redeployed to the Nevada desert - unbilled birthplace of the atom bomb many weapons of mass destruction moons ago - to more modern warfare drone duty. That is, the remote control, video game derived bomb blasting alleged Taliban warriors in Afghanistan.

But Egan is peeved about assorted stuff that has little to do with murdering far flung suspects on the other side of the world, without benefit of judge, jury or perish the thought, legal representation. Egan apparently resents being relieved of his war plane, where, as he explains, there was a much more satisfactory visceral sense of killing anonymous perps up close and personal,and  simply because one is ordered to do so.

And Egan, increasingly self-medicating and essentially droning while drunk, resentfully but dutifully goes along to get along. That is, until a last straw change of plans when the CIA steps in to direct the drone strikes by double remote - from DC. And via the anonymous phone-in barking of orders from code name Agent Langley (Peter Coyote). Much to the dismay of the military and local commander Jack Johns (Bruce Greenwood), with the implication, according to this film, that when the military instead of the CIA was droning Afghans to death, those massacres were logical, justified and humane. Huh?

Good Kill does present what the filmmaker seems to believe is somehow a balanced - and less challenging - view. Or at least what may make the movie appear as less than a blatant infomercial for the US military. The drone operators do wince a bit to demonstrate their humanity, when a woman reaches to retrieve a stray severed arm out of a tree following one of their bombings. Then there's Zoe Kravitz, who gets to be the drone killer eventually most appalled politically by the entire business. But she's also hey, a female. You know, the sort of gender based character driven by emotions, and in that regard with seductive designs on Egan, married or not.

And Egan comes to be plagued by second thoughts about all of this business as well. But not necessarily in a way you might think, by denouncing the entire questionable moral and ethical empire building that ultimately constitutes this country's engineering of endless wars on the planet, remote and otherwise.

So what in the end is that preemptively cautious Good Kill, having it both ways, joint pro and anti-war concept all about? For starters, bad working conditions, by being relegated to a physically stress inducing, claustrophobic container in the Nevada desert. Then there's Hawke's character endlessly whining about the loss of somewhat more direct, in your face enemy extermination as a previous old school war plane bomber. Along with 'good kill' US military remote 'warheads on foreheads' assassinations, until the presumably indiscriminate preemptive CIA meddling kicked in. And essentially, ironically, the drones pretty much getting a pass. Or rather, perhaps, the filmmaker.

Good Kill is screening at the Tribeca Film Festival, which takes place through April 26th throughout Manhattan. The Festival will highlight hundreds of feature films, documentaries, shorts and special events.
More information is online at Tribecafilm.com.


Prairie Miller

Thursday, April 9, 2015

Who Am I: The Opposite Of Size Matters As Superpower In Cyberspace Wikifreaks Noir




The reign of the 90 pound weakling may have indeed arrived, as the cyberspace era has seemingly switched up exactly which forces and in fact body builds, get to call the shots historically over everybody else. And the German cyber-noir Who Am I: Kein System Ist Siche, directed by Baran Bo Odar, appears to be doing just that as well, sending the classic standoff of might makes right into the dustbin of history. Along with all sorts of militaristic implements that seem to have met their match in the far more lightweight and invisible tactics of brainiacs on a mission, with the potential of bringing armies to their knees one day in the not very distant future.

Tom Schilling is Benjamin in Who Am I, a scrawny workingclass German youth in a deep funk. Overcome by a sense of facelessness in the modern world, Benjamin mourns his lack of any sense of purpose, recognition or identity. Delivering pizzas by day and dreaming of superhero ascension by night, and the sort of kid reject who was even deemed too boring to get bullied or beaten up in grade school.

Until, that is, he discovers his cyber-geek skills. Which progressively take a more subversive turn, somewhat in retaliation against the indifferent world around him. And he is soon teaming up with a rowdy Darknet posse under the influence of a Ritalin hacker high, and with an assorted menu of giddy rebel impulses against society. Starting off with infiltrating a neo-nazi convocation and revising the video presentation with mocking Hitler-toons, to sabotaging the stock market, banks, the German military and pharmaceutical corporations.

But when the gang takes on the German intelligence espionage headquarters, they may have more than met their match. Which is where this stylishly hyperactive, high IQ thriller detours into more conventional, less inventive subplots along this particular underground information highway. Involving a sour female spy with a malfunctioning uterus in pursuit, multiple hacker standoff wars that may have confounded even Julian Assange, and something to do with four lost and found cubes of sugar.

Who Am I: Kein System Ist Sicher [No System Is Safe] is a feature of the KINO! 2015 Festival Of German Films, taking place at the Cinema Village in New York City through April 16th. The Festival will showcase ten feature films, along with German Short Film Night.

KINO! 2015  is organized by German Films, with the participation of the Goethe-Institut New York, Deutsches Haus at New York University and The Village Voice.

Information about Kino! 2015 is online at: www.kinofestivalnyc.com.

Prairie Miller

Wednesday, April 8, 2015

Con The Messenger: Lies Of The Victors Newsroom Noir Movie Review


There's a lot more going on than just the ongoing dictates of the European Union's major players, Germany and others, to further entrench the debt servitude of Greece and other resistant countries. And the German newsroom noir Lies Of The Victors [ Die Luegen der Sieger] dramatically delves into just that, venturing into the murky depths of multinational corporate control over just about everything from the political to personal these days.

Florian David Fitz is Fabian, a hotshot reporter with both diabetic and gambling issues, at the Berlin muckraking rag, Die Woche [The Week]. Fabian is sent to probe the investigative case of German veterans among the Coalition troops in Afghanistan, who seem to be succumbing to psychiatric ailments that are suspected of being precipitated by toxic waste questionably handled by the army there.

At the same time, he's annoyed when suddenly assigned a mysterious young intern, an overzealous female Fabian assigns to a tabloid news story to hopefully be rid of her. The sensationalistic item involves an army veteran who climbs into a lion's cage at the local zoo, with the seeming enthusiastic intention of getting mauled to death.

And in a bizarre sequence of coincidental circumstances, the international toxic waste probe, that veteran insanity in question, devious EU lobbyists, mystery whistleblowers, dubious waste disposal capitalists and suspect news editors all appear to converge in an exceedingly sinister way. Or do they?

Lies of The Victors, directed by Christoph Hochhausler [The City Below], skillfully reinvents conventional noir unconventionally as a New World Order toxic malady in its own right, intent on redeeming the dismissive notion of paranoid thinking in the here and now. But the dense narrative is often too convoluted for its own good, compromising suspense for spectator head scratching, thus nearly as confounding for the audience as the exceedingly puzzled protagonist in question.

There's also the questionable issue of equal opportunity villain plot points kicking in, which intimate accusations suspecting oligarchs and whistleblowers alike. And though such subversive scenarios may be the actual scripted concoctions of the rich who control everything in the real world, the notion of betrayal even by those seeming to valiantly oppose the way things are, not only deflates the proceedings to a level of immense cynicism without hope. But raises the question as to what extent the filmmaker himself was willing to risk challenging the status quo abuse of power in the real world. Or not.

And in several rather unusual injected sidebars, Humphrey Bogart and Lawrence Ferlinghetti turn up. Specifically in the case of the Ferlinghetti, his postscripted poetry in Lies Of The Victors:

History is made
of the lies of the victors
but you would never dream it
from the covers of the textbooks...


Lies Of The Victors [ Die Luegen der Sieger] is a feature of the KINO! 2015 Festival Of German Films, taking place at the Cinema Village in New York City through April 16th. The Festival will showcase ten feature films, along with German Short Film Night.

KINO! 2015  is organized by German Films, with the participation of the Goethe-Institut New York, Deutsches Haus at New York University and The Village Voice.

Information about Kino! 2015 is online at: www.kinofestivalnyc.com.


Prairie Miller

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