Wednesday, November 1, 2017

Arts Express: Dressed To Kill, Subversive Sisterhoods

                                   Sarah Gadon Is Alias Grace              

** "When I was very young, in my twenties and went for an interview to a Hollywood studio head, it did end up kind of putting his hands all over me in the back of a limo. So I was like pressed up against the door, trying to fight him off - and it was almost as if he treated it like, that's how you act when you're a young woman coming in for an interview..."

Mary Harron Talks Alias Grace, American Psycho: No, not that American Psycho she co-wrote and directed in 2000, but Hollywood Psycho - Harvey Weinstein and other studio predators. Harron is on the line to Arts Express to discuss this mini-series adapted from the Margaret Atwood novel, and based on the true story of Grace Marks, an abused 19th century Irish immigrant servant who was imprisoned for the murder of her Canadian employers. Or did she?

LISTEN TO THE SHOW HERE

The filmmaker has much more on her mind as well, including the subversive servant sisterhood back then, and the dramatic convergence of class, gender, class consciousness, and rebellion in resentment of the Canadian upper classes.  Harron is also the director of I Shot Andy Warhol, The Notorious Bettie Page, and the upcoming The Family: The Story of Charles Manson's Dune Buggy Attack Battalion.


 ** "You know, this 'us and them,' you put somebody in a box and now you can control them. So if it's a black film or a woman's film - and the films of all those white men all those years, we didn't call them men films."

Novitiate: A Conversation With Actress Melissa Leo. Delving into her role as the dreaded Mother Superior presiding in a Tennessee convent over aspiring young nuns dealing with their own issues of devotion and sexuality - in this dramatic feature playing out during the 1960s, just as the Catholic Church was undergoing transformations of its own. And likewise Leo going to extremes between playing her ferocious nun, and atheist activist Madalyn Murray O'Hair at nearly the same time in a very different movie - The Most Hated Woman In America.


** "I'm glad the next generation, mine and the one coming up, like we're ready to talk, and we're ready to make change - and I'm very, very excited about that."

Book Corner: Dear Martin - Author Nic Stone On Her Young Adult Novel. The African-American writer phones in to delve into and read from Dear Martin, about a troubled teenager seeking guidance as to how to live and survive in a racist world - by writing a series of imaginary letters to Martin Luther King Jr. Touching on racial profiling, Black Lives Matter, Klan rallies, burning crosses, the Take A Knee Movement, and racial reconciliation.

 
In The Fade: Diane Kruger Goes Full Antifa


When Western terrorist attacks by mostly Middle Eastern right wing extremists take place, among the shocked responses in the aftermath, is always the perplexed reaction in disbelief, as to why such a presumably meaningless assault could have taken place. Yet like a long lingering elephant in the room that just won't seem to go away, the evidence is in plain sight.

Say for instance, the murder in recent times and in progress, of over a million people in Iraq and Afghanistan alone by the US military and European allies. And a kind of blowback retaliation on their own soil of the perpetrators, that may not even be those original fighters - but perhaps their surviving inconsolable relatives or children determined to seek revenge.

Such is the intriguing metaphorical premise of Fatih Akin's In The Fade (Aus dem Nichts). The German director of Turkish parentage masterfully flips the script, as Hamburg housewife Katja (Diane Kruger) endures the horror of her Kurdish husband Nuri (Numan Acar), a legal activist for the local Turkish community, along with her young son being murdered in a racially motivated, anti-immigrant targeted bombing of his office by German white supremacist Neo-Nazis.

The emotionally disintegrating, suicidal widow, overcome by feelings of hopelessness and rage, seeks a revenge in kind against the two accused perpetrators - following their acquittal for lack of irrefutable evidence in court. And what ultimately ensues is not just a stunningly executed thriller, but a brilliant parable for our time.

In other words, the immensely provocative notion of victimization reversal, and the perpetrator as perpetrated. Along with ironically, the accusation that has always been raised against Germans where  this movie was made - how could you as a people stand by and do nothing while Hitler annihilated civilians and enemies alike in the millions. Well, perhaps exactly what those leveling charges have been doing since then, without much objection or even acknowledgement raised - and the United States alone having killed and continuing to do so, more than 20 million people in thirty-seven victim nations since World War II.
You go, Diane.

Prairie Miller

Arts Express: Airing on the WBAI/Pacifica National Radio Network and Affiliate Stations.

Tuesday, October 24, 2017

Arts Express: Matt Taibbi Talks Eric Garner - A Killing On Bay Street



**NY Film Festival - Joan Didion: The Center Will Not Hold: A Conversation with Director Griffin Dunne. And an intimate portrait of the acclaimed veteran prolific novelist and literary journalist by Dunne, who happens to be her nephew. Along with connections to Janis Joplin, Vanessa Redgrave, Leonard Bernstein, scrapbooks, and writers block in the freezer compartment.

LISTEN TO THE SHOW HERE

** "Ramsey Orta, he took that video - there's a chapter in my book where after years of being chased by police, he decides to run. And holes up in a hideout in the Bronx. And he calls me and kind of tells me the whole story of everything that happened to him - and at the end of that conversation, he hangs up and is arrested by police..."


Rolling Stones journalist Matt Taibbi phone in to Arts Express to talk about, I Can't Breathe: A Killing On Bay Street. Revisiting in his latest book, the unindicted police murder of Eric Garner on Staten Island - venturing behind the scenes to explore a greater chilling national reality of racism and injustice.



** The Russian Revolution 100 Year Anniversary: Actress extraordinaire Mary Murphy reads from the writings of American eyewitness chronicler of the revolution back then, Louise Bryant.

**Poetry Corner: Halloween mischief - courtesy of H. P. Lovecraft, ghosts, suburbia, and Earthling Cinema's Hidden Meaning In The Exorcist.

**Best Of The Net Hotspot: The Last Poets.

More information about the NY Film Festival 2017, is online at https://www.filmlinc.org/nyff2017

Arts Express
: Airing on the WBAI/Pacifica National Radio Network and Affiliate Stations.

Tuesday, October 17, 2017

Arts Express: Rachel Griffiths Talks Surviving Harvey Weinstein



** "You know, we all have stories, and Harvey Weinstein's was widely known. And I was told by a female executive there, to never be in a room alone with Harvey."

Actress Rachel Griffiths Talks Harvey Weinstein, The Osiris Child, And Playing Taunted Feminist Australian Prime Minister Gillard in Stalking Julia. Griffiths phones in from Australia to consider as well, connections to penal colonies, casting couches, the Boer War, and what her early breakout role in Muriel's Wedding has meant to her.

LISTEN TO THE SHOW HERE

** "With this play, you get to see some of the complexities of the daily challenges of African Americans, just to be able to survive in this world - and hopefully that will inspire you to become a part of the solution, and the conversation."

Theater Corner. Freight: The Five Incarnations Of Abel Greene. The writer, director and star of this metaphorical journey of African Americans through time, sit down with Chris Butters to discuss this stage production. Exploring the difficult and challenging history of being black in America, and connections to consciousness, complicity, Fred Hampton, The Panthers, Harriet Tubman, Wells Fargo, The FBI - and wearing masks to survive while ripping off the mask of white America.

Poetry Corner: Spoken word artist and social justice activist Sonya Renee Taylor on 'The Body Is Not An Apology.' The Arts Express Best Of The Net Hotspot This Week.

Arts Express: Airing on the WBAI/Pacifica National Radio Network and Affiliate Stations.

Sunday, October 8, 2017

Arts Express: Abel Ferrara at the NY Film Festival, Joey King, Jobless Refugee Crisis, Workplace Satire

                    Joey King On DVD: Going In Style, Smartass

** "When the Wright brothers invented the airplane, they were not necessarily thinking that it would be used to transport bombs."

Ideology And Culture Corner: Socio-biologist Rebecca Costa, author of On The Verge, describes what she feels she's hit on as an innovation known as the science of predictability. Or has she? Actually, something known as scientific socialism has been doing just that for a century. Including Cuba protecting its population from hurricanes - unlike capitalist dominated countries - long before they're anticipated to strike.

LISTEN TO THE SHOW HERE

** "When the devil comes, he won't be sporting a pointy beard, or pitchfork. Hell, no. He will appear in a fancy suit and lathered in expensive cologne, to hide the stink of sulfur. And live in a high tower where he will surround himself with gold.
Remember this, when the devil comes to steal your country..."

San Francisco Poet Laureate, short story writer and community activist Alejandro MurguĂ­a returns to reads from his work.
And discussing as well The Other Barrio - a kind of gentrification noir film based on his short story of the same name. While shedding light on the shadowy politics of linguistics that has led to others being called refugees while Latinos are labeled immigrants. Julia Stein reports.

** "As far as millennials now, it's very hard. Everybody is struggling, everybody wants to stick it to the man and not be the underdog anymore - and I totally get that."

Going In Style: A Conversation With Actress Joey King.
Weighing in on connections in this economic crisis cinema satire out now on DVD, to what elders and millennials have in common during these hard times beyond generation gaps. Along with referencing co-star Alan Arkin on the ukulele, meals on wheels, and swear jars. 

** Lauren Ash Talks Superstore: The Canadian actress and Second City Alumnus is on the line from LA in a conversation about her starring role as an eccentric boss presiding over the perplexed proletariat, including America Ferrara, in the small screen workplace sitcom. Along with contrasting life as a woman in the workplace, compared to an actress in the film world. And the difference between the US and Canadian sense of humor - which seems to have more than a little to do with self-deprecation.

NY Film Festival 2017: Piazza Vittorio


With the ongoing world refugee crisis being reported mostly in statistical terms and the massive impact on its victims, expect the unexpected filmmaker Abel Ferrara has something more unusual and literally off the beaten path with his documentary, Piazza Vittorio. Burrowing into the individual lives of those affected, both desperate when not despondent refugees calling the plaza a kind of outdoor home, and the Italian born residents expressing diverse reactions along a spectrum from delight to displeasure and dismay.

As these nomads exiled from around the world, including Africa, the Middle East, Asia and South America, mostly wander about in search of jobs, clothes, a place to sleep, a shower and food, Ferrara films their daily lives with curious fascination. Even insisting to the skeptical there that he somehow feels their pain because he's an immigrant himself, a filmmaker from Manhattan, but apparently not allowing their disbelief to diminish his fascination with their lives.

And among those initially caught on film is Mr. Bosa, a musician singing to Afro Beat, a homeless but proud African griot storyteller just like all his male ancestors preceding him, and many who just want to go home to their countries. The mood turns darker when others are captured sitting on street corners simply losing their minds from social and economic adversity, and an imigrant from the former Soviet Union breaks down in tears, recalling how jobs disappeared as the Western capitalist encroachment under Perestroika took over.

At one point, actor Willem Dafoe turns up shopping for food and staying for dinner with Ferrara, while describing in glowing about moving to the piazza himself from the US after finding a wife there while filming a movie. The filmmaker then visits with oddly anti-immigrant squatters of the right wing CasaPound Italia movement quoting Marx, who have taken over a building as living quarters. And remarking, 'The capitalist paradise doesn't exist, it's locked down in bank vaults and sotck markets.' Then off to a modest restaurant, which the immigrant proprietor from China has filled the walls with celebratory portraits of Mao as the most revered leader of her country.

Meanwhile, throughout Ferrara's quest for the refugee experience in Italy, music is to be found everywhere on the somewhat spontaneous soundtrack. Whether homeless Africans jamming outdoors for spare change; South Americans not about to lose their cool enjoying life, even though having fled the toxic ecological devastation of their countries by US business interests; and an intermittent actual soundtrack courtesy of activist folk singing legend Woody Guthrie, lamenting the historical plight of the nomadic US poor with strains of 'Do Re Mi.'

Piazza Vittorio blends tragedy, irony and humor for an alternating probing and eccentric transformative spotlight on what is described in the documentary as Rome 'isn't now Italy but the world.' Though with the unfortunate exclusion, which could have been added as a post-script, of Italian police attacking homeless refugees with water cannons, when evicting nearly a thousand from occupying and living in an office building this past August.


More information about the NY Film Festival is online at https://www.filmlinc.org/nyff2017

Arts Express: Airing on the WBAI/Pacifica National Radio Network and Affiliate Stations.

Prairie Miller

Wednesday, October 4, 2017

Arts Express: Actor John Cho Talks Exorcist, Star Trek Beyond, Korea


** "I wonder whether the idea of exorcism is fascinating because we as a species see others doing terrible things and we say to ourselves, well it couldn't be me, could it - mustn't it be a demon that makes human beings awful to one another?"

John Cho Talks Exorcist, Star Trek, Korea: The actor, who stars in the latest Exorcist incarnation on television, is on the line to Arts Express to reflect on why this horror tale has endured across two centuries. South Korean born Cho also speculates about sitting down at an imaginary negotiating table with the DPRK, to solve the world situation.

** NY Film Festival: Hall Of Mirrors. This entry, a documentary focusing on the life and work of controversial corporate media journalist Edward Jay Epstein, a cental figure in precipitating the JFK assassination conspiracy culture, is the subject of critical commentary on the show today.

LISTEN TO THE SHOW HERE

** The China Silk Road International Arts Festival: A Conversation With Musician Jana Jae. The eminent Oklahoma country and bluegrass performer describes attending this unique global gathering, bringing her message of promoting the arts for friendship and peace.
Also, sounds from China's Golden Buddha Jazz Band.

** Poetry Corner: Kwame Alexander with Take A Knee.

** Best Of The Net Hotspot: Why is this country still celebrating Columbus Day?

Arts Express: Airing on the WBAI/Pacifica National Radio Network and Affiliate Stations.

More information about the NY Film Festival 2017, is online at https://www.filmlinc.org/nyff2017

Wednesday, August 9, 2017

Arts Express: Gretchen Mol Talks Family Man, Notorious Bettie Page

                          Gretchen Mol As The Notorious Bettie Page

** "We're in a tough spot right now, there's not enough jobs, we're in a huge, huge transition and I don't know what the answer is - but it's right to be a little afraid."

Actress Gretchen Mol phones in from LA to discuss her latest film, the workplace drama A Family Man. And that ruthlessly competitive and dehumanizing, money obsessed environment eating away at the soul of her spouse, played by Gerard Butler - while butting heads with Willem Dafoe as his sadistically inclined superior. Mol also weighs in on the complicated life of sexually provocative '50s pinup model Bettie Page and playing her in a movie, along with the challenge of refusing invisibility on screen and playing more than female wallpaper in movies.

LISTEN TO THE SHOW HERE

** "The city of Nantes memorial to the abolition of slavery, where above ground visitors walk on the names of slave ships - a Walk Of Shame and a reversal of the Cannes and celebrity walks."

Bro On The Art World Beat: Arts Express Paris correspondent Professor Dennis Broe on location in the French city of Nantes this week, in search of the slave trade as it played out in this port city and now a museum memorial. While along the way in search of Jules Verne and the connection of 20,000 Leagues Under The Sea to deep sea drilling today; visionary contraptions and a depleted planet; Rembrandt, Melville, the black anarchist flag, Napoleon and slave reparations.


** "I feel that somehow I'm manifesting inner turmoil, the existential crisis of being a teenager, and facing that other pending disaster as millennials - a world with no jobs and the future every day that looks pretty bleak and scary."

My Entire High School Is Sinking Into The Sea: A conversation with young filmmaker Dash Shaw about his self-described 'disaster art film.' A kind of anti-bullying earthquake revenge fantasy, and at the same time somehow in pursuit of 'a poetic beauty with animation.' And seemingly cartooning through a surreal education system presided over by Henry Fool's Thomas Jay Ryan as Principal Grimm, and Susan Sarandon as cafeteria matriarch Lunch Lady Lorraine

** "There are no more two sides - there's one party, the war party, the Wall Street party."

Arts Express Best Of The Net Hotspot: An anti-establishment tutorial in reading beyond the propaganda of the NY Times - or at least between the lines. And connections in this particular case to Iranian yogurt, milk and chicken; poppy fields, prescription pills, and US "missile shaped democracy raining down on innocent civilians."

California Typewriter Review

Applauding those like Tom Hanks who embrace typewriters as a tactile and organic creative inspiration challenging this digital age, is the very eloquent documentary California Typewriter - a film about a Berkeley typewriter repair shop struggling to stay alive and fueled by an adamant labor of love. As both the computer age and concurrent typewriter extinction, along with the neighborhood invasion by corporate chains ensues.

California Typewriter is distinguished as well, as the last film appearance of literary icon and actor Sam Shepard, reflecting on the powerful significance of typewriters to his artistic body of work. Along with the inclusion of an unusual entity known as The Poetry Store, where San Francisco poet Silvi Alcivar fashions visitor thoughts, dreams and fantasies into verse on, of course, her typewriter.

Alcivar explains her unusual collective creative concept between audience and bard, what it's all about and why. While referencing unicorns, jellyfish, and a poem she helped someone compose at her Poetry Store that may have stopped a suicide off the Golden Gate Bridge. And just hpw "my poems emerge from the dark of you meeting I, then there is something more than light. There is life - in this life there are people wanting secret wishes to take shape in poems."

And though I'm more of an old school pen and paper person myself, there's no point resisting in this film Richard Polt's global movement ode to just how The Revolution Will Be Typewritten. Or for that matter, the insanely euphoric vintage machine improvised music of the Boston Typewriter Orchestra. 


Arts Express: Airing on the WBAI/Pacifica National Radio Network and Affiliate Stations.

Wednesday, August 2, 2017

In Tribute: A Memory Lane Conversation With Jeanne Moreau

** "There are some images of women I don't want to portray - or maybe I refused one or two films because I was in love."

Iconic French actress Jeanne Moreau, designated femme fatale of the French New Wave film movement of the 1950s and '60s, just passed away at the age of 89. A director, writer and singer as well, and perhaps best known for her starring role in Francois Truffaut's Jules and Jim, Moreau was once referred to by another director Orson Welles, for whom she starred in four of his films, as "the greatest actress in the world." And in tribute to the passing of this immensely talented and remarkable woman, we'll revisit my conversation with Moreau back in 2013. The actress discusses the magic of art and connections to Sylvia Plath, Virginia Woolf, Frank Sinatra, Gary Cooper, Mae West and Lillian Gish; the breaking down of barriers for women related to sexuality and creative empowerment in movies; the history of class conflict in movie theaters; the Iraq invasion and freedom fries; and a missing film of hers from a small Croatian island movie set that may now in fact be somewhere under a bed.

LISTEN TO THE SHOW HERE

** "My poems emerge from the dark of you meeting I, then there is something more than light - there is life, in this life there are people wanting secret wishes to take shape in poems."

  
California Typewriter: A documentary about this struggling Berkeley typewriter repair shop trying to keep that labor of love alive for those machines, along with a spotlight on literary icon Sam Shepard who likewise just passed away - and the typewriter as his artistic weapon of choice expressed in this, his last movie. And a conversation with San Francisco Latina poet Silvi Alcivar, whose unique Poetry Store is also the subject of this film - what the Poetry Store is all about and why, along with referencing unicorns, jellyfish, and a poem she helped someone compose at the store that may have stopped a suicide off the Golden Gate Bridge.

** "They don't want a bunch of poor artists out there, because then they can't go to Walmart and buy more stuff."

Ideology And Culture Corner: The Douglas Rushkoff Conversation Series. The second installment with the professor of media theory and digital economics, and the author of Throwing Rocks At The Google Bus, exploring art in present day society and its interface with technology. And an investigation into the disappearance of art in the public schools. A Corporations R Us Report.

Arts Express: Airing on the WBAI/Pacifica National Radio Network and Affiliate Stations.