Thursday, July 28, 2016

Arts Express: Tony Danza Talks Standards & Stories, Taxi, Tupac Shakur Friendship; Baton Rouge Radio: Sister Station Conversation; Triumph Of The Hill

        Clinton's Leni Riefenstahl Moment: Triumph Of The Hill

**Hillary's America: The Secret History Of The Democratic Party. Right wing filmmaker Dinesh D'Souza plummets the disturbing dark side, duplicitous depths of the Democrats and Hillary. But in his bid to promote the Republicans as a presidential election alternative, his documentary may ironically send audiences in droves left, to Jill Stein's Green Party instead. A Commentary.

**Tony Danza Talks Standards & Stories. The veteran star of the small screen classic Taxi, phone in to Arts Express to describe his latest on stage unique fusion of storytelling, music and song. Along with sharing memories of his special friendship with the late rapper legend Tupac Shakur when Tupac was behind bars. Also, how Danza's blue collar roots as the son of a garbage collector, has informed the genuinely conceived workingclass characters he's portrayed.


**Sister Station Conversations: Our continuing series featuring affiliate stations airing Arts Express. This week, Arts Scouts on WHYR-FM, Baton Rouge Community Radio, presents a segment examining the legacy of racism and brutality traced back through the horrific history of slavery in Louisiana. The episode is The Art Of Understanding. From plantations to mass incarcerations, personified in particular at the former slave plantation that is Angola Prison, and a difficult history resurrected today in museums and historic sites there.

Pete's Dragon

Adapted from the 1977 Disney original - or rather re-imagined from a musical into a lost and found kid in the woods adventure, Pete's Dragon has moved away from full blown fantasy mode into a somewhat parallel universe of hallucination and reality. But with the curious effect that neither dominates nor effectively intertwines.

Oakes Fegley is the Pete in question, a child abruptly orphaned when his parents die in a car crash while the family is driving in the wilderness on vacation. A terrified Pete finds himself quite alone and threatened by animals roaming the forest, but an enormous dragon living there saves and protects the boy. Some years later, Pete is now a wild child inhabiting the woodland. That is, until a forest ranger (Bryce Dallas Howard) discovers him hiding there.

And following a pursuit of the frightened boy clearly terrified of humans, she brings him home for some maternal domestication. Which happens to include Robert Redford as the presiding patriarch of the household, who is somewhat nearly as much into a belief in the existence of supernatural beings as the boy is.

Meanwhile several subplots ensue, including the lonely dragon pining for his disappeared pal, and a gang of suspect lumberjacks with malice on their minds regarding intent to corner and capture the dragon - for what purpose is never made quite clear. At the same time, the forest is alarmingly being decimated of its trees, though the oversized creature bears some of the blame along with the loggers.

Pete's Dragon seems a bit off the beaten path, narratively as well as visually, with an alternately dark and daffy story seemingly having lost its way in lagging behind assorted loose ends that could use some tying up. Along with subplots concerning loss, grief, imaginary friends and environmental consciousness for kids that never materialize enough for this predominantly somber tall tale, to latch on to a clearing out of these woods. Not to mention a little Paul Bunyan pick-me-up that would have been in order, to lighten up this solemn when not magical yarn.

Prairie Miller

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

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