Thursday, November 3, 2016

Arts Express: James Baldwin, The Other John Brown, Iceland Uprising, Class And Cyberspace

    The Other John Brown: Aaron Briggs And The HMS Gaspee

 **I Am Not Your Negro: Director Raoul Peck completes the late African American writer James Baldwin's unfinished manuscript in this speculative documentary. A memoir in tribute to Baldwin's three assassinated Civil Rights era comrades, Medgar Evers, Malcolm X, and Martin Luther King Jr. While Samuel Jackson remarkably disappears into the persona of Baldwin on screen. At the NY Film Festival and opening in theaters later this year. A commentary.

**Filmmaker Andrew Stewart Talks Aaron Briggs And The HMS Gaspee.
Delving into the buried history of Northern slavery. And a very different John Brown linked to a shameful and brutal Rhode Island past of chains, ships, sugar cane and molasses used as slave trade currency, and the roots of globalization funded by slavery back then.

LISTEN TO THE SHOW HERE

**"You're Not The Master Of The Universe." Australian actor James Frecheville phones in from LA to discuss the cyberthriller, I.T. And going toe to toe as a young hacker have-not, with the filthy rich financier played by Pierce Brosnan. While Frecheville and I disagree.

**Autumn Lights: Actor Guy Kent in a conversation about his dramatic feature filmed in Iceland, in search of an emotional landscape amidst the remote isolation, dark themes, and endless surreal light of the midnight sun. Along with what Kent encountered about mass uprising against the Icelandic bankers, and the victorious emergence of the rebel Pirate Party shaking up the government there.

More information about the NY Film Festival is online at Filmlinc.org

 LOVING: "All this talk of civil rights. You need to get you some civil rights."


Hollywood stories on screen about courageous struggles against social injustice are rare. But dramas delving into workingclass life from their own perspective, particularly when true, are even fewer and far between.

Which is exactly what renders the dramatic biopic Loving a unique moment in movies - indeed in film culture itself. The true story of the Virginia interracial, salt of the earth couple The Lovings, who challenged the Virginia criminal statutes against their marriage back in the mid-20th century as the Civil Rights Movement uprisings loomed and exploded, is uncommonly compassionate, raw and real on screen.

Playing out in rural Virginia back then, Jeff Nichols' Loving with its determined and resonant double meaning as a title, revisits the tragic but ultimately triumphant events that befell Richard and pregnant Mildred Loving when their forbidden marriage in the Jim Crow South but performed in DC, is discovered by local authorities. Following their arrests, the couple, played by Joel Edgerton and Ruth Neggia, flee to inner city DC.

But Mildred, homesick for the only rural life she ever knew, insists they and their three children  return and live there in secrecy. But not before Mildred, inspired by images of the Civil Rights Movement protests on television, contacts Robert Kennedy Jr. for legal assistance. And his referral to the ACLU eventually leads to the historic US Supreme Court case overturning all existing laws against interracial marriage across this country.

But this enormously inspiring story is also noted for it's genuinely conceived, salt of the earth portrait of blue collar culture - and bricklayer Richard Loving's politically unconscious sense of the world -  yet vividly etched in terms of an adamant and unrelenting notion of right and wrong. There is as well within this narrative much that is conveyed, however tacitly, about race relations and racial identity, even under the oppressive weight of Jim Crow segregation.

And in particular for Richard, a white man reared along with other whites there, in a predominantly black rural community existing rather remotely from the institutionalized brutal racism going down in Virginia. Rendering in a larger, tremendously optimistic context, how spontaneous racial harmony and relations can actually be, when untainted by politically motivated repression unnaturally imposed on people through manufactured difference and fear.

And that these two characters, Richard and Mildred are played with such exquisitely conveyed humanity by an Australian and Ethiopian actor respectively, lends additional resonance and enlightenment to a planet in great need of such hope in these troubled times.

Arts Express: Airing on WBAI/Pacifica National Radio Network And Affiliate Stations