Tuesday, December 5, 2017

Arts Express: Lois Smith Talks Nuns, Lady Bird, James Dean, Agatha Christie

** "You know, when I worked with James Dean on East Of Eden, he was not an icon. He was a young actor, having his first movie - and he was moody and complicated."

Selected Shorts: Let Us Tell You A Story: Veteran actress Lois Smith, in conversation about a mystery reading of Agatha Christie she is presenting; the nun she plays in Lady Bird, along with an apparition in Marjorie Prime on screen; a memory lane excursion back in time when Smith starred opposite James Dean in East Of Eden; and her take on the history of the Hollywood casting couch through the decades.


** "A lot of the other newspapers and television journalists didn't pick up on Watergate for months and months, Ben was hanging out there alone. And so I think he would just say now as he said many times before - 'Nose down, ass up, push forward!' "

Sally Quinn Talks Watergate, The Pentagon Papers, and 'The Newspaperman: The Life And Times of Ben Bradlee.' The late Washington Post journalist has been referred to as 'the most dangerous editor in the United States,' in large part for being credited with taking down then President Nixon in 1975 after the Post broke the Watergate story, and covertly released the Pentagon Papers. Bradlee's widow and journalist Sally Quinn phones in to the show to share recollections. And don multiple critics' hats in a kind of Tale Of Two Pentagon Movies,' assessing the films being released at the same time right now - The Newspaperman, and The Post, starring Tom Hanks as Bradlee. And posed the question as well, what would he be up to today, with what's gone down at the corporatized Washington Post.

** "This is happening at the same time as the Justice Department debates allowing a merger between one of, if not the main content providers, Time Warner - and one of the major broadband companies providing access to the American home, AT&T,"

** Bro On The Global Television Beat: Net Neutrality, Merger Mania, And French Bread. A look at the looming FCC vote to potentially dump Net Neutrality in favor of profiteering corporations - and the issues at hand. Arts Express Paris Correspondent, Sorbonne Professor Dennis Broe weighs in. And, what all of this has to do with CNN, Amazon, Netflix, Hulu, the Enlightenment, short attention spans, Voltaire and Verizon.

**Best Of The Net Hotspot This Week: A Brief History Of Net Neutrality - Exposing Conflicts Of Interests Between Corporations, Governments And Big Money. 

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

Dare To be Different Radio

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?


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.


** "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.


** "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.

Daisy Winters Review 

Daisy Winters is at once a heartbreaking, healing and joyful journey immersed in the unbreakable bonds between mothers and daughters. And laced with an emotionally vibrant, raw and real eloquent cool. Brooke Shields stars in this bittersweet tale fueled with naked, genuine emotions, in tackling the rocky road of a mother/daughter relationship in the film.

Next to the greatest fear of losing a child, is leaving them behind if you pass away. Such is the sensitively crafted coming of age story of Daisy Winters, with Sterling Jerins as an eleven year old with a dark and capricious but fascinating imagination. And Shields, subtly and gracefully going inside herself to burrow into the complicated emotional life of this woman.

Prairie Miller

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.


** "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.


** 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.


** "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.


** "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.

Wednesday, July 19, 2017

"Please Say Nice Things About Me." A Memory Lane Conversation With Martin Landau

Arts Express: "Please Say Nice Things About Me."  
A Memory Lane Conversation With Martin Landau


In tribute to the late acting legend Martin Landau, who passed away on July 15th, our conversation back in 2010 when Landau phoned in from LA on the occasion of the opening of his bittersweet unlikely elder romance co-starring Ellen Burstyn, 'Lovely, Still.' And among memories shared from his eminent acting career, was working under Hitchcock in North By Northwest; recollections of Steve McQueen, Gregory Peck, Elizabeth Taylor, Glenn Ford, Bogart and best friend James Dean; Mission Impossible, BlackBerrys, and being mistaken for Bela Lugosi in the supermarket; and sadistically stepping on the fingers of Cary Grant atop Mount Rushmore in a movie.


** "Of course if I do a movie, it's because I have to do it - and when I explore, I explore with total love and total passion."

Barbet Schroeder Talks Amnesia - And Barfly: And in the case of Amnesia, it's all about political amnesia - and a decision by the film's main character played by Marthe Keller, to stop speaking in her native German language and flee the country to a remote island, in an apparent case of PTSD coming of age in Nazi Germany. Along with Schroeder revisiting during this conversation, "one of the most extraordinary experiences of my life" filming a biopic with his subject, the beyond colorful, late flamboyant alcoholic workingclass poet, novelist and short story writer, Charles Bukowski. Who apparently once stole a carving knife from the kitchen of the Beverly Hills Hotel during a swank Hollywood dinner, and "went after the rich with it."

**Well I can first testify that Buzzfeed, we are not fake news."

Book Corner: Too Fat, Too Slutty, Too Loud: The Rise And Reign Of The Unruly Woman. Author and Buzzfeed reporter Anne Helen Peterson wants to change the way people think about women. And what any of this may have to do during this interview, with unruly women versus the rise of feminism; the Hillary election season cognitive disconnect; and Peterson's reaction to Trump denouncing  her news outlet Buzzfeed at a press conference, as "a failing pile of garbage."

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

Sunday, May 28, 2017

Throwing Rocks At The Google Bus: A Conversation With Douglas Rushkoff

By Corey Spondent

The Corporations R Us Report: Interview with author, filmmaker and media theorist, Douglas Rushkoff, exploring art in present day society and its interface with technology


Corey Spondent reports for the Ideology And Culture Corner
Arts Express Radio
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Monday, May 22, 2017

Arts Express: Tommy Chong Talks 'Up In Smoke'

                 Up In Smoke: Cheech Marin and Tommy Chong

** "They asked me, the news, and I said that my bongs were the only weapons of mass destruction that the Bush Administration was looking for - And it got around, it got the ire of Ashcroft, and so I was doomed to jail for that one - And I was very honored by the way, that I was picked to do the time."

Tommy Chong Talks 'Up In Smoke.' And revisiting the enduring stoner classic, honored as the Opening Night feature of the Mammoth Lakes Film Festival in California this week. Chong phoned in to Arts Express to ponder what any of this may have to do with banana peels, Trump; Chong as the only person imprisoned under the DEA's Operation Pipe Dreams; his take on 'comedy as the ultimate truth; rejects and loners; and Chong possibly describing golf as a psychedelic experience - I think.


** "Okja is the best film I've seen at Cannes, a kids' ecologically minded, anti-capitalist fable."

Bro On The World Film Beat: Arts Express Paris correspondent Professor Dennis Broe is on location at the Cannes Film Festival - with his series report on the art and the politics of Cannes. While Vanessa Redgrave's 'Sea Sorrow' - a 'mundane liberal hand-wringing exercise' about global refugees - not so much. And where in a first, a film was booed on screen simply for its logo - that is, Netflix - with its entry in the festival, the South Korean socio-political fantasy Okja, about a multi-national commandeered pig. So is it a case of Netflix 'hogging' the proceedings, so to speak?  Also, what in the world is FANG, and is Netflix truly evil as part of that infamous quartet.  Stay tuned for Broe's in-depth analysis.

** "I think that it is an extremely human, universal feeling of just needing to be able to stop what you are doing and take another path - unscathed, unpunished, unexplained..."

Wakefield: A Conversation With Director Robin Swicord: First there was Hawthorne, then E.L.Doctorow, and now...Bryan Cranston, in Wakefield. And, the somehow simultaneously enigmatic, elusive and strikingly familiar figure that has apparently endured as emblematic of what is troubling about US culture and alienation through the centuries. In the case of this page to screen adaptation by writer/director Robin Swicord [The Jane Austen Book Club] of the E.L. Doctorow short story - there is an additional scrutiny by this female filmmaker of Howard Wakefield's conflicted male gaze. Along with his flight from a crippling suburban despair - Or does he? Swicord is on the line from LA to Arts Express to explain.

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Wednesday, May 3, 2017

Arts Express: Actor Eugene Simon Talks Genius, Einstein, Game Of Thrones

** "I was drawn to the cauldron of emotional layering that was just such a calling to me - and to tell the story of an iconic man like Albert Einstein, they have brought Einstein in the flesh, in the form of Geoffrey Rush - or the other way around."

Tribeca Film Festival: On the line to Arts Express is young British actor Eugene Simon, as Einstein's mentally troubled son Eduard in the small screen dramatic series Genius, produced and helmed by Ron Howard. And, played here in the persona of Geoffrey Rush, Einstein is considered one of the greatest scientific thinkers who ever lived - yet as a Jew and with his socialist perspective of the world as well, was forced to flee Nazi Germany only to encounter a similar reception here from the FBI under the glare of McCarthyism. And that included a 1427 page FBI file and their investigation into charges that Einstein was working on a death ray, when not heading a communist conspiracy to take over Hollywood.


** "Holding your nose and pulling the lever."

From the Arts Express Paris Desk, Professor Dennis Broe with his on location French Presidential Election Update Alert. Where the fuming French masses in the streets see nothing but 'a choice between fascism and capitalism.'

And, Bro On The Global Television Beat. Reporting from this year's Series Mania Television Festival: Euro-Noir In The Era Of Peak TV in Paris. Referencing corporate conniving; desolation in the wake of the failed economy of the world, surrounding the abundance of serial TV; and Russian humor that relishes the absurdity of impossible situations.

** "It's a strange moment in history right now..."

A Conversation With Alexander Nevsky - no, not that one. Rather, Russian actor Alexander Nevsky who produced, directs and stars in Black Rose - a crime thriller about a possibly Russian serial killer on the loose in LA, torturing and murdering young female Russian immigrants. And the famed Russian crime fighter played by Nevsky who is called in by the LAPD to help solve the case. But Nevsky has much more on his mind as well with Black Rose. Including challenging Russian caricatures on screen, and seeking world peace between the US and Russia. And in this both conventional thriller and subversive political noir, symbolically channeling false flags, US deep state intelligence subterfuge and the new Cold War - even if it's just a movie.

** "Revolution is in the wind."

More Dangerous Than A Thousand Rioters: The Revolutionary Life Of Lucy Parsons. Director Kelly Gallagher pays tribute to Lucy Gonzalez Parsons in this short film, as the buried history founder of May Day International Workers Day, celebrated everywhere around the world as a legal holiday - except here, its country of origin. The Arts Express Best Of The Net Hotspot for this week.

More information about the Tribeca Film Festival 2017 is online at: Tribecafilm.com/festival 

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Arts Express: Paul Sorvino Talks The Last Poker Game

Paul Sorvino Talks The Last Poker Game. And the last movie release for co-star Martin Landau who just passed away.

** "They called me and then the question was, who is going to be the other fellow. And when they said Marty Landau, I said that's it, go no further - that's the guy."

Actor Paul Sorvino phones in from LA to talk about his unusual elder bromance with Martin Landau as feisty residents in an old age home not ready to give up on life, in The Last Poker Game. Sorvino, fond of switching up screen personas on both sides of the law, also shares details about his new cookbook  - and the mystery recipe for a drink he calls The Goodfella. And a conversation peppered with menus and movies, pine nuts, raisins, garlic versus onions, and sharing memories of working with Landau on this film.


** "He's a fascinating character with an incredibly strange life, he fought for the Union Army and he was a spy for the Confederates, apparently - and I guess the challenge is to humanize that person and not make him this crazed, hardened killer."

Hickok: A Conversation With Actor Luke Hemsworth. And a less conventional look at the conflicted man behind the western legend, co-starring Kris Kristofferson and Bruce Dern as the Australian actor's ambivalent father figures in the movie. While probing connections to PTSD psychologically afflicted post-Civil War vets turned outlaws roaming the Wild West;  and actually little known about Hickok as the son of an Illinois farmer whose home served as a stopover for escaped slaves along the Underground Railroad.

** "We're meant to read the lives of important people as if they never bothered with breakfast, lunch or dinner, took a coffee break, or stopped for a hot dog on the street."

Book Corner: What She Ate: Six Remarkable Women And The Food That Tells Their Stories. Food historian Laura Shapiro is on the line to Arts Express to explain exactly what a food historian is; how food defined the disparate lives of these women across the centuries, from poet William Wordsworth's sister Dorothy who cooked and cared for him, to Hitler's lover, Eva Braun. And what any of this may have to do with poetry and food; how you 'can easily see the food flowing through Wordsworth's poetry, even when he doesn't write about it'; Nazis, war, paper trails and Ivanka's champagne popsicles; gooseberries and post WW II cardigans and sensible shoes: and casseroles and the packaged plastic food version of 1950's womanhood.

**Arts Express Best Of The New Hotspot This Week: What does the CIA and Pentagon have to do with the creation and censorship of Hollywood movies? Apparently plenty, according to this investigative report probing just released documents obtained under The freedom Of Information Act. And the Deep State's major influence over approximately 800 films and more than 1,000 television productions - and not all of them war movies where disseminating propaganda and script control acts as a bargaining chip by providing military props and paraphernalia in exchange - but comedies like Meet The Parents too.

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

Monday, April 17, 2017

Arts Express: Chuck Wepner Talks Chuck, Muhammad Ali, Stallone, Rocky, Anthony Quinn

** "I drove up to Louisville, Kentucky to Ali's funeral, I was there when they wheeled the casket down - and I would say to him now, Champ - thanks for everything..."  

Chuck Wepner Talks Chuck: 'You don't know me. Well, you do know me - but you don't know you know me.' Such is the rather unusual life story of Bayonne, New Jersey boxer and local folk hero Chuck Wepner, who has always seemed to live in the shadow of others. From his identity as the man who went nearly 15 rounds against Muhammad Ali in the ring, Stallone's muse  on whom he modeled Rocky - and now disappearing as himself into the screen persona of actor Liev Schreiber in the dramatic biopic, Chuck. And Chuck - the real one behind the multiple incarnations for a change - is on the line to Arts Express to talk about the film based on his life - warts and all. Channeling memories of Ali, a lifelong obsession with Anthony Quinn and Requiem For A Heavyweight, Stallone, Rocky, what's behind moonlight as a poet for years - and why we disagreed about tough women holding their own in the movie's macho world of boxing too. A feature at the Tribeca Film Festival.


** "You know, when we were making this film, there weren't many films that dealt with people of color - and we tried to give them a voice."

Killer Of Sheep 40th Anniversary Re-Release: A Conversation With Filmmaker Charles Burnett. Though the film world has opened significantly to the marginalized stories to be told on screen from communities of color in this country, it certainly hasn’t always been so. And those engaged in the struggle to diversify that national conversation in movies have scarcely received any more recognition than the narratives themselves ever have. But a previously unsung cinematic pioneer who has endured, standing the test of time in producing salt of the earth screen classics through the decades while all those massively promoted Hollywood blockbusters continually fall by the wayside, is filmmaker Charles Burnett - the director of such raw and truthful storytelling in movies like Killer Of Sheep, To Sleep With Anger, Nat Turner and Nightjohn. Burnett phones in from LA to talk about the current 40th anniversary return of Killer Of Sheep to theaters,  commercially unreleased for thirty years. The slice of life drama revolutionized and re-prioritized the camera’s conventional gaze upon black inner city life, ironically introducing an all-natural filming process capturing what was already there all along, beyond existing caricatures. Namely, the daily frustrations, conflicts, joys and comic moments of life in Watts, and the demoralizing, profoundly symbolic labor of local sheep slaughterhouse workers there. And, a decades long suppressed film later declared a national treasure by the Library of Congress in 1990.

** "In the name of the amulets of friendship and civilization, and against border bashing and manias for regime change - in the name of triumph over the curse of explosions and drones..."

The Arts Express heads over to preparations during Memorial Day week  for the Fugs musical exorcism of the White House. Returning to the scene of the crimes so to speak, on the 50th anniversary Vietnam-era cleansing of the Pentagon of all bad karma, to once again purge the demons of war contaminating the premises. And in conjunction with the upcoming Veterans for Peace rally there at the Lincoln Memorial in DC. Our Arts Express Best Of The Net Hotspot for this week.

More information about the Tribeca Film Festival 2017 is online at: Tribecafilm.com/festival 

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Tuesday, April 11, 2017

Arts Express: Camilla Hall Talks Copwatch; 96 Souls, Cannes, Sgt. Pepper At 50

** "There is a much broader debate in America, about whose right it is to tell a story."

UK filmmaker and journalist Camilla Hall is on the line from LA to delve into her documentary, Copwatch. Spotlighting just how activists have organized together to do counter-surveillance on the police across this country, who are engaging in perpetrating racist sanctioned brutality and murders - and as part of the evolving mass movement video revolution. And in particular, the police murder of Eric Garner, and the ongoing defense of Ramsey Orta who's been railroaded for filming that murder - in a series of retaliatory arrests and imprisonments targeting him. With music by The Peace Poets. A Tribeca Film Festival feature.


** "The always wonderful Marion Cotillard returns from the dead, to briefly breathe life into a film that retrogressively celebrates the director's Peter Pan syndrome as a mark of genius."

Bro On The World Film Beat: Arts Express Paris correspondent Professor Dennis Broe, continuing his followup on location reports from the Cannes Film Festival. And what's been going down there artistically and politically, including: A scathing critique of Russian deep capitalism consumer society playing out post-socialism; the post-colonial projection on Bulgaria of Germanic might in direct relation to its Nazi past; the scenario of a new form of bio-medical exploitation benefiting Big Pharma; the worst film of the festival, sprinkling references to James Joyce, Melville and Hitchcock; and plenty of President Macron predictions offscreen, into the fall.

** "That sort of irreverence and willingness to experiment, and that courage and being willing to fall on their faces, I think that's part of what makes the music so exhilarating now."

This week marks the 50th anniversary of the release of the Beatles' Sgt. Pepper album. And phoning in to Arts Express to ponder the wild when not weird eternal legacy of the Beatles on this occasion, is Rolling Stone journalist and author Rob Sheffield. Reflecting on why their music has endured through the decades, and how the group transformed popular music as both entertainment and art. Sheffield's book on the subject is Dreaming The Beatles: The Love Story Of One Band And The Whole World.

** "There's a lot of over-medication going on out there - and maybe if that's tied to a story, it would make it something more than just being a sci-fi movie."

Filmmaker Stanley Jacobs phones in to Arts Express to talk about 96 Souls, his simultaneously surreal and hyper-sensory political sci-fi fantasy thriller - probing among other things, the oppressive power of pharmaceutical corporations over US society, universities, and experiemental scientific research. And, a rebel innovative bio-chemistry professor, dodging these establishment forces.

More information about the Tribeca Film Festival is online at Tribecafilm.com/festival.

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

Friday, April 7, 2017

Arts Express: Steve Coogan Talks The Dinner



Two new films mix cuisine and socio-cultural conflicted conversation:


** "No man is an island, and we have to engage with things around us and speak our minds - and even though that means sometimes I'm going to invite a little derision and some negativity from certain quarters - but I'm okay with that."

Steve Coogan phones in to Arts Express from London to talk about his role opposite Richard Gere in The Dinner. And a film as much a mirror reflecting back critically on the audience as it is a movie, in how the drama challenges viewers regarding impulses that can compromise enlightened idealistic values versus self-serving behavior - whether tribal, familial or both - that dehumanizes and destroys those labeled as the "Other." And by extension, that could be referring to director Oren Moverman's native Israel in its treatment of the Palestinians, or the US inflicting horror on the people of any number of countries - all in the context of a ridiculously ostentatious and pretentious designer dinner.
A feature of the Tribeca Film Festival

** "I personally find it delightful to partake in an offering of a movie that is without aliens, robots, explosions, train wrecks, dire disease and plagues, or invasions from other planets."

That's Diane Lane, talking about her starring role along with Alec Baldwin as her emotionally self-absorbed spouse, in Paris Can Wait. Lane and the writer/director Eleanor Coppola, wife of Francis Ford Coppola, met with Arts Express to discuss how they explore through this film together in front of and behind the camera as women. And the journey beyond what is much more than a road movie, the predominant male perspective, filter, lens and narratives dominating cinema.

** Tribeca Focus: The Foster File: A Kurt Vonnegut page to screen allegorical tale of Wall Street money versus musical obsession. Spotlighting humble grocery clerk Herbert Foster 'who never owned more than one pair of shoes at a time' - and his mysterious alternate persona  Mr. Firehouse Harris, three nights out of seven.
A Tribeca Film Festival feature.

More information about the Tribeca Film Festival is online at: Tribecafilm.com/festival

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

Wednesday, March 8, 2017

Arts Express: Philip Winchester Talks Chicago Justice, Remembering Bill Paxton

** "Bill saw that we were young and hungry, and he just took us under his wings - he was just this incredible guy who cared about the process, and he cared about storytelling."

Actor Philip Winchester Talks Chicago Justice, Remembering Bill Paxton: Winchester shares memories of Bill Paxton, who suddenly passed away at the age of 61 on February 25th. And, playing Paxton's son in the film Thunderbirds in 2004. Also, what the actor is up to in his telelvision series, Chicago Justice.

** "I think any director who says they don't come with any bias, is being a liar to the public."

American Socialist: The Life And Times Of Eugene Victor Debs. Filmmaker Yale Strom is on the line to Arts Express from San Diego to talk about his commitment with this documentary, to correcting the distorted when not buried truths about socialist presidential candidate Eugene Debs. While referencing ideological truth telling; Marx, Engels and Utopian socialists; the Pullman strike versus the railroad oligarchs; Victor Hugo, Joe Hill, and the minimum wage movement today - and who really came up with the notion of the New Deal, And hint, it's not FDR. A feature of the Socially Relevant Film Festival.

** Sanders Does Debs. Eugene V. Debs: Trade Unionist, Socialist, Revolutionary.
Sanders wrote, directed, and stars as Debs in his own production. Selected excerpts.


** "I knew that if I was to wear a Veterans For Peace shirt, that I would get lynched - I felt that I would get lynched in this crowd."

Disneyland of War: More crime scene than convention, Iraq War marine combat veteran and Veterans For Peace activist Mike Haynes takes viewers on a disturbing and troubling tour of the Miramar military air show in San Diego, apparently aimed in particular at grooming the next generation of government trained killers - children. A Chris Smiley directed documentary, and another feature of the Socially Relevant Film Festival.

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

Wednesday, March 1, 2017

Arts Express: Oscars 2017, War And Peace - A Tale Of Two Medics

** "A man on the battlefield who refuses to take a life so he won't touch a gun - I think that's really relatable and prescient today, in the world we're in."
Producer David Permut Talks Oscars, Hacksaw Ridge. Along with Roger Corman, Richard Pryor, Dragnet, and Punching Henry. And, in contrast to Hacksaw Ridge, did Al Qaeda just clean up at the Oscars with that other war medic movie, The White Helmets?

** "If you think that Amazon is above the fray, remember that each film they finance is not only seen as a film, but as a product that will induce people to join the service to use it to order toilet paper..."
Bro On The World Film Beat: The Oscar Wrap-Up Report From A Global Perspective. Arts Express Correspondent Professor Dennis Broe phones in from Paris to also talk about The Hollywood Unconscious, fluff, the big versus small screen cinema standoff, and film predictions in the new year worth mentioning - or maybe not!


** "Entities like the NSA, FBI, CIA, Department Of Defense, and sometimes the White House, attempt to influence film scripts."
Matthew Alford On What's Going Down With 'National Security Cinema' Today: How it's done, and why. The UK media analyst, author, professor and filmmaker talks 'How Independent Is Hollywood.' The Arts Express Best Of The Net Hotspot this week.

**What's Up With The Oscar Award Accolades For The White Helmets - Medics suspected of being aligned with terrorists in Syria. RT's Nadira Tudor and UK independent media reporter Vanessa Beeley weigh in.


** "Geisha Ink is really a story of rebellion, and what one would want to do without the consent of society."
Art Corner: Photographer Reka Nyari phones in. Exploring through her Geisha Ink works on exhibit, female tattoo storytelling body art, and as the visual life journey of a woman from an exclusively female perspective.


Mood tends to dominate over momentum in the somewhat revisionist millennial noir, Road To The Well. Writer/director Jonathan Cvack steers audiences down this metaphorical road primarily devoid of destination, and more a journey inward than otherwise.

A sullen, stagnant California landscape finds despondent small town bottom feeder corporate working stiff Frank (Laurence Fuller) crossing paths with an old acquaintance, mysterious drifter Jack (Micah Parker). And while life circumstances could not seem capable of deteriorating further for Frank, that well progressively deepens even more, as the presence of suspiciously malevolent omen Jack precipitates an unfathomable array of wild and wicked events. As murder, mayhem, shallow materialistic tendencies, suicidal impulses, secretive sex for sale, and rejection of the illusive American dream for a symbolic dispossessed generation all fatefully kick in. And not necessarily in any particular order.

And while conventional noir is primarily dramatically dependent on climactic narrative shock and awe, thwarted millennial pessimism here would appear to emotionally favor a lockdown, been there done that gloomy, fractured despair. Though this twisted ride to nowhere and back, serves up intriguing and impressive detours along the way.

Prairie Miller

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

Wednesday, February 22, 2017

Arts Express: Cocoa Brown Talks Dying Laughing

            Cocoa Brown in Tyler Perry's The Single Moms Club

** "Most comics are tortured souls - And to be able to go on stage and make people laugh, you're healing yourself in the process." 

Dying Laughing: A conversation with standup comic and actress Cocoa Brown - among the multitudes of comedians baring those tortured souls in this documentary. Delving into the alternately fascinating and conflicted psyches of standup comics. Including Jamie Foxx, Chris Rock, Jerry Seinfeld, Sarah Silverman, Jerry Lewis, and countless others. Brown phones in to Arts Express from LA to talk about the dark places she and other comics are coming from; surviving sexism on stage; the many characters she's played on the big and small screen; rejection, mirrors, Richard Pryor, and the philosophy of funny; and the Tyler Perry experience on For Better Or Worse, in navigating black identity humor.


** "It's the Native people that get it, and we need to look to them as teachers."
Water Is Life [Mni Wiconi]: Resisting The Dakota Pipeline. Earth Mum reports from the embattled front lines at Standing Rock. A presentation compiled from the Pacifica radio host's journeys to the ground zero heart of the pipeline resistance. Including movement eyewitness accounts, videos, images, and oral history audio interviews she gathered from the encampment. While the elders, spiritual leaders and assembled tribes speak about the importance of respecting Mother Earth. And as the struggle continues, no matter what. A treasure trove of material Earth Mum brought back, and an education moment. Jack Shalom reports

New Directors/New Films 2017: Menashe - Offbeat Orthodoxy Rules In Hassidic Brooklyn Tale
 'The Three Things That Bring A Man Happiness, Says The Talmud: A nice wife, a nice house, and nice dishes.'

So proceeds the uncommonly fascinating and vividly authentic Yiddish subtitled dramatic feature Menashe, as it balances both somber and quirky. And as the despondent and defiant widower in question, Menashe [Menashe Lustig], single father of young schoolboy Rieven [Ruben Niborski] resists the relentless attempts of his authoritarian religious community to procure him a new wife as quickly as possible - and while insisting that Menashe relinquish his son to the family of his late wife's disdainful brother until he does so.

Director Joshua Z. Weinstein impressively displays his background as a documentary filmmaker here, seamlessly blending a delicately layered journey through an actual Brooklyn Hasidic community depicted utterly unself-consciously by nonprofessional actors. And with a keen eye for capturing emotional truth rather than the typical anthropological when not exoticized outsider perspective, when delving into such typically hermetic traditional communities.

And within that dramatic landscape, Weinstein sets his measured pace to allow audiences to discover and decide for themselves just what is playing out along the way. Does the rebellious behavior of Menashe indicate a villain or victim - or an enigmatic force at work beyond the seeming stubborn selfishness turning his community against him, in his insistence on raising his son on his own - even if lacking in the security and comforts for his son to be offered by an intact nuclear family.

And what comes surprisingly to light, is the way in which forced marriages can psychologically scar males as well as females - who knew. And though the resolution may amount to something more realistic than satisfying, there is much along the way to infuse our collective soul and senses. Including bachelor-proof cooking recipes, a pet chicken fond of dancing atop heads, the paternal lovingly resolved dilemma of an excrement laden shoe, and a purchased painting of an esteemed local rabbi guaranteed to scare away household rodents.

Along with a euphoric scene captured among the Latino immigrant workers in a grocery story where the downcast dad likewise toils - as they along with Menashe drink themselves into song and sorrow together on a downtime backroom break - commiserating about male problems when it comes to surviving romance and other issues, in universally perplexing cross-cultural worlds everywhere.

New Directors/New Films 2017, in its 46th year, runs from March 15th through 26th at New York City's Museum of Modern Art and the Film Society of Lincoln Center. The film festival introduces audiences to the work of emerging or not yet established filmmakers here and internationally, and takes place at the Walter Reade Theater at Lincoln Center and at The Roy and Niuta Titus Theaters at MoMA. More information about New Directors/New Films is online at newdirectors.org.

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

Wednesday, February 8, 2017

Arts Express: Stephen Dorff Talks Wheeler

Adam Clayton Powell, Jim Crow Capitol Hill; Trump, Clint Eastwood, Deplorables; Popular Front Westerns, Travis Bickle, PTSD, The Communist Party, Class Warfare, Hollywood, The Great Depression

** "The election is what it is, and we're all in a Fellini movie right now."

Stephen Dorff Talks Wheeler: The actor perhaps best known for portraying possibly the fifth Beatle Stuart Sutcliffe in Backbeat, is on the line from LA to delve into his new movie which he co-wrote, stars in, and composed the music for. And an innovative style of filmmaking that arose out of the songs first, with drama then following spontaneously - and what might be termed a musical mockumentary road movie. In which Dorff as the aspiring country musician title character Wheeler, journeys from Texas to Nashville in a quest for creative human connections and understanding. Along with disguising his appearance and interacting with real heartland people along the way for real - and who had no idea. While discussing as well, Trump, immigrants, Clint Eastwood, Kirk Douglas, deplorables, and anonymity versus fame.


** "He ignited the Civil Rights Movement before there was a Civil Rights Movement."

Theater Corner: Adam. A one man show immersed in the life and extraordinary achievements of mid-20th century pastor, political activist and Harlem Congressman, Adam Clayton Powell. Actor Timothy Simonson, who depicts the charismatic civil rights leader on stage, in a conversation about Powell's legacy and challenges - including the struggle to desegregate Congress itself, the cafeteria, barber shop and gym there, deeply entrenched in Dixiecrat Jim Crow mandates back then. And Simonson basically portraying Powell in his own words as, "an elegant figure on the stage with only a chair, coat rack, and a few change of clothes." Chris Butters reports.

** "The problem was that there was not a sufficient presence of a left wing repudiation, so they ended up finding a voice within the right."

Book Corner - Taxi Searchers: John Wayne, Robert De Niro, And The Meaning Of America. Author and self-described stamp collector raised by wolves, Andrew Stewart of the Rhode Island Media Collective plummets the depths of what's wrong with US society right now, in its rabid turn to the right. Which is the subject of his new anthology of culture and politics channeling American gun culture and the militia mentality, John Ford's designated Popular Front westerns, Travis Bickle, PTSD, the Communist Party, Trump, class warfare, Hollywood and the Great Depression.

An unusually conceived production that may be referred to as a musical mockumentary road movie, Wheeler stars Stephen Dorff, who also co-wrote and composed the music for the film. Which actually uniquely and spontaneously arose out of the country music first created for this movie.
The regional, emotionally raw salt of the earth heartland journey from Texas to Nashville, follows the creative aspirations of the title character, in search of human connection and creative understanding -  and not simply recognition.
Dorff may be most familiar to audiences in his offbeat turns as the star of John Waters' Cecil B. Demented, as Candy Darling in I Shot Andy Warhol, and the very possibly fifth Stuart Sutcliffe in Backbeat. But with Wheeler, the multi-talented actor musician was in search of something very different to convey on screen, while mingling in facial disguise with real people along the way - who had no idea.
The on screen proceedings drop hints regarding Dorff himself of celebrityhood versus anonymity that come with the ambivalence of fame. And a possibly personal closeted desire to slip into another person's random skin and out of the limelight, for a change.
All of which presents an intriguing concept for a movie, though with mixed results. Where the audience is fully aware of what's taking place - though the clueless cast may be a plot device more prone to distraction than depth.
Prairie Miller

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

Wednesday, February 1, 2017

Arts Express: Algee Smith Talks Untitled Detroit Project

** "I want people to understand that there hasn't been a change in 50 years, what you see in this movie is still going on today. And it's really a reflection of how far we haven't come."

Actor Algee Smith Talks Untitled Detroit Project: And his starring role in Hurt Locker director Kathryn Bigelow's historic urban uprising drama to be released this summer, in conjunction with the 50th anniversary of the Detroit Rebellion. And while possibly dropping hints that he may, or may not, be playing Stevie Wonder in the movie.
The 22 year old actor/musician talks as well about starring in The New Edition Story television mini-series, in which his real life character R&B singer Ralph Tresvant, along with Bobby Brown, rose out of the inner city Roxbury boy group in Boston. Currently airing on BET.

** "Important to me was that we could represent ourselves, the way we were."
Remembering Mary Tyler Moore.
On the line to Arts Express is Susan Silver, one of the original writers of The Mary Tyler Moore Show, as well as Maude and other '70s sitcoms back then. And in fact, one of the first of women writing sitcoms in that male dominated television world, period. Silver shares memories of how she and Moore provocatively redefined the images and perceptions of women on and off the small screen, forever. Including having something to do with Norman Lear's ex-wife and Bea Arthur, and the male sitcom writers wanting to walk around the office in their underwear. And, one NY Times fake news revelation Silver at first hesitated to share.

** I'm seeing some encouraging dynamics that are coming through the midst of all this chaos."
Sister Station Conversations: An exchange with WBAI Radio's Savona Bailey-McClain, host of State Of The Arts
. And the timely topics on the table with Arts Express co-host Mary Ann Miller, are hopes and predictions in the arts this new year. Touching on creative trends, the Trump effect, and factoring in one Chinese curse described as a blessing.

** "I think we can expect more escalation, more hawkish policies, more turmoil."
In the Arts Express Book Corner, Middle East foreign correspondent and author Reese Erlich
phones in from Boston to discuss his new book from the inside looking out, 'Inside Syria: The Backstory Of Their Civil War, And What The World Can Expect.' Referencing US propaganda techniques around the world; the colonialist creation of false borders in Syria; the refugee crisis and the humanitarian excuse; getting shot at by the Israeli military during the First Intifada; and Erlich's own experience himself as a victim of fake news.