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

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