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.

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** "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 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.

LISTEN TO THE SHOW HERE

** "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 

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

Monday, May 8, 2017

Arts Express: Steve Coogan Talks The Dinner


*STEVE COOGAN TALKS THE DINNER
*PARIS CAN WAIT: A CONVERSATION WITH DIANE LANE AND ELEANOR COPPOLA

FOOD FOR THOUGHT

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

LISTEN TO THE SHOW HERE

** "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.

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

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.

LISTEN TO THE SHOW HERE

** "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 

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