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: 

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

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