documentary http://culturecatch.com/taxonomy/term/399 en What If God Were Made Out of Macaroni? http://culturecatch.com/node/3954 <span>What If God Were Made Out of Macaroni?</span> <span><a title="View user profile." href="/users/brandon-judell" lang="" about="/users/brandon-judell" typeof="schema:Person" property="schema:name" datatype="">Brandon Judell</a></span> <span>July 8, 2020 - 21:10</span> <div class="field field--name-field-topics field--type-entity-reference field--label-inline"> <div class="field--label">Topics</div> <div class="field--items"> <div class="field--item"><a href="/film" hreflang="en">Film Review</a></div> </div> </div> <div class="field field--name-field-tags field--type-entity-reference field--label-inline"> <div class="field--label">Tags</div> <div class="field--items"> <div class="field--item"><a href="/taxonomy/term/399" hreflang="en">documentary</a></div> </div> </div> <div class="field field--name-body field--type-text-with-summary field--label-hidden field--item"><div class="video-embed-field-provider-youtube video-embed-field-responsive-video form-group"><iframe width="854" height="480" frameborder="0" allowfullscreen="allowfullscreen" src="https://www.youtube.com/embed/lrctO2NLWCo?autoplay=0&amp;start=0&amp;rel=0"></iframe> </div> <p>When Sophia Loren insisted, "Everything you see I owe to spaghetti," she knew of what she spoke, possibly more than she might have imagined. You'll understand after seeing <i>Pastafari: A Flying Spaghetti Monster Story,</i> one of the more delicious, amusing, and relevant documentaries of the year.</p> <p>First, before we go on, we must ask, "What is religion?"</p> <p>According to the Supreme Court, religion is "a sincere and meaningful belief that occupies in the life of its possessor a place parallel to the place held by God in the lives of other persons." Hmmm. The First Amendment adds that Congress "shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof."</p> <p>Now let's jump to 2005 right after the Kansas Board of Education voted that the creationist theory of intelligent design must be taught side by side with evolution. You know that theory arguing a supernatural force had a hand in creating all life. Well, what if you had a divine revelation right then like Bobby Henderson, a young scientist, did? At 24, he suddenly became aware that a spiritual being, the Flying Spaghetti Monster (FSM), created the world and that somehow pirates were involved. And that when you were not dressed up in pirate gear, this god wanted you to wear a colander on your head. Was this by definition the beginning of a new tax-exempt institution? If you yelled, "No way!" how can you tell a fake religion from a real one? And who would jump on this macaroni-based spiritual journey?</p> <p>Well, due to the power of the Internet and media coverage, there are now untold multitudes of Pastafarians spreading the gospel of "He who boiled for our sins." From Germany to New Zealand, there are even millions, some FSM-ers avow, possibly utilizing the Trumpian method of counting. And surprisingly, some foreign courts have even ruled that by their laws' requirements, here is a bona-fide religion.</p> <p>Thanks to Mike Arthur's deft direction, what at first seems just a Monty-Python-like fun fest actually becomes an in-depth take on religious institutions, their hold on governments, plus some of their worst offenses. By the end credits, you might even ask, "Why do we believe what we believe? And when we point out the inanities of others’ religious beliefs, shouldn’t we admit to the looniness within our own?"</p> <p>But back to Pastafarianism and <i>The Gospel of the Flying Spaghetti Monster. </i>A quote from way up high: "I'd really rather you didn't go around telling people I talk to you. You're not that interesting. Get over yourself, and I told you to love your fellow man. Can you take a hint?" I'm sure Job would have preferred that putdown from his Lord as to getting boils and having his family decimated.</p> <p>Anyway, this newish church also has weekly gatherings, where one devotee notes: "We celebrate noodle masses and we baptize our children with noodle water." Then there's the wedding ceremonies where a couple sucks on opposite sides of a strand of spaghetti until their lips meet in a kiss.</p> <p>Kathy Gilsinan in a major feature in <i>The Atlantic</i> a few years back wrote: "Along the way, something funny happened to a movement founded in large part to critique organized religion: It’s gotten organized, and has taken on both the trappings and some of the social functions of a real religion."</p> <p>Dirk Jan, a legal consultant who was raised a Christian and now is a leading advocate of this faith, wants to know how believing in the parting of the Red Sea is any crazier than praying to the Flying Spaghetti Monster. His brethren note that this theology is a nonviolent one with no rules. You don't have to pray. You don't have to attend services, but you can. You also don't have to worry about going to Hell or being punished for spiritual lapses. There are guidelines, though, that supply you with a moral compass. Please note:</p> <blockquote> <p>"When you are good in society, you are a good Pastafarian."</p> </blockquote> <p>And when you inspire a great film, who's going to doubt you?</p> <p><b>[Available digitally starting this week on iTunes, Amazon, Google Play, </b><b>Frontier, Suddenlink, Mediacom, WOW! </b><b>and Vimeo.]</b></p> </div> <section> <h2>Add new comment</h2> <drupal-render-placeholder callback="comment.lazy_builders:renderForm" arguments="0=node&amp;1=3954&amp;2=comment_node_story&amp;3=comment_node_story" token="ca7XtiZBmw6oTsONSfjROgka9XCswzguujjwY4eWFBI"></drupal-render-placeholder> </section> Thu, 09 Jul 2020 01:10:35 +0000 Brandon Judell 3954 at http://culturecatch.com Getting to “Nomi” http://culturecatch.com/node/3948 <span>Getting to “Nomi”</span> <span><a title="View user profile." href="/users/brandon-judell" lang="" about="/users/brandon-judell" typeof="schema:Person" property="schema:name" datatype="">Brandon Judell</a></span> <span>June 10, 2020 - 14:44</span> <div class="field field--name-field-topics field--type-entity-reference field--label-inline"> <div class="field--label">Topics</div> <div class="field--items"> <div class="field--item"><a href="/film" hreflang="en">Film Review</a></div> </div> </div> <div class="field field--name-field-tags field--type-entity-reference field--label-inline"> <div class="field--label">Tags</div> <div class="field--items"> <div class="field--item"><a href="/taxonomy/term/399" hreflang="en">documentary</a></div> </div> </div> <div class="field field--name-body field--type-text-with-summary field--label-hidden field--item"><div class="video-embed-field-provider-youtube video-embed-field-responsive-video form-group"><iframe width="854" height="480" frameborder="0" allowfullscreen="allowfullscreen" src="https://www.youtube.com/embed/0bWk5yN3TW4?autoplay=0&amp;start=0&amp;rel=0"></iframe> </div> <p>After binging on three overseas "slow-burns" from Netflix—<i>Broadchurch, Hinterland, </i>and <i>Bordertown -- </i>addictive, complex looks into child abuse, corporate corruption, fried corpses, more child abuse, troubled priests, and a woman held underwater for three days until her skin started dissolving, it’s certainly nice to be confronted again by American-made sleaziness.</p> <p>Jeffrey McHale's supremely entertaining documentary, <i>You Don't Nomi</i>, is a no-holds-barred celebration and vivisection of the seamy underbelly of what's been enshrined as the worst film of the '90s, <i>Showgirls. </i>That flop of flops was<i> </i>a $40-million follow-up of sorts for director Paul Verhoeven and screenwriter Joe Eszterhas who had paired up previously for the lesbian icepick-killer thriller <i>Basic Instinct </i>(1992)<i>. </i>The duo thought they could do no wrong after their history of separate and paired successes (e.g. <i>RoboCop </i>(1987);<i> Flashdance </i>(1983)). Ah, well.</p> <p>"It's <i>All About Eve </i>in a G-string," noted one critic on <i>Showgirls</i>.</p> <p>This is "a story about a hyperactive eyeliner junkie out to rule the world," summarized another.</p> <p>"Valley of the Dulls" screamed a review, while <i>The New York Times</i>' Janet Maslin added "that when a group of chimps get loose in the showgirls' dressing room and all they do is defecate, the film enjoys a rare moment of good taste."</p> <article class="embedded-entity"><img src="/sites/default/files/styles/width_1200/public/2020/2020-06/janet_maslins_review.png?itok=FM8TyXpt" width="1200" height="675" alt="Thumbnail" title="janet_maslins_review.png" typeof="foaf:Image" class="img-responsive" /></article><p>Before I go on, please note that no prior knowledge of <i>Showgirls </i>is necessary to have a blast viewing <i>Nomi</i>. I've already gleefully watched this doc two-and-a-half times while I only could bear the original once.  It was at a 10:00AM critics' screening in 1995, and all I clearly remember is the infamous ice-cube nipple scene. The rest is a blur except that upon leaving the theater and walking along Sixth Avenue in extremely bright sunlight, I realized I could do without simulated swimming-pool copulations, lap dances, gang rapes, and hyperactive acting before noon. That's been my credo ever since.</p> <p>A quick synopsis of the original's plot: Nomi Malone (<i>Saved by the Bell</i>'s Elizabeth Berkley in a career-killing performance) arrives in Las Vegas with a very big chip on her shoulder. You see, her father had killed her mother and then shot himself or vice versa. This easily angered lass dreams of being the lead of a show on the Strip just like Cristal Connors (a scintillating Gina Gershon), the reigning sequined queen. Nomi's first stop on her way to the top is an audition where she has to bare her bosom.</p> <p>Tony (a sleazy Alan Rachins): Ya got something wrong with your nipples?</p> <p>Nomi: No.</p> <p>Tony: They’re not sticking up. Stick them up.</p> <p>Nomi: What?</p> <p>Tony: Play with them.</p> <p>Nomi gets the part. Dozens of people of both sexes then fall either in love or lust with her. Her talent with nail polish gets some praise. She admits she used to love eating dog food, and eventually she becomes a star. I'll let the finale remain a surprise.</p> <p>What <i>You Don't</i> <i>Nomi</i>'s writer/director/editor/co-producer McHale gets right here, and he gets little wrong, is the incorporation of the films of Verhoeven into the tale of how <i>Showgirls </i>gained a<i> </i>cult status. There are scenes from <i>Elle </i>(2016), <i>The Fourth Man </i>(1983), and <i>Total Recall </i>(1990) cleverly edited into the action along with clips from <i>The Rocky Horror Show </i>(1975), <i>Striptease </i>(1996) with Demi Moore, <i>Forrest Gump </i>(1994), and dozens more.</p> <p>There is a wit here that the original lacks, along with illuminating looks at film criticism, male egos in Hollywood, America's attitude toward sex in the cinema, Susan Sontag's definition of <i>camp</i>, plus a collage of vomit scenes.</p> <p>"For those who get it, it's kind of a religion," insists Peaches Christ, a drag-queen impresario, who puts on a <i>Showgirls </i>spoof in San Francisco that includes lap-dancing.</p> <p>The film only falters in its section featuring April Kidwell, who has starred in the rather successful <i>Showgirls! The Musical!</i> after appearing in the <i>Saved by the Bell spoof</i>, <i>Bayside! The Musical! </i>Apparently, after suffering both emotional and physical abuse in her own life, the young actress recovered by playing Elizabeth Berkley's past roles. Kidwell insists that being the only person in a theatre dancing topless and then singing a terrible song about rape have decimated her past agonies. This segment is discomforting for many reasons and belongs possibly in another film.</p> <p>Yet <i>You Don't Nomi </i>otherwise never hits a false note. What you have in the end here is a <i>Tiger King </i>for cinephiles.</p> <p>(RLJE Films has released the documentary <em><b>YOU DON'T NOMI</b></em> this week On Demand and Digital.)</p> </div> <section> <h2>Add new comment</h2> <drupal-render-placeholder callback="comment.lazy_builders:renderForm" arguments="0=node&amp;1=3948&amp;2=comment_node_story&amp;3=comment_node_story" token="MkwDlxlGoEglMOdcSRZ8XWkMxv4BjVd6dHWE0U_1w44"></drupal-render-placeholder> </section> Wed, 10 Jun 2020 18:44:21 +0000 Brandon Judell 3948 at http://culturecatch.com Music for a Story Running Out of Time: A Conversation with Simon TaufiQue http://culturecatch.com/node/3894 <span>Music for a Story Running Out of Time: A Conversation with Simon TaufiQue</span> <span><a title="View user profile." href="/user/6777" lang="" about="/user/6777" typeof="schema:Person" property="schema:name" datatype="">Isabella Huang</a></span> <span>November 11, 2019 - 16:55</span> <div class="field field--name-field-topics field--type-entity-reference field--label-inline"> <div class="field--label">Topics</div> <div class="field--items"> <div class="field--item"><a href="/film" hreflang="en">Film Review</a></div> </div> </div> <div class="field field--name-field-tags field--type-entity-reference field--label-inline"> <div class="field--label">Tags</div> <div class="field--items"> <div class="field--item"><a href="/taxonomy/term/399" hreflang="en">documentary</a></div> </div> </div> <div class="field field--name-body field--type-text-with-summary field--label-hidden field--item"><div class="video-embed-field-provider-youtube video-embed-field-responsive-video form-group"><iframe width="854" height="480" frameborder="0" allowfullscreen="allowfullscreen" src="https://www.youtube.com/embed/styV7QQpCRU?autoplay=0&amp;start=0&amp;rel=0"></iframe> </div> <p>The latest offering from<i> </i>Independent Lens, PBS's weekly documentary television series, is Andrés Caballero and Sofia Khan's <i>The Interpreters</i>, a hard-hitting chronicle of what happened to three of the 50,000 local interpreters the U.S. military employed during the Iraq and Afghanistan wars and then mostly left behind, unprotected by the government that promised them a rosy future.</p> <p>As the filmmakers have noted, "Making this film made us feel a little less hopeful in humanity despite having good outcomes. The reality is that most interpreters are still out there, in hiding, being targeted and killed as they wait for their visas."</p> <p>As Sgt. Paul Braun notes in the documentary:</p> <blockquote> <p>"The interpreters were considered traitors to their country . . . traitors to their religion. They either had to wear a mask over their faces or use fake names. But after a while, people found out who they were."</p> </blockquote> <p>So how does one tell the story of people in time-crunch of their lives? And how does one find the right musical notes to accompany such fear and bravery?</p> <p>Co-producer and composer Simon TaufiQue rises to the task, masterfully enriching the tale of these heroes who put their lives at stake. The British-born, award-winning TaufiQue, who has 53 credits for the scores he wrote for various features features and shorts, took a moment off to sit down for a phone chat with us last week. </p> <p><b>You've have worked on quite a variety of projects such as <i> Jesus Henry Christ, She's Lost Control, </i>and<i> Are You Glad I'm Here</i>. How did you get involved in this project?</b> </p> <p>This is through filmmaker Sofian Khan, the director of this movie. I met him when I was the program director for the South Asian Film Festival 11 years ago . . . . [T]he festival [was] inspiring to young south Asian filmmakers. One of those was Sofian Khan. He was the director of photography for a film called <i>Ramchand Pakistani</i>. . . . [W]e became friends from that point on. . .  and we just stayed in touch. When he had some projects that matched my style of music, we started working together.  After I produced <i>Imperium</i> [with Daniel Radcliffe], we connected and discussed this project. I was so moved by the story and the mission of <i>The Interpreters</i> . . . that I offered whatever I could do to help. I wasn't thinking musically, but as a producer, a fan of his work, and as someone that wants to help tell this story. Along the way I became the composer of the film. That was a couple years ago, meeting for coffee trying to catch up and being swept away by the story. Khan was just shooting it because he wanted to highlight stories that weren't being told.</p> <p><b>How did the soundtrack of <em>The Interpreters</em> evolve?</b> </p> <p>We realized that the story is a very much a real-life thriller. These are people that put their lives on the line to help the US troops and coalition forces, and they are being seen as traitors by fellow countrymen because they are helping the "invaders." They believed in the mission of democracy and changing their country for the better with the help of the United States and other countries. So they took that chance, and then when their turn came to leave the country, when the Americans left, and they knew there'd be a bullseye on their back, they were promised a chance to leave, and the promise wasn't kept.</p> <p>We were trying to tell the story of how these people survived and made sense of that, and how the Americans on the other side were trying to get these people out. It's a ticking-bomb scenario type of film because you don't know how it's going to end or if the people will find their way to safety. That was the impulse behind creating the music for this film. Not just telling the story of Iraq or Afghanistan but telling the story of people who are in a very scary place. They are in a pressure cooker, so they don't know if they'll make it out in time. That sense of urgency, anxiety, but also the story of kinship and love between the Interpreters and their American partners who wanted them to be safe were the impulses behind the music of the film. </p> <p><b>How did you start composing and how did you recognize you wanted a career in composing?</b> </p> <p>Both by accident. I didn't realize that I could be a composer for film until I was asked to write music for film. I got into music by chance, and the thought of having a career in music was a fantasy, and not something I never thought I could be.</p> <p>As a first generation immigrant and first in my family to go to college, there were a lot of expectations that I would have a very stable and secure career, and so I was pursuing political science and economics, double majoring in NYU with the intention of going to law school or graduate school for a career in foreign service. I wanted to be a diplomat, an ambassador, and change things for the better.</p> <p>Along the way in my undergraduate studies, I became really good friends with a young filmmaking student. It turns out he was M. Night Shyamalan. We just were best friends, and he would take me to his film classes, and introduce me to his composer and his team of collaborators.</p> <p>While that was happening, I was becoming more immersed in music as a hobby. I was writing songs; I was playing in band just for fun. Along the way, he asked me to write a song for one of his films, and I got to see how tangible creativity could be as a long-term goal. I thought then that "if I saved enough money, if I got to practice enough, I could someday record some songs and maybe an album or something." Then [Shyaman's] career took off, and we stayed friends; I got to visit his sets. I got to visit the post-production. I got to see how his composer was doing stuff. So just because of being a supportive friend and just being really excited for him, I, by accident, was soaking up all these lessons about creativity and collaboration.</p> <p>Seeing his trajectory from doing stuff that was small scale and easy to digest, and seeing all that catapult and explode into very large scale stuff, but still seeing the same person, creativity, and root source behind it all was very inspiring to me. When I was asked to write music for a friend's film, I jumped at the chance even though I didn't know what I was doing. But because of all of that exposure, I knew what I needed to do. I knew what the film needed, and I somehow was able to cobble together music that made that film a better story.</p> <p><b>I've read that one of your methods of composing is muting the television and playing your guitar along with it. Russian composer Mussorgsky did something similar for his piece "Pictures at an Exhibition." According to Leonard Bernstein, Mussorgsky "tried to compose music that would describe them, in other words, do what a painter would do with paint." How would you compare that to your experiences composing along muted TV Shows?</b> </p> <p>I didn't know that. That is fascinating to hear! It's really inspiring because I was not doing it with the intention of scoring a TV show. I was just practicing guitar and the TV was on, and it was interfering with what I was hearing, so I turned down the volume and just played my scales or chords while looking at the TV, and it influenced what I was playing without me knowing it.</p> <p>So the creative influences and spark of painting a visual with sound is what I ended up doing without real understanding of how to do it or what I was doing in that moment, and then when my now wife came into the room, she said, "Wait! That's not coming from the TV? You're doing that?" That's when I got the idea that something was going on here that I was not aware of; I was channeling some inspiration there that I wasn't aware I had the ability to do. I think we will always try to channel that raw instinctive impulse, and our technique allows us to shape it into a form that makes sense but without that spark. I don't think the technique can ever make up for that. I think that it's just the shaping of the initial idea. - </p> <p>(<b><i>The Interpreters</i></b> first airs on PBS this Veteran's Day at 10 PM EST.) Check out the trailer here: <a href="https://www.pbs.org/video/trailer-interpreters-p9m4yo" target="_blank">PBS</a></p> <p><i>Miss Huang</i><i> is a st</i><i>udent</i><i> of </i><i>Macaulay's Honors College at CCNY and an online writer. </i><em>This is her first article for <a href="http://culturecatch.com/">CultureCatch.com</a>.</em></p> </div> <ul class="links inline list-inline"><li class="comment-add"><a href="/node/3894#comment-form" title="Share your thoughts and opinions." hreflang="en">Add new comment</a></li></ul><section> <a id="comment-1436"></a> <article data-comment-user-id="0" class="js-comment"> <mark class="hidden" data-comment-timestamp="1574113985"></mark> <div> <h3><a href="/comment/1436#comment-1436" class="permalink" rel="bookmark" hreflang="en">It&#039;s incredible to see a…</a></h3> <div class="field field--name-comment-body field--type-text-long field--label-hidden field--item"><p>It's incredible to see a professional musician's creative process incorporate something as commonplace as TV! It makes me think of what other activities in my daily routine I can use as a source of inspiration in my writing. I look forward to your future articles, Ms. Huang!</p> </div> <drupal-render-placeholder callback="comment.lazy_builders:renderLinks" arguments="0=1436&amp;1=default&amp;2=en&amp;3=" token="kPJJiGnjmkVl2h64uf1fQGkCaqqtaLqSul_S3FhzpnQ"></drupal-render-placeholder> </div> <footer> <article typeof="schema:Person" about="/user/0"> <div class="field field--name-user-picture field--type-image field--label-hidden field--item"> <a href="/user/0"><img src="/sites/default/files/styles/extra_small/public/default_images/avatar.png?itok=RF-fAyOX" width="50" height="50" alt="Generic Profile Avatar Image" typeof="foaf:Image" class="img-responsive" /> </a> </div> </article> <p>Submitted by <span lang="" typeof="schema:Person" property="schema:name" datatype="">Kelvin S.</span> on November 14, 2019 - 22:27</p> </footer> </article> <a id="comment-1462"></a> <article data-comment-user-id="0" class="js-comment"> <mark class="hidden" data-comment-timestamp="1574351365"></mark> <div> <h3><a href="/comment/1462#comment-1462" class="permalink" rel="bookmark" hreflang="en">This was an excellent…</a></h3> <div class="field field--name-comment-body field--type-text-long field--label-hidden field--item"><p>This was an excellent article on a very sad central issue. The ability for a composer like Mr. TaufiQue to convey to the viewer the genuine fear, tension, anxiety, and stress felt by these Interpreters as their new reality of being ostracized by their own neighbors and community members dawned on them is pivotal to the show's mission of bringing the world's lens on their plight.</p> </div> <drupal-render-placeholder callback="comment.lazy_builders:renderLinks" arguments="0=1462&amp;1=default&amp;2=en&amp;3=" token="JxAjvakVVUQbWURUyKW5am8Ai0dLkGWI1ya0FQ2djUU"></drupal-render-placeholder> </div> <footer> <article typeof="schema:Person" about="/user/0"> <div class="field field--name-user-picture field--type-image field--label-hidden field--item"> <a href="/user/0"><img src="/sites/default/files/styles/extra_small/public/default_images/avatar.png?itok=RF-fAyOX" width="50" height="50" alt="Generic Profile Avatar Image" typeof="foaf:Image" class="img-responsive" /> </a> </div> </article> <p>Submitted by <span lang="" typeof="schema:Person" property="schema:name" datatype="">S. N.</span> on November 20, 2019 - 20:04</p> </footer> </article> <h2>Add new comment</h2> <drupal-render-placeholder callback="comment.lazy_builders:renderForm" arguments="0=node&amp;1=3894&amp;2=comment_node_story&amp;3=comment_node_story" token="AtZyDkFH6F-i_JELtT05npQndk2J27_cq-poA7eNjOU"></drupal-render-placeholder> </section> Mon, 11 Nov 2019 21:55:36 +0000 Isabella Huang 3894 at http://culturecatch.com Trump's Mentor http://culturecatch.com/node/3890 <span>Trump&#039;s Mentor</span> <span><a title="View user profile." href="/user/6767" lang="" about="/user/6767" typeof="schema:Person" property="schema:name" datatype="">Dennis Rohatyn</a></span> <span>October 31, 2019 - 15:43</span> <div class="field field--name-field-topics field--type-entity-reference field--label-inline"> <div class="field--label">Topics</div> <div class="field--items"> <div class="field--item"><a href="/film" hreflang="en">Film Review</a></div> </div> </div> <div class="field field--name-field-tags field--type-entity-reference field--label-inline"> <div class="field--label">Tags</div> <div class="field--items"> <div class="field--item"><a href="/taxonomy/term/399" hreflang="en">documentary</a></div> </div> </div> <div class="field field--name-body field--type-text-with-summary field--label-hidden field--item"><div class="video-embed-field-provider-youtube video-embed-field-responsive-video form-group"><iframe width="854" height="480" frameborder="0" allowfullscreen="allowfullscreen" src="https://www.youtube.com/embed/lTrHL7Vo_SQ?autoplay=0&amp;start=0&amp;rel=0"></iframe> </div> <p>If the enemy of my enemy is my friend, no recent film could be more congenial to anyone with a heart or a brain than <i>Where's My Roy Cohn?</i>  (2019, dir. Matt Tyrnauer). Tyrnauer, whose repertoire includes <i>Citizen Jane: The Battle for the City</i>, <i>Studio 54</i>, and <i>Valentino: The Last Emperor, </i>presents us with a disarmingly simple thesis: Donald Trump was made in the image of Roy Cohn (1927-1986), the "sinister" sidekick of red-baiting Sen. Joseph McCarthy, who was as "evil" as he was brilliant, both as an attorney in high-profile cases and in his private life. I will not argue about Cohn, because the point of the film is not that Cohn was a sleazy, corrupt, no-holds-barred bastard (he was), but that he and he alone taught Donald Trump everything that Mr. Trump knows about lying, cheating, stealing and (for the most part) getting away with it without the slightest remorse or shame. That is the thesis of this documentary -- indeed, the only one. The analogies are certainly there, and are worth examining. But the thesis is so one-sided, so formulaic, and so reductive that it invites refutation.</p> <p>For one thing, it leaves Trump's father out of the picture (<i>sic</i>) entirely, yet everyone knows, and Trump himself admits, that his father had a formative influence on him, both as a person and as a "builder" in the real estate construction industry (see Mark D’Antonio, <i>The Truth About Trump</i> [2016] and <i>Never Enough: Donald</i> Trump and the Pursuit of Success [2015], for all the relevant biographical details).</p> <p>For another, it doesn't deal with the fact that Mr. Cohn was a gifted lawyer, notably erudite, exceptionally well prepared, armed with a photographic memory (which only deserted him in the last stages of his life, when he was dying of AIDS) and a rapier-like wit, plus a keen ability to reason from premises to conclusion without committing <i>non sequiturs</i> that even Mr. Spock might envy.</p> <p>Whereas, Donald Trump has none of these (or any other) mental attributes, or else he keeps them well hidden.  Which raises the question, how (if at all) did Roy Cohn manage to teach Donald Trump anything besides being a jerk? Or was that somehow innate in both men -- all in their respective genes? Trump's greed and rapacity seem downright instinctual, whereas Cohn's were acquired (as the film shows) as a consequence of diasporic exile, re-enacted in the Bronx, where Cohn grew up, and within the walls that imprisoned him at home, like Kafka's wandering fly, darting every which way to avoid being swatted. Trump was to the manor born; Cohn was from an upper-class family whose wealth he squandered. How could a bad businessman serve as an exemplar or role-model for someone who constantly boasts of his wealth, and calls everyone who is not quite as rich "losers"?</p> <p>The similarities between Cohn and Trump are strained to the breaking point, before they are even drawn. Instead of insight, we get interviews with important people who knew Cohn when, observed him for many years, were wronged (or appalled) by him, scarred by him, are still (rightly) embittered, and see clear resemblances between Cohn and Trump, which leads them to issue dire warnings, echoing a Greek chorus, even as they prophesy about the past -- that is, things Trump has already done. The problem here is not one of bias: or, if it is, I share it. Rather, it's that you can't connect all the dots when there aren't that many to connect, and they veer off in ways that defy Rubik to erect a new cube -- a high-rise, open only to lawyers for Cosa Nostra and their sleazy clients.</p> <p>What's left isn't even a polemic, but a rant -- an<i> a priori</i>  judgment, based on scant evidence mixed with spite. It is not propaganda, but something far worse:  shoddy journalism, which plays right into the dirty hands of ideology. The search for "Citizen Cohn" is both fascinating and undeniably important. But you need a search warrant, or else the whole project is bogus and invalid.</p> <p>Lest I be accused of doing the same (vague generalities, as opposed to making specific criticisms supported by verifiable claims), I present some pertinent items for public inspection. Here are some of the many errors of omission and commission that mar this film, and make it unworthy of being called documentary, except in a fanciful or Pickwickian sense:</p> <p>1.  No mention is made of Cohn's touchy and troubled relationships with the two Kennedys, dating from his appointment in 1951 as McCarthy's chief aide, when Hoover chose him over Robert Kennedy, to his censure by the Senate in 1954, on a date when Senator John Kennedy was hospitalized and therefore conveniently unable to vote. RFK disapproved of Roy Cohn's methods but liked him personally, as did so many others. They worked out an uneasy truce; Bobby never disavowed him openly, nor refused any assignments. They were seated together at most of the televised sessions of HUAC, in 1953-54. JFK did not wish to appear “soft” on anti-Communism, nor to betray a fellow Irish Catholic, and risk alienating both church officials and his Massachusetts followers. His operation for Addison's disease was behind him by the time that McCarthy came up for censure, but he lingered in the hospital to avoid having to appear on the Senate floor and cast a ballot. As Eleanor Roosevelt said of him in 1957, "he needs less profile and more courage." A concise synopsis of the man, and of the book he didn’t write (as Sorensen confessed, much to the dismay of Jacqueline Onassis, when he could no longer keep it a secret).</p> <p>2.   Cohn helped Ronald Reagan defeat John Anderson in the 1980 NY State Primary. But Anderson's campaign had problems of its own, from start to finish. No money, poor showings in various states, a trip to Europe to burnish his foreign policy credentials that cost him precious time at home, wooing voters who didn't care about that, and didn’t even know his name.</p> <p>The idea that Cohn was responsible for Anderson's downfall is ludicrous. Anderson would be the first to admit it -- and he did. Similarly, the idea that Cohn was the "fixer" who was instrumental in getting Ronald Reagan into the White House is preposterous, not because Reagan deserved to win, or because he had clean hands, but simply because it didn't happen that way. Cohn's role in Reagan's victory was minimal. Jimmy Carter was the architect of his own defeat: he beat himself, from OPEC to the Iranian hostage crisis, and from Bert Lance and Hamilton Jordan to the ill-fated "malaise speech." No further analysis or explanation of the decisive phase in Reagan’s ascent to power is necessary.</p> <p>3.  Geraldine Ferraro had IRS woes, a loose tongue (racist remarks), and purported connections to organized crime. Her boat sank as it left port. Again, whatever Cohn did to her is nothing compared to what she did to herself.   </p> <p>4.  Thomas Eagleton was a victim of prudery and prejudice (against psychiatry). McGovern lost his nerve, and his senses -- he should have gone to a shrink.  Eagleton was not "improperly vetted," as some allege; but Robert Novak's column tarred him with a broad brush ("amnesty, abortion, acid"). Unfortunately, Eagleton handed Novak the brush, thinking it was confidential and "off the record." Yet he was more sinned against than stupid: replacing him with Sgt. Shriver was the height of absurdity. So was doubting his mental state or stability, compared to Richard Nixon. Roy Cohn was not the issue. The chaos within the party (left over from 1968) was.</p> <p>5.  The lawsuits involving Trump's apartment houses were settled between 1975 and 1978, not (as shown in one piece of footage) 1982. This is a very minor point, but it illustrates the sloppy editing and lack of diligence that are apparent throughout.</p> <p>6.  Photographs of Cohn during various phases of his life always show him in an unflattering, unfavorable, hideous and threatening light. Granted, he wasn’t a matinée idol, but the mugshot approach is overdone. Alas, poor Nixon: only the five o'clock shadow knows how hideous (and damning) the aberrant lens can be, even when it reflects upon its own refractions, rather than distorting by default, let alone, demonizing us by design. If Cohn stepped from the grave to complain about his close-ups, he would have a very compelling case. It is obvious that he was framed -- but the audience is still a captive.</p> <p>7.  G. David Schine wasn't in the military, but (as was customary among select and privileged post-war peers) he wore crisp, neatly pressed uniforms to appear both authoritative and patriotic. In a nation of images, be <i>it I Love Lucy</i>, the Kefauver hearings or the Army-McCarthy trials, it was already imperative to have one that was spotless, all-American, and therefore above reproach. Unlike Donald Trump, Schine was not a con man or (as Holden Caulfield would say) a spoiled and vapid prep-school "phony," devoid of taste and bereft of character and intellect. But the regalia was part of his act, and (like the Music Man, minus the trombones) it did work, at least as a shield -- now there's an idea that Trump may put to defective use. Pity he didn’t think of it when he was of draft age -- or was Cohen unavailable to guide him through the Vietnam era, in such style that he might have faked it "perfectly," all the way from a Marine landing on China Beach to being "first responder" on 9/11, and on to being "chosen" to play (<i>sic</i>) the Messiah, coming to a resurrection near you.</p> <p>But then, Trump only went to the Wharton school at U. of Pennsylvania. (Cohn went to Columbia.  He got his law degree at age twenty -- as the film recounts, he was too young to apply for admission to the NY State bar! Young Joseph McCarthy was smart, too, as all of his biographers attest.</p> <p>Smart in conventional terms: so is Trump, which is why he outsmarts himself -- every day of the week. If he weren't such a fool, it might be fun to watch. Since we pay for his mistakes, we're the "morons," not Trump. How dim-witted can you get? Ask George Bush, but don't wait for an answer). </p> <p>Like Alger Hiss, who typed his epitaph when he "Whittiered" Richard Nixon's ravenous appetite for vengeance (or blood sport), Schine was a Harvard man, class of 1949, and (like Roy Cohn) part of the old <i>echt</i> Jewish Borscht Belt<i> bourgeoisie</i>. Is that why they hit it off, and became such good friends, if not more than good friends?</p> <p>Like Cohn, whom the film all but denounces as a "self-hating Jew" (an accusation hurled at any number of individuals, including Karl Marx, Noam Chomsky, Daniel Barenboim, Rosa Luxemburg, Emma Goldman, and me), Schine was eager to assimilate, given the Hiss case, not to mention the Rosenbergs.</p> <p>He married a Swedish woman in 1957, a former Miss Universe (<i>echt </i>gentil), fathered several children, and became a prominent movie producer as well as an accomplished musician. He and his wife died in a private airplane crash in 1996, in a plane piloted by one of his sons, who died in the same accident.</p> <p>He never discussed his involvement (if any) with Cohn after 1957. Was he gay? Some say yes, others say no. At the very least, he was, uh, bisexual. My guess is that his relationship with Cohn was asexual, but had homoerotic overtones, analogous to (e.g.) Leopold and Loeb, or (as a fictional archetype) Billy Budd and John Claggart. Indeed, if Cohn's malignity is the master trope, Melville is your main man-- no need to chase after white whales, "self-hating Jews," or Machiavellian masterminds.</p> <p>8.   Finally, what about Dora?  As it happens, Dora was the pseudonym of one of Freud's most famous patients. But the film makes her out to be the mother of Satan -- or Adolf Hitler, to be precise (doting mother, an indifferent father, spoiled from an early age, yet insecure, lonely, sexually ambivalent).</p> <p>But let's not exaggerate those parallels, either, or jump to absurd conclusions.</p> <p>Where is Mr. Spock when we need him? In his absence, I must rely on my all too human logic, which tells me that there's no equivalence -- only some coincidences.</p> <p>The difference is, Hitler was . . . poor. Hence his hatred of the rich . . . Jews, in particular. However, Hitler has a lot more in common with Donald Trump than with Roy Cohn. But that is not the point. Rather, the depiction of Dora is a textbook case (<i>sic</i>) of literary misogyny, posing as historical fact. I am sure she had flaws, and was in denial about many aspects of her son's life -- not just sex, but what he did for a living, how he 'earned' his money, and who all his friends were.</p> <p>But from the moment she is introduced, we hear nothing but bad things about her: ugly, unattractive, overbearing, can't get or hold a man except through parental intervention (and extortion), bad marriage, more or less frigid, and saw or heard no evil, especially where her only child was concerned. Is there nothing about this woman that is even slightly redeeming? Did anyone bother to ask, or find out? </p> <p>Is this a documentary or a film noir, with <i>cherchez la femme</i> as its classic: sexist signature? </p> <p>And what of the (absentee) father, the judge whom we dare not judge, lest we be judged, too?</p> <p>Add it all up and what do you get? A film that is half-baked, half-done, and totally bad.</p> <p>Not only does it raise more questions than it solves, but it indicts itself more than it succeeds in portraying Donald Trump as the protégé of Roy Cohn. Trump may be many things, but when it comes to being a political sorcerer, he was never a mere apprentice, even to his own father. It is tempting to reduce a complex individual to a simple formula. In Trump's case, there is only one formula that fits him: he wants to be all things to all people, because he is no one, even to himself.</p> <p>Roy Cohn was a despicable individual, but his battered, bartered and bruised soul was his own. Trump has no soul, no heart, and no brain: only the will to power, and an abiding faith that there is a sucker born every second, waiting to be cradled in the arms of a con man. The question is, will we make a liar out of him before the sad truth sets us free? </p> <p><em>Mr. Rohatyn is a retired philosophy professor in California who writes poems, plays, essays, and is now meditating on a book about Descartes.</em></p> </div> <section> <h2>Add new comment</h2> <drupal-render-placeholder callback="comment.lazy_builders:renderForm" arguments="0=node&amp;1=3890&amp;2=comment_node_story&amp;3=comment_node_story" token="LTyqV2J5G1ZtaW89XpnwGK6QwVJGtqUaHakU9709250"></drupal-render-placeholder> </section> Thu, 31 Oct 2019 19:43:28 +0000 Dennis Rohatyn 3890 at http://culturecatch.com Coming Attractions! http://culturecatch.com/node/3871 <span>Coming Attractions!</span> <span><a title="View user profile." href="/users/dusty-wright" lang="" about="/users/dusty-wright" typeof="schema:Person" property="schema:name" datatype="">Dusty Wright</a></span> <span>August 28, 2019 - 11:32</span> <div class="field field--name-field-topics field--type-entity-reference field--label-inline"> <div class="field--label">Topics</div> <div class="field--items"> <div class="field--item"><a href="/film" hreflang="en">Film Review</a></div> </div> </div> <div class="field field--name-field-tags field--type-entity-reference field--label-inline"> <div class="field--label">Tags</div> <div class="field--items"> <div class="field--item"><a href="/taxonomy/term/399" hreflang="en">documentary</a></div> </div> </div> <div class="field field--name-body field--type-text-with-summary field--label-hidden field--item"><div class="video-embed-field-provider-youtube video-embed-field-responsive-video form-group"><iframe width="854" height="480" frameborder="0" allowfullscreen="allowfullscreen" src="https://www.youtube.com/embed/Ve-dkztGutk?autoplay=0&amp;start=0&amp;rel=0"></iframe> </div> <p>Sir Ridley Scott's sci-fi horror, genre-defining movie masterpiece <em>Alien</em> gets a long overdue documentary about all of the gory details that went into making it. <em>Memory:  The Origins of Alien</em> unearths the largely untold origin story behind Scott's cinematic masterpiece, and reveals a treasure trove of never-before-seen materials from the archives of <em>Alien </em>creators Dan O'Bannon and H.R. Giger -- including original story notes, rejected designs and storyboards, exclusive behind-the-scenes footage, and O'Bannon's original 29 page script from 1971, titled <em>Memory</em>. The documentary also takes fans on an exploration of the mythical underpinnings of <em>Alien</em> and dedicates focus on the film's iconic “Chestburster” scene.</p> </div> <section> <h2>Add new comment</h2> <drupal-render-placeholder callback="comment.lazy_builders:renderForm" arguments="0=node&amp;1=3871&amp;2=comment_node_story&amp;3=comment_node_story" token="mvemyNT2By40LsT51KCPH_Baa9bUKEDSrN_onkBwa3E"></drupal-render-placeholder> </section> Wed, 28 Aug 2019 15:32:12 +0000 Dusty Wright 3871 at http://culturecatch.com Deja View http://culturecatch.com/node/3867 <span>Deja View</span> <span><a title="View user profile." href="/users/dusty-wright" lang="" about="/users/dusty-wright" typeof="schema:Person" property="schema:name" datatype="">Dusty Wright</a></span> <span>August 16, 2019 - 09:56</span> <div class="field field--name-field-topics field--type-entity-reference field--label-inline"> <div class="field--label">Topics</div> <div class="field--items"> <div class="field--item"><a href="/film" hreflang="en">Film Review</a></div> </div> </div> <div class="field field--name-field-tags field--type-entity-reference field--label-inline"> <div class="field--label">Tags</div> <div class="field--items"> <div class="field--item"><a href="/taxonomy/term/399" hreflang="en">documentary</a></div> </div> </div> <div class="field field--name-body field--type-text-with-summary field--label-hidden field--item"><div class="video-embed-field-provider-youtube video-embed-field-responsive-video form-group"><iframe width="854" height="480" frameborder="0" allowfullscreen="allowfullscreen" src="https://www.youtube.com/embed/ln9dtQ8tuKk?autoplay=0&amp;start=0&amp;rel=0"></iframe> </div> <p>Croz was just in New York City, full of joy, bigger than life. The 77-year old David Crosby played a spectacular set of music mixing in CSN&amp;Y, solo, and new material at Lincoln Center's Guggenheim Bandshell at Damrosch Park on Sunday night, August 11th, with his new band Sky Trails -- lead guitarist Jeff Pevar (Steely Dan, Phil Lesh, Marc Cohn, et al.), drummer David DiStanislao (David Gilmour, Don Felder), Mai Leisz (Greg Leisz' wife ), keyboardist/vocalist Michelle Willis,  and musical director/keyboardist/son James Raymond. Historic in the fact that it was 50 years prior that he and CSNY debuted at Woodstock. As I sat there I couldn't believe how amazing his voice sounded, how tight the vocal harmonies were, how hard he and his band rocked  "Ohio" (encore) and "Wooden Ships." His passion for sharing his music is infectious and defies his tumultuous personal life -- addictions, love lost, prison, broken friendships. Even his failing health can't keep him down.</p> <div class="video-embed-field-provider-youtube video-embed-field-responsive-video form-group"><iframe width="854" height="480" frameborder="0" allowfullscreen="allowfullscreen" src="https://www.youtube.com/embed/e4T1nNxoJEE?autoplay=0&amp;start=0&amp;rel=0"></iframe> </div> <p>Wandering around the VIP section at the outdoor venue was writer/producer/filmmaker Cameron Crowe, producer of David's new heart-wrenching documentary <em>Remember My Name</em> (Sony Pictures Classic). I mentioned to him that we share a friend in common and I was planning on seeing his documentary soon.  </p> <p>Well, I saw it on Thursday afternoon, day one of the 50th anniversary of Woodstock. It is not a perfect documentary, but then no documentary on David Crosby could be. Our heroes are not perfect. None of us are perfect. Yes, he's left in his wake too many broken relationships; his own insecurities fueling his drug addictions and self-sabotage. There are no interviews with any of six children or current interviews with Neil Young, Graham Nash, or Stephen Stills. He torched those bridges with his musical comrades and has yet to rebuild them. And yet he's very contrite and honest in sharing his reckless regard of those very precious friendships. The doc most certainly functions as a massive mea culpa to anyone he has wronged, both living and dead. </p> <p>Regardless of his own personal demons, one can't deny his influence on seminal rock acts The Byrds and Crosby, Stills &amp; Nash/Crosby, Stills, Nash &amp; Young/Crosby &amp; Nash. His first solo album <em>If Only I Could Remember My Name </em>(1971), written in the wake of the tragic loss of his true love Christine Hinton, remains a timeless and <em>difficult-to-categorize</em> classic. Graham Nash has gone on record stating that the loss of Christine was massive: "I watched a part of David die that day." And so did a piece of David's heart and his ability to process fame and stardom.</p> <div class="video-embed-field-provider-youtube video-embed-field-responsive-video form-group"><iframe width="854" height="480" frameborder="0" allowfullscreen="allowfullscreen" src="https://www.youtube.com/embed/TeZS3gpk2aI?autoplay=0&amp;start=0&amp;rel=0"></iframe> </div> <p>Born and raised in Hollywood, his father Floyd was an Academy Award winning American cinematographer for the movie <i><a href="https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Tabu:_A_Story_of_the_South_Seas" target="_blank" title="Tabu: A Story of the South Seas">Tabu: A Story of the South Seas</a> </i>and shot the movie <em>High Noon</em>, et al. He claims in the doc that his father never told him or his brother that he loved them. Perhaps that fueled his "anger" and his anti-authoritarian and impetuous behavior throughout most of his career. And yet as David's life winds down and he deals with his health -- liver transplant, heart attacks and stents, diabetes -- his need for music and playing it live remain front and center, even if it means he might not make it back home to his wife Jan and his dogs.</p> <p>When pressed by Cameron Crowe in the documentary:</p> <blockquote> <p>"If I were to say, no music but you get <em>extreme</em> joy in your home life... do you make that trade?"</p> </blockquote> <p>Without hesitation, David replies:</p> <blockquote> <p>"No music? No, not interested. It's the only thing I've got to offer, really."</p> </blockquote> <p>In the spirit of Woodstock, I would implore you to witness David's tour and watch Cameron's must-see documentary. I found myself singing along with so many of the classic tunes and even misting up when David bared his soul. If one must suffer for one's art, then David's life has been fueled by undeniable chaos even while delivering so many memorable and heartfelt musical moments.</p> </div> <section> <h2>Add new comment</h2> <drupal-render-placeholder callback="comment.lazy_builders:renderForm" arguments="0=node&amp;1=3867&amp;2=comment_node_story&amp;3=comment_node_story" token="fx5VkyzeZ_GqSL-lACJ5pal4Dafv7BEZzkEP3sCA0xY"></drupal-render-placeholder> </section> Fri, 16 Aug 2019 13:56:10 +0000 Dusty Wright 3867 at http://culturecatch.com When Water Strikes Back http://culturecatch.com/node/3862 <span>When Water Strikes Back</span> <span><a title="View user profile." href="/users/brandon-judell" lang="" about="/users/brandon-judell" typeof="schema:Person" property="schema:name" datatype="">Brandon Judell</a></span> <span>August 11, 2019 - 10:14</span> <div class="field field--name-field-topics field--type-entity-reference field--label-inline"> <div class="field--label">Topics</div> <div class="field--items"> <div class="field--item"><a href="/film" hreflang="en">Film Review</a></div> </div> </div> <div class="field field--name-field-tags field--type-entity-reference field--label-inline"> <div class="field--label">Tags</div> <div class="field--items"> <div class="field--item"><a href="/taxonomy/term/399" hreflang="en">documentary</a></div> </div> </div> <div class="field field--name-body field--type-text-with-summary field--label-hidden field--item"><div class="video-embed-field-provider-youtube video-embed-field-responsive-video form-group"><iframe width="854" height="480" frameborder="0" allowfullscreen="allowfullscreen" src="https://www.youtube.com/embed/3xAIuDF25kE?autoplay=0&amp;start=0&amp;rel=0"></iframe> </div> <p>Samuel Coleridge's Ancient Mariner once bemoaned: "Water, water everywhere,/Nor any drop to drink." Likewise, director/writer/cinematographer/editor Victor Kossakovsky isn't shown getting to drink any H2O either in this documentary of sorts, <i>Aquarela</i>. You can be certain, though, he got quite battered, doused, and nearly frozen by his subject matter since the 90 minutes of footage we do get to view is far from a tranquil day on the lake.</p> <p>Across five countries, including Russia, Greenland, and Mexico, plus a hurricane-wrought Miami, Kossakovsky and his various crews scurry about, capturing the dangers of driving a car on icy lakes, the majesty of miles of frozen terrain, the ferocity and sublimity of sailing on the tossing seas, and so forth. As if they knew they were being filmed for posterity, several icebergs do graceful somersaults as if on command, displeased rains pound relentlessly at mankind and flood the avenues, dogs bark, and rivers flow.</p> <p>This is an almost meditative experience. You feel at times that you should be watching <i>Aquarela</i> in lotus position. The overwhelming visuals and the natural sounds of water traveling are blissfully engaging, but then Kossakovsky irrationally pulls you out of his cinematic ode to Nature and her bipolar personality  with the truly grating musical posturings of Finnish composer Eicca Toppinen  and his "cello-metal" band, Apocalyptica. I was not alone with hands on ears whenever Eicca's caterwauling pounced from the speakers. Happily, this was not often.</p> <p>That aural horror aside, please note there is no narration here, no hints to where the film has relocated itself to in each scene, and only a handful of words spoken, but then water knows no boundaries and needs no words.</p> <p>Elsewhere, however, Kossakovsky has shared his intentions:</p> <blockquote> <p>"I wanted to film every possible emotion that can be experienced while interacting with water --beautiful emotions, along with the unsettling emotions of ecstasy and inspiration, as well as destruction and human devastation."</p> </blockquote> <p>The poet Lucy Larcom noted eons ago that "a drop of water, if it could write out its own history, would explain the universe to us." Miss Lucy would no doubt agree that <i>Aquarela </i>takes a few giant steps in that direction.</p> <p>(<i>Sony Pictures Classics will release the film on August 16, 2019, in LA and in NY at the Landmark at 57 West, AMC Empire (at 48 frames per second) and the Angelika Film Center </i><i>(at 48 frames per second). Film was shot at 96 frames per second.)</i></p> </div> <section> <h2>Add new comment</h2> <drupal-render-placeholder callback="comment.lazy_builders:renderForm" arguments="0=node&amp;1=3862&amp;2=comment_node_story&amp;3=comment_node_story" token="EvW8Fzv5n650vWZjtYFILmT-56He3tqIXcCeCeqylSc"></drupal-render-placeholder> </section> Sun, 11 Aug 2019 14:14:15 +0000 Brandon Judell 3862 at http://culturecatch.com What's That Sound? http://culturecatch.com/node/3853 <span>What&#039;s That Sound?</span> <span><a title="View user profile." href="/users/dusty-wright" lang="" about="/users/dusty-wright" typeof="schema:Person" property="schema:name" datatype="">Dusty Wright</a></span> <span>June 13, 2019 - 13:52</span> <div class="field field--name-field-topics field--type-entity-reference field--label-inline"> <div class="field--label">Topics</div> <div class="field--items"> <div class="field--item"><a href="/film" hreflang="en">Film Review</a></div> </div> </div> <div class="field field--name-field-tags field--type-entity-reference field--label-inline"> <div class="field--label">Tags</div> <div class="field--items"> <div class="field--item"><a href="/taxonomy/term/399" hreflang="en">documentary</a></div> </div> </div> <div class="field field--name-body field--type-text-with-summary field--label-hidden field--item"><div class="video-embed-field-provider-youtube video-embed-field-responsive-video form-group"><iframe width="854" height="480" frameborder="0" allowfullscreen="allowfullscreen" src="https://www.youtube.com/embed/QRVFBQHBUls?autoplay=0&amp;start=0&amp;rel=0"></iframe> </div> <p>Singer-songwriter &amp; executive producer Jakob Dylan (The Wallflowers) and director &amp; former label man Andrew Slater have crafted a loving homage to one of my favorite era's of music. The physical area of Los Angeles known as Laurel Canyon became the epicenter of folk-rock aka the "California Sound" and was home to some of the best and biggest recording acts of the mid-'60s. The Byrds, Buffalo Springfield, The Mamas &amp; The Papas, Arthur Lee's Love (conspicuously missing from the film), it was quite the scene. In fact, many point to Roger McGuinn and The Byrds for ushering in the genre, though The Beatles (George Harrison) used 12-string guitars on the mid-'60s tunes. Regardless, McGuinn took Bob Dylan's epic folk tale "Mr. Tamborine Man" and with his trusty 3-pickup Rickenbacker electric 12-string guitar out front and center there was no looking back. That clean jingle jangle sound would become a cornerstone of folk-rock forever. According to Slater:</p> <blockquote> <p>"The thread for the film is really more about the echo than it is about the Canyon -- the echo of these artists' ideas, and how their own creativity reverberated between the houses in the Canyon, and ultimately across to England where it changes the course of the Beatles."</p> </blockquote> <p><a href="https://www.echointhecanyon.com" target="_blank"><em>Echo in the Canyon</em></a> contains candid conversations and performances with Jackson Browne, Graham Nash, David Crosby, John Sebastian, Brian Wilson, Ringo Starr, Michelle Phillips, Eric Clapton, Stephen Stills, and Roger McGuinn as well as contemporary musicians they influenced such as Tom Petty (in his very last film interview), Cat Power, Beck, Fiona Apple, Norah Jones, and Regina Spektor. Framed by an <em>Echo</em> concert that Jakob organized in 2015 with many of the contemporary musicians mentioned above, much of the performance footage from that concert is interspersed throughout the doc. While offering proof of the timeless staying power of those tunes -- though I prefer the originals -- Laurel Canyon's musical heritage continues to reverberate today! You can sort out movie tickets <a href="https://www.echointhecanyon.com" target="_blank">here</a>.</p> </div> <section> <h2>Add new comment</h2> <drupal-render-placeholder callback="comment.lazy_builders:renderForm" arguments="0=node&amp;1=3853&amp;2=comment_node_story&amp;3=comment_node_story" token="AMeu2sBpP5dvQB81Pbg_zlhPaEGOIaObcq4weFDFbxk"></drupal-render-placeholder> </section> Thu, 13 Jun 2019 17:52:17 +0000 Dusty Wright 3853 at http://culturecatch.com By The Time I Got To... http://culturecatch.com/node/3844 <span>By The Time I Got To...</span> <span><a title="View user profile." href="/users/brandon-judell" lang="" about="/users/brandon-judell" typeof="schema:Person" property="schema:name" datatype="">Brandon Judell</a></span> <span>May 18, 2019 - 10:19</span> <div class="field field--name-field-topics field--type-entity-reference field--label-inline"> <div class="field--label">Topics</div> <div class="field--items"> <div class="field--item"><a href="/film" hreflang="en">Film Review</a></div> </div> </div> <div class="field field--name-field-tags field--type-entity-reference field--label-inline"> <div class="field--label">Tags</div> <div class="field--items"> <div class="field--item"><a href="/taxonomy/term/399" hreflang="en">documentary</a></div> </div> </div> <div class="field field--name-body field--type-text-with-summary field--label-hidden field--item"><div class="video-embed-field-provider-youtube video-embed-field-responsive-video form-group"><iframe width="854" height="480" frameborder="0" allowfullscreen="allowfullscreen" src="https://www.youtube.com/embed/WEaMka89dM4?autoplay=0&amp;start=0&amp;rel=0"></iframe> </div> <p><i>Woodstock: Three Days that Defined a Generation</i></p> <p>It was by then the early morning of August 16, 1969. After spending the night frolicking in Central Park with me mates, I scurried to my ramshackle, walkup apartment with its bathtub in the kitchen, to bundle together some necessities to head to Woodstock. Sadly, Hypnos, the god of sleep, overpowered my sensibilities, and I conked out.</p> <p>My impatient pals had absconded without me, leaving me without a ride, and instead of bopping to Jefferson Airplane and <a href="https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=P0-ZKaWVYSk" target="_blank">Creedence Clearwater</a>, I was forlornly traipsing to see <i>Easy Rider </i>at an Eastside theater very much alone on a lovely summer day. (I did, though, make it to The Isle of Wight the following year to see the Doors and Tiny Tim. A compensation of sorts.)</p> <p>I thought I had stopped kicking myself over that lost weekend, but now comes the latest documentary on the landmark concert, Barak Goodman's very thorough <i>Woodstock: Three Days that Defined a Generation</i>, and my loss is felt once again.</p> <p>Goodman's briskly paced take spotlights numerous performances (e.g. <a href="https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=l-JW4DKxwQM" target="_blank">Joan Baez</a>; Santana; Crosby, Stills, and Nash), while avoiding being just a collection of concert clips. The doc is far, far more, focusing on the historical and sociological contexts of the event plus the business acumen of those dreaming up the fest and trying to make it a reality against all odds. What was expected to be a dream concert attended by 50 thousand counterculture music lovers became an unwieldy, yet harmonious, three days of peace, love, and music attended by over 400,000. Some hoped this cultural unity among the young would change the world. And it did for a while.</p> <p>Not in a good way argued ultraconservative pundit and supporter of "manly virtue," Harvard professor Harvey C. Mansfield. He insisted in an essay reassessing the era that "the late sixties were a comprehensive disaster for America." Others will argue that Woodstock and its era added one more rung to the ladder climbing towards the achievement of equality for Blacks, women, and the LGBTQI communities.</p> <p>Eventually held on Max Yasgur's 600-acre dairy farm in Bethel, New York, after half a million had already been spent on prepping another site from which the local community rescinded its permission, what led up to the festival was an unrelieved chaos. By the time the first of the 32 acts (Richie Havens) was to perform, the stage was barely completed, and the fence surrounding the venue was not. Consequently, there was no way to charge admission, so Woodstock became a free concert with the folks arriving nonstop by car and foot. One attendee noted: "It was like a field with people growing in it." A hungry, thirsty field. Soon food and water ran out, the Porta Potties were overwhelmed as were the medical staff with a constant flow of bad trips and other medical casualties such as eleven rat bites and one raccoon nip.</p> <p>Rabies aside, what this film does brilliantly is create an immersive experience. While there’s footage of the Vietnam War, Governors Reagan and Rockefeller ranting, plus some conservative backlash, for the most part, the doc is a joyous celebration of often high, half-naked young Americans swaying to song, sliding on mud, chanting, and celebrating the likes of Jimi Hendrix letting loose with a discordant "Star Spangled Banner."</p> <p>Goodman's <i>Woodstock </i>is the ultimate nostalgia journey, yet while the film lives in the past, its message supplies more than an iota of hope that we can get along and make some positive changes in the future. Or as Max Yasgur noted to audience:</p> <blockquote> <p>"The important thing that you’ve proven to the world is that a half a million kids  --  and I call you kids because I have children that are older than you are  -- a half million young people can get together and have three days of fun and music and have nothing but fun and music, and I  --  God Bless You for it!"</p> </blockquote> <p>[<i>Woodstock: Three Days that Defined a Generation </i>had its world premiere at the <a href="https://www.tribecafilm.com/festival" target="_blank">Tribeca Film Festival </a> and will open in New York City on May 24th and in Los Angeles on June 7th.]</p> </div> <section> <h2>Add new comment</h2> <drupal-render-placeholder callback="comment.lazy_builders:renderForm" arguments="0=node&amp;1=3844&amp;2=comment_node_story&amp;3=comment_node_story" token="C7Oly1UztrDM27C4SGXEre6ozfgPUXMuX3ozG5SlDQw"></drupal-render-placeholder> </section> Sat, 18 May 2019 14:19:51 +0000 Brandon Judell 3844 at http://culturecatch.com I Shot Andy Warhol... David Bowie... and Bianca Jagger on a Horse http://culturecatch.com/film/the-incomparable-rose-hartman <span>I Shot Andy Warhol... David Bowie... and Bianca Jagger on a Horse</span> <span><a title="View user profile." href="/users/brandon-judell" lang="" about="/users/brandon-judell" typeof="schema:Person" property="schema:name" datatype="">Brandon Judell</a></span> <span>June 17, 2017 - 12:00</span> <div class="field field--name-field-topics field--type-entity-reference field--label-inline"> <div class="field--label">Topics</div> <div class="field--items"> <div class="field--item"><a href="/film" hreflang="en">Film Review</a></div> </div> </div> <div class="field field--name-field-tags field--type-entity-reference field--label-inline"> <div class="field--label">Tags</div> <div class="field--items"> <div class="field--item"><a href="/taxonomy/term/399" hreflang="en">documentary</a></div> </div> </div> <div class="field field--name-body field--type-text-with-summary field--label-hidden field--item"><div class="video-embed-field-provider-youtube video-embed-field-responsive-video form-group"><iframe width="854" height="480" frameborder="0" allowfullscreen="allowfullscreen" src="https://www.youtube.com/embed/KLfgsoauiEQ?autoplay=0&amp;start=0&amp;rel=0"></iframe> </div> <p>If Andy were still strutting about nowadays, he might just tweak his "In the future, everyone will be world-famous for 15 minutes" to "in the future, everyone will be starring in her own documentary or reality TV series."</p> <p>The latest beneficiary of such a crowd-funded, ego-boosting journey into her past travails is the prickly “Tasmanian Devil of Photography,” octogenarian Rose Hartman. You who are of a certain age, especially those of you with fashionista leanings, will recall this salty soul's snapshots or at least those who were apprehended by her lens: Kate Moss, Steve Rubell, Elizabeth Taylor, Liza Minnelli, Truman Capote, Lenny Kravitz, and Linda Evangelista. Her candid images were mostly taken at society functions, discos, and fashion shows.<!--break--></p> <p>As Hartman insists, "I don’t want a posed face ever."</p> <p>Her initial claim to fame, according to director Otis Mass’s to-the-point documentary, is that Hartman was the first to shoot the backstage carryings-on at the clothing unveilings of Carolina Herrera, Donna Karan, Halston, and the other iconic designers of the late 1970s whose rags we now search for on eBay or view at the Met -- and Hartman kept at it for 35 years. For example, there’s a shot of Calvin Klein enveloped by bare-chested male models, an image that will no doubt bring unflinching delight to some.</p> <p>Now anyone who's witnessed the paparazzi at work knows it can be a truly awful profession. There’s the late hours, endless days, and discomforting weather, all spent hustling with other often sparingly paid photographers, all of whom are awaiting for someone, anyone, who is well known to the masses to show up -- and once that celebrity appears, a mad rush occurs to get the shot. Then there’s the screaming: "Leonardo here!" "Over here, Leonardo!" "Smile, Leonardo!"</p> <p>(Note the photographers snapping away at the Comey hearings, shoulder to shoulder on the floor, all garnering nearly the same shot, except from slightly different angles.) Apparently, the petitely heighted Hartman is a Spartan warrior, one known for wielding her elbows in a judo-like manner on her peers to get a proper shot. Unanimously, both her male and female “pals” interviewed here insist that this survivor of numerous Leica battles is a B-I-T-C-H once she starts shooting. As photojournalist Betina Cirone shares, "Most people, when you mention Rose, they roll their eyes back."</p> <p>In her personal life, she’s only slightly more huggable. She tends to push friends and lovers away. Why? We keep being told because her beloved, handsome dad died quite early. And why the focus on fashion? Because her mother liked to wear elaborate hats and there were copies of Vogue always in the living room.</p> <p>The best parts of this doc are viewing Hartman trying to shape the way she comes across. Her self-awareness is so obvious and her need to not come across as cuddly is never less than fun-tactic. She's almost like a drag queen trying to relive the Cher moment when the chanteuse called David Letterman an "asshole" on air.</p> <p>For this filmic tribute to her survivor status, Hartman early on says she was hoping for several makeup artists, each one correcting the missteps of the previous one. She also wanted a thousand extras, and she desired something a bit more Spielberg-esque. And why not? As she claims, she is the visual historian of the Chiffon Jungle, one who started out as a high school English teacher. Grade that!</p> <p>If she couldn't be glamorous herself, she'd surround herself with "glamorizes," "glitters," the deep-pocketed, and the extravagantly mascara-ed. Maybe some of their specialness would rub off on her, especially at Studio 54, which was one of Hartman's main bases of operation. There she shot legendary Bianca Jagger on a horse. In her photo though, you can't see the totally nude, well-appointed chap leading the steed. Ah, well, one must crop where one must crop.</p> <p>Never less than entertaining, <em>The Incomparable</em> has Hartman relentlessly promoting her latest book, being pushy at art exhibits, and haranguing her director, "You don’t know how to do your job."</p> <p>He replies, "You’re a ballbuster." To Rose, that is no doubt an accolade.</p> </div> <section> </section> Sat, 17 Jun 2017 16:00:42 +0000 Brandon Judell 3592 at http://culturecatch.com