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Thursday, Sep 27, 2012

The bodies in the cemetery in Culiacán, Mexico are numerous. Many of them died young, victims of Mexico’s drug wars. Gang members and police officers, bystanders and wannabes, the dead appear sometimes in reports on the TV that the cemetery’s watchman runs at night, by way of a makeshift antenna. He listens and you hear that some 11,000 have been killed this past month alone, some 21,915 so far during Felipe Calderón’s presidency. You come to realize, late in Natalia Almada’s superb El Velador (The Night Watchman), that the year is 2009. It’s a year when Arturo Beltrán Leyva has been killed, “the capo of capos,” gone. But the process goes on, the deaths accumulate, and debts, so vigorously pursued, remain unpaid. The film—airing 27 September as as part of PBS’ terrific POV documentary series, and online starting 28 September—offers impressions of death and life too, shots of mausoleums under construction and children playing as their mothers clean gravestones. It also poses questions, focusing on the expansive land of the cemetery, so soon to be filled, the workers who do fill the empty space, on the sky and ground littered with structures. All serve as memorials to lives and deaths.


See PopMattersreview.


Watch El Velador (The Night Watchman) - Trailer on PBS. See more from POV.


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Sunday, Jul 22, 2012

“I think the really important part of this trip,” says Heather Tehrani, “is for Alex’s dad to have completion of our wedding.” Just so, the couple—both born in the US—plan to travel from New York City, where they live, to Iran, where they mean to have a second, Muslim, wedding ceremony. The trip will be complicated, as travel between the US and Iran has been for decades, and their parents—in particular their fathers—are not inclined to support it. The complications are documented in Arusi Persian Wedding, a film by Alex’s sister Marjan Tehrani available on Global Voices and online Global Voices beginning on 22 July. While the wedding provides compelling visuals and some minor melodrama (concerning Heather’s decision to convert, on paper, to Islam from her vague Christianity, as well as her dress, as the one she brings along from the States must be replaced, according to her new relatives and family friends), the film is most interesting as it integrates its personal stories within a broad historical context.


See PopMatters‘s review.



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Monday, Jul 2, 2012

“You know what is interesting?” posits Marina Abramović. “After 40 years of people thinking you’re insane and you should be put in mental hospital, you final actually get all this acknowledgement. It takes such a long to take it seriously.” As the artist speaks, she’s having her hair styled, for yet another performance. From stage to art installation to interview ad back again, Abramović is, as MoMA curator Klaus Biesenbach explains, “never not performing.” As she presents this process in the outstanding documentary Marina Abramović: The Artist is Present—which premieres on HBO 2 July—you become aware of not only of how she conceives and plans a show (for instance, Marina Abramović: The Artist is Present, for which she sat with audience members, one at a time, for seven hours a day, six days a week, from 14 March through 31 May 2010), but also how she conceives of time, how bodies occupy and endure it. “Marina is an artist that visualizes time, using her body in the space with the audience,” says Biesenbach. “By the mere duration, she brings time in as a weight, a weight on the performer’s shoulders taking a piece out of the performer’s life as a value.” At the same time—so to speak—the performance showcases that viewers also perform, and that your experience is a function of time, produced by time and in time—present, for a moment, anyway.


See PopMattersreview.



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Thursday, Jun 28, 2012

With Granito: How to Nail a Dictator, Pamela Yates returns to Guatemala, nearly 30 years after the release of her 1983 documentary, When the Mountains Tremble. Premiering on POV 28 June, the documentary begins with a section called “Chronicle Foretold,” delving into the case being built in a Madrid court (the same court that indicted Augusto Pinochet) against two of the generals charged with perpetrating a genocidal campaign against the Mayan people of Guatemala. Estimates have it that 200,000 Mayans were massacred during this war, by a government and military that claimed to be fighting communism, but was also consolidating power. When, in 2005, the extensive secret police archives are discovered by accident, the case seems to take a turn. Granito weaves together Yates’ involvement with the court case and two other narrative threads—the digging up of Mayan Disappeared’s remains and a rumination on Yates’ own naiveté concerning the ultimate effects of such excavations. At the same time, it makes a broader, frankly tragic point, that proof can’t always lead to justice.


See PopMattersreview.



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Thursday, Jul 7, 2011
by Michelle Eggers
In honor of Transformers: Dark of the Moon's release this past weekend, we tip our hats to all the amazing robots and robettes who've entertained us through the years.

(Xomba.com)—In honor of Transformers: Dark of the Moon‘s release this past weekend, we tip our hats to all the amazing robots and robettes who’ve entertained us through the years. Whether they are adorable, hilarious, terrifying, sultry, humane or just straight-up bad ass, they offer us something that no human counterpart ever could: they can recharge our cell phones.


 
10. Teddy (A.I. Artificial Intelligence, film, 2001) Voiced by Jack Angel


Who was it that said robots can’t be cuddly? Truth be told, I’d put this character higher on the list, but then most of you would spit at me. In an attempt at objectivity, I’ll recognize that Teddy maybe didn’t have the deepest of roles or character development, but, you know what? He is so adorable he’s in the Top 3 list of Things That Make Me Melt, and he displays the kind of loyalty and simplistic wisdom most of us wish we had in our lives. Also, he’s the most perfect teddy bear I’ve ever seen outside of a teddy bear picnic, and look at that walk, guys! I tear up almost every time I see that lil guy stumble so preciously over his furry paws. OK, you can move on to the next robot. I’m just going to snuggle in a warm blanket with this one for a bit.


Memorable robot quote: “I am not a toy.”



Tagged as: list this, robots
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