“Every time he went away on a trip, on a mission, he’d leave me a letter,” Nestor Cerpa Jr. explains, “Because there was always a risk something would happen to him.” The letter Cerpa reads at the beginning of The Siege is the last one his father wrote, before he led a group of guerrillas from the MRTA (the Tupac Army Revolutionary Movement) against President Alberto Fujimoro’s government in Peru. As Bentley Dean and Elise West’s documentary shows, in 1996, this mission didn’t go as Cerpa might have hoped. As survivors remember what happened during the 126 days that the group held the Japanese Ambassador’s residence in Lima, the film cuts repeatedly to footage taken at the time. The press had remarkable access, as administration officials, police and military officers, released hostages, and the hostage takers made use of television cameras to make their cases. In so doing, the participants expanded the inadvertent blueprints for making spectacles out of such confrontations, established by hijackers during the 1960s, recalibrated during the 1972 Munich Olympics, and revisited by the events of 9/11. The documentary—airing now on ITVS’ Global Voices and available as well on Snag Films—smartly reveals the thrilling, horrific, and also absurd aspects of such performances, then and now.
Latest Blog Posts
Boston’s the Grownup Noise are one of those perfectly named bands whose moniker sums up their aesthetic to a tee. Given that the group came together at Berklee College of Music, it’s not surprising that their’s is a musicianship of the first order, nor that the five members exhibit a devotion to classic pop composition, simultaneously laden with hooks and rich in texture. Furthermore, each member is a multi-instrumentalist, thus contributing to the expansive sound. Now, that’s very grownup, indeed. The Grownup Noise released their debut back in 2007 and have toured with Rock Plaza Central, Thao with the Get Down Stay Down, and Amanda Palmer in the intervening years while honing a set of all-new material. That has culminated in their latest release, This Time With Feeling, which released this June. Today we proudly present the premiere of the band’s latest video directed by John Tomma of Extraneous Noise and filmed at Middle East in Boston on 26 March 2011. You can also sample a few MP3s after the jump.
“The block is quiet,” remembers Ameena Matthews, “And I’m looking down the street, and here come the sisters of the guy that got his tooth knocked out. They came to defend the brother’s honor with a butcher knife.” She means to make a difference in this all too common scenario. A Violence Interrupter, Matthews works with the group CeaseFire in Inglewood, CA, whose efforts are at the center of The Interrupters. Producer/director Steve James and author-turned-producer Alex Kotlowitz’s magnificent documentary reveals how the group is taking a different approach to gang violence, how it works to intervene in usual cycles. “People believe in punishment,” says epidemiologist and CeaseFire co-founder Gary Slutkin, because when “you punish a young person, he stops. But he actually learns to mimic the punishment.” If the task is daunting, CeaseFire members are courageous. In spite of missteps and steps back, in spite of the many times that the interrupters attend funerals and console grieving parents, they try again and again. If they can stop one act of violence, they might stop another.
See PopMatters’ review.
The Smiths will be releasing a ginormous boxset (as of this writing) on 3 October 2011. The boxset, whose enormity is only eclipsed by Morrissey’s louder-than-bombs personality, contains remastered versions of eight albums, on vinyl and on CD, as well as a slew of 7” singles and, we’re sure, all kinds of other goodies.
Since the Smiths’ music is gifted with the ability to inspire both ecstasy and misery, sometimes simultaneously, it’s not surprise that this boxset will do the same. For starters, it’s limited to 3,000 copies worldwide. It also represents somewhere around the 10th or 11th time that a good portion of the band’s music has been repackaged and resold to their faithful fans. Finally, it is, quite likely, cost prohibitive for most of us. Is it at all possible to shoplift from a website? [Pitchfork]
The Answer—Allen Iverson—has always provoked questions. Steve James’ documentary, No Crossover: The Trial of Allen Iverson, revisits some of these, beginning with a look back at the trial held in Hampton, Virginia, where the “high school phenom” then lived. The filmmaker also grew up in Hampton, and his father B.J., an avid local sports fan, drew his attention to Iverson, whose trial commenced while James was living in Chicago. In the film the trial is at once specific, concerning Iverson’s involvement in a fight at a local bowling alley on Valentine’s Day, 1993. Charged with “maiming by mob,” Iverson and some classmates became vehicles for a harrowing exposure of the town’s racial divisions. In the film, James sorts through legal and political intersections, talking with community members, lawyers, protestors, and sports writers, as well as his own mother. James himself becomes an interview subject, when his black camera operator Keith Walker asks about his relationship to Hampton’s racist history. The film is at once attentive to that history and relentlessly metaphorical, reminding everybody of what they know and what they’d like to forget.
No Crossover kicks off the Steve James Master Class on 28 July at Maysles Cinema.