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by Cynthia Fuchs

13 Dec 2011


When Bruce Ratner announced the Atlantic Yards development project in Brooklyn in 2003, he brought along noteworthy supporters, from architect Frank Gehry to New Jersey Nets minority owner Jay-Z to Mayor Mike Bloomberg. They all touted the arena as a way to create jobs, to improve the local economy, to bring new life. It hasn’t quite worked out that way, as documented in Battle for Brooklyn.

Troubles began when some residents of “the footprint” resisted being moved. Their resistance led to the corporation bringing in the state government, who cited “eminent domain” as a rubric for claiming the land, that is, the expropriation of private property for the public good. And oh yes, primary “public” beneficiary was to be Forest City Ratner Companies. Local resistance galvanized ROUND EXACTLY THAT APPARENT OVERSIGHT. Screening on 13 December as part of Stranger Than Fiction’s Pre-Winter Season Special—and followed by a Q&A with directors Suki Hawley and Michael Galinsky—the film follows one resident in particular, Daniel Goldstein, a graphic designer who can’t imagine how his life will be changed by his commitment to the project. Goldstein and other residents resent the implication that they matter so little as to be considered “practically from scratch.” To be sure, not all residents feel this way: some believe the promises made by Ratner, Brooklyn Borough president Marty Markowitz, Mayor Bloomberg, and Senator Chuck Schumer, that the development will bring employment opportunities to Brooklyn and improve material and economic conditions going forward. (Senator Schumer’s misspeaking during a press conference may or may not be telling: “Basketball is great, but you know what enervates me about this? 10,000 jobs!”) As the Atlantic Yards project divides the community, it inspires a range of responses, from placards in residential and commercial windows and street protests to local organizing and full-on media campaigns.

See PopMattersreview.

by Sachyn Mital

13 Dec 2011


Yesterday, the Hollywood cast of We Bought a Zoo walked the red carpet in NYC for the Cameron Crowe-directed film’s premiere while, outside the tent, some PETA-protestors made a fuss. The film, out December 23rd in the US, stars Matt Damon, Thomas Haden Church and Scarlett Johansson and is based on a memoir by Benjamin Mee.

Tonight, Crowe is leading a question and answer session with the composer of Zoo‘s score, Jonsi Birgisson, a member of Sigur Ros, in concert with the release of the soundtrack. The event begins at 7 pm EST, but if you aren’t in New York City, you’ll still be able to get a live feed of the event on the internet at either one of these links:
http://jonsi.com/news/live-qa-from-new-york-city
http://www.livestream.com/weboughtazoo.

by Christian John Wikane

13 Dec 2011



cover art

Lalah Hathaway

Where It All Begins

(Stax/Concord)
US: 18 Oct 2011

Review [13.Dec.2011]

Lalah Hathaway
Where It All Begins


A journey of musical greatness begins here. The 12 songs on Where It All Begins represent a new benchmark in Lalah Hathaway’s two-decade career, reflecting the singer’s impressive stylistic range. Hathaway satisfies many appetites on the album yet there’s a continuity between each song. The acoustic-pop orientation of “Wrong Way”—four minutes of absolute perfection—yields to Hathaway’s well-conceived cover of “You Were Meant For Me”, the last solo single her father Donny Hathaway released before his untimely passing. The contagious bounce of “If You Want To” increases the club quotient while “Always Love You” provides a cool-down. Hathaway’s voice sets “Lie to Me” afire above a jagged rhythm and sweetens the melody on the lullaby-like “Dreamland”. Amidst artists that are chasing the next-big-producer or trend, Lalah Hathaway is just doing what feels right and, in the process, raising the standard for our expectations.

by Cynthia Fuchs

13 Dec 2011


The Brazilian-born racecar driver Ayrton Senna was a phenomenon. And as such, he was filmed, interviewed, and photographed repeatedly throughout his career, images now assembled as the documentary Senna. Available for iTunes rental now via FilmBuff, Asif Kapadia’s film is phenomenal in its own way, as it cuts together multiple images of Senna, under a series of interviews with those individuals who knew and observed him.  The documentary’s brilliance lies in its mix of then and now, both haunting and immediate. In part, this effect is a function of Senna’s own story: his life was famously cut short when in 1994, when his car crashed during Italy’s San Marino Grand Prix. But it’s also produced in the texture of the documentary, the grainy TV clips, the point-of-view driving shots, the footage of drivers, crewmembers, and journalists at work and on display. There’s not a moment of the film that feels staged, but of course, that’s the ingenious fiction of celebrity: by turns thoughtful and frustrated, generous and arrogant, Senna appears here always past and ever present, an image constructed out of dreams and needs, an image that’s simultaneously made up and sincere, abstract and irresistible, history and myth.

See PopMattersreview.

by Cynthia Fuchs

12 Dec 2011


Breathing. When you watch bodies in Wim Wenders’ Pina, you hear and see them breathing. In a movie about dancers—about the work of dancers, their efforts to tell stories, to move audiences—this is no small thing. And in this, the 3D imaging is actually more helpful than distracting: it focuses your attention on what the dancers’ bodies do, in space, in relation to one another and in relation to the costumes and props they use, which range from chairs and tables (in Café Müller) to dirt (Rite of Spring) to water (Vollmund). And in this, the film is a revelation.

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