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by Cynthia Fuchs

20 Sep 2011


The Chile of Patricio Guzmán’s childhood is long gone, a collective history he’s explored in other films. But Nostalgia for the Light (Nostalgia de la luz), now available on DVD from Icarus Films, looks at that history in brilliant new ways, articulating two searches for the past. One is a pursuit of scientific knowledge, the evidence to support theories of how life began and what might be coming for the planet earth; it’s conducted by astronomers via the world’s largest optical telescope (called the European Extremely Large Telescope, or E-ELT) located in Chile’s Atacama desert. The other, ongoing since 1990, is undertaken by the relatives of victims of August Pinochet’s dictatorship: they seek remains and stories, knowledge of how their loved ones died. Both searches, the film points out, involve bodies, material and celestial, and both are endless. As the documentary draws parallels, it also points out the elusiveness of understanding. The past is ineluctably the present, bodies of all kinds exist in cycles, as the astronomer Valentina Rodríguez explains. At the same time, past and present, she is also the daughter of two of the disappeared. “What happened to my parents and their absence takes on another dimension” when she studies the stars, she says. “It takes on another meaning and frees me a little from this great suffering, as I feel nothing really comes to an end.” 

See PopMattersreview.

by Gabrielle Malcolm

19 Sep 2011


Roland Emmerich is really putting the cat among the pigeons; and he is taking eminent Shakespearean actors along with him, such as Sir Derek Jacobi, Vanessa Redgrave, and Mark Rylance (former artistic director of the London Globe Theatre) in his pursuit to create a ‘reasonable doubt’ in the minds of audiences about the authorship of Shakespeare’s plays.

Emmerich’s forthcoming film Anonymous is to be released on October 28th and seeks to establish a dramatic angle for Edward de Vere,the Earl of Oxford (Rhys Ifans), as the secret aristocratic author of the plays, who uses the humble actor Will Shakespeare (Rafe Spall) as his front in the escapade. All very conspiracy theory, as is Emmerich’s trademark, but not very original. That being said – things are hotting up in the build-up to the release date. The ‘pigeons’ are fighting back with a vengeance.

by Zachary Houle

19 Sep 2011


I grew up in the small town of Barry’s Bay, Ontario, Canada—basically the last major pit stop for those heading west along Highway 60 into the wilds of the internationally renowned and enormous Algonquin Park to camp, canoe, and generally get away from the hustle and bustle of modern life. When you live in such a small town, it’s a rarity that you get a gem of a band that essentially eschews playing mostly covers. But what amounts to being my home town band growing up, the Fireweed Company (formerly known as just Fireweed), really took the road less travelled: while they could turn in a blistering version of Tom Petty’s “American Girl” at shows at the local hockey rink, they were – and are – the rare small town band unafraid to wade into the waters of playing mostly original material. And strong original material at that. The band, revolving around the core nucleus of singer/acoustic guitarist Jayson Bradshaw and lead guitarist Steve Gutoskie, has turned in just two albums in nearly 20 years of performing together: 1994’s criminally now out-of-print Drinking Man, and the somewhat more easier to find (in the Ottawa Valley, at least) As Long As You Know ... from 2007. They can performs to crowds to up to 800 people in my old stomping grounds, which is a pretty big feat considering only a few thousand folk live in the area, but they remain hereto unknown by the rest of the world.

by Cynthia Fuchs

19 Sep 2011


“I saw my own writing when I was investigating these cases,” says Judge Juan Guzmán, “Now, 30 years later, some of my witnesses filed those petitions.” He’s talking about the “more than 10,000 habeas corpus petitions” rejected during Augustus Pinochet’s regime, petitions filed in search of answers, or at least some rudimentary legal assistance, in learning the fates of over 3,000 Chilean citizens who had disappeared. Three decades later, Guzmán is appointed to investigate Pinochet, to bring to light the system of imprisonment, torture, and execution that was for so hidden. “It’s a denial of justice of the judiciary didn’t do anything, ” he says of the petitions he and other judges signed. Guzmán‘s sense of tragedy and culpability is laced through Patricio Lanfranco and Elizabeth Farnsworth’s moving documentary, The Judge and the General. Cutting between then and now, the film makes clear how hard Guzmán works to dig up the past, and also how hard people three decades ago had to work to deny what Pinochet was doing. As an object lesson concerning the abuse and expansion of government powers and secrecy, the film is uncomfortably germane for many viewers today, including viewers in the U.S. As focused as they may be on the difficulties and details of their daily lives, all citizens are ultimately responsible.

See PopMattersreview.

by PopMatters Staff

16 Sep 2011


New Zealand’s the Phoenix Foundation continues on the path of the smart, crisp and shining pop set by their Kiwi forbearers, artists like the Clean and the Chills. The British press has been all over this group with The Times calling them “New Zealand’s finest purveyors of psychedelic pop” and The Guardian tagging their latest record, Buffalo, as “an album that already seems destined to be among the best of 2011”. Sadly they have gone fairly under the radar in the US up to this point, even as Buffalo got a US release back on 14 June. Look for that to finally change with the deluxe edition release of Buffalo here in the States on 18 October. This latest edition will be an iTunes exclusive. The tune we are premiering today, “Bright Grey”, is a bonus track off the new deluxe edition, but it just as easuly sounds like the A-side of a hit single, which shows just how deep this band’s catalogue of tunes is.

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