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by Cynthia Fuchs

14 Dec 2011


“In 1997, I was fixing a plate of food in the kitchen,” says Master Sgt. Jerry Ensminger, “Getting ready for the evening news.” What he heard on the TV changed everything: a scientific report linked birth defects and childhood cancers to water contamination at Camp Lejeune, where he and his family had lived. “I dropped my plate, right there. I mean, it was like God was saying to me, ‘Here is a glimmer of hope, that you will find your answer.’” Ensminger’s question concerned the death of his nine-year-old daughter, Janey, some 14 years earlier. She’d had leukemia, and throughout her illness and after her passing, he wondered why. For the rest of Tony Hardmon and Rachel Libert’s Semper Fi: Always Faithful, Ensminger pursues answers, joining with two other victims. Their efforts are made more difficult by military and government efforts to deny responsibility. Screening on 14 December as part of Stranger Than Fiction’s Pre-Winter Season Special series, the documentary follows their alternately frustrating and heartening journey and also advocates for their cause. Given the passion that Ensminger and others bring to the story, Semper Fi mostly needs to observe, though occasional images or empty swings in a back yard or Jerry traipsing through the woods with his hunting rifle (“I come up here to get away from the daily stress”) help to underline its poignancy and also, their perseverance.

See PopMattersreview.

by Gabrielle Malcolm

14 Dec 2011


Good news everyone – he’s back! Tom Baker in a NEW Doctor Who story! Mike Yates (Richard Franklin) of UNIT returns to be re-united with ‘the living ghost’ the best Doctor ever! AND – even better news for our American friends – it’s on the radio. The first episode broadcast was 13th December, and the five-parter will be available on the BBC Radio 4 Extra iPlayer.

In deepest Sussex Yates encounters his old friend after answering a mysterious advertisement. Radio allows us to believe that Baker is, as the characters assert, exactly as he was in the 1970s. When his voice sets up the episode and the old theme tune kicks in, I felt transported! Talk about time travel.

The first episode sets things up very well and both actors carry things off with a sense of great melodramatic splendour. It is a cross between sci-fi and Victorian ghost stories – the best combination for Christmas.

by Adrien Begrand

13 Dec 2011



cover art

Opeth

Heritage

(Roadrunner)
US: 20 Sep 2011
UK: 19 Sep 2011

Review [29.Sep.2011]

Opeth
Heritage


Interestingly, Opeth’s boldest album since its 1996 debut Orchid was also the most natural next step for the Swedish band. Although firmly rooted in extreme metal, Opeth’s music, all written by singer/guitarist Mikael Åkerfeldt, has always been influenced by classic 1970s progressive rock, and as the years have gone by that prog element has been creeping into the band’s music more and more. What’s so remarkable about Heritage is not only how deeply Åkerfeldt immerses himself in prog—there’s nary a death growl to be heard—but how it still feels like an Opeth record. Influences can be heard throughout the album, from Rainbow, to Camel, to the Moody Blues, but Heritage‘s impeccable blend of jazz, rock, and folk make it wholly original. Åkerfeldt won’t rule out returning to the band’s heavier side, but he’s also said this is the first time he’s made a record that sounds like the music he’s an actual fan of. That passion can be heard on Heritage, and is why it feels like a career-defining album.

by Evan Sawdey

13 Dec 2011



cover art

Shelby Lynne

Revelation Road

(Everso)
US: 18 Oct 2011

Review [19.Oct.2011]

Shelby Lynne
Revelation Road


Since branching out on her own Everso label, Shelby Lynne has released three self-produced albums, one of which was a stripped-down holiday disc. Revelation Road immediately stands out as the best she’s put out so far not only because of its rich, meaty production, but also because her songwriting has only gotten better. The gorgeous country burner “Even Angels”, the damn-near-funky title track, and the tender tragedy of “Toss It All Aside” all wind up creating this one of her strongest discs ever. If you haven’t jumped on board the Lynne bandwagon yet, there is no better starting place than here.

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.

//Mixed media
//Blogs

'Who' Will Be the Next Doctor?

// Channel Surfing

"What shall it be? A Doctor with whip-smart delivery of his lines? A woman who will bewitch before she kicks a Dalek's ass? Oh, the possibilities...

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