For their new video, “All Your Light (Times Like These)”, Portland’s Portugal. The Man. passed the reigns over to filmmakers Justin Kramer and Lee Hardcastle. The pair created a clever claymation treatment which depicts an epic struggle for survival in a dangerous world of colorful caves and plastic cups. When singer/songwriter John Gourley begins the song with the lyrics, “I’m just a shadow of a bigger man,” the sculpted creatures represent far more than what is really just molded clay. The song is off of this year’s release, In the Mountain. In the Cloud.
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With a new tour about to begin David Bazan fans can get a little taste of the man in action with bassist Andy Fitts and drummer Alex Westcoat via a new Daytrotter session (Bazan’s third) and an appearance on the venerable Austin City Limits. The Daytrotter session finds the band running through three tracks—“Eating Paper”, “Level With Yourself” and “Virginia” with an intensity that bodes well for the group’s upcoming performances.
With this year’s Strange Negotiations continuing to garner the onetime Pedro The Lion man critical acclaim, the road seems the perfect place for Bazan to connect with fans, which he will be doing straight through the middle of December, starting in Spokane, Washington and ending in Eugene, Oregon. Although those bookends might make it seem as though Bazan isn’t really traveling all that far, the tour winds through the middle of the country, to the south and southwest before he brings it all back home.
In the burning season in Indonesia, farmers clear the land, in order to develop palm oil plantations. Achmadi is one of these farmers, introduced at the start of Cathy Henkel’s documentary The Burning Season, in 2007. Such deforestation destroys the habitats of endangered orangutans, and also comprises 20% of global carbon emissions. The film looks at the problem from multiple angles, including Achmadi’s and also 29-year-old Australian entrepreneur Dorjee Sun. A green activist and millionaire (owing to a successful recruitment software company and the creative agency, Joosed), Sun plans to “capitalize on climate change,” and help to save the planet at the same time, by selling carbon credits. Once Sun secures an agreement among three of Indonesia’s governors, the film follows him as he travels around the globe, pitching the idea to banks, Starbucks, eBay, and other corporations. His presentations appeal to their bottom lines: there is money to be made in such investments (a helpful bit of animation shows dollar signs hanging off tree branches). The film cuts back to Achmadi in tears, worrying about his family’s survival in the face of increasing restrictions and clampdowns on burning: “Who cares about us?” he worries. “They talk about arrests and bans on burning the forest. I’m already scared of losing my head.” Sun hasn’t forgotten: he hopes to put farmers to work in other ways and save the orangutans he remembers adoring as a child.
Following a premiere at the Tribeca Film festival in 2009, as well as a turn on PBS’ documentary series, Wide Angle in 2008, the film is now available on demand from FilmBuff.
See PopMatters’ review of the film as it appeared on PBS’ Wide Angle.
Debbie Peagler was shocked when her boyfriend, Oliver Wilson, revealed his intention to pimp her. It didn’t occur to her that when he offered to take her “somewhere special,” he meant she’d be turning her first trick. “I’m like, freaking out,” she says now, “I’m not gonna have sex with that man, I don’t know that man.” The pair of prostitutes who were supposed to instruct her urged Debbie to go along, otherwise, “Your pimp’s gonna beat you.” She didn’t believe that either, Debbie says. “Oliver would never do that.” Of course, he would. “He hauled off and slapped the crap out of me,” she says. And it wasn’t long before Oliver was beating her regularly, with a bullwhip, though he never hit her in the face. Debbie’s story is too familiar, the cycle too well known: her mother was battered, she was battered, and Oliver watched his father batter his own mother. She was convicted of killing Oliver in 1983, or more precisely, of leading Oliver to the place where two Crips gang members (neighbors who felt Oliver had stepped over a line when he “used to beat on [Debbie] like she was a guy”) beat and strangled him to death.
There are “thousands and thousands of Debbies across the United States,” as one lawyer puts it in Crime After Crime: The Battle to Free Debbie Peagler. Still, her story is also extraordinary. The film—airing on OWN Documentary Club this month—tells another story, concerning her lawyers Nadia Costa and Joshua Safran’s innovative legal strategies, including their decision to use Yoav Potash’s film to help make Debbie’s case more visible.
See PopMatters’ review.
Guitarist extraordinaire Keb Mo has made a bit of a shift in his career of late, taking up residence in Nashville and becoming celebrated on the Americana circuit. It’s truly a good home for him and offers up a wealth of new musical possibilities to the Compton born musician, steeped in the traditions of the Delta Blues. His recent performance at the Americana Music Festival brought the house down and was a breath of fresh air, breathing some blues grooves into the Americana mix. What Mo is up to at the moment is putting out a brand new Christmas record as a digital EP. We Call It Christmas is available now on iTunes and we’re pleased to present the online premiere of the title tune “We Call It Christmas” today to get you in the early holiday spirit.