Earlier this week, director George Lucas, executive producer and writer of the new movie Red Tails, was the guest on The Daily Show. As he sat down with Jon Stewart, Lucas discussed the difficulties of getting Hollywood to market “one of the first all-black action pictures ever made”. Lucas indicated that the movie studios did not have incentive to release this movie since it was not “green” (which both Stewart and I interpreted as environmental initially) and they would not know how to profit off of it. Additionally, “They don’t believe there’s any foreign market for it, and that’s 60% of their profit”.
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The London band Fanfarlo appeared on the music scene with their solid debut release, Reservoir, back in 2009. The quintet’s rich textures of instrumentation included trumpet, mandolin, clarinet and musical saw, offering a quirky spin on their indie pop vibe. There is a new video for a song off the upcoming sophomore release due out in February, Rooms Filled With Light. Director Tim Nackashi came up with the idea for “Shiny Things” with the group, but they are nowhere to be seen. Instead, three gymnasts are presenting a routine to a three judges panel in a cold, stark room before one of them falls and is hauled away. Singer Simon Balthazar told NPR that it’s a song about giving things up, and this young woman becomes a sacrifice in short order. The band will tour throughout the U.S. and Canada beginning in March and without experiencing even a quick appearance in the video, it’ll just make fans miss them more.
I worry about the members of A Place to Bury Strangers. First, they instructed us to fix the gashes in our heads, which suggests that we all did something that resulted in us receiving gashes in our heads. Then, they wrote a record about exploding heads. And now, they are directing us Onwards to the Wall. Dudes, we here in the USA still haven’t quite worked out all the kinks in all that universal health care stuff. Therefore, you might want to go easy on the head-bashing-wall-running-into thing.
And all of you, PopMatters readers, should probably turn down your speakers as you watch the following video for the band’s newest single “So Far Away”. The band is still unbearably loud, and we here in the USA still haven’t worked out all the kinks in all that universal health care stuff.
Sing Your Song‘s focus on political activism—its relationship to celebrity, whether a star owns it or not—mirrors that of its subject. As Harry Belafonte recalls here, his inclination to activism was ignited early, as a boy whose mother worked as a domestic, and who sent him and his brother to live with relatives in Jamaica: “Almost all the songs that I later came to sing,” he says, “were songs that I heard among the people, the peasants, my family, at the time.” The film shows photos of Jamaican workers, children and the shoreline, as he credits his mother for making him believe “There was nothing in life that I could not aspire to.” Belafonte took Paul Robeson as a model, and the notorious official efforts to suppress Robeson’s “song”—the blacklisting, the FBI and CIA surveillance, and the revocation of his US passport in 1950—hover over Belafonte’s story, along with Robeson’s advice to him: “Get them to sing your song, and they’ll want to know who you are.” Belafonte used his popularity—his appeal to “white teenyboppers” along with other fans all over the world—to show the intersections of art and politics.
See PopMatters’ review.
“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, whose efforts are at the center of the magnificent documentary, The Interrupters. Following the experiences of several Interrupters, the film 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 remain courageous, determined, and brilliantly flexible when necessary. 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.
Nominated for an Independent Spirit Award, winner of the 2011 Chicago Film Critics Association Award for Best Documentary, and also two 2012 Cinema Eye Awards, for Outstanding Achievement in Direction and Outstanding Achievement in Nonfiction Feature Filmmaking, the film is screening on 12 January at Stranger Than Fiction as a Pre-Winter Season Special Event, followed by a Q&A with producer/director Steve James. It will also be airing on Frontline on 14 February as part of OBS’ broadcast schedule for Black History Month.
See PopMatters’ review.
Sci-Fi Author Ursula LeGuin's Stories of Class War, Religious Dissension, Identity Politics and More