“Aileen,” calls out Nick Broomfield near the end of Aileen: Life and Death of a Serial Killer, “I’m sorry.” At that moment, she’s being led away by two prison guards, following her final interview with the filmmaker. Apparently furious that the questions have veered toward the murders for which she’s on Florida’s death row, Wuornos has cut off the meeting, exercising the only control she has over her experience at that moment. She turns back to the camera one last time and raises her middle finger.
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Everyone has their favorites. That general rule holds true even for critics, with all their high-minded ideas about what art can be and their five-dollar words. Over time, it’s natural that some artists become Great Artists, those who never fail to get critics riled up every time they announce a new release. In the present day, artists such as Kanye West and David Lynch have culled rabidly devoted fanbases that will seemingly praise whatever they put out for the world to see or hear.
In accepting the Academy Award for Best Documentary Feature on Sunday night. Laura Poitras focused, as always, on the significance of transparency and visibility. As the film she made with Glenn Greenwald and Ed Snowden reveals, such democratic ideals remain at risk by the American government’s activities and attitudes. For all the daunting information Citizenfour reveals it asks you not only to see, but also to take responsible for what you see. Sometimes, the film offers long, nearly meditative takes of exteriors, the Hong Kong hotel from afar, implacably shiny, or distant views of dully thunk-thunking machinery at a new NSA data collection facility under construction in Bluffsdale, Utah, and near film’s end, a long shot of a kitchen window, showing Snowden and his partner Lindsay Mills, in their for-now home in Moscow, quiet, ordinary, perfectly framed.
In this inaugural edition of PopTalk, a new podcast on PopMatters, Evan Sawdey and Brice Ezell take a look at the controversial slate of Oscar nominations for the 2015 ceremonies. From there, they examine the other problems that occur in large award ceremonies like the Oscars, the Grammys, and the Emmys. Topics include the limited rules for what constitutes a “Best Original Score”, the exclusion of minority artists by predominately white voting blocs, and the refusal of certain award ceremonies to break their predictable trends.
“I’m not the weak one,” says Lucy. One time, she goes on, she “pinned down a boy.” A student at the Terry McArdle Free School, eight-year-old Lucy is doing her best to establish a place, a voice, and some respect among her fellow students and also her teachers. As Approaching the Elephant, Amanda Rose Wilder’s remarkable new film reveals, this is an ideal fostered at the school, founded by Alex Khost and modeled after the experiment started in Barcelona in 1901, a protest against the “reading, writing, and arithmetic model of education that came from the industrial revolution’s need for factory workers.” The participants at Terry McArdle, students and staff. Work together to craft structure, to discover independence, and to build community.
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