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Tuesday, Apr 3, 2012

Ah, Twitter. Even the most internet-saturated among us still resist its siren call, its promise of 140-character wit and wisdom. Sure, it might be the most profound waste of time of our age, but it has nonetheless brought out of the woodwork some pretty damn funny people. And when the funny comes in the form of a comic book superhero music critic, well… I hate to tell you this, but you might just have to break down and get a Twitter account.  Just a sampling of the gems…


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Tuesday, Feb 21, 2012
When she first meets Queen Farah, filmmaker Nahid Persson Sarvestani remembers her own past.

When she first meets Queen Farah, filmmaker Nahid Persson Sarvestani remembers her own past. One of the revolutionaries who took to the streets to cheer the banishment of Farah Pahlavi and her husband Mohammad Reza Pahlavi, the Shah of Iran, in 1979, Sarvestani was then targeted by the Ayatollah’s regime. She escaped to Sweden, where she pursued a career as a documentary maker, and now, in an effort to understand her own journey—from a child who admired the queen on television to revolutionary to an exile—Sarvestani asks Farah if she might film her. “Something about her still intrigues me,” she says. Their evolving relationship is revealed in their film, The Queen and I, available on Link TV and online beginning 21 February. As they become what she calls “friends,” Sarvestani comes to appreciate Farah’s complicated life and admire her persistence under duress, even to like her. She finds that they “share a profound longing for the Iran we both love and dream the same dream, to touch its soil again.” The trick here is parsing the “Iran we both love.” While both women deplore the ongoing rigid religious rule and efforts to keep citizens—especially women—ignorant, they remain split on the efficacy and benefits of a monarchy.


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Tuesday, Dec 13, 2011

Yesterday, the Hollywood cast of We Bought a Zoo walked the red carpet in NYC for the Cameron Crowe-directed film’s premiere while, outside the tent, some PETA-protestors made a fuss. The film, out December 23rd in the US, stars Matt Damon, Thomas Haden Church and Scarlett Johansson and is based on a memoir by Benjamin Mee.


Tonight, Crowe is leading a question and answer session with the composer of Zoo‘s score, Jonsi Birgisson, a member of Sigur Ros, in concert with the release of the soundtrack. The event begins at 7 pm EST, but if you aren’t in New York City, you’ll still be able to get a live feed of the event on the internet at either one of these links:
http://jonsi.com/news/live-qa-from-new-york-city
http://www.livestream.com/weboughtazoo.


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Tuesday, Dec 13, 2011

The Brazilian-born racecar driver Ayrton Senna was a phenomenon. And as such, he was filmed, interviewed, and photographed repeatedly throughout his career, images now assembled as the documentary Senna. Available for iTunes rental now via FilmBuff, Asif Kapadia’s film is phenomenal in its own way, as it cuts together multiple images of Senna, under a series of interviews with those individuals who knew and observed him.  The documentary’s brilliance lies in its mix of then and now, both haunting and immediate. In part, this effect is a function of Senna’s own story: his life was famously cut short when in 1994, when his car crashed during Italy’s San Marino Grand Prix. But it’s also produced in the texture of the documentary, the grainy TV clips, the point-of-view driving shots, the footage of drivers, crewmembers, and journalists at work and on display. There’s not a moment of the film that feels staged, but of course, that’s the ingenious fiction of celebrity: by turns thoughtful and frustrated, generous and arrogant, Senna appears here always past and ever present, an image constructed out of dreams and needs, an image that’s simultaneously made up and sincere, abstract and irresistible, history and myth.


See PopMattersreview.



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Tuesday, Nov 15, 2011

When Shell Oil decided to run a pipeline through Rossport, in northwest County Mayo, Ireland, the company did its best to convince residents the project would be in their interest. The company tried the usual sorts of tactics, cajoling, bribing, pitting neighbor against neighbor, but the community—even when they argued with one another—came to understand themselves as a force to be reckoned with, one the American corporation could not take for granted. The process of such self-understanding is at once gradual and vivid, tracked in Rísteard Ó Domhnaill’s remarkable documentary, The Pipe. Filmed over four years and available from FilmBuff beginning 15 November, the film follows the conflict and reveals the complex reactions of and interactions within the community. One longtime resident, Monica Müller, describes the encounter with Shell this way: “Rude people that don’t care tell you go away, go out… They want to build a pipeline to get from A to B.” As she sees it, “The landscape doesn’t mean anything to them. Otherwise, they would find a route that would make more sense.”


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