“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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The critically lauded Emmaar was released this year, its song “Arhegh Danagh” being an excellent showcase for Tinariwen’s ability to create hypnotic song structures which still retain traces of founder Ibrahim Ag Alhabib’s pop influences.
This month sees Tinariwen embarking on a US tour beginning in Pomona, California for the Moon Block Party Festival and culminating in November with an appearance at the Daniel Lanois-curated event “Anti-thesis” at Brooklyn, New York’s Masonic Temple, a bill that features such quality acts as Lonnie Holley, the Antlers, and Lanois himself. The video for “Arhegh Danagh”, premiering below, should give ticket holders a keen idea of what to expect from Tinariwen’s North American jaunt.
Additionally, an EP entitled Inside / Outside: Joshua Tree Acoustic Sessions, is out today and features five acoustic songs recorded in tandem with Emmaar.
That set-up is unmistakable. From there, though, the similarities break down, giving way to a merrily profane repurposing. This is the Last Supper as a Brooklyn bacchanalia, complete with ecstatic dancing, a saxophone bong, food fights, and a guest list that includes Santigold, Sky Ferreira, Hamilton Leithauser of the Walkmen and other indie notables. There’s also a mystery dude in a balaclava at the center of everything. (Who knows?) It’s a wild and romping video for a wild and romping song.
“Nobody knew how the revolution would end, but the event itself was extraordinary,” says Masud Kimiai, “And full of idealism and beauty.” As the director of Snake Fang (Dandan-e-mar) and The Journey of the Stone (Safar Sang) remembers the Iranian Revolution in 1979, you see a mix of footage, crowds waving flags in the street and women dropping flowers from balconies, and a few shots later, police chasing after citizens, helmets white and guns raised. Most viewers of Iran: A Cinematographic Revolution, will know that this shift from exhilaration to fear and aggression had its seeds in decades of corruption and resentment, in weak internal infrastructures and not-so-secret interventions by the West. What may be less well known is how closely the film industry in Iran has mapped, anticipated, and helped to shape the nation’s political movements and fractures.
This story is unveiled in Nader Takmil Homayoun’s 2006 documentary, available now on Link TV‘s excellent broadcast and online series, A Bridge to Iran. In tracing how movies in Iran have been put to use by both Reza Shah Pahlevi and his son, and the fundamentalist religious regime under Khomeini, the film makes the broader point, that media shape, support, and can challenge other regimes, even when those regimes don’t think of themselves as such.
The Internet offers a plethora of options for those interested in reading insightful and relevant content about popular culture. But, sometimes you need to get your cultural fix while working out, cooking dinner, or sitting in traffic. The exhilarating world of podcasting opens up new opportunities for pop culture analysis in the relatively young medium. However, as is the case with the written word, it can often be difficult to separate the podcasting wheat from the chaff. For every intelligent and well-produced episode, there are hundreds of rambling, amateurish productions available for download on a daily basis. Here is a list of ten particularly rewarding podcasts covering the worlds of film, television, music, and literature. I always look forward to seeing new episodes of the following pop up on my iPhone:
#10: Film Junk
Although it took me a while to get into this podcast initially, it is now prominent in my regular rotation. Three movie fans from St. Catherines, Ontario talk weekly for a couple of hours about all aspects of the cinema, from movie news, to trailer trash, to reviews of new releases. While this podcast leans dangerously towards irrelevant rambling on occasion, the hosts are amusing enough that they are entertaining to listen to even when they talk about hockey or their collections of Star Wars memorabilia. The insights of documentary filmmaker and co-host Jay Cheel are of particular interest.