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Friday, May 20, 2011
The far right holds a music festival...

Keep your government hands off my Medicare – and put on a music festival! The Freedom Jamboree will take place 28 September – 2 October in Kansas City, Kansas. The event will feature a slew of acts, from politicos to such musical artists as Chris Ross, Nathan Mann, Jon David Kahn, Najee, J-Shin, Jay Smoove, Toots Sweet, Chris Cassone, Jayquan, the Supremes, Tito Puente, Jr., Lonnie Smith, James De La Raza, Debbie K., Sherry Marquelle, Jeremy Dodge, Wes Hotchkiss, Chuck Day, Jordan Page, Lisa Mei Norton, Joyce Shaffer, and Krista Branch. One musician, Jordan Page, promises a “politically and spiritually based assault on the corruption of government and empire.”Moreover, Minnesota Rep. Michele Bachmann has been invited to the festival. Exactly what sort of song would she sing?


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Thursday, Mar 24, 2011
Part political investigation and part cultural critique, Alex Gibney's brilliant documentary is also a series of intricate performance pieces.

Part political investigation and part cultural critique, Alex Gibney’s brilliant documentary is also a series of intricate performance pieces. As Eliot Spitzer and others describe the trajectory of his New York career, all do their best to shape the story, and also to make their versions seem honest and insightful. As AG and as governor, Spitzer pursued Wall Street corruption, inspiring the enmity of some very powerful usual suspects. While the movie doesn’t defend Spitzer’s deception of his wife and family, or excuse his ridiculous choice to patronize the Emperor’s Club VIP, it does situate that bad behavior in multiple broader contexts, all in flux by definition. Spitzer is not deviant or even exceptional. He is, instead, a participant in a game that is at once mundane and creepy, one that no one seems inclined to challenge, but only to play as brutally as possible, and above all, to play well.


Client 9: The Rise and Fall of Eliot Spitzer is screening as part of Maysles Cinema’s “True Crime” series. The 24 March show will be followed by a Q&A with Alex Gibney.


See PopMattersreview.



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Wednesday, Mar 23, 2011
It may be that Inside Job's greatest effect is that, as the interviewees reveal themselves, they become less central to the story.

“The reason that they’re not going to jail is not that they didn’t commit crimes,” Charles Ferguson tells Nell Minow. “It’s because there’s been no effort to enforce the law, an even more disturbing phenomenon.”

This year’s Academy Award winner for Best Documentary, Inside Job traces the intertwined histories of deregulation, credit default swaps, subprime mortgages, and ideological Kool-Aid drinking. Interviewer and director Ferguson encourages his subjects to tell their stories. Some of these are convincing, others are cringeworthy, as lobbyists, bankers, and academics spin themselves into deep holes. It may be that Inside Job‘s greatest effect is that, as the interviewees reveal themselves, they become less central to the story. Increasingly, the film lays bare a culture based on greed and short-sightedness, one that produces a mindless focus on profits, whether ideological, political, or financial.


Part of Maysles Cinema’s “True Crime” series, the screening of Inside Job on 3/23 will be followed by an audience-led discussion with Gale and Ben Armstead, humanitarians, and long-time Harlem residents. On Friday, 3/25, the screening will be followed by a Q&A with Carl Dix.


See PopMattersreview.



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Wednesday, Mar 23, 2011
This wonderful documentary shows the perpetual disjunctions between official history and lived experiences.

“I can’t say that I wanted to be like everyone else,” says Lyubov Meyerson, drawing on her cigarette. “That’s not quite how it was. I simply was like everyone else.” Meyerson’s is one of five Russian classmates’ stories in Robin Hessman’s terrific documentary, My Perestroika. Each recalls what it was like to be born into Soviet-era Communism, and now contemplates middle age in Russia’s new market economy. Through thoughtful and absorbing interviews, the film shows the perpetual disjunctions between official history and lived experiences.


My Perestroika opens in New York 23 March and Los Angeles 15 April. Many other cities will follow.


See PopMattersreview.



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Tuesday, Mar 22, 2011
Assisted suicide raises profound questions concerning both risks and benefits, the potential for abuses versus respect for individual rights, needs, and desires.

Craig Ewert is dying. And as he explains in John Zaritzky’s documentary, originally made in 2007 and re-airing on Frontline 22 March at 9pm, as well as online, he wants to feel some measure of control over the process. Thus he and his wife Mary have come to Dignitas, “one of a handful of Swiss groups devoted to helping people end their lives legally.” As Craig puts it, “ “I’m tired of the disease, but I’m not tired of living. And I still enjoy it enough that I’d like to continue. But the thing is, that I really can’t.” He must be the one, legally, to commit the act: he must drink the liquid that will end his life, and agree to be taped doing so. The film tapes the taping, as well as the couple’s loving farewell. Craig’s final moments are rendered in a series of close-ups and dissolves, under the Beethoven movement he has asked to hear. While assisted suicide raises profound questions concerning both risks and benefits, the potential for abuses versus respect for individual rights, needs, and desires, The Suicide Tourist doesn’t engage in these debates. Instead, it observes the Ewerts as they go through this complicated journey.


See PopMattersreview.



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