Sunday, June 26, 2016

FREE STATE OF JONES

A friend of mine made a comment more or less about how she always goes into a Matthew McConaughey movie not liking him and comes out loving him. The man himself sometimes seems almost a caricature of self importance, but he can act in a movie better than most and once again in FREE STATE OF JONES kicks ass, in every way.

You've probably already heard that this film is about a rebellion within a rebellion, when an entire county, and more, in the Southern most part of the state of Mississippi fought against the Confederacy during The Civil War and managed to win for a while. But it's about so much more as well and goes far to correct the old Hollywood movie myths about the noble cause and the romantic South etc.

It's great story and the movie adheres to most of the actual facts, which makes it even more compelling. It's director and co-writer, Gary Ross, was humble enough to spend many years studying the history of not only the man who led the rebellion, Newton Knight, but of the Civil War, Reconstruction, and Mississippi, before writing the script.

And the cast is perfect, with some of my favorite movie actors, including McConaughey, the too often underused Keri Russell, and the amazing Gugu Mbatha-Raw (check out her performance in BELLE, one of my favorite films, also based on a true story that makes a history lesson dramatically enlightening and engagingly sexy). Relative newcomer to movies, Mahersala Ali's performance in FREE STATE OF JONES is worth the price of admission alone.

I highly recommend watching this in a theater on a big screen, because the battle and crowd scenes, and even the intimate scenes, are so beautifully shot and lit and art directed that you'll want to get the full effect only the big screen can deliver.

Saturday, June 25, 2016

LAST MINUTE REMINDER

Don't forget this Tuesday, June 28th, at 8 PM at Gotham Comedy Club, 208 W. 23rd St. I'll be reading some poems on a bill with other poets and story tellers and more, including the great Elinor Nauen (one of my favorite writers)....there's a cover charge etc. but it's worth it just for John Fugelsang, let alone the rest of the line up. Be there or be...sorry you weren't...

Friday, June 24, 2016

A MIDDAY MINI-RANT

By my perspective, the vote for Britain to leave the European Union is a seeming victory for the little guy who feels oppressed by forces outside his world that seem to control so much inside it, but also a victory for the racist and xenophobe and rightwing hater of change that benefits anyone but the self (often the same people). And all these folks' fears are fanned and manipulated by those in the uber "conservative" elite whose addiction to power and money makes them dangerous to all of us, now more than ever.

As is clear from the reactions to this huge shift in the balance of power and the money needed to sustain it, affecting almost the entire world, it looks at first glance, and even second and third, that it could be a forecast for more rightwing political triumphs (and catastrophes for most of us) to come, including the possible election of Donald Trump.

The main factor in the victory of the right-wingers was the poor turnout among the young, who overwhelmingly were for staying in the European Union but didn't bother to vote. If that occurs in the USA in November, Trump could well pull it off. And there could be the same impact as we're seeing today and will see more of when the actual dismantling of the British connection to Europe begins and continues for years.

At first it'll be the markets riled up, but then it will mean less freedom and even fewer job opportunities, as well as more divisiveness and turmoil. Trump's crowing this morning (even if, as usual, he has his facts all wrong), as are the rightwing nationalist xenophobic political parties throughout Europe, who may follow suit leading to the dismemberment, or at least diminishment, of the European Union, our greatest ally economically and politically. If Trump's elected, our biggest ally might be Putin, if we're to believe Trump's ratio of criticism and praise for other countries and their leaders.  

Wednesday, June 22, 2016

GENIUS

GENIUS presents a conundrum: How can I not appreciate and even love a film that's all about the love of books and writing? And yet, how can I appreciate let alone love a film that casts (is this trend never going to end?) Brit and Aussie actors in roles that are quintessentially "American"?

The subject matter is the relationship between editor Maxwell Perkins (thought to be responsible for much of F. Scott Fitzgerald's and Ernest Hemingway's reputations as geniuses) and the writer he edited the most (as in: cut) Thomas Wolfe.

Wolfe was said to have been a giant of a Southern man, so naturally Jude Law plays him, and does a great job making him a giant of a personality, at times lyrically brilliant but too often obnoxious. And Colin Firth plays Maxwell as a gloomy gus obsessed with words on the page at the expense of his family life.

Both are terrific actors and usually fun to watch on screen, as they are often in GENIUS, despite their accents, especially Law's, wandering. In another crucial role Nicole Kidman plays an American "Jewess" (as the character is called) supposedly much older than Law's Wolfe! Fortunately Guy Pearce only has a few scenes as Fitzgerald, and does a decent if totally inappropriately cast job.

In the end, I loved the subject of the film, and some of the artistry of all involved, even when it was to the detriment of the story and film. I'm glad I saw it and hope it sells some tickets so other movies about we who love the written word will be financed and made. But if those are about "Anericans" is it possible to find actors from the USA to play them?

[PS: Laura Linney was the only one perfectly cast, and she did her usual great job as Maxwell's long suffering wife in an otherwise thankless role]

Tuesday, June 21, 2016

ANOTHER LIST

Too many friends of all kinds have died, but after losing two poet friends in the past week, I found myself making a list in my head last night of some poet friends who’ve died over the years. Some died way before their time, others were older but are still missed, and some were better known for other things, but all wrote poetry I dug. (I used Google when I couldn’t remember what year they died, and I'm sure I'm forgetting some):

Ralph Dickey 1971
Walter Lowenfels 1976
Joel Colton 1980
Ted Berrigan 1983
Edwin Denby 1983
Lee Lally 1986
Darrell Gray 1986
Tim Dlugos 1990
Etheridge Knight 1991
James Schuyler 1991
Ed Cox 1992
Audre Lorde 1992
Jim Brodey 1993
Donald Britton 1994
Joe Brainard 1994
George Starbuck 1996
Allen Ginsberg 1997
Gerald Burns 1997
Lotus Weinstock 1997
Kathy Acker 1997
Dick Higgins 1998
James Haining 2000?
Roland Flint 2001
Kenneth Koch 2002
Hubert Selby Jr. 2004
Ron Schreiber 2004
David Hilton 2005
Lorenzo Thomas 2005
Ahmos Zu-Bolton 2005
Robert Creeley 2005
Ed Smith 2005
Barbara Guest 2006
Robert Trammell 2006
Michael Benedikt 2007
Steve Shrader 2007
Ann Darr 2007
Liam Rector 2007
Merilene E. Murphy 2007
Bob Callahan 2008
Thomas M. Disch 2008
Jonathan Williams 2008
Michael Gizzi 2010
David Franks 2010
Paul Violi 2011
Scott Wannberg 2011
Adrienne Rich 2012
Anselm Hollo 2013
Harvey Shapiro 2013
Wanda Coleman 2013
Bill Knott 2014
Robert Peters 2014
Allan Kornblum 2014
Rene Ricard 2014
James Tate 2015
Lynn Manning 2015
Bill Berkson 2016
Ted Greenwald 2016

Monday, June 20, 2016

LATE NIGHT MINI-RANT

Everyone who buys into the rightwing (originally, because if a majority of "Americans" vote they would always lose) propaganda that there isn't any difference between Democratic and Republican politicians just needs to look at the way the four minor gun regulation laws that were brought up for a vote after Orlando and Murphy's filibuster failed to pass in the Senate today, because every Republican but two voted against them and every Democrat except one voted for them. If there were just a few more Democrats in the Senate they would have passed. Party does matter in many areas, especially when the NRA warned before the vote that anyone who voted for gun regulation would suffer the consequences at the polls which means they plan to spend millions on bringing down Democrats who voted for some minor gun regulations (like closing the gun show loophole etc.)...why the feck would the National Rifle Association spend so much money on defeating Democrats IF THERE ISN'T ANY DIFFERENCE BETWEEN THE PARTIES!?

And PS: ask anyone suffering through the heatwave in the Southwest that is breaking all records and is just another of the thousands of examples in the last few years of the impact of climate change if they'd rather have those who believe in climate change and want to do something about it or those who don't running the government. Those in the Fox/Rush/et. el. bubble will obviously continue to believe their masters' propaganda (and the testimony of the two paid for by big oil scientists who argue the evidence still isn't clear out of a thousand who argue it is et-endlessly-cetera....