Wednesday, August 24, 2016

More comments on Nate Parker and THE BIRTH OF A NATION 2016.

In 1915, D.W. Griffith's Civil War epic THE BIRTH OF A NATION, from a novel called THE CLANSMAN, gathered infamy for inflaming racism in the United States (allegedly playing a role in the revival of the Ku Klux Klan) while people struggled to separate Griffith's filmmaking from its subject matter.

In 2016, Nate Parker's THE BIRTH OF A NATION, from accounts of the 1831 Nat Turner-led slave rebellion, is gathering controversy for the revelations of a 1999 rape that Parker was allegedly involved with (though Parker was proven not guilty).  Now, people are struggling to separate Parker's filmmaking and the importance of retelling Turner's story from Parker's past behavior.

Of course, it didn't help that Nate Parker's first attempt at contrition (giving interviews to VARIETY and DEADLINE to preempt controversy which would erupt too close to BIRTH 2016's release) had a subtext of "please don't deny me the chance to potentially win awards for my film" spinning his past (as an obstacle to be overcome) and downplaying the woman who was victimized.

Then, it was revealed that the woman committed suicide years later.

Parker's statement showed some empathy for her--but he still seemed to regard this as mostly about him.

At this writing, Fox Searchlight (the releasing studio) seems to be full-speed-ahead with the release of THE BIRTH OF A NATION--but a screening at the American Film Institute in Los Angeles with Parker Q&A was canceled due to apparent objections (the AFI head announced what promises to be a venting session among AFI students on the film and a later re-scheduling of the screening).  And the film will play at the upcoming TIFF film festival in Toronto, but without Parker doing Q&A--though he is to be part of a press junket.

Here's a link to a recent DAILY KOS article:

And here's William Evans writing for :

From Evans' article:
Yes, Parker was acquitted and I don’t believe in infinite punishment, but when he concludes his statements by saying, “I have since moved on and been focusing on my family and writing career,” that simply isn’t good enough. Saying you made some mistakes when you were in college doesn’t exactly sum up sexually assaulting an unconscious woman with a co-conspirator, especially if you’re never really willing to speak specifically to it (“made a lot of mistakes,” “17 years ago,” “grew so much since then,” etc). Realistically, as an editor of a modest website, my not reviewing A Birth of a Nation may not make any impact upon the hype and reception of his film, but it is the only way I know to attempt holding my fellow Black men accountable for the violence we sometimes initiate.

Thursday, August 18, 2016

The Ugly Mug reading and lingering emotions.

So a poet I respect (have known him since 1998) wrote something like this on the Two Idiots Peddling Poetry Ugly Mug reading last night:
Cool reading!  I enjoyed myself.

And I was tempted to write this on his Facebook wall, but, instead, am posting it here:
It's a cool reading if you're allowed in. After 12 years of being barred, perhaps I should be able to read posts like this without feeling any emotions whatsoever. But I have the mark of Cain still upon me and people will still go and enjoy and think of their own enjoyment and not pay attention to anything I write.

In theory, I shouldn't care one way or another about this--and should have stopped thinking about the ban after it happened in 2004.

But it's still a reminder of the days when I got along and went along with the majority of poets in the community.

Also, it shows the essential fragility of poet-to-poet relationships. You can make one mistake. But if that mistake is a Big Public Error, then goodwill instantly stops--and it's as though you never knew the other person at all and no support/nothing good you've done for him in the past counts for anything.

Over the years, I've thought out loud on this incident here. Sometimes with anger. Other times, I've asked for forgiveness.

At this point, I'm resigned to knowing it's somewhere I'm eternally not allowed into.

And aware that people I like continue to go to the reading and are entertained by it/receive approval from the audience of poets/Chapman students.

Also, doubly aware that the people I like who attend the reading probably share this sentiment:

Therefore, I need to learn to be completely desensitized when people post laudatory messages and photos on Facebook of their moments of glory in a coffeehouse in the city of Orange CA.

Monday, August 15, 2016

Sunday, August 7, 2016

What DC comic book movies and the Rio Olympics have in common.

Film writer Jeff Sneider, discussing SUICIDE SQUAD on Twitter, said, in essence, that the DC Comics movies released by Warner Bros. are "too big to fail."

TOO BIG TO FAIL (sorry about all caps) is the mantra for both the DC Extended Universe (which, with the presumably more user-friendly WONDER WOMAN and JUSTICE LEAGUE being the next in a series of films to be released in the next 3 years) and NBC/IOC's determination to ensure the Summer Olympics stay on schedule in economically/environmentally blighted Rio.

Once the money has been pledged and/or spent, it will happen because money cannot be lost and egos cannot be bruised by the act of pulling the plug before further disasters occur.

Wednesday, August 3, 2016

Clint Eastwood, the p-word, and ancient notions of manhood.

In his auteurist prime (essentially from THE OUTLAW JOSEY WALES to LETTERS FROM IWO JIMA), Clint Eastwood had people like Roger Ebert and Richard Schickel (among other critics/journalists) to burnish a relatively positive image of him as a politically conservative filmmaker who could also provide strong (by 70s/80s/90s genre film standards) female characters.  And in films like the now-mostly-forgotten WHITE HUNTER BLACK HEART or Don Siegel's THE BEGUILED, Eastwood dared (unlike a lot of his peers past and present) to examine the harm unfiltered machismo can do to others.

Of course, none of that matters to younger generations.

And I cringed along with them when Eastwood embarrassed himself at the 2012 Republican convention by insulting an invisible straw-man version of Barack Obama sitting in a prop chair (presuming Mitt Romney operative Stuart Stevens thought he was inviting the we're-all-in-this-together Clint Eastwood who filmed the commercial extolling Chrysler and Detroit auto manufacturing).

So, at the age of 86, Clint Eastwood (along with up-and-coming son Scott) sits with interviewer Michael Hainey for ESQUIRE in his comfortable Malpaso offices on the Warner Brothers lot and snarls about the passing of the era of just accepting the occurrences of racial and other prejudices instead of challenging them.  Then, more scowling about today's too-sensitive "pussy generation."   Finally, a mixed verdict on Donald Trump; Clint thinks that Trump has said "a lot of dumb things" but can't bring himself to vote for Hillary Clinton.

And there's also this landmark of non-feminist patriarchal thinking from Clint--which likely won't persuade online Millennials to spend time separating the wheat from the chaff of his filmography (including the Charlie Parker biopic BIRD, which helped make Forest Whitaker a star):
ESQ: Clint, your father retired when he was sixty and died at sixty-four. Does his death haunt you? Like, "If I stop working, I will drop"?
CE: Maybe. A lot of people when they retire, they just expire. It happens to men more than women. Women usually have great interest in the family, because the family's always growing and they're always coming to the rescue.
SE: [Laughs.] Are you talking about my mom?
CE: For a man, once you've sired your pups, you're done.

The Beach Boys album tracks/rarities playlist.

1. The Little Girl I Once Knew
2. I Know There's An Answer
3. Vegetables (SMILEY SMILE version)
4  Friends
5. Back Home (1970 version--can be found on YouTube)
6. Slip On Through
7. Our Sweet Love
8. At My Window
9. Cabinessence (20/20 version)
10. Time To Get Alone
11. Cool Cool Water
12. Don't Go Near The Water
13. The Trader
14. You Need A Mess Of Help To Stand Alone
15. He Came Down
16. Leaving This Town (1973 IN CONCERT version)
17. It's OK (alternate mix from MADE IN CALIFORNIA boxset)
18. It's A Beautiful Day (single edit, 2012 mix from MADE IN CALIFORNIA boxset)
19. Here Comes The Night (WILD HONEY version)
20. Feel Flows