Wednesday, July 31, 2019

Dialogic Cinephilia - July 31, 2019

Azevedo, Luis. "The Sensual World of Claire Denis." Little White Lies (April 15, 2019) ["Filtering the cinematic landscape of this master filmmaker through the five senses."]

Benton, Michael. "Around the World in 15 Films (4)." Dialogic Cinephilia (Future film course)

Kael, Pauline. "Circles and Squares." (Excerpted from Film Quarterly 16.3 Spring, 1963.)

Koski, Genvieve, et al. "Muscled Memories, Part 1 - Total Recall (1990)." The Next Picture Show #168 (March 19, 2019) ["The newest MCU entry CAPTAIN MARVEL is, among other things, an action-packed science-fiction film that’s also interested in the question of how memory relates to identity. That, plus the film’s 1990s setting, put us in mind of another cosmic blockbuster from that era with similar ideas crackling beneath its action-movie surface: Paul Verhoeven’s TOTAL RECALL. In this half of our pairing of brawny-yet-brainy blockbusters, we debate how much TOTAL RECALL is asking us to interrogate the bloody action in which it revels, whether casting Arnold Schwarzenegger as a would-be ordinary Joe contributes to or detracts from the film’s self-awareness, and if there’s any validity to the reading that Quaid’s memory trip is all just a dream."]

---. "Muscled Memories, Part 2 - Captain Marvel (2019)." The Next Picture Show #169 (March 26, 2019) ["Our pairing of sci-fi action films with a side of meditation on memory and identity brings in the new CAPTAIN MARVEL to see how Carol Danvers’ journey of lost and reclaimed memories looks next to the very different (and much bloodier) journey taken by Douglas Quaid in Paul Verhoeven’s TOTAL RECALL. We share our reactions to CAPTAIN MARVEL and its choice to center its narrative on an amnesiac hero, then bring in TOTAL RECALL to compare the two films’ approaches to their central ideas about memory, how they function as science-fiction stories, how they treat their female characters, and more."]

Marcus, Greil. "The Critics Inquisition: A Modern-Day Auteur-da-fe'." (originally published in Rolling Stone November 4, 1980).

Rodriguez, Juan-Llamas. "Pain & Gain, global workout culture, and the neoliberal ascetic ideal." Jump Cut #58 (Spring 2018)

Savage, Dan. "Hard Truths." LEO Weekly (July 31, 2019)

Sunday, July 28, 2019

Dialogic Cinephilia - July 29, 2019

Michael Benton -- I wish I had grown up next to or personally knowing Cornel West. I have never met him, yet he has irrevocably altered the way I think and act in this world, always in the most positive of ways. He is a total package: critical thinker, spiritual leader, default positivity, radical love, powerful rhetorician, cross-cultural theorist/historian and political activist. Check out this discussion he has with Joe Rogan - the conversation flows so easy and together they talk about a wide range of the most important and interesting issues of our culture/society.

You have to be able to find a firm grounding to think through the bullshit because it can contaminate us with despair (or nihilism).

I find it helpful to identify positive thinkers/activists that operate for me as a guide through the morass. Critical thinking is truly important, but just as important is retaining a sense of positivity/possibility. I don't mean we should seek out hollow hallmark fantasies or self-help banal happiness. What I mean is the need to cultivate a radical love for the world & its beings in order to be able to deal with the knowledge of what is wrong with the world and to build the fortitude to do something about it (in whatever way we are capable of doing that).

Dr. Strangelove or: How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love the Bomb (USA/UK: Stanley Kubrick, 1964) Dialogic Cinephilia (Ongoing Archive)

Ledbetter, Jay and Ryan McQuade. "The Last Black Man in San Francisco / Fast Color." InSession Film (June 2019)

Press, Alex N. "A Tale of Two Prisoners." Jacobin (July 27, 2019) ["Comparing the treatment of Jeffrey Epstein to Ramsey Orta, the man who filmed Eric Garner's murder, reveals the grotesque inequality at the heart of American society. There’s one set of rules for the rich, and an entirely different set for the poor."]

Rose City Antifa. "Statement on the Far-Right’s Attempt to Criminalize Protest of Concentration Camp Deaths and Hate Groups." It's Going Down (July 25, 2019)

Anne Braden (Louisville native) would have been 95 today - her life continues on in the passionate social justice activism of those she influenced/still-influences:

Saturday, July 27, 2019

Dialogic Cinephilia - July 27, 2019

Benton, Michael. "Around the World in 15 Films (3)." Letterboxd (Future film course)

Biagetti, Samuel. "Myth of the Month 1: The Enlightenment." Historiansplaining (March 13, 2018) ["There was no Enlightenment. Steven Pinker’s new book, “Enlightenment Now,” is a classic re-statement of the myth of the Enlightenment which holds that in the 1600s and 1700s, Europeans threw off the tired dogmas of the Middle Ages and embraced a new philosophy of Reason, Progress, Science, and Humanism. In fact, the 1700s were a period of confusion, with no clear unifying ideas or trends: occultism, mysticism, and absolute monarchy flourished alongside experiments in democracy and chemistry. “The Enlightenment” forms one of the central pillars of Whig history, serving to re-affirm the notion that our present-day beliefs and values are rational and coherent."]

Braswell, Emory, et al. "Theater for the Mind." Imaginary Worlds (September 19, 2018) ["The "golden age of radio drama" may have been a stellar period for storytelling -- but the stories weren't all golden bright. Science fiction and horror were the ideal genres to explore the deep anxieties people felt from the Depression through the Cold War. And these radio dramas set the stage for fantastical stories that couldn't be told yet without advanced special effects. Dallas Taylor of the podcast Twenty Thousand Hertz co-hosts this episode as we hear from radio historians Neil Verma and Richard J. Hand, and radio drama veterans Dirk Maggs and Richard Toscan. Plus Emory Braswell recalls the day he thought Martians had invaded New Jersey."]

 Greene, Liz. "(Not) Teaching The Elephant Man." The Cine-Files #13 (Fall 2017)

Partanen, Anu and Jay Tomlinson. "The Nordic Theory of Love." The Best of the Left #142 (March 1, 2019) [MB - A great discussion of how a more supportive society would actually strengthen and aid us in developing saner/stronger relationships and families that are not structured around co-dependency and domination.]

Phelan, Stephen. "Watching the End of the World." The Boston Review (June 11, 2019) ["The Doomsday Clock is set to two minutes to midnight—the same position it held in 1953, when the United States and USSR detonated their first hydrogen bombs. So why don't we make movies about nuclear war anymore? "]

Seitz, Matt Zoller. "Braid." Roger Ebert (February 1, 2019)

Shah, Kushbu. "They Look White But Say They are Black: A Tiny Town in Ohio Wrestles with Race." The Guardian (July 25, 2019) [A clear example of how racism is much more than just skin color (although that is an obvious and easy way for immediate enforcement), that who is considered to be "white"/"non-white" has evolved over time, and racism has always had a strong economic/class (hierarchy) function designed to keep certain peoples in their "place.". Check out Barbara Field's book  Racecraft: The Soul of Inequality "Many residents in East Jackson were raised to identify as black. But what dictates race: where you live, your DNA, the history you’re taught?"]

Thompson, Ginger. "A Border Patrol Agent Reveals What It’s Really Like to Guard Migrant Children." Pro Publica (July 16, 2019) ["With the agency under fire for holding children in deplorable conditions and over racist and misogynistic Facebook posts, one agent speaks about what it’s like to do his job. 'Somewhere down the line people just accepted what’s going on as normal.'"]

"Weird Fiction." Horror Pod Class #2 (January 31, 2018) [Michael Benton -- They were discussing this just before Alex Garland's film Annihilation came out and Jeff Vandermeer's source novel (and the new weird genre in general) is also brought in, but what is very interesting is the idea that the "new weird" genre is speaking to a 21st Century dis-ease with the impossibility of truly knowing reality (fake news & official lies instantaneously and repeatedly disseminated through ubiquitous screen technologies, radically transforming science/technology/theories that even leave those that devote their lives to a particular discipline overwhelmed, and a general distrust of the general population in their traditional experts/leaders). This is played out vividly in Vandermeer's trilogy and Garland's film as the main characters struggling to understand/survive the transmutating Area X/The Shimmer are scientists/soldiers.]

Whistleblowers Dialogic Cinephilia (Ongoing Archive)

Dr. Strangelove or: How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love the Bomb (USA/UK: Stanley Kubrick, 1964)

Dr. Strangelove or: How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love the Bomb (USA/UK: Stanley Kubrick, 1964: 95 mins)

Beyl, Cameron. "The Directors Series: Stanley Kubrick, Pts. 1-5." The Film Stage (February 11, 2015)

Cassidy, Brendan and J.D. Duran. "The Neon DemonDr. Strangelove - Extra Film." In Session (July 1, 2016) 

Ellsberg, Daniel. "Daniel Ellsberg Reveals He Was a Nuclear War Planner, Warns of Nuclear Winter & Global Starvation." Democracy Now (December 6, 2017) ["Could tension between President Trump and North Korean leader Kim Jong-un bring us to the brink of nuclear war? As tensions ramp up, we discuss what nuclear war would look like with a former nuclear war planner and one of the world’s most famous whistleblowers—Daniel Ellsberg. In 1971, Ellsberg was a high-level defense analyst when he leaked a top-secret report on U.S. involvement in Vietnam to The New York Times and other publications, which came to be known as the Pentagon Papers. He played a key role in ending the Vietnam War. Few know Ellsberg was also a Pentagon and White House consultant who drafted plans for nuclear war. His new book, published Tuesday, is titled “The Doomsday Machine: Confessions of a Nuclear War Planner.” We speak with Ellsberg about his top-secret nuclear studies, his front row seat to the Cuban missile crisis, whether Trump could start a nuclear war and how contemporary whistleblowers Chelsea Manning and Ed Snowden are his heroes."]

Gordon, Marsha. "Is It Time for a 21st Century Version of The Day After." The Conversation (January 24, 2018)

Landekic, Lola. "Pablo Ferro: A Career Retrospective, Pt. 1." The Art of the Title (April 8, 2014)

Neal, Fairley. "Dr. Strangelove; Or How I learned to Stop Worrying and Love the Bomb." Letterboxd (January 11, 2018)

Phelan, Stephen. "Watching the End of the World." The Boston Review (June 11, 2019) ["The Doomsday Clock is set to two minutes to midnight—the same position it held in 1953, when the United States and USSR detonated their first hydrogen bombs. So why don't we make movies about nuclear war anymore? "]

The Power Principle: Corporate Empire and the Rise of the National Security State (Metanoia Films, 2012) [3 pts: 1 Empire; 2 Propaganda; 3 Apocalypse. Part 3 discusses Dr Strangelove)

Schlosser, Eric. "Almost Everything in Dr. Strangelove Was True." The New Yorker (January 17, 2014)

The Work of Stanley Kubrick from Stefano Westerling on Vimeo.

Thursday, July 25, 2019

Whistleblowers (Ongoing Archive)

Allyn, Bobby. "Jailing And Fining Chelsea Manning Constitutes Torture, Top U.N. Official Says." Dialogic Cinephilia (December 31, 2019)

Appelbaum, Jacob, William Binney, and Laura Poitras. "More Secrets on Growing State Surveillance: Exclusive with NSA Whistleblower, Targeted Hacker." Democracy Now (April 23, 2012)

Baker, Stewart and Daniel Ellsberg. "Was Edward Snowden Justified?" Democracy Now (February 14, 2014) ["Former National Security Agency lawyer Stewart Baker and Pentagon Papers whistleblower Daniel Ellsberg join us for a debate on Edward Snowden’s disclosure of the NSA’s massive spying apparatus in the United States and across the globe. Snowden’s leaks to The Guardian and other media outlets have generated a series of exposés on NSA surveillance activities — from its collection of American’s phone records, text messages and email, to its monitoring of the internal communications of individual heads of state. Partly as a consequence of the government’s response to Snowden’s leaks, the United States plunged 13 spots in an annual survey of press freedom by the independent organization, Reporters Without Borders. Snowden now lives in Russia and faces possible espionage charges if he returns to the United States. Baker, a former NSA general counsel and assistant secretary for policy at the Department of Homeland Security, is a partner at the law firm Steptoe & Johnson and author of “Skating on Stilts: Why We Aren’t Stopping Tomorrow’s Terrorism.” Ellsberg is a former Pentagon and RAND Corporation analyst and perhaps the country’s most famous whistleblower. Ellsberg leaked the Pentagon Papers in 1971, exposing the secret history of the U.S. involvement in Vietnam, prompting Henry Kissinger to call him “the most dangerous man in America.”"]

Binney, Bill. "NSA Whistleblower – Government Collects Everything You Do." The Real News (April 17, 2019) ["Abby Martin interviews former Technical Director of the National Security Agency, Bill Binney, who blew the whistle on warrantless spying years before Edward Snowden released the evidence. They discuss the US empire's mass surveillance program and dangers of the Intelligence Industrial Complex."]

Bogart, Brian, et al. "The Deep Roots of Dragon's Teeth (Blowing The Whistle on Whistleblower Protection)." Unwelcome Guests #715 (June 13, 2015)

Chelsea Manning: Veteran/Whistleblower/Political Prisoner/Activist Dialogic Cinephilia (Ongoing Archive)

Citizenfour (USA/Germany/UK: Laura Poitras, 2014: 114 mins) ["Part real-life thriller, part sobering examination of 21st century civil liberties, Citizenfour transcends ideology to offer riveting, must-see cinema."]

Cromwell, David and David Edwards. "Snowden, Surveillance, and the Secret State." Media Lens (June 28, 2013)

Drake, Thomas. "Snowden saw what I saw: Surveillance criminally subverting the constitution." The Guardian (June 12, 2013)

Eban, Katherine. "Bottle of Lies: How Poor FDA Oversight & Fraud in Generic Drug Industry Threaten Patients’ Health." Democracy Now (May 20, 2019) ["Generic drugs amount to 90% of all prescriptions filled in the U.S., most of them made in plants in India and China. Generic drugs can be more affordable, but in her new explosive book “Bottle of Lies: The Inside Story of the Generic Drug Boom,” investigative journalist Katherine Eban works with two industry whistleblowers to expose how some manufacturers are cutting corners at the cost of quality and safety. This comes as the U.S. Food and Drug Administration just issued its own update on the state of pharmaceutical quality that found the drug quality of factories in India and China scored below the world average. FDA officials say that’s because more robust inspections have uncovered problems and that “the quality of the drug supply has never been higher.”"]

Ellsberg, Daniel. "Daniel Ellsberg Reveals He Was a Nuclear War Planner, Warns of Nuclear Winter & Global Starvation." Democracy Now (December 6, 2017) ["Could tension between President Trump and North Korean leader Kim Jong-un bring us to the brink of nuclear war? As tensions ramp up, we discuss what nuclear war would look like with a former nuclear war planner and one of the world’s most famous whistleblowers—Daniel Ellsberg. In 1971, Ellsberg was a high-level defense analyst when he leaked a top-secret report on U.S. involvement in Vietnam to The New York Times and other publications, which came to be known as the Pentagon Papers. He played a key role in ending the Vietnam War. Few know Ellsberg was also a Pentagon and White House consultant who drafted plans for nuclear war. His new book, published Tuesday, is titled “The Doomsday Machine: Confessions of a Nuclear War Planner.” We speak with Ellsberg about his top-secret nuclear studies, his front row seat to the Cuban missile crisis, whether Trump could start a nuclear war and how contemporary whistleblowers Chelsea Manning and Ed Snowden are his heroes."]

Goodale, James. "The Assange Indictment & The 50-Year War On Investigative Journalism." On the Media (May 24, 2019) ["... when Wikileaks founder Julian Assange was indicted for conspiring to assist leaker Chelsea Manning in the theft of government secrets, some saw the charge as but the first shoe to drop. They were right. Thursday saw an 18-count indictment against Assange under the Espionage Act, effectively charging him, the leakee, as equally criminal in an effort to spread classified information. Whether or not you consider Assange to be a "journalist," the precedent of this indictment could have disastrous implications for investigative reporters who rely on such sources. According to James Goodale, who served as General Counsel for The New York Times during the Pentagon Papers trial, the Department of Justice has been looking to expand the Espionage Act in this way for nearly half a century. He and Bob discuss how Goodale saw the charges coming, and where the trial is headed next."]

Gosztola, Kevin. "Through Bradley Manning, Jeremy Scahill Learned Blackwater’s Erik Prince Was Going to United Arab Emirates." Shadowproof (April 24, 2013)

Greenwald, Glenn and Laura Poitras. "Q&A on Snowden, the Surveillance State & Press Freedom." Democracy Now (April 11, 2014)

Gun, Katherine, et al. "In 2003, This U.K. Whistleblower Almost Stopped the Iraq Invasion. A New Film Tells Her Story." Democracy Now (July 19, 2019)

Horton, Scott. "A Setback For Obama’s War On Whistleblowers." Law and Disorder Radio (August 15, 2011)

Kaiser, Brittany. "Meet Brittany Kaiser, Cambridge Analytica Whistleblower Releasing Troves of New Files from Data Firm." Democracy Now (January 7, 2020) ["New details are emerging about how the shadowy data firm Cambridge Analytica worked to manipulate voters across the globe, from the 2016 election in the United States to the Brexit campaign in Britain and elections in over 60 other countries, including Malaysia, Kenya and Brazil. A new trove of internal Cambridge Analytica documents and emails are being posted on Twitter detailing the company’s operations, including its work with President Trump’s former national security adviser John Bolton. The documents come from Cambridge Analytica whistleblower Brittany Kaiser, who worked at the firm for three-and-a-half years before leaving in 2018. We speak with Jehane Noujaim and Karim Amer, co-directors of the Oscar shortlisted documentary “The Great Hack”; Brittany Kaiser, the Cambridge Analytica whistleblower featured in “The Great Hack” and author of “Targeted: The Cambridge Analytica Whistleblower’s Inside Story of How Big Data, Trump, and Facebook Broke Democracy and How It Can Happen Again”; and Emma Briant, a visiting research associate in human rights at Bard College whose upcoming book is titled “Propaganda Machine: Inside Cambridge Analytica and the Digital Influence Industry.”" Part Two: "The Great Hack: Big Data Firms Helped Sway the 2016 Election. Could It Happen Again in 2020?"  Part Three: "Propaganda Machine: The Military Roots of Cambridge Analytica’s Psychological Manipulation of Voters."]

The Program (USA: Laura Poitras, 2012: 8 mins and 21 secs) ["The Program is a short film focusing on William Binney—a former highly placed intelligence official with the United States National Security Agency, turned whistleblower after revelations that a system he created for foreign intelligence gathering was turned inward for domestic spying at the behest of the Bush administration in 2001. For this, Binney resigned in October of that year and later began speaking publicly. He is among a group of NSA whistle-blowers, including Thomas A. Drake, who have each risked everything—their livelihoods, freedom, and personal relationships—to warn everyone about the dangers of the current era of mass surveillance."]

The Report Podcast ["A deep dive into the real life story behind The Report, a film by Scott Z. Burns, about the investigation into the CIA’s Detention and Interrogation Program and the lengths to which the nation’s top intelligence agency went to destroy evidence, subvert the law, and hide a brutal secret from the American public."]

Robinson, Jennifer. "Julian Assange’s Attorney Decries Espionage Charges as 'Grave Threat to Press Freedom.'" Democracy Now (May 24, 2019) ["In an unprecedented move, the Justice Department has indicted WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange on 17 charges of violating the Espionage Act for his role in publishing U.S. classified military and diplomatic documents exposing U.S. war crimes in Iraq and Afghanistan. The documents were leaked by U.S. Army whistleblower Chelsea Manning. The Espionage Act of 1917 has never been used to prosecute a journalist or media outlet. The new charges come just over a month after British police forcibly removed Assange from the Ecuadorean Embassy in London, where he took asylum in 2012. Initially the Trump administration indicted Assange on a single count of helping Manning hack a government computer, but Assange faces up to 170 additional years in prison under the new charges—10 years for each count of violating the Espionage Act. We speak with Jennifer Robinson, an attorney for Julian Assange. “It is a grave threat to press freedom and should be cause for concern for journalists and publishers everywhere,” Robinson says." Part two: "Daniel Ellsberg: Espionage Charges Against Assange Are Most Significant Attack on Press in Decades." Part three: "Jeremy Scahill: New Indictment of Assange Is Part of a Broader War on Journalism & Whistleblowers." Part four: "Assange Is Indicted for Exposing War Crimes While Trump Considers Pardons for War Criminals."]

Rusbridger, Alan. "Spilling the NSA’s Secrets: Guardian Editor Alan Rusbridger on the Inside Story of Snowden Leaks." Democracy Now (September 23, 2013)

Schwarz, Jon. "The Best Movie Ever Made About the Truth Behind The Iraq War is 'Official Secrets.'" The Intercept (August 31, 2019)

Shahshahani, Azadeh and Dawn Wooten. "Whistleblower Nurse in ICE Jail Alleges Forced Sterilization & Neglect Amid 8th COVID Death." Democracy Now (September 22, 2020) ["As ICE confirms the 20th person to die in its detention in fiscal year 2020, making it one of the deadliest periods in the agency’s history, we talk to the whistleblower at the center of an explosive complaint that accuses an ICE jail in Georgia of failing to adhere to coronavirus safety protocols and performing a large number of unwanted hysterectomies on detainees. The doctor who carried out the procedures became known to women inside the facility as “the uterus collector.” Whistleblower Dawn Wooten, a nurse at the Irwin County Detention Center, says the neglect and abuse at the facility was “jaw-dropping.” We also speak with Azadeh Shahshahani, legal and advocacy director at Project South, who says authorities must take action now. “What else would it take for decision makers to finally move and do something about this before we see additional tragedies at these facilities?” she says."]

Snowden, Edward. "Permanent Record: Why NSA Whistleblower Edward Snowden Risked His Life to Expose Surveillance State." Democracy Now (September 26, 2019) ["Six years ago, Edward Snowden leaked a trove of secret documents about how the United States had built a massive surveillance apparatus to spy on Americans and people across the globe. Snowden was then charged in the U.S. for violating the Espionage Act and other laws. As he attempted to flee to Latin America, Snowden became stranded in Russia after the U.S. revoked his passport. He has lived in Moscow ever since. Snowden just published his memoir, “Permanent Record,” in which he writes about what led him to risk his life to expose the U.S. government’s system of mass surveillance. From Moscow, he speaks to Democracy Now!’s Amy Goodman and Juan González about his life before and after becoming an NSA whistleblower." Part 1: "'Financial Censorship Is Still Censorship': Edward Snowden Slams Justice Dept. Lawsuit Against Him."  Part 2: "Edward Snowden Condemns Trump’s Mistreatment of Whistleblower Who Exposed Ukraine Scandal." ]

--. "Private Contractors Play Key Role in U.S. Intelligence’s 'Creeping Authoritarianism.'" Democracy Now (September 30, 2019) ["As a whistleblower complaint against President Trump rocks Washington, Democrats begin an impeachment inquiry and Trump threatens “big consequences” for the person who came forward, we continue our conversation with one of the world’s most famous whistleblowers: Edward Snowden, now in exile in Russia. Six years ago, he shocked the world when he leaked a trove of secret documents about how the United States had built a massive surveillance apparatus to collect every single phone call, text message and email, and pry into the private lives of every person on Earth. He has just published a memoir titled “Permanent Record.” In Part 2 of our interview, he talks about how the government initially attempted to say that he was just an outside contractor and not a key figure, but he describes the central role contractors play in the intelligence community." Part 2: "Snowden Reveals How He Secretly Exposed NSA Criminal Wrongdoing Without Getting Arrested." Part 3: "Whistleblower Edward Snowden on Trump, Obama & How He Ended Up in Russia to Avoid U.S. Extradition."]

Tsang, Diane. "Daniel Ellsberg on Whistleblowing." Whistleblower Protection (April 20, 2018)

Dialogic Cinephilia - July 25, 2019

Beyl, Cameron. "The Coen Brothers." The Directors Series (7 Video Essays: 2017)

"Bong Joon-Ho." The Director's Club (September 4, 2017)

Bradley, S.A. "The Old Gods of Springtime Horror." Hellbent for Horror (April 10, 2018) ["Things might look bright and warm during Springtime, but there's something sinister underneath the surface. The pastel colors of the flowers camouflage the blood and death in the soil that helped them grow. When the difference between life and death depended on a bountiful harvest, people made human sacrifices to appease the Old Gods of the earth. In this episode I talk about horror movies devoted to the Old Gods of Springtime, man's uneasy connection to the earth, and how groups of people can be scarier than the Old Gods themselves."]

Connor, Eamonn. "Diffractive Visions: Towards an Oceanic Trans-Corporeality in Leviathan." The Cine-Files #14 (Spring 2019)

Corinth, Henri de. "Antiworld, Imminence and the Pastoral in Katalin Varga." Senses of Cinema #91 (July 2019)

Cultural Theory/Humanities Dialogic Cinephilia (Ongoing Archive)

Fields, Karen E. and Barbara J. Fields. Racecraft: The Soul of Inequality in America. Verso, 2012. ["Most people assume that racism grows from a perception of human difference: the fact of race gives rise to the practice of racism. Sociologist Karen E. Fields and historian Barbara J. Fields argue otherwise: the practice of racism produces the illusion of race, through what they call “racecraft.” And this phenomenon is intimately entwined with other forms of inequality in American life. So pervasive are the devices of racecraft in American history, economic doctrine, politics, and everyday thinking that the presence of racecraft itself goes unnoticed. That the promised post-racial age has not dawned, the authors argue, reflects the failure of Americans to develop a legitimate language for thinking about and discussing inequality. That failure should worry everyone who cares about democratic institutions."]

Turner, Kyle. "10 Queer Camp Films That Have Left an Impact on Film History." Hyperallergic (June 27, 2019)

Just watched one of the most powerful films I have seen in awhile. I'm shaken, I'm at a loss of words, this should be viewed - here is an eloquent statement from Silent Dawn on Letterboxd about the documentary: "Rattles the soul. The deep, dark shit. Emphasizes that, at the end of the day, all we humans can do is embrace our common issues and rise above them. It doesn't have to be the same every goddamn time. We can teach kindness to our children. We can tell them that it's important to hug, kiss, and cry in pursuit of catharsis and empathy. We can provide a break in the cycle of violence and toxicity found in social masculine narratives. It starts with conversation, looking in the eyes of another, and letting tears stream forth, all because you feel something. It should be encouraged, and accepted, as normal, positive behavior. Our hearts should beat in unison. The Work is a landmark, simply due to its resolve and progression of respected human emotion. It visualizes bodies as they are: living, breathing, feeling. Let's show this in schools and talk about it afterward."

I agree completely.

Saturday, July 20, 2019

Dialogic Cinephilia - July 20, 2019

A.C. Thompson: Investigative Journalist/Documentary Filmmaker/Media Studies Dialogic Cinephilia (Ongoing Archive)

Balsom, Erika. "The Critic Lady." Film Quarterly (June 10, 2019)  ["Such positions upset a certain kind of critic, and not only because a growing concern for inclusivity might take column inches away from him. More fundamentally, the contemporary vitality of minoritarian criticism reframes his values as rather less than the only ones, the right ones, no longer to be taken for granted as valid. Every film is political, especially those that purport not to be. The same is true of film criticism. The castigation of 'identity politics' is an identity politics. The claim to appreciate a film exclusively on pure merit has always been spurious, for it disavows how thoroughly the very notions of achievement and relevance are shaped by power, generally to the detriment of those who have historically been excluded from the practices and institutions that build canons and criteria."]

Grieco, Mark. "A River Below." Film School Radio (November 3, 2017) ["A documentary as dramatic, ambiguous, and multilayered as any fiction film, A RIVER BELOW examines the efforts of two conservationists in the Amazon to bring about change by using the national media, only to discover the consequences of their actions come with a high price. A RIVER BELOW provides an eye-opening look at what happens when passion and opinion trump reason and morality. The crux of the story questions the truth in images, its manipulation to get the public’s attention and, ultimately, who pays the price for someone else’s passion for radical change."]

Jamail, Dahr, with William Rivers Pitt. "The End of Ice." Lannan Podcasts (March 13, 2019) ["Dahr Jamail is an award-winning author and journalist. In 2003 he was one of very few unembedded journalists in the early stages of the Iraq War. He has written for Le Monde Diplomatique, the Guardian, the Nation, the Huffington Post, the Sunday Herald in Scotland, and Foreign Policy in Focus, and has contributed to Democracy Now!, Al Jazeera, Al Jazeera English, the BBC, NPR, and numerous other radio and television stations around the globe. In 2008 he was awarded the Martha Gellhorn Award for Investigative Journalism, and in 2018 the Part Center for Independent Media at Ithaca College awarded him an Izzy for his “path-breaking and in-depth reporting,” work that exposed “environmental hazards and militarism.” He is the author of Beyond the Green Zone: Dispatches from an Unembedded Journalist in Occupied Iraq (2007), The Will to Resist: Soldiers Who Refuse to Fight in Iraq and Afghanistan (2009), and The Mass Destruction of Iraq: The Disintegration of a Nation: Why It Is Happening, and Who Is Responsible (2014). Jamail is now a senior investigative journalist for There he reports on climate disruption in the Anthropocene, digesting the most cutting-edge scientific evidence for a socially conscious and activist lay audience. His new book The End of Ice (The New Press, 2018) looks at the effects of climate disruption as he witnessed them firsthand as a young mountain guide on Denali. He writes, 'On the one hand, the experience of being on ice that is thousands of years old and often hundreds if not thousands of feet thick is humbling. The accompanying awe of this reality, coupled with the sheer beauty of these landscapes carved by and now covered with glaciers is not to be missed… [but] witnessing these dramatic impacts from anthropogenic climate disruption (ACD) first-hand always feels like a gut punch to me. My climbing partners and I shook our heads at the spectacle, then carried on to the edge of the glacier in order to unrope and ascend the moraine.'"]

Levin, Sam. "Los Angeles Police Spied on Anti-Trump Protesters." The Guardian (July 19, 2019) ["Case is one of several across the US of police targeting anti-Trump and anti-fascist groups with monitoring and criminal trials."]

Considered by Whitehead to be his most important film, The Fall is an extraordinary piece of filmmaking, an extremely personal statement on violence, revolution and the turbulence within late sixties America. Filmed entirely in and around New York between October 1967 and June 1968, it features Robert Kennedy, The Bread and Puppet Theater, Paul Auster (fresh-faced as a Columbia student), Tom Hayden, Mark Rudd, Stokely Carmichael, H. Rap Brown, Arthur Miller, Robert Lowell, Robert Rauschenberg and The Deconstructivists. Richard Roud, co-director of the New York Film Festival wrote of the film, “…an attempt to come to grips with today, both in terms of its content as well as of its form.”

THE FALL (Peter Whitehead, 1969) from Spectacle Theater on Vimeo.

Tonite Let's All Make Love In London from Mark Fisher on Vimeo.

Sweeting, Adam. "Peter Whitehead Obituary." The Guardian (June 13, 2019) ["One of Britain’s most provocative film-makers whose work documented the counterculture of the 1960s."]

"If I have a boy, I'll teach him how to love. If I have a girl, I'll tell her the world is hers." - Valérie in Denis Villeneuve's 2009 film (trigger warning for this trailer, survivors of violence)

Wednesday, July 17, 2019

Dialogic Cinephilia - July 17, 2019

Benton, Michael Dean. Around the World in 15 Films (2) Letterboxd (Future Film Course Plan)

Dowd, A.A. "Hereditary is the most traumatically terrifying horror movie in ages." A.V. Club (January 23, 2018)

Fraga, Victor. "Elisa and Marcela (Elisa y Marcela)." Dirty Movies (February 13, 2019)

Griffiths, Kate Doyle. "Seen and Heard in When They See Us." Commune #3 (summer 2019)

Morrison, Benedict. "Inarticulate Lives: A Reading of the Opening of Terence Davies The Long Day Closes." Movie #8 (2019)

My Own Private Idaho (USA: Gus van Sant, 1991) Dialogic Cinephilia (Ongoing Archive)

Nemes, László. "Sunset." Film Comment Podcast (March 13, 2019) ["Academy Award-winning director László Nemes sat down with FC Editor-in-Chief Nicolas Rapold on Saturday, February 9 to discuss Nemes’s Sunset, which opened Film Comment Selects earlier that week. The film evokes a vision of a world order on the verge of violent collapse, telling the story of an orphaned young woman, Irisz, searching for her mysterious brother in the nightmarish labyrinth of pre-World War I Budapest."]

Schrader, Paul. "First Reformed." Film Comment Podcast (June 21, 2018) ["“Although religious symbols and themes have often found their way into Schrader’s film work, First Reformed marks the first time he has applied elements of transcendental style—as extolled in his seminal book Transcendental Style in Film—to his own filmmaking. Early in his career, Schrader was occupied with exploring the pathological lure of sex and violence in narrative cinema,” Aliza Ma wrote in her review of Paul Schrader’s First Reformed for our May/June issue. As part of our Film Comment Free Talks series, Schrader joined Editor-in-Chief Nicolas Rapold for a conversation about the twists and turns and leaps in the writer-director’s career—from starting out as a critic and UCLA film student in the ’60s, to writing screenplays for Taxi Driver and Last Temptation of Christ, to directing films from Blue Collar through First Reformed."]

Michael Benton -- Originally saw this when it was released in the theaters & the psychosexual worms/caves, mixed with eroticism/violence, was a bit too much for my young mind to handle. First 1/3 is corny fun, 2nd 1/3 picks up steam (provides good background/cool imagery), the last slips into bonkers surrealism. The worm, is one of the all time worst realizations of a monster, but who cares when you have Amanda Donohoe doing a marvelous job of vamping it up as the priestess/villain. The scenes of fishnet stockinged, stewardesses slithering in Lord James D'Ampton's feverish dream and Lady Sylvia Marsh's seduction of an unfortunate hitchhiker are bawdy fun. Ken Russell directed (and if you know him, you know what that means) and early acting roles by Peter Capaldi and Hugh Grant. Based on a Bram Stoker (Dracula) novel. On MUBI for a day or two more....

Sunday, July 14, 2019

Slurring Bee #25

Also need 15 absurd/quirky warm up questions

1st Round: warm-up question followed by a word
2nd Round: 3 words in succession for each contestant
3rd Round: Round-robin until we have a winner (keep track of last three - the order they come in)
3 mispelled words and a contestant is out

Pronouncer Information 1. Read carefully the Judges, Recorders, Spellers and Audiences information that is included in the Scripps pronouncers’ guide. 2. Familiarize yourself with all words on the confidential word list. Pronunciation is important. A meeting with the judges to insure pronunciation of words and procedures will be scheduled prior to the Bee beginning. 3. Speak clearly for contestants, judges and audience alike. Grant all requests to repeat a word until the judges agree that the word has been made reasonably clear to the speller. You may request the speller to speak more clearly or louder. 4. “Pace” yourself. You need time to focus attention on the pronunciation of the new word and the judges need a few moments between each contestant to do their tasks.

Speller’s Information 1. Each speller needs to focus on the Pronouncer, to aid his or her hearing and understanding of the context of the word. A speller may ask for the word to be repeated, for its use in a sentence, for a definition, for the part of speech, and for the language of origin. 2. Each speller should pronounce the word before and after spelling it. If the speller fails to pronounce the word after spelling it, the judge may ask if they are finished. If they say yes, the judge will remind the speller to remember to repeat the word the next time. (No speller will be eliminated for failing to pronounce a word.) 3. When a speller is at the podium spelling, the next speller should be standing at a marked location ready to proceed to the podium.

533) ineffable

534) indoctrination

535) philophile

536) parturition

537) lucid

538) phosphorescence

539) patience

540) amalgam

541) coalescence

542) foist


Slurring Bee 12: #368

My Own Private Idaho (USA: Gus van Sant, 1991)

My Own Private Idaho (USA: Gus van Sant, 1991: 104 mins)

Atkinson, Michael. "Going Places: On the restless career of Gus Van Sant." Moving Image Source (September 17, 2011)

Boslaugh, Sarah. "My Own Private Idaho is Anything but a Conventional Narrative." Pop Matters (November 18, 2015)

Collins, K. Austin. "My Own Private Idaho Is a Queer Masterpiece." The Ringer (September 29, 2016)

Ebert, Roger. "My Own Private Idaho." Roger Ebert (October 18, 1991)

Koski, Genevieve, et al. "My Own Private Idaho / American Honey (Pt. 1)." The Next Picture Show #49 (November 1, 2016)  ["This week, we’ve all come to look for America, and we’re looking for it in a pair of road movies about underprivileged outsiders and the dreams that keep them hustling from place to place. Inspired by Andrea Arnold's sprawling new AMERICAN HONEY, we look back at Gus Van Sant's 1991 indie-punk-surrealist-fantasy-coming-of-age mishmash MY OWN PRIVATE IDAHO. In this half, we attempt to wrangle IDAHO's many moving parts, admire and mourn its central performances, and share some crazy (or not so crazy??) fan theories."]

---. "My Own Private Idaho / American Honey (Pt. 2)." The Next Picture Show #50 (November 3, 2016) ["We return to the road in our two-part exploration of America and self, jumping to the current day with Andrea Arnold's sprawling, music-packed AMERICAN HONEY, a film with some of the same concerns as MY OWN PRIVATE IDAHO, but a much different stylistic approach. In this half, we talk over how the two films handle matters of poverty, style, infatuation, and "the other America."]

McNeil, Jeremiah, et al. "The Unedited Commentary Track: My Own Private Idaho (Gus Van Sant; 1991)." Illusion Travels by Streetcar #94 (March 6, 2016)

Taubin, Amy. "My Private Idaho: Private Places." The Current (October 7, 2015)

Tobias, Scott. "My Own Private Idaho is a personal statement and a River Phoenix memorial." A.V. Club (March 21, 2013)

Queer American Dreams in My Own Private Idaho from Rhetoric and Media Studies on Vimeo.


Saturday, July 13, 2019

Dialogic Cinephilia - July 14, 2019

4 Months, 3 Weeks, and 2 Days (Romania: Cristian Mungiu, 2007) Dialogic Cinephilia (Ongoing Archive)

Bjelić, Dušan. "4 Months, 3 Weeks and 2 Days at the moment of neoliberal catastrophe." Jump Cut #58 (Spring 2018)

Castillo, Monica. "The Real Terror in Midsommar is a Bad Romance." Cherry Picks (July 5, 2019)

Chester, John and Molly Chester. "The Biggest Little Farm." Radio West (May 23, 2019) ["It's the vision of filmmaker John Chester and his wife Molly, who wanted to create a place where they could raise crops and animals following the way a natural ecosystem works. They found what seemed at first like Eden -- 200 acres of land in the foothills of Ventura, California. They join us to talk about the daunting work and what they learned from the wisdom of nature. Their film is called The Biggest Little Farm."]

Glick, Joshua. "Teaching The Crowd." Cine-Files #13 (Fall 2017)

Heller-Nicholas, Alexandra and John Edmond. "Introduction: The Analogues of Peter Strickland." Senses of Cinema #91 (July 2019)

Thursday, July 11, 2019

Dialogic Cinephilia - July 11, 2019

Michael Benton -- I abhor what we, as a country, are doing right now along our borders. I'm curious, I haven't heard one particular point brought up about these migrant prisons. This is what happens when you privatize basic human services (healthcare, education, basic necessities like water/heat, and, yes, prisons, etc...), the human equation (or any type of being) is lost in a system whose main priority (and this is the main priority of a corporation) is to milk as much profit as possible with no concern what is done to those working for them, those being serviced by them and the communities/environments in which the corporate entity is located.

There is also a basic political reality that should be remembered by even those who turn a blind eye to this issue or actively support these private migrant prisons. What you allow your government to do to the least of us (as in the ability to resist/challenge), will one day be done to you and yours (including you MAGA supporters). We see the weapons of 'wars on terror' on our streets being used against our citizens, we will see the expansion of this prison system based upon Guantanamo and migrant prisons if we stay quiet. Prisons in which people are not given the basic necessities and are dehumanized. Prisons where our duly elected representatives are not allowed access and are openly threatened when they investigate the conditions. Prisons in which the human factor is erased.

One last thing, I'll keep this simple, for the Christians that support Trump - what would your savior Jesus do in response to these migrant prisons. Where would he stand?

Barragán, Nanette. "'Unconscious and Unacceptable': : Rep. Barragán Decries Detention of Migrant Children in Prison Cells." Democracy Now (July 11, 2019) ["Yazmin Juárez, the Guatemalan mother whose child died after being held in an ICE detention center from a lung infection, testified before members of a congressional panel Wednesday. She shared the story of her daughter, 19-month-old Mariee, who died last year shortly after being released from the South Texas Family Detention Center in Dilley, Texas. Juárez filed a $60 million lawsuit against the Department of Homeland Security, Immigration and Customs Enforcement, Customs and Border Patrol and the Department of Health and Human Services. The House subcommittee convened to examine the treatment of refugees in U.S. detention, just over a week after lawmakers flocked to the U.S.-Mexico border to observe the horrible treatment of refugee children and families in immigration jails amid reports of continued unsafe and unsanitary conditions for asylum seekers. Meanwhile, NBC reports that migrant children jailed in Yuma, Arizona, have been subjected to mistreatment and sexual violence. We speak with Democratic Rep. Nanette Barragán from California, who recently visited detention centers in Texas. She’s the second vice-chair of the Congressional Hispanic Caucus and serves on the House Committee on Homeland Security."]

Wednesday, July 10, 2019

Dialogic Cinephilia - July 10, 2019

Bollington, Lucy. "Martel's Aquatic Poetics." The Cine-files #14 (Spring 2019)

Dash, Anil, et al. "Tech's Moral Void." Ideas (March 14, 2019) ["Lawyers and doctors have a code of ethics. Teachers have them. Even journalists have them. So why not the tech sector, the people who create and design our very modes of communication? Coders and designers make products that allow to us communicate with each other, across cities and nations and borders. How we speak and how many we reach determines what we buy and sell, affects our health and economy, and — as we've come to realize — influences our democracy. Contributor Tina Pittaway explores whether the time has come for tech to reckon with its moral void."]

Deveraux, Ryan. "Border Patrol Agents Tried to Delete Racist and Obscene Facebook Posts. We Archived Them." The Intercept (July 5, 2019)

Ellinger, Kat and Samm Deighan. "Dirty Girls: The Films of John Hayes." Daughters of Darkness #29 (March 24, 2019) ["Kat and Samm return to explore the overlooked work of director John Hayes, in typically outrageous fashion. While many know Hayes’ horror efforts Dream No Evil(1971) and Grave of the Vampire (1972), his extensive work in exploitation, sexploitation, and pornographic film still remains widely unknown to all but a very few cult aficionados. This episode focuses on three different films from three different genres, Help Female Wanted (1968), Mama’s Dirty Girls (1974), and Baby Rosemary(1976), as Kat and Samm attempt to unravel the director’s career."]

Estes, Nick. "Our History of the Future." Dig (June 29, 2019) ["Standing Rock Versus the Dakota Access Pipeline, and the Long Tradition of Indigenous Resistance." Michael Benton -- This is one of the best discussions I have heard about indigenous cultures, settler colonialism, racism/apartheid in America and intergenerational indigenous resistance movements. I cannot laud this enough - totally revolutionized and extended my thinking/understanding of contemporary movements like Standing Rock and their place in the long history of intergenerational indigenous struggles against genocidal policies. I highly recommend this episode and check out The Dig podcast (they also just did an impressive 5 part episode on contemporary European politics)]

Fraga, Victor. "Out Stealing Horses (Ut Og Stjæle Hester)." Dirty Movies (February 9, 2019)

Frank, Casey. "How Investigative Reporting & Survivor Testimony Toppled Billionaire Serial Abuser Jeffrey Epstein." Democracy Now (July 9, 2019) [ Michael Benton -- I complain a lot about the failures of corporate media. I would like to step back and give a nod of appreciation to the Miami Herald for their impressive and difficult investigative reporting - good episode looking into their work on this issue when powerful people just wanted it to go away. This is what we want to see from the fourth estate, watchdog journalism that isn't afraid to defend the powerless. --  "Billionaire hedge fund manager Jeffrey Epstein was charged in a Manhattan federal court Monday with sex trafficking and conspiracy. He is accused of sexually assaulting and trafficking dozens of underage girls between 2002 and 2005 at his homes in Manhattan and Palm Beach, Florida. Epstein, who has counted Presidents Donald Trump and Bill Clinton among his friends, pleaded not guilty and is being held in jail until his bond hearing next week. Several accusers were present in federal court in Manhattan on Monday. In November 2018, the Miami Herald published a series of articles by investigative reporter Julie Brown exposing Epstein’s crimes and the high-powered people, such as President Trump’s Labor Secretary Alexander Acosta, who protected him. Epstein’s arrest after more than a decade of accusations is in part being hailed as a feat of local investigative journalism. We speak with Casey Frank, the senior editor for investigations at the Miami Herald."]

Thompson, A.C. "Border Agents Caught Posting Racist, Sexist Messages About Migrants & AOC in Secret Facebook Group." Democracy Now (July 3, 2019) ["Customs and Border Protection has opened an investigation into the posting of racist and xenophobic messages by current and former Border Patrol agents on a private Facebook group. More than 9,500 people are part of the group, which was exposed by ProPublica on Monday. The Facebook group is filled with racist, homophobic, anti-immigrant and misogynistic content about migrants and asylum seekers, as well as public officials like Congressmember Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, who is depicted in a photoshopped image being sexually assaulted by President Trump. In another thread, members of the group made fun of a video of a man trying to carry a child through a rapid river in a plastic bag. Someone commented, “At least it’s already in a trash bag.” We speak with ProPublica reporter A.C. Thompson, who broke the story."]

Friday, July 5, 2019

Dialogic Cinephilia - July 5, 2019

Benton, Michael Dean. Around the World in 15 Films (1) Dialogic Cinephilia (Future film course plan)

Bremmer, Ian. "On the Failure of Globalism." Democracy Works (March 14, 2019) ["This episode is a discussion with Ian Bremmer, author of Us vs. Them: The Failure of Globalism. Ian is a political scientist and president of the Eurasia Group, a political risk advisory and consulting firm. In this episode, Ian talks with Future Hindsight host Mila Atmos about populism, authoritarianism, and some of the other trends we’ve heard about over the past few weeks. Think of it as a 30,000-foot view of what we’ve covered in individual countries like Hungary and Brazil."]

Sweet Crude Trailer from Sandy Cioffi on Vimeo.

Cioffi, Sandy and Riki Ott. "Sandy Cioffi on Nigerian Oil, Riki Ott Looking Back at Exxon Valdez Spill." Counterspin (June 14, 2019) ["The BP oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico happened from the spring through the fall of 2010. The blowout of the Deepwater Horizon rig killed 11 people, and countless animals, on its way to becoming the worst marine oil spill in history. It seemed to take that protracted disaster on the US coast to generate a New York Times front-page story on June 16, 2010, about oil industry ravages in Nigeria’s delta region, which, the article noted, “has endured the equivalent of the Exxon Valdez spill every year for 50 years, by some estimates.” CounterSpin had a powerful conversation that week with filmmaker and video artist Sandy Cioffi, whose film, Sweet Crude, looks at the oil industry in Nigeria, and the way it is covered in the US. ... Oil spills are often discussed in media in terms of the Exxon Valdez. But if the use of the Valdez as a touchstone might give the impression that “lessons were learned” from that 1989 disaster…. Well, that mainly applies to the lesson that not disaster, but activism—dogged, ongoing, out-of-the-spotlight, misunderstood and maligned activism—is what changes things. That’s part of what we learned when we spoke with activist and marine biologist Riki Ott in 2009—then the 20-year anniversary of that “oil spill to end all oil spills”—now many spills ago."]

Cole, David. "Political Activism and Constitutional Law." Conversations with History (February 22, 2018) ["Conversations host Harry Kreisler welcomes David Cole, National Legal Director of the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) for a discussion of two of his ten books-- his first book, No Equal Justice and his most recent book Engines of Liberty. The conversation begins with his reflections on his formative years and the skill set and temperament appropriate for a constitutional lawyer. It then turns to the work of the ACLU and his role as national legal director. On the issue of criminal justice, Cole emphasizes how the structure of the criminal justice system reinforces inequality and sacrifices justice. On the issue of the evolution of the meaning of the Bill of Rights, Cole analyzes the role of political activism in shaping constitutional law with specific reference to the establishment of gun rights and gay marriage rights. The conversation concludes with a discussion of the implications of the changing political landscape-- with its emphasis on libertarian ideology, nationalism, and the importance of social media-- for affecting constitutional law. "]

Cook, Adam. "Parasite (Bong Joon Ho, South Korea)." Cinema Scope #79 (2019)

Grisebach, Valeska and Syuleyman Alilov Letifov. "Western." The Close-Up (February 15, 2018)

Lenz, Lyz. "Tucker Was Tucker All Along." On the Media (March 13, 2019) ["To suggest that Tucker Carlson has a tendency to hint at deeply discriminatory tropes would be cliché — but also dead-on. Just this week, thanks to newly unearthed audio released by Media Matters, the Fox News darling ditches his signature dog whistle in exchange for unmistakable and unapologetic hate speech. Who is Tucker Carlson, really? In this week's pod extra, Bob delves into the origins of the now-notorious commentator with Lyz Lenz, a writer for Columbia Journalism Review who profiled Carlson in September."]

Michael Benton - Holiday was promoted as a tour-de-force exploration of feminine oppression, when, in actuality its scope is much more enveloping, it is a brutal, though at times pretty (not people, scenery), naturalistic examination of a hyper-capitalist mindset (think of the Italian film Gomorrah) and its necessary by-product dehumanization and humiliation of all involved, especially in relation to whatever fuck is on a rung above you. (On MUBI for about four more days)

Michael Benton -- Excellent episode analyzing the toxic effect of one of the worst organizations in America and the need to fight for stricter gun control laws.

Thursday, July 4, 2019

4th of July Reflection (2019)

I was asked what I perceive as major problems in our society and I would like to share my response:

I believe there are some key problems:

1) A poor education system that fails to teach people how to think critically and doesn't encourage people to think for themselves or creatively -- testing is the worst mode of assessing knowledge and teaching lessons. This is not the fault of individual "teachers," instead it is a broader problem of an educational "system" (public and charter) set up to fail the general population that can't afford an elite education.

2) Our media system is dominated by massive corporations that do not care about informing citizens or supporting creativity. 85% of the world's media is owned by five corporations. These corporations spread disinformation and censor vital information we need to know in order to even begin to address basic issues vital to our communities/society/nation/world. Think about how terrible most films, music, etc are...... apply the same process to the information you get from these corporations.

3) Teaching yourself to think critically and learning how to access a more complete understanding of world politics and social issues is difficult without help. It took me ten years before I was able to make sense of any issue and I made it my job as a professor. Think how hard that is for people who have to work other jobs, have families, etc...... It doesn't have to be this hard, it could be much easier.... I know because I teach students all the time how to access information about the world. Why are these basic skills not taught from the earliest age.

4) Our government is dominated by corporate money and generally corrupt. Although there are good people working in the government and we need to support their efforts. Always remember it is not a matter of replacing individuals, it is the system that needs to be changed. We currently have the worst President in my lifetime, but this problem will not change if we just replace him with the least bad person.

5) Our society is more and more set up to keep people atomized (seperated from others) rather than encouraging collaboration/empathy with others (where the people find their power).

Never trust anyone that accuses other people of being biased -- this is sure sign of a manipulative communicator because anyone with basic knowledge of communication and history knows that it is impossible to communicate anything without bias (bias is simply having a perspective). Reject manipulative/simplistic TINA - There is no alternative - statements/beliefs.

I'm biased--I have a perspective. I am always willing to explain it because that is the most honest way of communicating. Also be suspicious of those that will not fully explain their statements and those that preach hate for groups of peoples.

This 4th of July imagine what we can do to build a better society/world,

Michael Dean Benton

PS: Probably one of the biggest dangers in our society right now is the broad-based/blanket dismissal of groups/classifications of peoples ... try to recognize the individuals that are making a positive difference and make clear when criticizing serious social/political issues that you are talking about the problems of systems. For instance, my critique of education or law enforcement or government or etc.... is about the systemic structure and I do not say all teachers/administrators or police/judges/lawyers or politicians/bureaucrats/democrats/republicans/independents are bad/corrupt/incompetent. That would be lazy thinking on my part and it alienates potential allies in fixing the problems of those systems. Even worse, when we fail to see individuals and classify groups of people as bad, it is a first step in failing to recognizing/respecting the humanity (or whatever) of those individuals and can lead to an acceptance of the worst actions (say... murder or incarceration) as acceptable.

Wednesday, July 3, 2019

Dialogic Cinephilia - July 3, 2018

Anderson, Jake. "Midsommar." Letterboxd (July 3, 2019)

Bazelon, Lara. "Kamala Harris Says She Was a Progressive Prosecutor. Her Record Tells Another Story." Democracy Now (July 2, 2019) ["As Senator Kamala Harris rises in the early presidential polls, she is facing increasing scrutiny over her record as a prosecutor in California. In 2004, Harris became district attorney of San Francisco. She held the post until 2011, when she became the attorney general of California. We speak with Lara Bazelon, a professor at the University of San Francisco School of Law. In January, she wrote a piece in The New York Times titled “Kamala Harris Was Not a 'Progressive Prosecutor.'” In it, Bazelon writes, “Time after time, when progressives urged her to embrace criminal justice reforms as a district attorney and then the state’s attorney general, Ms. Harris opposed them or stayed silent. Most troubling, Ms. Harris fought tooth and nail to uphold wrongful convictions that had been secured through official misconduct that included evidence tampering, false testimony and the suppression of crucial information by prosecutors.”"]

Christina, Greta. "Wealthy, Handsome, Strong, Packing Endless Hard-Ons: The Impossible Ideals Men Are Expected to Meet." AlterNet (June 20, 2011: Reposted on Role Reboot )

Fraga, Victor. "By the Grace of God (Grâce à Dieu)." Dirty Movies (February 8, 2019)

Kilkenny, Katie. "Claire Denis on How Stephen Hawking Inspired High Life." The Hollywood Reporter (April 16, 2019)

Koresky, Michael. "Interview: Ari Aster." Film Comment (May 1, 2018)

Reich, Robert, et al. "Fighting for a Green New Deal." Best of the Left #1242 (January 18, 2019) ["Today we take a look at the groundwork for a Green New Deal as it's being laid and the fight that is heating up around the policies, not just between political parties but between the separate wings (and generations) of the Democratic Party."]

Sports Dialogic Cinephilia (Ongoing Archive)

Walters, James. "Moments Apart." Movie #8 (2019)