Tuesday, February 18, 2020

Dialogic Cinephilia - February 18, 2020

Human life is a wild, extraordinary phenomena: elements are brewed in the center of stars and exploding supernova, spewed across the universe; they eventually clumped into a minor planet around a modest star; then after some billion of years this "stardust" becomes complex molecules with self-replicating capacities that we call life. More billions of years pass and these self-replicating molecules join together into more complex forms, evolve into organisms that gain awareness and then consciousness, and finally, eventually, consciousness of their consciousness. Stardust turned into conscious living matter aware of its own existence. And with that comes consciousness of mortality. That I, as a conscious being, will cease to exist pales in significance to the fact that I exist at all. I don't find that this robs my existence of meaning; it's what makes infusing life with meaning possible. -- Erik Olin Wright, Stardust to Stardust: Reflections on Living and Dying. (Forthcoming from Haymarket Books, 2020)
Whoever you are, now I place my hand upon you,
that you be my poem,
I whisper with my lips close to your ear...
Walt Whitman, "Poem of You, Whoever You Are" (1856)
Archer, Ina Diane and Nicolas Rapold. "Sorry to Bother You." Film Comment Podcast (July 4, 2018) ["'Audiences will enjoy Sorry to Bother You in one go, but the film invites and can stand up to multiple viewings, in much the same way that complex rap lyrics benefit from repeated plays and familiarity gained from memorization,' Ina Diane Archer writes in our July/August issue. “Boots Riley is, by his own definition, a storyteller—a socially conscious, political artist, communist, proud Oaklander, and the beloved front man of The Coup.” Riley’s scabrous satire tracks a telemarketer (Lakeith Stanfield) on the rise in a company engaged in some nefarious labor practices that bring corporate malfeasance into a surreal realm. For our latest episode of The Film Comment Podcast, Archer joined me in a discussion of the feature and the many layers she unpacks in her essay."]

Chabon, Michael. "The Film Worlds of Wes Anderson." The New York Review of Books (March 7, 2013)

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."]

Lee, Spike. "Blackkklansman." The Film Comment Podcast (August 1, 2018) ["Spike Lee’s BlacKkKlansman—a story about incredible events in America’s past that feel well-suited to our incredible present. “In a case where the events of history improve upon the fantasies of fiction, BlacKkKlansman, the latest Spike Lee joint, is based on the 2014 memoir written by Ron Stallworth, a black undercover police officer who infiltrated the Ku Klux Klan in 1979,” Teo Bugbee writes in her feature. “However, Lee does not get lost in the details of Stallworth’s life story, and BlacKKKlansman is no straight biopic. Instead, it follows the beats of a traditional cop movie, where a man of the law is torn between allegiances in his efforts to solve a case. In this regard, the film represents the latest chapter in the underrated career of Spike Lee, genre filmmaker.” For this episode, I joined Bugbee and Ashley Clark of BAMcinématek to discuss Lee’s wide-ranging, and chronically misunderstood, career."]

Quammen, David. "Why Darwin Was Wrong About Evolution." First Draft (December 16, 2019) ["... David Quammen joins Mitzi to discuss his latest book The Tangled Tree: A Radical New History of Life, out now from Simon & Schuster."]

Questlove and Boots Riley. "Sorry to Bother You." The Film Comment Podcast (July 18, 2018) ["Boots Riley, director of the mind-altering new film Sorry to Bother You, and special guest Questlove at the Film Society of Lincoln Center. “All art is political,” said Riley, who detailed the genesis of the movie’s surreal Marxist story of a African-American telemarketer, and traded stories with Questlove about the nitty-gritty of the creative process."]

Weinstein, Adam. "Who's Behind Trump's Push to Pardon War Criminals?" On the Media (May 24, 2019) ["The New York Times reported that the Trump administration had made expedited requests for paperwork needed to pardon troops “accused or convicted of war crimes, including high-profile cases of murder, attempted murder and desecration of a corpse." Another such case includes a Blackwater contractor twice convicted in the 2007 killings of dozens of unarmed Iraqi civilians. The White House's request for case histories from the Department of Justice follows Trump's pardon earlier this month of former Army 1st Lt. Michael Behenna, who had been convicted of killing an Iraqi prisoner. Adam Weinstein is an editor for The New Republic. He’s served in the Navy and worked as a contractor in Iraq in 2008. Weinstein writes there is no natural constituency — from the upper echelons of the Department of Defense to the leadership of major veteran's groups — that would support the decision. So where is the push for pardoning war criminals coming from? Bob talks to Weinstein about the influence of Fox News and the efforts of FOX and friends co-host Pete Hegseth."]

Wissot, Lauren. "'Watching The Battle of Chile Helped Me to Have the Courage to Trust my Intuition…': Petra Costa on Her Oscar-nominated Doc The Edge of Democracy." Filmmaker (February 5, 2020)

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