In preparation for this labor-day weekend, I thought it might be fun to watch and rewatch a bunch of labour-related films, in particular those that highlight union or workplace struggles. Well, I am somewhat bleary eyed from my home film fest, but I am going to focus on a half dozen of the films that I most enjoyed.
Click on the grey triangle or Mp3 link above to hear my picks as broadcast today on the Arts Express radio program, heard on WBAI FM and Pacifica affiliates across the country.
As a youngster I didn’t much like Laurel and Hardy, but viewing this short recently, I couldn’t help laugh at their absolutely perfect timing. I’m assuming that part of the way it comes across on this film is due to the director, Charles Rogers.
Amiri Baraka was an internationally known poet, playwright, political activist and theorist. But as prolific and influential as he was, the rest of his family, including his wife Amina and children Ras and Middy, are just as special. A recent documentary called Why is We Americans provides a portrait of the Baraka family and how they helped shape modern Newark, NJ, the nation, politics, arts and subsequent generations. I was happy to talk with the directors of the film, Why is We Americans, Udi Aloni and Ayanna Morris, and also one of the subjects of Why is We Americans, Amiri Baraka Jr, known as Middy.
Click on the grey triangle or MP3 link above to hear the interview as broadcast recently on Pacifica affiliates across the nation.
Kurt Vonnegut’s humorous and fantastical novels are all still in print today. Certainly, if you were a college student of the 60s, 70s or 80s, you probably know lines from Vonnegut novels by heart. Producer, director and writer Robert Weide has come out with a new documentary on Kurt Vonnegut, which includes Mr. Weide’s personal relationship to Vonnegut, called Kurt Vonnegut: Unstuck in Time. I was happy to interview Robert Weide for Arts Express.
Click the triangle or mp3 link above to hear my interview with Robert Weide, as broadcast today on Arts Express on WBAI FM NYC, and Pacifica stations across the country.
If ever there was an immortal movie monster, it was Frankenstein, or more correctly Frankenstein’s monster. And of course the role of the monster was originally played by Boris Karloff who starred in scores of horror films. A new film documentary, Boris Karloff: The Man Behind the Monster explores just who this amazing actor was. I was happy to interview filmmakers Thomas Hamilton and Ron MacCloskey about Karloff and their film.
Click the triangle or mp3 link above to hear the interview, as broadcast today on Arts Express on WBAI FM NYC, and Pacifica stations across the country.
The Graduate, Angels in America, The Odd Couple, Barefoot in the Park, The Gin Game, Hurley Burley, Silkwood, Postcards From The Edge, Heartburn, Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf, Streamers, The Real Thing, Spamalot, Working Girl and more were all directed by the same man–Mike Nichols. In a career that spanned over fifty years simultaneously in both film and theater, Mike Nichols proved that he was one of America’s best directors. Now Mark Harris has written a comprehensive new biography of Nichols, which provides great insight into Nichols’ life and career. I had the pleasure of having a very enjoyable conversation with Mark about Nichols, who Mark knew well.
Click the triangle or mp3 link above to hear part one of the interview Mark gave on Arts Express, as broadcast yesterday on WBAI FM NY and Pacifica stations across the nation.
My recent post about Times Square, set me thinking about the film Midnight Cowboy. When it first came out, all the talk was of Dustin Hoffman whose turn as Ratso Rizzo was, of course, a classic characterization. After Hoffman’s scrubbed suburban college grad in The Graduate, it was a treat to see him do something diametrically opposed in Midnight Cowboy. But I think because of Hoffman’s flashy performance as Ratso, Jon Voight’s achievement in the film was somewhat overlooked. Voight looked like they had picked someone off the street from Texas and that was that. But how many knew that Voight was born and raised in Westchester County, NY? His transformation was just as impressive as Hoffman’s, only nobody realized it.
Above, you can see the devastating last scene in the movie, fading out with John Barry’s haunting theme written for the film.
Here’s animator Nina Paley’s newest installment of her Seder Masochism project. Moses go back up Mount Sinai and brings back the tablets. Complications, compromises, and circumcisions ensue. Click on the video above to watch.
You can hear my radio interview with Nina Paley here.