Sunday, December 10, 2017

Can we continue to enjoy the work of disgraced filmmakers? (Pulp Fiction?)

Can we separate our respect for art from the reputation of the artist? 

On Indiewire a number of critics weigh in on the question here

It’s interesting that they discuss “Pulp Fiction”, one of the great films of the 90s (produced by the Weinstein brothers in part, but directed by Taraentino, not involved in all this mess.) 


In other areas, there is a point where we don’t want to consume content from criminals or from sufficiently disgraced persons.  I think the Unabomber and Eliot Rodger “manifestos” are available somewhere online, but nobody seems to want them now. Milo Yiannopoulos lost his publishing deal after somewhat fakey rumors about supporting ephebophilia leaked out in February, but he went on to create his own publishing company that has also published Pam Geller (maybe James Damore?) I think a Netflix-style documentary about Milo, or Pam, or James (or all three in one film) could make interesting home viewing.  I’d be game to support it, maybe.  

Monday, December 04, 2017

"The Savannah: The Largest Domestic Cats in the World"

The Savannah: The Largest Domestic Cats in the World” on Discovery-UK (part of “Cats 101”).
A family a rural area probably in northern California takes in the savannah, a hybrid of serval and domestic cat, graded as to percentage of wild genes.

The cats require a lot of outdoor space, but become attached to people. In South Africa, it’s more common for ranchers to have big cats (even cheetahs) who hunt in a range and remember where home is and return for food. 

This film is the story of two of the savannah cats, Kala and Mondo.  One night, Mondo runs out when the babysitter doesn’t notice (there are two kids).  Someone finds Mondo on another farm 12 miles away and returns him. Even with the second family Mondo was quite friendly.

There are other YouTube videos of Zeus, a serval who has grown up with a pre-teen to teen boy and who regards the boy as part of his “pride”.  A cat may think he or she can teach a human child to hunt.

These animals have lives of their own, and a knowledge of the world we never perceive. Yet they try to share it with us. 
Wikipedia attribution link for picture of a G2 Savannah, by Galawebdesign, CCSA 3.0. 

Friday, December 01, 2017

"Why Vietnam?": LBJ's propaganda piece for prospective draftees in the summer of 1965

In the summer of 1965, the Pentagon produced a “propaganda” film defending the increased intervention in Vietnam, titled “Why Vietnam?”.

The film opens with president Lyndon Johnson reading a letter from a mother of a young man where the mother asks why the boy must risk his own personal sacrifice?

The recent long Ken Burns film on PBS would tend to refute some of the claims in the film.  The “domino theory” is touted (as it may sound relevant to North Korea today).  Also sacrifice is relative, as the people who live in the region sacrifice.

But LBJ also refers to the sacrifice in WWII, and DOD also refers to a Dwight Eisenhower speech.  At one point the film refers to a time when the American forcers were only “advisory”.  Guerilla, asymmetric warfare is explained.

I was working my first summer at the David Taylor Model Basin (Navy) that summer. 

The film is mentioned in the book “Enduring Vietnam” by James Wright. I picked this up at the National Archives after visiting the "Remembering Vietnam" exhibit Nov. 27.

Thursday, November 30, 2017

Casablanca on its 75th birthday -- and and example of wartime censorship of Hollywood

I remember seeing “Casablanca” (Warner Brothers, directed by Hal Wallis) at the Inwood Theater in Dallas in 1982.  This is touted by populists as one of the best movies of all time.

But Stephen McVeigh, at Swamsea University in the UK explains this film, at its 75th anniversary, as still a case of WWII propaganda, in a guest post on Rick Sincere’s blog, here
In 1939, when the Blitzkrieg started, the United States was the only country with neither propaganda nor an intelligence agency. That changed quickly in the aftermath of Pearl Harbor.  The Office of War Information would be set up in the summer of 1942.

The agency had shocking powers as gatekeepers of the content of commercial films that got produced, as to helping win the war, an idea that would seem totally unthinkable today with our idea of unregulated user generated content. McVeigh lists seven questions that every film was vetted with. 
By Croix_de_Lorraine_3.png: Daniel FRderivative work: LeonardoelRojo (talk) - Croix_de_Lorraine_3.png, Public Domain, Link

Wednesday, November 29, 2017

"Building a Border at 4600 Meters": Indigenous people along Tibet-Nepal border fall under China's government

Johnny Harris offers a 13 minute film “Building a Border at 4600 Meters” about the indigenous people between Nepal and Tibet, whose land (the Bon) is bisected by China’s “building that wall”. URL is here

The film also discusses the 300 million people throughout the world who live in essentially “stateless” spaces, too remote from governments, mostly off the land, on economies based on barter. But gradually governments encroach.
Ezra Klein posted the video on Facebook for Vox Media.

The picture I selected generates the name of Annapurna Studios.  

By This illustration was made by (User:Royonx) and released under the license(s) stated above. You are free to use it for any purpose as long as you credit me and follow the terms of the license.Example :  © Michel Royon / Wikimedia CommonsIf you use this image outside of the Wikimedia projects, I would be happy to hear from you par courriel ( royonx Thanks !Ce message en fran├žais - Own work, CC0, Link

Tuesday, November 28, 2017

National Archives shows military recruiting collage film "We Want You"

The National Archives, in the Public Vaults display, next to the Rotunda, shows a 10-minute collage of military recruiting, mostly during Wold War II, called “We Want You”.  All of this during the time of the military draft.

The main recruiting song was “Over There”, which in my 1969 manuscript “The Proles” was the euphemism for Vietnam.

I visited this area after a visit to the “Remembering Vietnam” exhibit.

The film makes reference to women joining SPARS during WWII to free the men to sail in the Navy (or to fight) during WWII.
There is also a clip that finishing college while in the Army would be no problem. 

Sunday, November 26, 2017

Washington area residents have to wait to see "Lavender Scare" when Reel Affirmations doesn't screen it

There is a bit of a flak in that the DC Reel Affirmations Film Festival declined to show “Lavender Scare”, a documentary about the purge of homosexuals from the federal government in the 1950s during the Eisenhower years and the “Red Scare”, with emphasis on the story of Frank Kameny.

The Washington Blade has a story by Lou Chibarro, Jr., but the DC Center has declined to explain why it wasn’t selected.   But some people seem to believe that retelling history during the current political environment (with Pence as vice-president) could “bring it back”.  The material is also sensitive now because of Trump’s attempted transgender ban in the military, now under litigation.
The trailer shows the practice of “naming names” during the witch hunts.  Similar practices went on in the US military, gradually abetting under “don’t ask don’t tell”, to be repealed in 2011. 
The film is produced and directed by Josh Howard.