Did They Buy It?: Nicaragua’s 1990 Elections

A fascinating 45-minute video documentary by Chicagoan Bob Hercules, filmed on location with a crew of four, that concentrates largely on the U.S. media coverage of the Nicaraguan elections. What emerges is not only a sharp piece of alternative news coverage that helps to explain the outcome (a matter that most mainstream coverage tended to obfuscate) and an informative account of the various powers at play, but also a revealing and multifaceted (and alternately funny and chilling) look at how the U.S. news about Nicaragua actually gets “created.” Particular attention is given to journalists from NBC Newsweek, and National Public Radio as they put together their reports, but many other observers (including many Nicaraguans) are heard from; especially lucid and eloquent are Ed Asner and a couple of Nicaraguan women speaking about their sons in the army. To be shown on a large screen; presented by the Committee for Labor Access. (Amalgamated Clothing & Textile Workers Union Hall, 333 S. Ashland, Friday, November 30, 8:00, 850-1300)

Published on 30 Nov 1990 in Featured Texts, by jrosenbaum

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Berkeley in the Sixties

A near-definitive account of the Free Speech Movement in Berkeley in the 60s, including the campus protests that preceded and followed it during the decade. Mark Kitchell, the young filmmaker who put this together over six years, combines a vivid oral history recounted by many of the participants (including, among many others, Susan Griffin, Todd Gitlin, Bobby Seale, John Searle, and Chicagoan Jack Weinberg) with fascinating archival footage and still photographs (which feature, among others, Joan Baez, Martin Luther King Jr., Mario Savio, the Grateful Dead, and Governor Ronald Reagan). What emerges is neither a simple exercise in nostalgia nor watered-down, TV-style history, but a detailed inquiry, with a sharp analytical sense of where the Free Speech Movement came from and how it developed, informed throughout by a keen sense of political and historical process. One regrets that Kitchell limited his coverage of what the participants are doing today to American Graffiti-style titles at the end–which suggests a form of historical closure that one would like to think a film of this sort would avoid. But in all other respects this is essential viewing. (Film Center, Art Institute, Columbus Drive at Jackson, Saturday, November 24, 6:00 and 8:15, and Sunday and Thursday, November 25 and 29, 6:00, 443-3737)

Published on 23 Nov 1990 in Featured Texts, by jrosenbaum

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We Love It When They Lie [JACOB’S LADDER]

Please go to

http://www.jonathanrosenbaum.net/1990/11/we-love-it-when-they-lie/

Published on 16 Nov 1990 in Featured Texts, Featured Texts, by jrosenbaum

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Route One/USA

I’ve only seen about half of Robert Kramer’s 253-minute epic, but I can certainly recommend it very highly on that basis. This is a fictional documentary in which a character named Doc (Paul McIsaac), who figured in two earlier Kramer films, travels with cinematographer-director Kramer from Fort Kent, Maine, to Key West, Florida, looking for a job and a home while taking in what’s been happening to this country lately. Doc attends a Pat Robertson-for-president meeting in New Hampshire, visits Walden Pond, and is interviewed for a job in a Manhattan ghetto school. Kramer is an American independent with a background in radical documentaries whose political fiction films (including The Edge and Ice) made a decisive mark in the 60s, but he’s been living in Europe since 1979 and making most of his films there, which regrettably kept both his name and his work out of general circulation in the U.S. This multifaceted road movie represents both a return to his sources and a striking out in fresh directions (1989). (Film Center, Art Institute, Columbus Drive at Jackson, Sunday, November 18, 2:00, 443-3737)

Published on 16 Nov 1990 in Featured Texts, by jrosenbaum

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Betty Boop Scandals

This fabulous 1974 compilation of 20s and 30s cartoons by Max and Dave Fleischer, highlighting (but not exclusively) their Betty Boop cartoons, looks just as wild and as wacky as it did 16 years ago. Over the years Tex Avery has become recognized as the surrealist master of the Hollywood cartoon, and with reason. But one shouldn’t forget that the Fleischers anticipated many of his free-form imaginative flights with charming and creepy fantasies and radical transitions that are in some ways even more dreamlike. The plots are minimal, as are the leading characters (Betty, Koko, and Bimbo), but the intricate and integral uses of live action, Cab Calloway and his orchestra, bouncing-ball sing-alongs (complete with scat lyrics in some cases), rampant and delirious anthropomorphism, and daffy wit make these cartoons enduring classics. All the black-and-white and triumphantly uncolorized) selections here will be seen in good 35-millimeter prints: Koko’s Earth Control (1928), the only silent film in the bunch; Koko’s Harem Scarem (1929); Bimbo’s Initiation (1931); Minnie the Moocher (1932); Stoopnocracy (1933); Boilesk (1933); and Betty Boop’s Rise to Fame (1934). Stoopnocracy, a demented concerto about insanity, is alone worth the price of admission. (Film Center, Art Institute, Columbus Drive at Jackson, Friday, November 16, 6:00, 443-3737)

Published on 16 Nov 1990 in Featured Texts, by jrosenbaum

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