Magic Sun And Cry Of Jazz

Two short films featuring Sun Ra, the avant-garde jazz artist whose big band the Arkestra got its start in Chicago. I haven’t seen Phill Niblock’s Magic Sun (1968, 17 min.), but most accounts suggest its visuals may be more striking than its music. Whether this is true or not, the music in Edward O. Bland’s eccentric Chicago-made short Cry of Jazz (1959, 31 min.) is absolutely essential. The paradox here is that Bland’s film centers on jazz and needs various kinds of performance to illustrate its points, yet what’s being played is only adequate; if the music were good enough to distract one from the talk, the film wouldn’t work as well. Lucid and provocative, this is recommended viewing for any jazz novice, one of the best social readings of jazz form I know. (JR)

Published on 22 Nov 2002 in Featured Texts, by admin

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Master Thief (FEMME FATALE)

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Published on 08 Nov 2002 in Featured Texts, Featured Texts, by jrosenbaum

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Satin Rouge

While looking for her teenage daughter in a cabaret, a widowed seamstress (Hiam Abbas) befriends a belly dancer and winds up becoming a popular dancer herself in this sensual Tunisian feature about self-discovery. Writer-director Raja Amari, who grew up watching Egyptian musicals and once studied belly dancing, seems more interested in the film’s nervy female-empowerment fantasy than in depicting a social milieu in any detail, but that’s OK with me. Similarly, Abbas often comes across more as a performer than as an actress, but her beauty, her authority as a dancer, and the obvious pleasure she takes in her craft wind up counting for more than dramatic skill. In short, I never quite believed the story, but this movie is more about feeling than thinking. In Arabic with subtitles. 99 min. (JR)

Published on 01 Nov 2002 in Featured Texts, by admin

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