Check it out.
Steven Hale approves in this week's Scene:
If you're the type who thinks a beard and a long highway headed west can cleanse you of society's ills, you probably already consider Allen Ginsberg's Howl more profound than profane. Filmmakers Rob Epstein and Jeffrey Friedman may be preaching to a converted audience of angel-headed hipsters, but their docudrama Howl is still a stirring defense of every American's sacred right to a barbaric yawp. Revolving around the 1957 obscenity trial following the poem's publication, the movie doesn't serve as a referendum on Ginsberg's seminal work; it celebrates the San Francisco court's favorable ruling regarding its literary merits as much as the poem itself.
Primarily known as documentarians (The Times of Harvey Milk), filmmakers Epstein and Friedman stick to the facts in service of their personal admiration for the work. Courtroom dialogue was taken directly from the original transcripts, and content for interview-style scenes was compiled from archival footage. James Franco delivers a brilliant portrayal of the young Ginsberg, chain-smoking his way through the beginnings of a counterculture while offering insight into his work and working methods. His reading of the poem, the film's backbone, sounds convincing and spontaneous, as if the words had occurred to the actor in the moment. In the courtroom, Jon Hamm, David Strathairn and Jeff Daniels (jeez, after Dumb and Dumber he got all ... serious) all turn in worthy performances, albeit in roles which don't require much of them.
"All the Same Old Haunts" is a lot of folks' favorite story from the book. I'd like to believe it's because my writing is just so awesome, but I think the truth is that Nashville's musical heritage is so important to people and the idea that there's some realm in which musicians of any era can get together and jam (and into which you might stumble) is irresistible, I think.
I drew my inspiration from the story from two places — Martin Hawkins' book A Shot in the Dark and the article I linked to in this post, which appears now to have vanished, which is too bad. It's a great story that ran in the Scene about the era that is bleeding into our own in this story.
In retrospect, I gave the two main characters a hell of a walk from 18th and Jefferson to the Elks Club, but let's just pretend we don't notice that. Also, I called the club "Club Baron" and have been saying it to myself like "Club Bare-own" but I recently saw an interview with Johnny Jones who kept calling it the "Bare-un Club." So that's not right, either — but, again, let's pretend we don't notice.
Slapstick perfection from The Circus, launching the six-week Charlie Chaplin retro tomorrow and Sunday at The Belcourt. More info here.
Tomorrow's offering in the ITVS Community Cinema series of free screenings at the Nashville Public Library looks like the most fun yet. It's Reel Injun: On the Trail of the Hollywood Indian, filmmaker Neil Diamond's survey of celluloid cliches about American Indians. (The clip above, a bit of poetic revenge, is pretty hilarious.) Here's what jack Silverman wrote in this week's Scene:
What do actors Burt Lancaster, Anthony Quinn, Elvis Presley, Boris Karloff, Chuck Connors and Charles Bronson have in common? They’ve all donned red makeup to play Native Americans. As Charlie Hill, an Oneida/Cree comedian, puts it in Reel Injun, “Chuck Connors as Geronimo. That’s like Adam Sandler as Malcolm X!” Cree filmmaker Neil Diamond’s thoughtful and probing look into Hollywood’s portrayal of Native Americans, Reel Injun examines the multifaceted movie caricature — vicious, noble, brave, backward, exotic — that has forever imprinted itself on the American psyche. On one hand, John Ford’s Stagecoach — to this day lauded by film critics as one of the greatest movies ever made — set the template for the stereotype of Native Americans as primitive, bloodthirsty savages. On the other, Native Americans have been fetishized on film (and throughout pop culture) for their presumed spirituality or connection with nature. Among Reel Injun’s highlights: a segment on prolific actor Iron Eyes Cody (the famed “crying Indian” from the early-’70s “Keep America Beautiful” PSAs), who desperately tried to hide his Italian ancestry, and a scene from 1964’s A Distant Trumpet in which Navajo actors went off script in their native tongue (and which is accurately translated for the first time, to hilarious effect).
The screening is 2 p.m. tomorrow (Saturday, Oct. 30) at the downtown public library, 615 Church St. It's free and open to the public, followed by a panel discussion featuring Grammy-winning Native American recording artist, painter and speaker Bill Miller; Chanda Joesph from the Bureau of Indian Affairs; Cherokee historian, activist and writer Albert Bender; and JJ Kent, Lakota recording artist, storyteller and cultural educator. Dr. Daniel Usner, Jr., professor of American Indian history at Vanderbilt University, will moderate.
Bill Haslam has been complaining because reporters lately have been asking about his views on guns and not on the more important issue of the state's finances. So the Tennessee Report's Andrea Zelinski gamely tried once again to pry budget specifics out of Haslam, who's leading Mike McWherter by 29 points in this new Channel 4 poll. It turns out Haslam's hoping to listen in to Gov. Phil Bredesen's public hearings on the next budget before he figures out what to cut.
"We will definitely be listening and following those so that we can begin our homework," he says.
Too bad Bredesen isn't holding the hearings this year. Guess Haslam will just have to fly blind.
In rural Tennessee, Rep. Lincoln Davis, a Democrat hoping to hold on to his highly conservative district this fall, is running an ad that quotes documents from his opponent's divorce case 10 years ago.
"Court documents reveal Scott DesJarlais has a history of attacks: violent and threatening behavior toward his first wife, firing an unloaded gun outside her bedroom door, putting the gun in his own mouth for three hours," the ad intones in a stern, echoing voice over music fit for a sci-fi movie. "It's documented. It's disturbing."
Anyone just viewing that ad would never know that the allegations came from his ex-wife, who was trying to get control of the couple's house when she made the charges. Or that a judge granted DesJarlais his guns and joint custody of the couple's son.
A DesJarlais campaign spokesman said the ad's charges have "no merit." Davis's campaign says the ad on the divorce records was "in bounds" and pointed to more episodes from DesJarlais's past, including a police report following an encounter between the estranged couple.
"The Republicans have recruited some candidates who have just been disastrous in their personal life," said John Rowley, a media consultant to the Davis campaign. "It's almost like daytime television."
The DesJarlais campaign says the ad hasn't worked anyway. "The Democrats and Lincoln Davis attempted to throw a Hail Mary with this ad, but it has fallen woefully short," said Brent Leatherwood, DesJarlais's campaign manager. "Americans are disgusted with the negative personal attacks Democrats are using and these efforts are backfiring here in Tennessee."
On the sidewalk in front of The Clairmont Apartments, representatives from the American Civil Liberties Union and the Tennessee Immigrant and Refugee Rights Coalition denounced an Oct. 20 raid of the southwest Nashville complex by Immigration and Customs Enforcement agents that is said to have resulted in the detention of more than 20 residents who were allegedly undocumented.
Immigrant representatives and witnesses say agents broke into the apartments and arrested men and women at gunpoint, forcing them to leave their children behind.
"They came and took my friends and their family members — people who take care of me after school and look out for me every day," said a 13-year-old boy whose name is being withheld.
Immigrant representatives know of no criminal charges filed against the people who agents rounded up, and they claim that warrants were not presented before agents entered the apartments by force. One source says they were taken to a detention facility in Ft. Payne, Ala., despite the fact that Davidson County has a facility that participates in 287 (g), a federal program that allows local law enforcement to screen and detain undocumented immigrants.
One of these state House hopefuls is Sheila Butt, a Christian author and motivational speaker who is challenging Ty Cobb, the dim-bulb freshman Democrat from Columbia. What's Butt all about?
To begin to answer that question, we checked out her latest book, Everyday Princess: Daughter of the King. In this "instructional manual" for every Christian girl hoping to become "a real princess" in the eyes of God, Butt explains how to avoid the pitfalls of meeting homosexuals, dating blacks, dancing with anyone and lots of other stuff. Here's a sample:
Nashville's Corrections Corporation of America, the largest private prison company in the country, basically wrote Arizona Bill 1070 — the controversial immigration bill the Obama administration is challenging, and which conservative Tennessee legislators like Rep. Joe Carr of Murfreesboro praised this summer. That's the gist of an NPR investigation that uncovers Bond-villain levels of chicanery.
It was there that Arizona's immigration bill was drawn up. CCA naturally stood to gain the most. Citing a company document, NPR reported the company expected a "significant portion" of its future revenues to come from Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) for the detention of undocumented immigrants.
When the bill, virtually unchanged from the language and substance laid down by its legislative and corporate authors, made it to the Arizona House floor, two-thirds of its sponsors were members of ALEC. Over the next several months, most of the bill's co-sponsors received donations from CCA and other corrections companies. Gov. Brewer, whose two top advisers are former private prison company lobbyists, immediately signed the bill.
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