WBEZ | Film http://www.wbez.org/sections/film Latest from WBEZ Chicago Public Radio en Saudi Arabia escalates attacks in Yemen http://www.wbez.org/programs/worldview/2015-08-28/saudi-arabia-escalates-attacks-yemen-112764 <p><p><span style="font-size:24px;"><strong>Sheila Carapico says Saudi Arabia seeks hegemony over Yemen</strong></span></p><p><span id="docs-internal-guid-d5363326-7617-f9aa-ab49-4abce8b3e762">News coming out of Yemen seems to indicate that Saudi Arabia is making bold moves to establish a foothold in the country to counter its rival, Iran. Reports suggest that the Saudis now have boots on the ground in Yemen as it continues bombing raids against Shiite Houthi rebels. But many observers, like Human Rights Watch and Amnesty International, feel more attention must be paid to the &ldquo;catastrophic&rdquo; humanitarian crisis resulting from the conflict. Sheila Carapico, political science professor at the University of Richmond, will tell us why she thinks most of the news coming out of Yemen is Saudi propaganda meant to take the eye off the slaughter of civilians.</span></p><p><strong>Guest:&nbsp;</strong><span id="docs-internal-guid-d5363326-761e-9a34-8bd2-6b4c2e091faa"><a href="http://polisci.richmond.edu/faculty/scarapic/">Sheila Carapico</a> is</span>&nbsp;professor of Political Science and International Studies at the University of Richmond</p><p><iframe frameborder="no" height="166" scrolling="no" src="https://w.soundcloud.com/player/?url=https%3A//api.soundcloud.com/tracks/221328803&amp;color=ff5500&amp;auto_play=false&amp;hide_related=false&amp;show_comments=true&amp;show_user=true&amp;show_artwork=false" width="100%"></iframe></p><p><span style="font-size:24px;"><strong>Hubert Sauper&#39;s film &quot;We Come as Freinds&quot; is on Western exploitation of Sudanese</strong></span></p><p dir="ltr"><span id="docs-internal-guid-a7cf3a61-7619-6732-9b31-05a4a66f2aa3">This week, President Salva Kiir of South Sudan signed a peace accord aimed at ending nearly two years of conflict. Since the start of the civil war in 2013, at least eight peace deals have collapsed before ever taking effect. &nbsp;The conflict began as power struggle between Kiir and his former deputy, Riek Machar. &nbsp;The latest film by director &nbsp;Hubert Sauper, &#39;<a href="http://www.wecomeasfriends.com/us/">We Come as Friends</a>&#39;, explores the moment when Sudan was being divided into two nations. &nbsp;Film contributor Milos Stehlik and Hubert Sauper join us to discuss the film and what is happening in South Sudan.</span></p><p dir="ltr"><strong><span>Guests:&nbsp;</span></strong></p><p dir="ltr"><span id="docs-internal-guid-a7cf3a61-761d-e247-4199-2453815fb63b">Hubert Sauper is the director of the film &quot;We Come As Friends&quot;.&nbsp;</span></p><p dir="ltr">Milos Stehlik is the director of Facets Multimedia and WBEZ&rsquo;s film contributor.<iframe frameborder="no" height="166" scrolling="no" src="https://w.soundcloud.com/player/?url=https%3A//api.soundcloud.com/tracks/221330807&amp;color=ff5500&amp;auto_play=false&amp;hide_related=false&amp;show_comments=true&amp;show_user=true&amp;show_artwork=false" width="100%"></iframe></p><p dir="ltr"><span style="font-size:24px;"><strong>Weekend Passport: Ania Jaworska exhibit,&nbsp;<span id="docs-internal-guid-8ac0c89c-761a-f718-862c-aaae0b0fadfa">Chicago Dancing Festival</span>, Ugandan Kid&rsquo;s Choir and &#39;Art&#39; by Gorilla Tango</strong></span></p><p><span id="docs-internal-guid-8ac0c89c-761b-5d85-394b-248ab47f0f16"><span id="docs-internal-guid-8ac0c89c-761c-7da3-4017-dfd5477d27a8">Each week, global citizen, Nari Safavi, helps listeners plan their international weekend. This week, we&rsquo;ll hear about an <a href="http://www2.mcachicago.org/exhibition/bmo-harris-bank-chicago-works-ania-jaworska/">exhibit</a> featuring the work of Polish artist Ania Jaworska.</span></span></p><p><strong>Guest:</strong> Nari Safavi is co-founder of Pasfarda Arts and Cultural Exchange</p><p><iframe frameborder="no" height="166" scrolling="no" src="https://w.soundcloud.com/player/?url=https%3A//api.soundcloud.com/tracks/221330807&amp;color=ff5500&amp;auto_play=false&amp;hide_related=false&amp;show_comments=true&amp;show_user=true&amp;show_artwork=false" width="100%"></iframe></p></p> Fri, 28 Aug 2015 10:45:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/programs/worldview/2015-08-28/saudi-arabia-escalates-attacks-yemen-112764 Sri Lanka elections mark Rajapaksa's return http://www.wbez.org/programs/worldview/2015-08-14/sri-lanka-elections-mark-rajapaksas-return-112660 <p><p><iframe frameborder="no" height="166" scrolling="no" src="https://w.soundcloud.com/player/?url=https%3A//api.soundcloud.com/tracks/219279946&amp;color=ff5500&amp;auto_play=false&amp;hide_related=false&amp;show_comments=true&amp;show_user=true&amp;show_artwork=false" width="100%"></iframe></p><p><strong><span style="font-size:24px;">Sri Lanka Elections</span></strong></p><p>Sri Lankans will elect a new parliament next week. The big news out of this election cycle has been the decision by the former president, Mahinda Rajapaksa, to run in this election. Rajapaksa was voted out of office earlier this year, when he was seeking a third term as president. He&rsquo;s been accused of corruption and war crimes and says he&rsquo;s decided to re-enter politics as the behest of the people. This time around he is looking at the position of prime minister. Alan Keenan, the Sri Lanka Project Director at the International Crisis Group joins us to discuss Rajapaksa&rsquo;s return and next week&rsquo;s vote.</p><p><strong>Guest:</strong><a href="http://www.crisisgroup.org/en/about/staff/field/asia/keenan-alan.aspx">&nbsp;Alan Keenan</a>, the Sri Lanka Project Director at the International Crisis Group joins us to discuss Rajapaksa&rsquo;s return and next week&rsquo;s vote.</p><p><iframe frameborder="no" height="166" scrolling="no" src="https://w.soundcloud.com/player/?url=https%3A//api.soundcloud.com/tracks/219280610&amp;color=ff5500&amp;auto_play=false&amp;hide_related=false&amp;show_comments=true&amp;show_user=true&amp;show_artwork=false" width="100%"></iframe></p><p><strong><span style="font-size:24px;">Milos Stehlik interviews Christian Petzold on his film, &#39;Phoenix&#39;</span></strong></p><p>Director Christian Petzold&rsquo;s latest film, &ldquo;Phoenix&rdquo; has been described as &ldquo;a haunting portrait of identity, loss and the search for answers in post-WWII Berlin. &ldquo; &ldquo;Phoenix&rdquo; tells the story of Nelly Hoss, a Jewish cabaret singer who survived Auschwitz, only to be shot in the face in the last desperate days before liberation. Film contributor Milos Stehlik and Christian Petzold join us to discuss the film.</p><p><em>Phoenix is now showing at Music Box Theatre</em></p><p><strong>Guests: </strong></p><p><a href="http://www.imdb.com/name/nm0678857/">Christian Petzold</a>, filmmaker. Director of the film &#39;Phoenix&#39;</p><p>Milos Stehlik, director of <a href="http://www.facets.org">Facets Multimedia</a></p><p><iframe frameborder="no" height="166" scrolling="no" src="https://w.soundcloud.com/player/?url=https%3A//api.soundcloud.com/tracks/219281359&amp;color=ff5500&amp;auto_play=false&amp;hide_related=false&amp;show_comments=true&amp;show_user=true&amp;show_artwork=false" width="100%"></iframe></p><p><strong><span style="font-size:24px;">Weekend Passport: K-von Moezzi on his film &#39;Nowruz: Lost and Found&#39;</span></strong></p><p dir="ltr"><span id="docs-internal-guid-db08feab-2e43-370f-b4a4-869d13f72890">Each week, global citizen, Nari Safavi, helps listeners plan their international weekend. &nbsp;This week he&rsquo;ll tell us about a screening of a new film about the Persian New Year, Nowruz. The film was directed by comedian K-von Moezzi, who joins us in studio to talk about his comedy and his attempt to explain Nowruz to people who have never heard of it.</span></p><p dir="ltr"><strong><span id="docs-internal-guid-db08feab-2e43-370f-b4a4-869d13f72890">Guests:</span></strong></p><p dir="ltr"><span id="docs-internal-guid-db08feab-2e43-370f-b4a4-869d13f72890">Nari Safavi is co-founder of <a href="http://www.pasfarda.org/">Pasfarda</a> Arts and Cultural Exchange</span></p><p><span id="docs-internal-guid-db08feab-2e43-370f-b4a4-869d13f72890"><a href="http://www.k-voncomedy.com/">K-von Moezzi</a> is a comedian and the director of Nowruz: Lost and Found</span></p></p> Fri, 14 Aug 2015 12:41:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/programs/worldview/2015-08-14/sri-lanka-elections-mark-rajapaksas-return-112660 'Straight Outta Compton' is the lamest kind of gloss-over musical biopic http://www.wbez.org/blogs/jim-derogatis/2015-08/straight-outta-compton-lamest-kind-gloss-over-musical-biopic-112628 <p><div class="image-insert-image " style="text-align: center;"><img alt="" class="image-original_image" src="http://www.wbez.org/system/files/styles/original_image/llo/insert-images/NWA1.jpg" style="height: 400px; width: 640px;" title="(Jaimie Trueblood/Universal Pictures)" /></div><p>We might expect that a big-budget Hollywood biopic produced or guided by the surviving members of N.W.A would sidestep the most troubling aspects of the hip-hop giants&rsquo; legacy: the cynical celebrations of the violent gangster lifestyle and, most troublingly, the level of sheer hatred toward women that still stands as a record low in the annals of musical misogyny.</p><p>What we wouldn&rsquo;t expect is an even bigger flaw in <em>Straight Outta Compton</em>, which opens this weekend and is expected to dominate the box office. At a bloated 147-minute running time, it often makes the explosive story of the self-professed &nbsp;&ldquo;World&rsquo;s Most Dangerous Group&rdquo; downright bland and boring.</p><p><a href="http://variety.com/2015/film/reviews/straight-outta-compton-review-1201553979/">Some fawning reviews</a> have compared the movie to another recent biopic of a West Coast musical legend, <em>Love &amp; Mercy. </em>But a few strong performances aside, the more apt comparisons are to other yawningly mediocre big-budget films that erase the rough edges of their subjects and somehow douse the fire at the heart of some of the most incendiary music ever made. Think <em>The Buddy Holly Story. </em>Think <em>La Bamba. </em>Think any made-for-VH1 movie, or <a href="http://www.wbez.org/blogs/jim-derogatis/2014-11/aaliyah-deserves-better-her-lifetime-biopic-111082">Lifetime&rsquo;s recent <em>Aaliyah: The Princess of R&amp;B</em></a> (whose star, Alexandra Shipp, appears here as Ice Cube&rsquo;s wife Kim, one of a handful of women briefly and grudgingly given speaking roles).</p><p>Better yet, think about sparing yourself the nearly 2.5 hours (<a href="http://www.sanluisobispo.com/2015/08/11/3757813/director-defends-straight-outta.html">reportedly cut down from 3.5</a>) in front of the big screen and wait for Netflix, if you must.</p><p>Like any music critic with a moral conscience who charted the group&rsquo;s rise and wrestled with it in the three and a half decades since, N.W.A always has left me severely conflicted. The seductive production of its debut album <em>Straight Outta Compton </em>(1988) set the blueprint for the West Coast sound and everything Dr. Dre has done in its aftermath. And the undeniable rage of the epic Cube-driven &ldquo;F--- tha Police&rdquo; is so monumental that the disc&rsquo;s occasional glorification of black-on-black crime and rampant misogyny can almost be overlooked. That is not the case with the Cube-less second and last release <em>Niggaz4Life.</em></p><p>&ldquo;This is an album of hate-filled songs that glorify gang rape and beating women to death, an album so nihilistic that its lyrics brag about making money from these topics,&rdquo; I wrote upon its release in 1991. &ldquo;It&rsquo;s the most vile, rancid, festering pile of crap I&rsquo;ve heard in my life. It is also one of the top-selling albums in America for the third week in a row.&rdquo; (The full text of that review, which ran in the Minneapolis weekly <em>City Pages, </em>follows below.)</p><p>Hateful jams and skits such as &ldquo;To Kill a Hooker,&rdquo; &ldquo;One Less Bitch,&rdquo; &ldquo;Findum, F---um &amp; Flee,&rdquo; &ldquo;She Swallowed It,&rdquo; and &ldquo;I&rsquo;d Rather F--- You&rdquo; are conveniently sidestepped in the movie. You can&rsquo;t include everything, one might argue. But there is no exploration of what prompted this hatred of women&mdash;not that anything could excuse it&mdash;even as the film strives in ridiculously exaggerated ways to lay the pre-Rodney King groundwork for the group&rsquo;s disdain of the men in blue. (<a href="http://www.thedailybeast.com/articles/2015/08/04/straight-outta-compton-fact-check-how-true-is-the-explosive-n-w-a-biopic.html?via=mobile&amp;source=email">The Daily Beast has a useful fact-check</a> on the realities of N.W.A&rsquo;s interactions with the police, though it only scratches the surface of the film&rsquo;s many distortions and pure fictions.)</p><p>Niggaz With Attitude&rsquo;s attitude toward women was, disgustingly and infamously, not confined to the lyrics. But we don&rsquo;t see Dre&rsquo;s vicious 1991 attack on journalist Dee Barnes, or learn that Eazy-E fathered seven children with six different women. Nor is there any examination of how Eric Wright caught AIDS, which would claim his life at age 31, aside from a fleeting mention that you can contract it from heterosexual sex. (We don&rsquo;t even see much of that with his character; in fact, Neil Brown Jr.&rsquo;s DJ Yella is portrayed as the horndog of the crew in the many scenes with gratuitously naked and nameless groupies.)</p><p>Instead, Eazy (Jason Mitchell), Dre (Corey Hawkins), Cube (the real rapper&rsquo;s son O&rsquo;Shea Jackson Jr.), and Ren (Aldis Hodge of TV&rsquo;s <em>Leverage</em>) emerge as relatively cute and cuddly, as well as utterly guileless as they are preyed upon by the film&rsquo;s three cartoonish villains: manager Jerry Heller (Paul Giamatti), Priority Records chief Bryan Turner (Tate Ellington), and the notorious Suge Knight (R. Marcos Taylor). The bounds of credulity are stretched past the breaking point when we&rsquo;re asked to accept that these whip-smart and streetwise hustlers were so easily duped by bullying music-biz bad guys, whose caricatures are even more simplistic and one-dimensional than those in Spike Lee&rsquo;s harshly criticized <em>Mo&rsquo; Better Blues.</em></p><p>Nor is there a hint of the cold calculation at the heart of the group&rsquo;s art. Its depictions of drug deals and gang killings are merely &ldquo;reality rap,&rdquo; as if the artists just walked down the street and told us what they saw. But it always was much harder to accept N.W.A as &ldquo;the CNN of the streets&rdquo; than it was Public Enemy. The West Coast rappers distorted, exaggerated, and championed the harshest realities of a small sliver of the black community to sell as violent comic books to a mass audience eagerly waiting to lap up the Nihilistic clichés and one-dimensional stereotypes. Like skilled pornographers, they knew what would sell and they enthusiastically sold it, moral qualms and any devotion to accuracy be damned.</p><p>And here they are selling it again, in an even shinier package aimed at an even bigger audience and designed to make it all seem safe and even noble.</p><p>N.W.A <a href="http://pitchfork.com/news/60479-nwa-planning-reunion-tour-with-eminem/">may or may not</a> be planning to capitalize on this rewriting of history with a reunion tour that may or may not find Eminem filling the role of Eazy-E. Either way, that&rsquo;s only the short-term scam, and these artists always have played the long game. In the end, despite a few merits&mdash;those performances by Jackson and Mitchell, a handful of hearty belly laughs, and a nice scene depicting the young Dre lost in a pile of vinyl that stands with the similar one in <em>Almost Famous </em>as a classic depiction of the ineffable seduction of music&mdash;<em>Straight Outta Compton </em>peddles a simplistic myth that has as much in common with complicated realities as Disneyland has with Compton.</p><div class="image-insert-image " style="text-align: center;"><img alt="" class="image-original_image" src="http://www.wbez.org/system/files/styles/original_image/llo/insert-images/NWA2.jpg" title="N.W.A real and fictional: Top row: DJ Yella, Ice Cube, MC Ren, Dr. Dre; bottom: Neil Brown Jr., O’Shea Jackson Jr., Jason Mitchell, Aldis Hodge and Corey Hawkins. (Jaimie Trueblood/Universal Picures)" /></div><blockquote><p align="center">&nbsp;</p><p align="center"><strong>FLASHBACK REVIEW:</strong><strong> N.W.A, <em>Niggaz4Life</em></strong></p><p align="center"><strong><em>City Pages,</em> July 3, 1991</strong></p><p>This is an album of hate-filled songs that glorify gang rape and beating women to death, an album so nihilistic that its lyrics brag about making money from these topics. It&rsquo;s the most vile, rancid, festering pile of crap I&rsquo;ve heard in my life. It is also one of the top-selling albums in America for the third week in a row.</p><p>That alone is enough to make me consider booking one-way passage on a freighter to New Zealand, but two weeks ago, I also heard rock critic and anti-censorship zealot Dave Marsh tell a crowd at the Hungry Mind bookstore in St. Paul that <em>Niggaz4Life </em>is &ldquo;great vulgar art.&rdquo; Marsh, the man who excluded the Rolling Stones&rsquo; &ldquo;Brown Sugar&rdquo; from <em>The Heart of Rock and Soul: The 1,001 Greatest Singles Ever Made </em>because he considers it racist and sexist, went on to compare <em>Niggaz4Life </em>to Henry Miller&rsquo;s <em>Tropic of Capricorn, </em>a great book mistaken for pornography.</p><p>The fact is <em>Niggaz4Life </em>is a pathetic con designed to cash in on its transparent controversy. The most sensible response would be to ignore it, but the fact is it&rsquo;s impossible to avoid, sitting on top of the charts, flaunting its PARENTAL ADVISORY, EXPLICIT LYRICS sticker. Its debut at No. 2 was the highest since Michael Jackson&rsquo;s <em>Bad </em>in 1987; it rose to No. 1 the next week and is now at No. 3. This success flies in the face of a complete lack of play on radio or MTV and comes in the midst of <em>Billboard </em>magazine&rsquo;s much-ballyhooed revamping of the charts to reflect actual sales in the Musiclands and Kmarts of heartland America.</p><p>This means fifteen-year-old white kids in [Minneapolis suburbs] Edina and Eden Prairie, Chanhassen and Chaska are buying <em>Niggaz4Life, </em>and that&rsquo;s why it&rsquo;s the center of a renewed attack by the labeling and censorship crowd; last week, Florida attorney Jack Thompson announced plans to sue Musicland for selling the album, so the battle will be fought right in our backyard. No doubt kids are buying it simply because it&rsquo;s the most vile shit available; as our culture gets more and more jaded in the wake of Freddie Krueger and the Terminator and <em>American Psycho </em>and the beautiful fireworks over Baghdad, it gets harder and harder to shock the folks. Thompson&rsquo;s crew says kids need to be protected from this stuff, just like they need to be protected from the Anoka-Hennepin school district&rsquo;s sex and AIDS curriculum. What they always fail to realize is that the kids are rejecting <em>them.</em></p><p>Marsh and the other critics defending <em>Niggaz4Life </em>could see the war clouds on the horizon, and that may be why they&rsquo;re so dogmatic: If you&rsquo;re not for &rsquo;em, you&rsquo;re agin &rsquo;em. They ask us to excuse N.W.A&rsquo;s hate as fantasy and accept the group as the &ldquo;underground reporters&rdquo; they boast about being on their 1-900-2-COMPTON phone line (a dollar forty-nine per minute). But why can&rsquo;t you be for the First Amendment and against misogyny? I despise any attempt to limit free expression in music and believe N.W.A had every right to make the album they wanted to make. But this is a record review, not an editorial, and I&rsquo;d be betraying everything I believe is implicit in the reader-critic relationship if I didn&rsquo;t say you&rsquo;re a fool if you buy it and more than a little bit warped if you like it.</p><p>Musically the album is wack, all ultra-familiar grooves powered by whining, repetitive four- and five-note Casio rifts. It&rsquo;s not half as effective as Public Enemy&rsquo;s white-noise assaults or De La Soul&rsquo;s psychedelic sampling. Of course it&rsquo;s the words that set N.W.A apart.</p><p>The group struck a nerve even before Rodney King with &ldquo;F--- Tha Police&rdquo; on its platinum-selling debut, <em>Straight Outta Compton. </em>Since then, the Geto Boys and 2 Live Crew have upped the ante on outrageous rap lyrics, and like grammar school kids at a lunchroom table, N.W.A is determined to out-gross and gross-out all comers. They even own up to the scam: &ldquo;Why do I call myself a nigger you ask me?/Because my mouth is so mother----ing nasty/Bitch this, bitch that, nigger this, nigger that/In the meanwhile my pockets are getting fat/I&rsquo;m getting paid to say the s--- here/Making more in a week than a doctor makes in a year.&rdquo;</p><p>To drive the point home the album concludes with the line, &ldquo;Ha, another album. The joke&rsquo;s on you, jack.&rdquo; (I wonder if they meant Thompson or Musicland&rsquo;s Jack Eugster?) The album&rsquo;s first half offers more of N.W.A&rsquo;s muddled politics (remember, Eazy-E&rsquo;s the guy who paid to attend a Republican fundraiser). Between threats to f--- former collaborator-turned-rival Ice Cube up the ass with a broomstick and skits such as N.W.A gunning down picketers outside one of its shows, the songs &ldquo;Real Niggaz Don&rsquo;t Die,&rdquo; &ldquo;Niggaz 4 Life,&rdquo; and &ldquo;Real Niggaz&rdquo; set a record for repetitive use of a word that&rsquo;s still despised by much of the African-American community. N.W.A could almost be seen as adopting Lenny Bruce&rsquo;s tactics on co-opting racial slurs: Claim the word as your own and it ceases to hurt (it&rsquo;s hard not to laugh when the group croons jingle-style, &ldquo;I&rsquo;m a nigger/You&rsquo;re a nigger/He&rsquo;s a nigger/We&rsquo;s some niggers/Wouldn&rsquo;t you like to be a nigger, too?&rdquo;).</p><p>If this was the intention it&rsquo;s ruined when Eazy-E, M.C. Ren, D.J. Yella, and Dr. Dre trot out more racial stereotypes than you&rsquo;d hear at a KKK rally. In their world, a &ldquo;real nigger&rdquo; is not a black human being but someone who lives by the trigger, prefers cocaine to wine or weed, and knows how to handle the bitches (&ldquo;Hop in the pickup/And suck my d--- up &rsquo;til you hiccup&rdquo;).</p><p>In their zeal to fight the good fight censorship&rsquo;s foes are too quick to put aside N.W.A&rsquo;s misogyny, which is overwhelming and sickening throughout the second half of the album. In the songs &ldquo;To Kill a Hooker,&rdquo; &ldquo;One Less Bitch,&rdquo; &ldquo;Findum, F---um &amp; Flee,&rdquo; and &ldquo;She Swallowed It,&rdquo; the group makes its opinion of women clear: &ldquo;To me all bitches are the same: money-hungry scammers, groupies, whores that&rsquo;s always riding on a nigger&rsquo;s d---, always in the nigger&rsquo;s pocket, and when the nigger runs out of money the bitch is gone in the wind. To me all bitches ain&rsquo;t shit.&rdquo;</p><p>When N.W.A picks up a woman and beats her to death because she&rsquo;s a prostitute it&rsquo;s one of the most stomach-churning sound collages in the history of pop music. Marsh can dismiss this as fantasy and <em>Cashbox </em>can contend that &ldquo;portrayal must not be confused with advocacy. &ldquo; But &ldquo;To Kill a Hooker&rdquo; ends with an evil laugh that&rsquo;s too real for comfort. It makes me want to puke, while N.W.A is laughing all the way to the bank.</p></blockquote><p><strong><em>Straight Outta Compton</em></strong><strong> (Universal/Legendary Pictures; 147 minutes, rated R)</strong></p><p><strong>Rating on the 4-star scale: 1 star.</strong></p><p><em><strong>Follow me on Twitter </strong></em><a href="https://twitter.com/JimDeRogatis"><strong><em><strike>@</strike>JimDeRogatis</em></strong></a><em><strong>, join me on </strong></em><a href="http://www.facebook.com/pages/Jim-DeRo/254753087340"><strong><em>Facebook</em></strong></a><em><strong>, and podcast or stream </strong></em><a href="http://www.soundopinions.org/"><strong>Sound Opinions</strong></a><em><strong>.</strong></em></p></p> Wed, 12 Aug 2015 09:34:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/blogs/jim-derogatis/2015-08/straight-outta-compton-lamest-kind-gloss-over-musical-biopic-112628 China Markets in Freefall http://www.wbez.org/programs/worldview/2015-07-31/china-markets-freefall-112535 <p><p><img alt="" class="image-original_image" src="http://www.wbez.org/system/files/styles/original_image/llo/insert-images/China%20stock%20market%201.jpg" title="A Chinese investor walks past displays of stock information at a brokerage house in Beijing, Tuesday, July 28, 2015. Shanghai stocks were volatile Tuesday after falling the most in eight years the day before while other Asian markets also flitted between gains and losses. (AP Photo/Mark Schiefelbein)" /><iframe frameborder="no" height="166" scrolling="no" src="https://w.soundcloud.com/player/?url=https%3A//api.soundcloud.com/tracks/217229042&amp;color=ff5500&amp;auto_play=false&amp;hide_related=false&amp;show_comments=true&amp;show_user=true&amp;show_artwork=false" width="100%"></iframe></p><p><span style="font-size:24px;"><strong>China Markets Spiraling</strong></span></p><p>China&rsquo;s economy and stock markets have been on a &nbsp;deep decline. Hundreds of billions of dollars have left the country in the last year. &nbsp;The Shanghai Exchange, on Monday, &nbsp;posted its biggest loss since 2007. The markets bounced back slightly this week, after Beijing announced moves to restore confidence, such as buying back stocks, easing fiscal policy and aggressively restricting unethical practices like &ldquo;stock dumping.&rdquo; The regional reverberations have hit hard at countries like Australia, a major exporter to China. Observers warn that if the downward spiral doesn&rsquo;t turnaround soon, China will displace Greece as the world&rsquo;s most dangerous financial crisis. We&rsquo;ll talk about China&rsquo;s economic slowdown with <a href="http://www.eurasiagroup.net/about-eurasia-group/who-is/consonery">Nicholas Consonery</a>, Asia director for <a href="http://www.eurasiagroup.net">Eurasia Group</a>, a &ldquo;global political risk research and consulting firm.&rdquo; He leads the firm&#39;s consulting and advisory work on China.</p><p><strong>Guest:</strong>&nbsp;Nicholas Consonery,&nbsp;Asia director for&nbsp;<a href="http://www.eurasiagroup.net">Eurasia Group</a>, a &ldquo;global political risk research and consulting firm.&rdquo; He leads the firm&#39;s consulting and advisory work on China.<iframe frameborder="no" height="166" scrolling="no" src="https://w.soundcloud.com/player/?url=https%3A//api.soundcloud.com/tracks/217229789&amp;color=ff5500&amp;auto_play=false&amp;hide_related=false&amp;show_comments=true&amp;show_user=true&amp;show_artwork=false" width="100%"></iframe></p><p><strong><span style="font-size:24px;">Milos Stehlik Reviews&nbsp;&ldquo;A Pigeon Sat on a Branch&quot; and &quot;Shaun the Sheep&quot;</span></strong></p><p>Film contributor Milos Stehlik joins us to discuss the latest film from Swedish director Roy Andersson - <a href="http://www.magpictures.com/apigeon/">&ldquo;A Pigeon Sat on a Branch.&rdquo;</a> &nbsp;&nbsp;It&rsquo;s the third film in a trilogy that Andersson says looks at the human condition. The film opens this weekend in Chicago at the Gene Siskel Center. &nbsp;Milos also gives his take on the new animated film, <a href="http://shaunthesheep.com/">&quot;Shaun the Sheep&quot;</a></p><p><strong>Guest:</strong> Milos Stehlik is WBEZ&#39;s film contributor and director of Facets Multimedia<iframe frameborder="no" height="166" scrolling="no" src="https://w.soundcloud.com/player/?url=https%3A//api.soundcloud.com/tracks/217230650&amp;color=ff5500&amp;auto_play=false&amp;hide_related=false&amp;show_comments=true&amp;show_user=true&amp;show_artwork=false" width="100%"></iframe></p><p dir="ltr"><strong><span style="font-size:24px;">Weekend Passport</span></strong></p><p dir="ltr">Each week global citizen, Nari Safavi, helps listeners plan their international weekend. &nbsp;This week, he&rsquo;ll tell us about an exhibition of street art from Greece and a play that looks at the role food plays in communities.</p><p dir="ltr"><strong>Guest:</strong></p><p dir="ltr"><span id="docs-internal-guid-2e91bfd6-e59e-640e-dc4a-c304d3205206">Nari Safavi, co-founder of <a href="http://www.pasfarda.org/">Pasfarda</a> Arts and Cultural Exchange</span></p><p dir="ltr"><span id="docs-internal-guid-2e91bfd6-e59e-640e-dc4a-c304d3205206">Connie Mourtoupalas, curator of the <a href="https://www.nationalhellenicmuseum.org/">Hellenic National Museum</a> exhibit, &quot;The Street is My Gallery&quot;</span></p></p> Fri, 31 Jul 2015 09:46:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/programs/worldview/2015-07-31/china-markets-freefall-112535 On the set of ‘Almost Famous’ http://www.wbez.org/blogs/jim-derogatis/2015-07/set-%E2%80%98almost-famous%E2%80%99-112458 <p><div class="image-insert-image " style="text-align: center;"><img alt="" class="image-original_image" src="http://www.wbez.org/system/files/styles/original_image/llo/insert-images/Crowe2.jpg" style="width: 100%;" title="" /></div><p><a href="http://www.soundopinions.org/events">As triumphantly noted on <em>Sound Opinions</em>&rsquo; Events Page</a>, our little radio show will be screening Cameron Crowe&rsquo;s 2000 film <em>Almost Famous </em>for free at the <a href="http://www.cityofchicago.org/city/en/depts/dca/supp_info/millennium_park7.html">Jay Pritzker Pavilion</a> in Millennium Park at 6:30 p.m. tomorrow as part of the city&rsquo;s great summer film series.</p><p>Greg Kot and I don&rsquo;t agree on much, but we both think this is one of the best movies ever made about rock &rsquo;n&rsquo; roll, brilliantly portraying the way that many of us fall in love with the music as a consuming passion, something that is very difficult to capture on film. We also think it&rsquo;s the best movie ever with a hero who&rsquo;s a rock critic&mdash;not that there are many (any?) other contenders.</p><p><a href="http://www.wbez.org/blogs/jim-derogatis/2014-02/great-art-about-guilt-and-longing-109623">As I wrote last year in an obituary of actor Philip Seymour Hoffman</a>, who portrays legendary rock critic Lester Bangs in the film, I also have a very personal connection to this movie: I met and befriended Crowe because I wrote Bangs&rsquo; biography, <em><a href="http://www.amazon.com/Let-Blurt-Lester-Americas-Greatest/dp/0767905091/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&amp;qid=1437667248&amp;sr=8-1&amp;keywords=let+it+blurt">Let It Blurt</a></em>, and we both had the similar experience of meeting our rock-writing hero when we were 17 years old, Crowe in 1972, and me in 1982.</p><p>This doesn&rsquo;t mean I think <em>Almost Famous </em>is a perfect movie; once a critic, always a critic, and its candy-colored portrait of teenage groupies sidesteps some very harsh truths about the way young women were too often treated on the &rsquo;70s rock scene, as recent revelations about Joan Jett&rsquo;s first band the Runaways sadly attest. But what I love about the movie I love very much indeed, and much of that can be seen in the series of articles I wrote for <em>The Chicago Sun-Times </em>after a visit to the set shortly before the film&rsquo;s release 15 years ago in September.</p><p>Here are those articles from 2000. See you tomorrow, and remember: <em>You ARE home!</em></p><blockquote><p><strong>As Crowe flies</strong></p><p><strong><em>The Chicago Sun-Times, September 3, 2000</em></strong></p><p><strong>BY JIM DeROGATIS pop music critic </strong></p><p>LOS ANGELES&mdash;As I arrive in an editing studio on the Fox lot in Hollywood, the beautiful, melancholy sounds of &ldquo;The Rain Song&rdquo; by Led Zeppelin are blasting on the soundtrack. The dramatic strum of Jimmy Page&rsquo;s guitar merges perfectly with the image onscreen of actor Patrick Fugit (portraying William Miller, a.k.a. the young Cameron Crowe) collapsing on his bed, exhausted.</p><p>The scene shifts to Fairuza Balk, one of a gang of groupies known as &ldquo;Band Aids.&rdquo; The music swells majestically as she tosses her long black hair. It&rsquo;s a key point near the end of <em>Almost Famous</em>, Crowe&rsquo;s new film, and Balk is having a conversation with Billy Crudup, the actor who plays Russell Hammond, the vainglorious leader of a fictional &rsquo;70s rock band called Stillwater.</p><p>&ldquo;You don&rsquo;t even know what it is to be a fan,&rdquo; Balk says. &ldquo;To truly love some little piece of music so much that it hurts.&rdquo;</p><p>Crudup stares into the distance, pondering her words. The music sighs, the scene ends, and the technicians stop the film. <em>&ldquo;Niiiice,&rdquo; </em>Crowe says with just a hint of a Southern California surfer accent. &ldquo;Very nice!&rdquo;</p><p>It&rsquo;s early July, 10 weeks before the movie&rsquo;s Sept. 15 opening, and it&rsquo;s the last day of six intense weeks of sound editing, the final step before the film&rsquo;s completion. Three recording engineers&mdash;one for dialogue, one for music and one for sound effects&mdash;plus music rights consultant Danny Bramson and numerous assistants busy themselves behind a giant console that looks like the control panel for the starship Enterprise.</p><p>&ldquo;This is the <em>Jerry Maguire</em> crew,&rdquo; Crowe explains. Like ballplayers at the end of the season, they are slightly giddy as they make the final fixes on the eagerly awaited follow-up to Crowe&rsquo;s 1996 hit. The director smiles and lapses into a bit of <em>Blues Brothers</em> shtick. &ldquo;The band got back together!&rdquo; he says. &ldquo;The man wanted to keep us apart, but we got together again!&rdquo;</p><p>All of the movies that Crowe has written, or written and directed&mdash;<em>Fast Times at Ridgemont High</em> (1982), <em>The Wild Life</em> (1984), <em>Say Anything</em> (1989), <em>Singles</em> (1992) and <em>Jerry Maguire</em>&mdash;are marked by their extraordinary use of music, which isn&rsquo;t surprising, given his background as a rock journalist. Now 42, the director was a 15-year-old Catholic high school kid from San Diego when he began covering bands such as Black Sabbath, Led Zeppelin, and the Eagles for <em>Creem</em> and <em>Rolling Stone</em> magazines in 1973. <em>Almost Famous</em> tells the story of his first year on the road.</p><p>Tall, gangly but otherwise inconspicuous, Crowe quietly absorbed everything around him during seven of the headiest years in rock history, then set it down on paper with the enthusiasm of a diehard fan. He employed a similar modus operandi a few years later in 1979 when he re-enrolled in high school, posing as a senior at age 22 to write a book about how &ldquo;the kids&rdquo; really lived.</p><p><em>Fast Times at Ridgemont High </em>became a best seller, which led Crowe to write a screenplay for the film by Amy Heckerling. Though it flopped on release, the movie became a huge hit on video, making stars of cast members such as Sean Penn, who portrayed stoned-out surfer Jeff Spicoli. Crowe&rsquo;s movie career was launched, but it would be a constant struggle to make films the way he wanted, in the warm romantic-comedy tradition of his hero Billy Wilder. (Alfred A. Knopf recently published his book of interviews with the director of <em>The Apartment</em> and <em>Some Like It Hot</em>.)</p><p>&ldquo;The only movie that I&rsquo;ve ever been a part of where the money guys &lsquo;got it&rsquo; was <em>The Wild Life</em>,&rdquo; Crowe says, referring to his least successful film. &ldquo;I&rsquo;m used to them not getting it. They didn&rsquo;t get this movie; they didn&rsquo;t get <em>Jerry Maguire</em>; they definitely didn&rsquo;t get <em>Singles</em>, and <em>Say Anything</em> was barely released. In many ways it&rsquo;s a miracle that we&rsquo;re even sitting here talking about my work in film, because the only stuff that wasn&rsquo;t a battle for me was rock journalism.&rdquo;</p><p>Music clearly remains Crowe&rsquo;s first and truest love. Balk may be doing the talking in the scene described above, but the sentiments are the director&rsquo;s.</p><p>&ldquo;We tried a lot of songs in that scene,&rdquo; Crowe says. &ldquo;We really wanted to hit her speech about being a fan&mdash;that feeling about it being <em>your </em>band and loving a song like &lsquo;The Rain Song,&rsquo; which could make you cry on the right occasion. It was all about that speech, and unless you honored that speech by putting the right music behind it, it was just a candidate to be cut, as opposed to the heart of the movie.&rdquo;</p><p>Trivia fact: &ldquo;Nothing Man&rdquo; by Crowe&rsquo;s friends Pearl Jam was the song that Crudup was actually listening to as the scene was filmed. &ldquo;Other directors say you have to be careful with people listening to music on the set because it could look good while you&rsquo;re filming but later it might not sync up,&rdquo; Crowe says. &ldquo;I disagree. The look of someone listening to music they love is a unique look, and I wanted to capture that.</p><p>&ldquo;The whole subject matter is just so personal and fascinating to me. Another guy would be interested in car racing or something. It&rsquo;s all about what you&rsquo;re a fan of. It&rsquo;s almost punk-rock, trying to push a personal movie through the mainstream pipeline. You have to have had a movie like <em>Jerry Maguire</em> for people to trust you and let you make a movie like this and cast it the way you want to cast it, without any stars.&rdquo;</p><p><em>Almost Famous</em> was the most difficult of Crowe&rsquo;s films to make because it was the most personal and because he felt an obligation to accurately capture real-life characters like his rock-critic mentor, the late Lester Bangs.</p><p>&ldquo;I was in denial that I was actually doing the movie for a long time,&rdquo; Crowe says. &ldquo;I thought there was a real danger of doing a &lsquo;glory of me&rsquo; project. I really have a problem with talking about myself; my taste is for utterly personal stuff that doesn&rsquo;t revel in the glory of ego. It&rsquo;s like the blowhard at the party whose voice is too loud. I really wanted to avoid that, and all my friends will tell you that I tortured them and tortured myself deciding to finally do this.&rdquo;</p><p>As in the past, music provided the way into the project. The director started making &ldquo;road trip tapes&rdquo; full of the music of the era, and those inspired him to start writing. It&rsquo;s a cardinal rule of the movie business that the screenwriter never specifies what music will be playing during a scene, but Crowe ignored this convention even before he started directing his own films. &ldquo;The scripts&mdash;all of them, even <em>Jerry Maguire</em>&mdash;start with the music for me,&rdquo; he says.</p><p><strong>* * * </strong></p><p>Twelve hours later, after lunch at the commissary and a break for a dinner of Indian takeout, the crew is beginning to hit the wall, but Crowe shows no signs of slowing down. Chronically described as &ldquo;boyish&rdquo; (even now, long after his days as a wunderkind), he is constantly pacing behind the mixing console, tossing a baseball in the air, answering questions from his assistants, pausing to check his email on a laptop and talking to this reporter all at once. It&rsquo;s as if he&rsquo;s urging his team toward the finish line by his own display of perpetual motion.</p><p>Crowe&rsquo;s wife, Heart guitarist Nancy Wilson, has arrived in the studio to add a bass line to the score during another key scene, the one where Fugit/Miller bids farewell to the groupie who has stolen his heart, Kate Hudson as Penny Lane. The crew gives the impression that they think things are just fine as they stand (and they&rsquo;d really like to go home), but Crowe is convinced that Wilson&rsquo;s bass will put the scene over the top.</p><p>The couple fell in love during the making of <em>Fast Times at Ridgemont High</em>, after being set up on a blind date by two mutual friends, rock photographer Neal Preston and Kelly Curtis, the manager of Heart and Pearl Jam. &ldquo;Nancy just didn&rsquo;t know how uncool it was to date a rock writer,&rdquo; Crowe jokes.</p><p>Since then, Wilson has written the scores for all of his films. In between taking care of their young twins, she also penned several of the songs that Stillwater performs, utilizing a style that evokes bluesy mid-&rsquo;70s rockers Bad Company.</p><p>&ldquo;We have the same musical taste, and we speak shorthand,&rdquo; Crowe says of working with his wife. &ldquo;Everybody does these scores that are keyboard-based, because it&rsquo;s easy; you can sample everything on keyboard. I like guitar scores; it sort of suits my writing better. I can walk in the kitchen and say, &lsquo;Let&rsquo;s do a romantic theme on guitar,&rsquo; and she&rsquo;ll say, &lsquo;I&rsquo;ll do it later.&rsquo; I&rsquo;ll say, `Now, now, now!&rsquo; and she&rsquo;ll sit down and play something that becomes like the theme of <em>Jerry Maguire</em>.&rdquo;</p><p>&ldquo;It&rsquo;s really his voice and his taste in music,&rdquo; Wilson says as she tunes her bass and waits for the engineers to roll the tape. &ldquo;He gets a lot of his inspiration from listening to songs and cutting out pictures&mdash;it&rsquo;s kind of like a collage effect with music, where there&rsquo;s like an ache or something and he hears the song and gets into the story. We&rsquo;re roughly the same age, and we have a really similar background with the stuff we loved in music&mdash;Dylan and the Beach Boys and all that stuff. He was like the only guy I ever met who had such similar taste in music.&rdquo;</p><p>&ldquo;Quiet on the set!&rdquo; somebody shouts, and the crew begins rolling the film and recording Wilson&rsquo;s bass part. The musician watches the screen as Fugit runs along an airport concourse, keeping pace with Hudson&rsquo;s plane as it taxies down the runway. The spare but touching score underscores both the connection and the distance between them.</p><p>As their actors&rsquo; eyes meet, the musician hits a rolling bass note that does indeed bring the moment to its emotional climax. The note is still ringing in the air when the engineers stop the film and turn expectantly toward Crowe.</p><p><em>&ldquo;Niiiice!,&rdquo; </em>the director says, even more enthusiastically than before. &ldquo;Very nice!&rdquo;</p><p>Everyone applauds for &ldquo;one-take Wilson,&rdquo; no one clapping louder than Crowe. The last of the sound fixes has been completed, and the director is ready to send his film into the world.</p><p>&nbsp;</p><p><strong>Sidebar: Great moments by the numbers </strong></p><p>A few years ago, Cameron Crowe was decrying what he called &ldquo;the <em>Batman</em> syndrome&rdquo; of big-budget movies slapping pop songs on the soundtrack as a marketing gimmick, regardless of whether or not the music fit the film.</p><p>&ldquo;That&rsquo;s the case less and less now,&rdquo; Crowe says. &ldquo;It&rsquo;s just a different generation of filmmakers coming up, and what was once the shining example&mdash;Martin Scorsese and the way he used rock music in his movies&mdash;is now becoming more and more common.&rdquo;</p><p>Every fan of Crowe&rsquo;s work has a favorite music-movie pairing from his films. Here are some of mine, as well as the director&rsquo;s choices, which may be surprising.</p><p><strong>* </strong><em>Fast Times at Ridgemont High</em></p><p>My choice: The scene where Mike Damone lectures Mark &ldquo;Rat&rdquo; Ratner on side two of &ldquo;Led Zeppelin IV&rdquo; as perfect make-out music. Ironically, &ldquo;Kashmir&rdquo; from &ldquo;Physical Graffiti&rdquo; plays on the soundtrack&mdash;at the time, it was the only Zep song that Crowe could get the rights for.</p><p>Crowe&rsquo;s choice: &ldquo;&lsquo;Somebody&rsquo;s Baby&rsquo; by Jackson Browne&mdash;definitely the scene with &lsquo;Somebody&rsquo;s Baby.&rsquo;&rdquo;</p><p><strong>* </strong><em>Say Anything</em></p><p>My choice: John Cusack as Lloyd Dobler tries to win Ione Skye&rsquo;s Diane Court by playing Peter Gabriel&rsquo;s &ldquo;In Your Eyes&rdquo; on a boom box held aloft in the rain.</p><p>Crowe&rsquo;s choice: &ldquo;&lsquo;Within Your Reach&rsquo; [by the Replacements], when Lloyd is packing to leave home. I love that.&rdquo;</p><p><strong>* </strong><em>Jerry Maguire</em></p><p>My choice: Tom Cruise as Maguire banging the steering wheel in time to Tom Petty&rsquo;s &ldquo;Free Fallin&rsquo;,&rdquo; oblivious to the fact that that&rsquo;s exactly what he&rsquo;s doing.</p><p>Crowe&rsquo;s choice: &ldquo;It would be [Bruce Springsteen&rsquo;s] &lsquo;Secret Garden,&rsquo; when Rene [Zellweger] runs down the street, and just before that when she sees her little boy kissing Tom. It&rsquo;s one of my favorite moments as a director. I also like &lsquo;Magic Bus&rsquo; [by the Who] at the beginning. It set the tone for the whole movie.&rdquo;</p><p><strong>* </strong><em>Almost Famous</em></p><p>My choice: Philip Seymour Hoffman as Lester Bangs doing the chicken dance to &ldquo;Search and Destroy&rdquo; by the Stooges.</p><p>Crowe&rsquo;s choice: &ldquo;Led Zeppelin&rsquo;s &lsquo;That&rsquo;s the Way.&rsquo; And I really like Bloodwyn Pig in this movie. And I liked finding `Your Move&rsquo; [by Yes] for when the kid gets backstage for the first time, because that felt kind of quietly triumphant. But the new one is totally built on the music&mdash;it&rsquo;s all about the music.&rdquo;</p><p>&nbsp;</p><p><strong>Sidebar: </strong><strong>Bangs served as role model for filmmaker</strong></p><p>A s a precocious 15-year-old, Cameron Crowe began writing about rock music for the alternative weekly <em>The San Diego Door</em>. His editor was Bill Maguire&mdash;the director would pay homage when he chose Jerry Maguire&rsquo;s surname 22 years later&mdash;but his real role model was rock critic Lester Bangs, who grew up in nearby El Cajon, then moved to Detroit to edit <em>Creem</em> magazine.</p><p>Bangs returned home to visit at Christmas 1973. Crowe stood outside watching through the plate-glass window as his hero did an interview on an FM rock station. Afterward, the two went for a hamburger. Bangs had read the clips Crowe sent him, and he rewarded him with an assignment to interview Humble Pie.</p><p>This scene is recounted in <em>Almost Famous</em> as Bangs is portrayed by the red-hot method actor Philip Seymour Hoffman (<em>Boogie Nights</em>, <em>Magnolia</em>, <em>The Talented Mr. Ripley</em>). He is the moral conscience of the movie, the wise sage who tells the young Crowe not to befriend rock stars and to always be &ldquo;honest and unmerciful.&rdquo; (Never mind that Bangs sometimes ignored his own advice.)</p><p>I met Bangs a decade later, two weeks before he died in the spring of 1982, when I was a senior in high school. Crowe read a fanzine article that I wrote about my encounter, and for years, every six months or so, he called and encouraged me to write a book about Bangs&rsquo; life. Eventually I did. (I contributed research material to <em>Almost Famous</em>&mdash;although I was not a paid or credited consultant&mdash;and Crowe was one of more than 200 people interviewed for my book.)</p><p>I asked the director to talk about why Lester Bangs was so important to him and to so many of our fellow rock writers.</p><p>&ldquo;What your book is about, what my movie is about, what Lester Bangs is about is being a fan,&rdquo; Crowe said. The biggest thing was&mdash;with all due respect to Lester&mdash;not to write a movie that was a tribute to Lester, but to make a movie that was a tribute to the way that music makes you feel. If you can get the movie to make you feel like a song you just sort of discovered that you want to hear like eight times in a row, that&rsquo;s the hardest thing. Part of that story is a guy who can grab you by the collars and say, &lsquo;Listen to this!&rsquo; or &lsquo;Don&rsquo;t hang out with rock stars!&rsquo; Of course, you have to embrace the contradictions, because fully half the time I spent with Lester was hanging out with rock stars!</p><p>&ldquo;I was intent on capturing Lester&rsquo;s humor. Hoffman was listening to a tape of your interview with Lester in between takes, but that was the 1982 Lester, and I wanted to make sure he was connected to the &rsquo;73 Lester. The push and pull of our discussions and the performance created a more truthful Lester because you have the humor and you also have the darkness that was obvious just by looking at his body: He seemed gloriously toxic. Hoffman caught the soul, I fought for the humor, and the collaboration surprised us both.</p><p>&ldquo;When [DreamWorks studio chief Steven] Spielberg saw the movie, he called me up&mdash;and believe me, I don&rsquo;t get many calls from Steven Spielberg&mdash;and he said, &lsquo;I&rsquo;m gonna quote Lester Bangs to you right now and I&rsquo;m gonna be honest and unmerciful.&rsquo; He told me what he thought of the movie and he was very complimentary and also very laser-like about pace and stuff. I had about 30 people read the part of Lester, including Tom Cruise. In the end I hired the one guy who didn&rsquo;t even read&mdash;he just walked in and started talking about this American Express ad that he&rsquo;d seen with one of his heroes up on a bulletin board, and it was a very Lester-like rant. But I hear Lester laughing in those moments, when I hear Cruise reading his words, or when Steven Spielberg quotes him.</p><p>&ldquo;If the both of us, through our own experiences with Lester, have found a way to start a debate about the state of rock criticism or at least bring attention to this guy via your book or my movie, I say let it all come, because he really deserves it.&rdquo;</p><p>&nbsp;</p><p><strong>Sidebar: </strong><strong>Screenplays spawn imitators</strong></p><p>From Jeff Spicoli&rsquo;s immortal words, &ldquo;People on &lsquo;ludes should not drive,&rdquo; to Rod Tidwell&rsquo;s timeless exhortation, &ldquo;Show me the money!,&rdquo; Cameron Crowe has shown a remarkable ability for crafting catchphrases and tapping into the cultural zeitgeist.</p><p>For evidence, you need only look at his imitators.</p><p><em>Arli$$</em>, an HBO series about a funny and aggressive sports agent, premiered several months after the success of <em>Jerry Maguire</em>, Crowe&rsquo;s film about a funny and aggressive sports agent. &ldquo;They say <em>Arli$$</em> was in development before they knew about <em>Jerry Maguire</em>, but who knows?&rdquo; Crowe says.</p><p>After Crowe&rsquo;s 1992 movie <em>Singles</em>, Warner Bros. Television asked him to turn the film into a TV series about a group of six 20-something roommates searching for love. Crowe declined. Several months later, ABC&rsquo;s fall schedule was announced, and it included a show called <em>Singles</em> about a group of six 20-something roommates searching for love. Crowe&rsquo;s attorneys moved into action, but the show&rsquo;s producers said it was all a big mistake, and their show was actually <em>Friends</em>.</p><p>When the TV show premiered, several details seemed familiar: There was the gang frolicking in the courtyard, hanging out at a coffeehouse and listening to a goofy musician singing about a cat. &ldquo;I had my lawyer look into it and it turns out that they had changed just enough of the details so that it would be not an easy lawsuit,&rdquo; Crowe says.(A Warner Bros. spokesman declined to comment.)</p><p>Imitation has its upside. How does Crowe feel when a phrase like &ldquo;Show me the money&rdquo; becomes ubiquitous in pop culture?</p><p>&ldquo;I love it,&rdquo; he says. &ldquo;I loved it when it came up at like the Westminster Dog Show&mdash;that was the most fun thing ever. It&rsquo;s never the one you intend it to be. Every time you try and write a catchphrase, the audience is smarter than that, they can hear the typewriter behind it. It&rsquo;s like every Clint Eastwood catchphrase after `Make my day&rsquo;; the poor guy, you can see him struggling. There&rsquo;s nothing more fun than discovering your own catchphrase, and nothing sadder than getting one forced on you.&rdquo;</p></blockquote><p>&nbsp;</p><div class="image-insert-image " style="text-align: center;"><img alt="" class="image-original_image" src="http://www.wbez.org/system/files/styles/original_image/llo/insert-images/Crowe1.jpg" style="width: 100%;" title="On the set of 'Almost Famous' (courtesy Cameron Crowe)." /></div><p><em><strong>Follow me on Twitter </strong></em><a href="https://twitter.com/JimDeRogatis"><strong><em><strike>@</strike>JimDeRogatis</em></strong></a><em><strong>, join me on </strong></em><a href="http://www.facebook.com/pages/Jim-DeRo/254753087340"><strong><em>Facebook</em></strong></a><em><strong>, and podcast or stream </strong></em><a href="http://www.soundopinions.org/"><strong>Sound Opinions</strong></a><em><strong>.</strong></em></p></p> Mon, 27 Jul 2015 06:00:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/blogs/jim-derogatis/2015-07/set-%E2%80%98almost-famous%E2%80%99-112458 Obama Visits Kenya http://www.wbez.org/programs/worldview/2015-07-24/obama-visits-kenya-112475 <p><p><img alt="" class="image-original_image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/styles/original_image/llo/insert-images/Obama pic 3.jpg" title="U.S. President Barack Obama waves after being greeted by Kenya's President Uhuru Kenyatta, right, on his arrival at the Jomo Kenyatta International Airport in Nairobi, Kenya Friday, July 24, 2015. Obama began his first visit to Kenya as U.S. president Friday. (AP Photo/Ben Curtis)" /></p><p><iframe frameborder="no" height="166" scrolling="no" src="https://w.soundcloud.com/player/?url=https%3A//api.soundcloud.com/tracks/216187008&amp;color=ff5500&amp;auto_play=false&amp;hide_related=false&amp;show_comments=true&amp;show_user=true&amp;show_artwork=false " width="100%"></iframe></p><p><strong style="font-size: 24px;">Obama Vists Kenya as President</strong></p><p>President Obama heads to Kenya today. This is the first time he will visit his father&rsquo;s home country since he was elected president. The visit is filled with anticipation. There was discussion of making the visit a national holiday. In the town of Funyula in Busia County, which by borders Siaya County, the home area of President Obama&#39;s late father, the radio station there is calling today &ldquo;Obama Day.&rdquo; We&rsquo;ll check in with Phylis Nasubo Magina who is in Funyula. She&rsquo;s the managing director of The ABCs of Sex Education, where she leads a team of 49 community educators providing sex education and HIV prevention. Ken Opalo, an assistant professor at Georgetown University also joins us to discuss Obama&rsquo;s visit. He&rsquo;s originally from Kenya.</p><p><strong>Guests: </strong></p><p>Phylis Nasubo Magina is the Kenya Country Director of The ABCs of Sex Education</p><p>Ken Opalo Ken Opalo is an assistant professor at Georgetown University&rsquo;s School of Foreign Service and a blogger. He&rsquo;s originally from Kenya.<iframe frameborder="no" height="166" scrolling="no" src="https://w.soundcloud.com/player/?url=https%3A//api.soundcloud.com/tracks/216187612&amp;color=ff5500&amp;auto_play=false&amp;hide_related=false&amp;show_comments=true&amp;show_user=true&amp;show_artwork=false " width="100%"></iframe></p><p><span style="font-size:24px;"><strong>Weekend Passport:</strong></span></p><p>Each week global citizen Nari Safavi helps listeners plan their international weekend. This week he&rsquo;ll tell us about an exhibit on North Korea, the film Hiroshima Mon Amor and Bomba Estereo: Album Release Show</p><p><strong>Guests:</strong></p><p>Nari Safavi is co-founder of Pasfarda Arts and Cultural Exchange</p><p>Alice Wielinga is a participating artist in North Korean Perspectives</p><p>Marc Prüst] is curator of North Korean Perspectives<iframe frameborder="no" height="166" scrolling="no" src="https://w.soundcloud.com/player/?url=https%3A//api.soundcloud.com/tracks/216188449&amp;color=ff5500&amp;auto_play=false&amp;hide_related=false&amp;show_comments=true&amp;show_user=true&amp;show_artwork=false " width="100%"></iframe></p><p><span style="font-size:24px;"><strong>Milos Stehlik talks with Omar Sy, star of the film &#39;Samba&#39;</strong></span></p><p>Film contributor Milos Stehlik sits down with Omar Sy, star of the new film &ldquo;Samba.&rdquo; It&rsquo;s the latest film by the team that brought us &ldquo;The Intouchables. &#39;Samba&#39; tells the story of an undocumented kitchen worker who&rsquo;s battling deportation. The movie follows his struggles and budding romance with the immigration case worker who&rsquo;s trying to help him stay in France.</p><p><strong>Guests:</strong></p><p>Omar Sy, French actor and comedian, star of the film &ldquo;Samba&rdquo;</p><p>Milos Stehlik is WBEZ&rsquo;s film contributor and director of Facets Multimedia</p></p> Fri, 24 Jul 2015 13:55:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/programs/worldview/2015-07-24/obama-visits-kenya-112475 Review: Amy Schumer's Trainwreck http://www.wbez.org/news/culture/review-amy-schumers-trainwreck-112411 <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org//main-images/trainwreck.jpg" alt="" /><p><p>It-Girl Amy Schumer falls for the rare Manic Pixie Dream Guy Bill Hader in <em>Trainwreck</em>, but will audiences&nbsp;swoon for the Schumer-penned/Judd Apatow-directed film? Hosts Adam Kempenaar and&nbsp;Josh Larsen share their review on the latest episode of <em>Filmspotting</em>.</p></p> Fri, 17 Jul 2015 09:09:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/news/culture/review-amy-schumers-trainwreck-112411 Classic of black cinema, 'Cooley High,' celebrates 40th anniversary http://www.wbez.org/news/culture/classic-black-cinema-cooley-high-celebrates-40th-anniversary-112246 <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org//main-images/colleyhigh_0.jpg" alt="" /><p><p>A classic of black cinema celebrated its 40th birthday on June 25.&nbsp;<em>Cooley High</em>&nbsp;showed a slice of urban life rarely seen in &quot;<a href="http://www.theroot.com/articles/culture/2011/04/blaxploitation_films_40_years_after_sweet_sweetbacks_baadasssss_song.3.html">blaxploitation</a>&quot; movies of the time. Set in Chicago&#39;s Cabrini-Green housing project, it became a touchstone for filmmakers like John Singleton and Spike Lee.</p><p>The opening credits of&nbsp;<em>Cooley High</em>&nbsp;feature a wide shot of Chicago&#39;s iconic skyline. The camera then pans across high-rise apartments before zooming in on a drab row house. This was the heart of Cabrini-Green, where Rick Stone, who grew up here, got his first acting job four decades ago.</p><p>&quot;See where it says Starbucks?&quot; Stone says. &quot;That&#39;s where we were, right there.&quot; He recalls the day he and his friend Norman were shooting hoops when a white stretch limo pulled up. Inside was one of&nbsp;<em>Cooley High</em>&#39;s producers.</p><p>&quot;He was like, &#39;How would you guys like to be in a movie?&#39; &quot; Stone says. &quot;Man, get the hell out of here. We thought he was jiving... They were looking for two of the toughest gang-bangers around here and come to find out, it was the police that recommended us.&quot;&nbsp;<em>Cooley High</em>&nbsp;is not a documentary &mdash; but the two gang members essentially play themselves. Norman&#39;s character is called Robert, and Stone&#39;s is called...Stone.</p><p>In one scene, the two are shooting dice in the back of a diner when a girl interrupts their game.</p><blockquote><p>Norman: Hey mama, go walk somewhere else.</p><p>Brenda: Why don&#39;t you gamble someplace else?</p><p>Preach: Cause we&#39;re gambling here, sweet thing.</p><p>Brenda: This is a restaurant, not an alley.</p><p>Cochise: Hey, hey keep on stepping baby. If we wanted to be preached to we&#39;d go to church.</p><p>Brenda: Y&#39;all need to go to church.</p><p>Preach: Hallelujah, hallelujah, hallelujah...</p></blockquote><p>The character Preach, played by Glynn Turman, is best friends with basketball star and ladies man Cochise, who&#39;s played by Lawrence Hilton-Jacobs. Throughout the film, the pair cuts class, hops on the back of a CTA bus and tries to get to first base with their girlfriends.</p><p>For many viewers, what made&nbsp;<em>Cooley High</em>&nbsp;such a landmark film was its honest depiction of teenage life in the projects. Eric Monte wrote the film based on his time at the real Cooley Vocational High School. Although he&#39;s suffered several strokes in recent years, he remembers it well.</p><p>&quot;We had fun. Even poor, we had fun, fun, fun,&quot; he says.</p><p>But &mdash; spoiler alert &mdash;&nbsp;<em>Cooley High</em>&nbsp;takes a dark turn when Stone and Robert convince Preach and Cochise to steal a Cadillac. Afterward, Stone and Robert think the other two snitched on them. Cochise gets killed. Preach finds him lying motionless under the El tracks, and his screams of anguish are drowned out by the trains above.</p><p>Like so much of the movie, Cochise&#39;s death was also drawn from Eric Monte&#39;s life and memories of a friend who died. &quot;It&#39;s hard for me, even now,&quot; he says. &quot;I&#39;m 70 years old, but he was my man. And he died just like that. It was horrible.&quot;</p><p>After that incident, Monte hitchhiked his way out west. He worked on TV shows like&nbsp;<em>Good Times</em>&nbsp;and&nbsp;<em>The Jeffersons</em>, living out Preach&#39;s dreams of becoming a Hollywood screenwriter.</p><p><em>&quot;Cooley High</em>&nbsp;has such a strong message of positivity and breaking through barriers and becoming somebody no matter what your circumstances in life may be,&quot; says Jackie Taylor, who played Cochise&#39;s girlfriend in the movie. Taylor used her experience in the movie to launch Chicago&#39;s Black Ensemble Theater, which is still going strong today.</p><p>Rick Stone had a rougher go of it after&nbsp;<em>Cooley High</em>. His friend Norman, who played Robert, was killed in a corner stick-up, and Stone got eight years in prison for armed robbery. Finally, Stone&#39;s old friend Jackie Taylor intervened. &quot;Taylor called that day and said &#39;Ricky, what you doing?&quot; I said &#39;nothing.&#39; And she said, &#39;Come on down to the Black Ensemble Theater. I&#39;ve got something for you.&#39;&quot;</p><p>Taylor gave Stone a job as a janitor. Eventually he started acting again and has now appeared in more than 20 stage productions. He still lives in the area, in new mixed-income housing.</p><p>As for what used to be Cabrini-Green, it looks a lot different these days.</p><p>&quot;I got white neighbors now,&quot; Stone says. &quot;A white guy and his wife knocked on my door, they had a cake and were like &#39;Welcome to the neighborhood!&#39; I didn&#39;t have the heart to tell them that I&#39;d been over here all my life. I was like &#39;Thank you.&#39; &quot;</p><p><em>&mdash; via <a href="http://www.npr.org/sections/codeswitch/2015/06/26/417185907/40-years-later-the-cast-of-cooley-high-looks-back">NPR&#39;s Code Switch</a></em></p></p> Thu, 25 Jun 2015 08:08:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/news/culture/classic-black-cinema-cooley-high-celebrates-40th-anniversary-112246 Review: Pixar's Inside Out http://www.wbez.org/news/culture/review-pixars-inside-out-112225 <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org//main-images/insideout.jpg" alt="" /><p><p>Pixar has made heroes out of mute robots, anxious clown fish, a foodie rat and an irritable 80 year-old man. For their next mission, they go into the mind of a child. Is the new film <em>Inside Out </em>a return to form for the once peerless animation studio? <em>Filmspotting</em>&#39;s Josh Larsen and guest host Michael Phillips from the <em>Chicago Tribune</em> share their review.</p></p> Fri, 19 Jun 2015 15:35:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/news/culture/review-pixars-inside-out-112225 Kim Jong Un reportedly kills defense chief with missile http://www.wbez.org/programs/worldview/2015-05-15/kim-jong-un-reportedly-kills-defense-chief-missile-112039 <p><div class="image-insert-image "><img alt="" class="image-original_image" src="http://www.wbez.org/system/files/styles/original_image/llo/insert-images/AP-Ahn%20Young-oon.jpg" title="South Korean men pass by a TV news program showing images published in North Korea's Rodong Sinmun newspaper of North Korea's ballistic missile believed to have been launched from underwater and North Korean leader Kim Jong-un, at Seoul Railway station in Seoul, South Korea, Saturday, May 9, 2015. (AP- Ahn Young-oon)" /></div><p><span style="font-family:arial,helvetica,sans-serif;"><span style="font-size: 24px;"><iframe frameborder="no" height="166" scrolling="no" src="https://w.soundcloud.com/player/?url=https%3A//api.soundcloud.com/tracks/205641964&amp;color=ff5500&amp;auto_play=false&amp;hide_related=false&amp;show_comments=true&amp;show_user=true&amp;show_artwork=false" width="100%"></iframe>Kim Jong Un reportedly kills his defense chief with missile</span></span></p><p>North Korea has reportedly executed &nbsp;Defense Minister Hyon Yong Chol by anti-aircraft guns. Reports say he was put to death, in part, because he was disrespectful to North Korea&rsquo;s leader Kim Jong Un, doing things like falling asleep at military events. The reports come from South Korea&rsquo;s intelligence agency, but have not been verified. History professor, Bruce Cumings<em> </em>joins us to discuss the latest news out of North Korea.</p><p><strong>Guest:</strong></p><p>Bruce Cumings, professor of history at the University of Chicago and author of <em>Parallax Visions: Making Sense of American-East Asian Relations at the End of the Century</em>, <em>The Korean War: A Histor</em>y and <em>North Korea: Another Country, </em>joins us to discuss the latest news out of North Korea.</p><p><span style="font-family:arial,helvetica,sans-serif;"><span style="font-size: 24px;"><iframe frameborder="no" height="166" scrolling="no" src="https://w.soundcloud.com/player/?url=https%3A//api.soundcloud.com/tracks/205642483&amp;color=ff5500&amp;auto_play=false&amp;hide_related=false&amp;show_comments=true&amp;show_user=true&amp;show_artwork=false" width="100%"></iframe>Milos Stehlik on opening night of Cannes film festival</span></span></p><p>Film Contributor, Milos Stehlik, reports from the Cannes International Film Festival. He&rsquo;ll tell us about the latest happenings, &nbsp;including a festival ban on celebrity selfies, the Auschwitz-themed movie <em>Son of Saul</em> by first-time director Laszlo Nemes and of course, he&rsquo;ll tell us why he hated the <em>Mad Max</em> reboot.</p><p><strong>Guest: </strong></p><p>Milos Stehlik, WBEZ film contributor and director of Facets Multimedia</p><p><span style="font-family:arial,helvetica,sans-serif;"><span style="font-size: 24px;"><iframe frameborder="no" height="166" scrolling="no" src="https://w.soundcloud.com/player/?url=https%3A//api.soundcloud.com/tracks/205642992&amp;color=ff5500&amp;auto_play=false&amp;hide_related=false&amp;show_comments=true&amp;show_user=true&amp;show_artwork=false" width="100%"></iframe>Weekend Passport: &#39;Tasso&#39;s Journey&#39; A Greek love story</span></span></p><p>Each week global citizen Nari Safavi helps listeners plan their international weekend. &nbsp;This week he&rsquo;ll tell us about a book reading at the National Hellenic Museum that takes us back to Greece during World War II.</p><p><strong>Guests:</strong></p><p>Nari Safavi, WBEZ contributor and co-founder of Pasfarda Arts and Cultural Exchange</p><p><a href="http://seasonsofsun.com/">Paula Burzawa</a>, author of the book, <em>Tasso&#39;s Journey, A Novel</em>.</p></p> Fri, 15 May 2015 13:21:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/programs/worldview/2015-05-15/kim-jong-un-reportedly-kills-defense-chief-missile-112039