FDL Movie Night: Propaganda

Tonight’s film, Propaganda, is one of the most meta-mind fucks of a film ever made, right up there with F for Fake, even more so because it unfolds a global epic of propaganda. Originally purporting to be made in the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea, Propaganda was “leaked” online after being “smuggled out of DPRK,” causing an uproar. Is this really how the North Koreans see the West? Can this film–which has moments of hilarity, especially with the use of vintage 1950s and 60s footage–even be real?

But along with goofy Newport cigarette commercials and images of the all the birds having been eaten because there is no food in America, Propaganda raises some very hard questions with quotes from the likes of Howard Zinn and Noam Chomosky, and an anti-corporate, anti-capitalist stance. But Propaganda is not propaganda from the DPRK about how the West is perverted by corporate propaganda designed to enslave them/us, but rather is a film written and directed by tonight’s guest, Slavko Martinov. He’s from New Zealand. And along with winning a lot of festival awards, he’s gotten into a lot of trouble over Propaganda: Accusations of North Korean collusion, an investigation by the South Korean government, an interview with the Counter-Terrorism Unit, and retaliation from the Catholic Church. And then there’s what happened to the actor who played the anonymous North Korean professor.

Heads up: The film is anti-Zionist, anti-corporate, and touches on truther conspiracies, and will probably offend someone. (Let’s keep it civil, please).

As a envisioning of how DPRK views the the West, this is an interesting take (and may be far more generous than how they really do see us, who knows). As a view of how Western society functions, it is eye-opening; even if you don’t agree 100% with every point raised (if you did then you might be falling for propaganda). Propaganda was nine years in the making–and the attention to detail shows–the images of numerous world leaders stroking their hair was mind blowing.

Propaganda is smart, thought-provoking, unsettling, the world’s first openly admitted “propumentary.” We’re stoked to have Slavko here with us from halfway around the world to discuss Propaganda, propaganda, the making of Propaganda and its aftermath.

You can watch the full movie here
(more…)

Late Night: Baseball Fan Gets Nuts Busted Snoozing, Sues for $10 Million

Harps help Morpheus embrace us in his wings….zzzzz. But for Andrew Robert Rector, sleep came before the 7th inning stretch of the April 13th Yankee-Red Sox game. And now he’s suing.

Not because the game was boring, but for defamation. In his $10million suit, Rector alleges that

Yankees, ESPN and its announcers… broadcast photos of him asleep in his chair, calling him “fatty, unintelligent, [and] stupid.” Andrew Robert Rector sued Major League Baseball Advanced Media, ESPN New York, the New York Yankees, and ESPN announcers Dan Shulman and John Kruk, in Bronx County Supreme Court. He demands $10 million in damages for defamation and intentional infliction of emotional distress…

ESPN focused its cameras on him, Rector says, and then “Announcers like Dan Shulman and John Kruck unleashed avalanche of disparaging words against the person of and concerning the plaintiff. These words, include but not limited to ‘stupor, fatty, unintelligent, stupid’ knowing and intending the same to be heard and listened to by millions of people all over the world …”

Maybe Rector should have stayed in bed. Or had some espresso. Doesn’t it say on tickets to public events that you might be filmed and broadcast? And what, you’re gonna sue Don Rickles for heckling you? In the suit, Rector’s lawyer contends:

Rector claims the commentary and photos showed him in a false light, damaged his reputation, and the fact that he was napping was not an issue of legitimate public concern.

He claims that the defendants “negligently or maliciously published false, defamatory statement of fact about the plaintiff, a private individual. The false statements include but are not limited to:

“Plaintiff is unintelligent and stupid individual.
“Plaintiff is not worthy to be fan of the New York Yankee.
“Plaintiff is a fatty cow that need two seats at all time and represent symbol of failure.
“Plaintiff is a confused disgusted and socially bankrupt individual.
“Plaintiff is confused individual that neither understands nor knows anything about history and the meaning of rivalry between Red Sox and New York Yankee.
“Plaintiff is so stupid that he cannot differentiate between his house and public place by snoozing throughout the fourth inning of the Yankee game.”

Seriously, instead of a lawyer, Rector should get an agent, and like Levi Johnson–remember him-he knocked up Bristol Palin–do a pistachio commercial.

Pistachios are full of protein to keep you awake through the 7th inning stretch and beyond. Plus, I’d rather crack my own nuts than have ESPN do it for me.

FDL Movie Night: Dance for Me

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Ballroom dancing has gone from obscure to phenomenon. People love Dancing with the Stars, and internationally ballroom dancing has exploded as both spectator and participation sports. Denmark produces many international dance stars, and Dance For Me follows Danish teen Mie and her Russian partner Egor as they try to win the European Championships, a stepping stone to the International Championships.

At age fifteen, Egor’s mom, herself a dance instructor, sends her fifteen-year old son to live in Denmark with the Funch family. Egor wants the opportunity to be a successful international dance champion, and fourteen-year old Mie Funch (who is very emotionally mature) needs a strong dance partner. Egor has been recruited to live with Mie, her dance career focused mother, and her cab driver father.

Egor must adjust to a different social and cultural world in Denmark, though English, the new lingua franca, makes communication easier. Along with learning Danish, he’s taking Chinese in order to prepare for what his mother and the Funch family hope will be the teens’ participation in the International Championships in China–but first they must get through the Danish and European finals. A sensitive young man, torn between ambition and isolation, he struggles with his own expectations and those of the adults around him.

And there are problems. Mrs. Funch worries about the interactions between her daughter and Egor, both on and off the dance floor. As dance partners Egor and Mie must learn each other’s psychology and rhythms in order to make it through complex dance routines and the tension of competition, and Egor knows that if he doesn’t produce wins, he will be sent home.

Tonight’s guests, Director Katrine Philp and Producer Lise Saxtrup join us from Denmark to discuss their lyrical and meditative film about talent, ambition and the passion for dancing.

Dance for Me debuts on PBS’ POV July 21 2014. Check your local PBS station for air times.

Late Night: My Ding-a-Ling

Chuck Berry just wants some of that rock’n’roll music while he plays with his ding-a-ling–and really who can blame him? In 1980 at height of punk rock Jet Lag magazine, a punk zine asked Berry for his opinions of some of the biggest punk bands around and the results are hilarious. Dangerous Minds unearthed these gems.

The Ramones’ “Sheena is a Punk Rocker”:

A good little jump number. These guys remind me of myself when I first started, I only knew three chords too.


The Clash’s “Complete Control”:

Sounds like the first one. The rhythm and chording work well together. Did this guy have a sore throat when he sang the vocals?

And my favorite:

The Sex Pistols’ “God Save the Queen”:

What’s this guy so angry about anyway? Guitar work and progression is like mine. Good backbeat. Can’t understand most of the vocals. If you’re going to be mad at least let the people know what you’re mad about.

FDL Movie Night: The American Brew

Beer! This miraculous beverage is actually more American than apple pie, and its history is linked inextricably with our country’s. Tonight’s guest, director Roger Sherman, a founder of Florentine Films with Ken Burns, brings us The American Brew a fine crafted, bubbly film with depth and flavor that explores our nation’s relationship with beer.

Back in ye olden days, at the time of the Pilgrims water wasn’t safe to drink (btw the Pilgrims were aiming for Virginia, not Plymouth Rock where they landed, since there were already established colonies further south, colonies with breweries). Animal poop, bacteria, and a lingering fear of unclean water from Europe (where H2O was also pretty yucky) made water an anathema. But beer–with its anti-bad bacterial hops and yeasts was a refreshing (and nutritious) beverage. Pretty much everyone drank beer–from women, children and clergy to our Founding Fathers. And even without barley, American ingenuity prevailed, and beer was made from just about any type of vegetable matter. There’s even George Washington’s handwritten recipe for beer which sounds fairly foul, but worth a try.

Ale houses on the east coast became the saloons of the Wild West, and then came the Industrial Age with mass brewing. Breweries would open saloons and beer halls that would only serve their brand of beer. But with the rise of mass-produced beer came a backlash: Women–who could not yet vote–raised a hue and cry over the “degenerate” saloons (and the legitimate public health crisis that arose from venereal diseases spread by way of prostitutes at some saloons, which were not only brothels but also gambling houses–basically hellmouths destroying the family by Christian standards).

The temperance movement was born, and Prohibition was aided by World War I–many brewers were of German descent, and it was seen as a patriotic move to drive them out of business.  Christian women campaigned vigorously for “dry” candidates. It didn’t matter what else the candidate stood for; if he was pro-Prohibition, he was a good man. It’s no coincidence that women’s right to vote and Prohibition both happened in 1920….

Despite Prohibition, beer continued to be brewed (Al Capone had breweries in Chicago), but spirits, which were less bulky, were easier to transport. Home brewing continued, but by the time FDR repealed Prohibition, a generation had lost its taste for beer–something that nearly killed beer in the US, as did the ban on saloons selling only beer they brewed. But World War II exposed GIs to European beer. And by the 1950s beer was back in a big way, with major brewing and distribution across the US.

Enter the home brewers and craft brewers–now thirty-seven states have revoked the post-Prohibition law which prevents brewers from selling their wares. In Los Angeles we have numerous craft breweries like Eagle Rock Breweries and Angel City Brewery which grows their own hops on their roof for an organic brew, as well as aging  their beer in bourbon casks. Sherman takes us to one brewery in Sonoma, California, which ages beer in chardonnay casks. Nowadays, beer is more than just that nasty canned stuff dad would let you sip behind granny’s back at a family gathering. It has depth, resonance, history, just like tonight’s film.

So let’s raise a glass to the beer and its place in American history as we welcome Roger Sherman and The American Brew.

The American Brew is available for rent and purchase on Vimeo.

Roger Sherman on location in Alsace

FDL Movie Night Preview: “American Brew”

Monday night’s film The American Brew marks the return of director Roger Sherman to FDL Movie Night. He’s a founder of Florentine Films with Ken Burns, and his  documentaries have won an Emmy Award, a Peabody Award and two Academy Award nominations.

We’ve had him on before as a guest for his film The Restaurateur, which won the 2013 James Beard award for Best Documentary, Broadcast Journalism. On Monday he’s taking us on a trip through American history told via beer. Find out why the Pilgrims were not supposed to land at Plymouth Rock. Learn how Germans changed America’s taste for beer in the 19th Century and how they became the scapegoats to begin Prohibition.

Hear Fritz Maytag of Anchor Steam and Ken Grossman of Sierra Nevada tell how they started their breweries, and how craft brewing began. Watch Dick Cantwell of Elysian in Seattle brew his Jasmine IPA and see what Vinnie Cilurzo of Russian River in Sonoma thinks of his concoction made in used oak, chardonnay casks. Plus, Garrett Oliver from Brooklyn Brewery and much much more.

And as special for FDL readers, there is discount on viewing the film on Vimeo–$3.99 instead of $4.99.

URL: http://bit.ly/BeerAmerica
the promo code is “watchbeer”

See you Monday night, 5pm west coast time!

FDL Movie Night Preview: “American Brew”

Monday night’s film The American Brew marks the return of director Roger Sherman to FDL Movie Night. He’s a founder of Florentine Films with Ken Burns, and his  documentaries have won an Emmy Award, a Peabody Award and two Academy Award nominations.

We’ve had him on before as a guest for his film The Restaurateur, which won the 2013 James Beard award for Best Documentary, Broadcast Journalism. On Monday he’s taking on a trip through American history told via beer. Find out why the Pilgrims were not supposed to land at Plymouth Rock. Learn how Germans changed America’s taste for beer in the 19th Century and how they became the scapegoats to begin Prohibition.

Hear Fritz Maytag of Anchor Steam and Ken Grossman of Sierra Nevada tell how they started their breweries, and how craft brewing began. Watch Dick Cantwell of Elysian in Seattle brew his Jasmine IPA and see what Vinnie Cilurzo of Russian River in Sonoma thinks of his concoction made in used oak, chardonnay casks. Plus, the late legendary beer connoisseur Michael Jackson, Garrett Oliver from Brooklyn Brewery, and much much more.

And as special for FDL readers, there is discount on viewing the film on Vimeo–$3.99 instead of $4.99.

URL: http://bit.ly/BeerAmerica
the promo code is “watchbeer”

See you Monday night, 5pm west coast time!

 

Late Night: Being the Cool Jerk

A new study from Columbia Business School shows that, in general–at least during negotiations–most people don’t have a clue how they come across. (The study didn’t go into gender splits, that could have be extra interesting.)

The setup was pretty simple. Participants were paired up and asked to negotiate a basic licensing agreement, then rate if their partner was overly pushy, under aggressive, or just right. They were also asked to rate their own behavior. The results proved that interwebs axiom

you’re doing it wrong

and that people have a long way to go towards understanding perceptions–their own and others:

  • 57 percent of people actually seen by their counterpart as under–assertive thought they had come across as appropriately assertive or even over–assertive.
  • 56 percent of people actually seen by their counterpart as over–assertive thought they had come across as appropriately assertive or even under–assertive.
  • Together, these results suggest that people seen as getting assertiveness wrong in the eyes of others had about a coin–flip’s chance of recognizing how they were seen

Additionally,

many people getting assertiveness right [per their partners in the experiment] mistakenly thought they were seen as pushing too hard…These people believed that they came across as being too assertive—or had crossed a line—during negotiations, when in fact their counterparts saw them as being appropriately assertive. Those who mistakenly thought they had over–asserted themselves were more likely to try to repair relationships with their partners, sometimes agreeing to a less valuable subsequent deal just to smooth things over.

I guess you have known what you’ll stand for and take, and if it means being “tough” to get it, maybe the person with whom you’re negotiating with will actually think you are being cool, rather than a jerk…

FDL Movie Night: Getting Back to Abnormal

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Tonight’s documentary, Getting Back to Abnormal, dives into to the messy issues of race and politics in post-Katrina New Orleans. Our guests tonight–Producers/Directors Peter Odabashian, Paul Stekler and Andrew Kolker–tackle the subject by focusing on the pivotal 2010 city council race for District B. Incumbent Stacy Head, the first white Councilperson from District B in 31 years, was elected in 2006 and has faced charges of racism. Her opponent, Corey Watson is an African-American preacher and the son of a powerful pastor who has no problem telling his congregants that there is no separation between church and state because God owns them both.

Adding into the mix the is the destruction of public housing in St Bernard’s and the building of new housing development for mixed income residents–a development with regulations regarding employment of residents and which ban visitors with arrest records. Stacy Head voted in support of the development as part of her stated goal to see New Orleans move itself out of a poverty mentality to become a strong and self-supporting city.

Head is blunt and often puts her foot in her mouth when it comes to discussing issues of race and poverty–but her back is covered and her campaign is moved forward by her black political adviser Barbara Lacen-Keller who is a force to be reckoned with.

Mardi Gras, the Saints football game, a celebration commemorating elementary school desegregation, street festivals, and the efforts of St. Bernard’s residents to get noticed by President Obama during a visit form a rich background to the election campaign.

The documentary is enhanced by provocative commentary from New Orleans cultural figures like Treme creator David Simon, ex-councilperson Oliver Thomas, historian Raphael Cassimere, radio hosts Paul Beaulieu and John Slade, and attorney Buddy Lemann. Getting Back to Abnormal reveals the peculiar side of New Orleans politics–a microcosm of American’s political and race issues, and is one of the best documentaries about New Orleans, and about America. It airs July 14 on KCET’s POV.

Late Night: Glow Little Glow Worm

I love stuff that glows in the dark! How about glow-in-the-dark Jell-O? Yes, you can use it with Jell-O shots, but you need a black light. I recently got glow-in the-dark paint for the garden and felt like the Red Queen having her knights paint the roses red.

Years ago, when I was a kid, there was weird glow-in-dark putty (it tasted great, I think I ate enough to homeopathically prevent radiation poisoning!).

Sadly we don’t have lightning bugs in Los Angeles, but I love looking at biofluorescent fish!