Paying Tribute to Albert Maysles, a Humanitarian and the Godfather of Documentary

By: Saturday March 7, 2015 8:00 am

The godfather of documentary filmmaking, Albert Maysles, has died at the age of 88. He directed the well-known documentary classics Grey Gardens, Gimme Shelter and Salesman. Maysles and his brother, David, pioneered cinema vérité or what is commonly known as truthful cinema. As a cinematographer and director, he sought to produce films that put viewers [...]


The Dissenter’s Top Films of 2014

By: Tuesday December 30, 2014 6:00 pm

It has, like a number of other people, become an annual ritual to put together a list of the top films I managed to see during the year and share it here. While most lists of best films of the year were posted a week or two ago, I like to wait until this time [...]

Interview: Director Johanna Hamilton Discusses Making a Film About Activists Who Took Files from FBI Office

By: Wednesday April 30, 2014 9:05 am

The film, “1971,” tells the story of eight Americans who broke into an FBI office in Media, Pennsylvania in 1971 with the hope that they would uncover files showing the FBI had infiltrated and spied upon activist communities. It premiered at the Tribeca Film Festival in New York on April 18.

I sat down with the film’s director, Johanna Hamilton, the day after the premiere.

Chiwetel Ejiofor Wrote & Directed a Short Film Highlighting Exploitation of Coltan in Congo

By: Sunday December 15, 2013 11:45 am

Bloodshed in Congo can be directly connected to the latest form of colonialism advanced by Western countries—the mining of resources for electronics and military industries. Over six million people have been killed in war over control of resources in the country since 1996.

Race, Revolution, & Zombies Come to Life in New Doc: “Birth of the Living Dead”

By: Tuesday October 22, 2013 7:15 pm

All of the things that kept us safe were being questioned in 1968 in Night of the Living Dead and the movies that came after. I thought that this statement worked as a big idea ending and lent itself to the mission of trying to de-ghettoize horror. Horror can have a positive effect on our society and should be looked at as a legitimate art form that is crucially subversive, making us question things in ways that are healthy and very powerful.

The Individual Politics of the Coming Out Process in “Kissing Jessica Stein” and “But I’m a Cheerleader”

By: Saturday October 19, 2013 5:20 pm

Abdellatif Kechiche’s Blue is the Warmest Color, is set to hit U.S. theaters at the end of October. The first queer film to ever win the Palme D’Or, controversy has surrounded the film for its explicit sex scenes.

“12 Years a Slave” and the Tangled History of the Slavery Film

By: Wednesday October 16, 2013 5:40 pm

The obvious comparison for Steve McQueen’s 12 Years a Slave, given their similar Oscar-bait pedigrees and chronological proximity, is to Quentin Tarantino’s Django Unchained. Both tackle the subject of slavery, both return the national gaze to our most tragic and indefensible moment, and both emphasize, in particular, the horrors of the lash of involuntary servitude. And yet, the differences between Tarantino and McQueen’s films illustrate the particular nature of McQueen’s triumph.

Wikileaks Leaks Fifth Estate Script, Internal Talking Points

By: Friday September 20, 2013 11:05 am

Marketing for The Fifth Estate, a film about Wikileaks founder Julian Assange, has begun in earnest with ads recently released that depict Assange, played by Benedict Cumberbatch, with the word “traitor” emblazoned over his face.

Left Behind: Nic Cage Whores Himself Out

By: Sunday September 1, 2013 12:30 pm

Times must still be tough for Nic Cage. He’s offered himself up to God the Left Behind movie series, and it’s really kinda gross. Well, maybe there are some gross points involved, though I wouldn’t hold my breath on the Academy Award-winning actor getting rich off those.

Putting War Back in Children’s Culture

By: Friday August 16, 2013 5:45 am

Now that Darth Vader’s breathy techno-voice is a staple of our culture, it’s hard to remember how empty was the particular sector of space Star Wars blasted into. The very day the Paris Peace Accords were signed in 1973, Richard Nixon also signed a decree ending the draft. It was an admission of the obvious: war, American-style, had lost its hold on young minds. As an activity, it was now to be officially turned over to the poor and nonwhite.

Those in a position to produce movies, TV shows, comics, novels, or memoirs about Vietnam were convinced that Americans felt badly enough without such reminders. It was simpler to consider the war film and war toy casualties of Vietnam than to create cultural products with the wrong heroes, victims, and villains.

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