Post-Katrina reconstruction is still in progress throughout the Gulf
Coast, with much of the City of New Orleans still in ruins. This
documentary focuses on those rebuilding this city through interviews with
some of the estimated 100,000 Latino migrant laborers who have converged
in this area over the past two and a half years. Despite terrible working
conditions, massive fraud, a housing crisis, severe harassment by law
enforcement, and very limited resources, New Orleans’ Latino community has
mushroomed since the storm and is establishing an infrastructure
proportional to its size.
Take a look at how this community is organizing to defend itself against
numerous injustices and the attempts to bridge the gap between themselves
as new residents and the pre-Katrina population, all within the extremely
unique and tragic context of post-Katrina New Orleans.
The film will be followed by a panel discussion with local immigrant
justice organizers and one of the filmmakers!
***¡Presentado en inglés y español!***
WEDNESDAY, JULY 30TH at 7:30PM
at the WOMEN'S BUILDING
3543 18th St. btw. Valencia and Guerrero
San Francisco, CA 94110
***THIS EVENT IS FREE***
(donations will gladly be accepted)
For more information and to see a trailer please visit:
PRESENTED WITH HELP FROM THE FOLLOWING ORGANIZATIONS:
La Raza Centro Legal
San Francisco Day Labor Program
Katrina Solidarity Network
The Friendly Fire Collective
...and more to come
After several years of hearing about a wonderfully quirky British show called Spaced, and then hearing still more about it when its creators went on to make the highly regarded genre-busting film comedies Shaun of the Dead and Hot Fuzz,
and then finally seeing some bits of said show on a bootleg DVD someone
had sent me, made from the fairly barebones UK region 2 release, now at
long last comes a proper US release of the entire series. Fans of those
films should rejoice, for herein is the germination of everything
director Edgar Wright and company would subsequently produce, and yet may never quite top.
For those many of us who are already familiar with how sharply funny Simon Pegg and his frequent compadre Nick Frost can be, it is Jessica Stevenson
(who now uses her married name, Hynes) who might be the real revelation
to Americans here. In the UK she's quite well known as a comic
performer on stage and in TV (and has been a collaborator with Pegg for
some time), but it's a delight to see her here at her likable best, a
semi-spastic but earnest wonder, the perfect foil for Pegg's
manchildish character. The show centers around Pegg's Tim and
Stevenson's Daisy, two strangers who meet when apartment hunting and
decide to make a go of searching for a flat together. They discover
it's easier to find a place they love if they pretend to be a married
couple. And if that sounds like the set-up to a terrible American
sitcom, it very well might, but in Spaced it is the perfect set
up for Wright, Pegg and Stevenson's loopy humor and (cornucopia) of
loopy characterizations -- which generously lends itself all the way
down to a rich supporting cast.
Those players include the inimitable Julia Deakin, a tight-lipped, chain-smoking landlady and mother of a troubled teenage daughter (whom we never see in full); Mark Heap's Brian, a moody painter; Katy Carmichael's
Twist, Daisy's fashion-conscious, blunt-mouthed friend; and, oh yes,
Aida the Dog doing fine work as Colin the Dog, who joins the cast
mid-way through the first series.
As in their films, there are the expected numerous pop culture
references but also an impressive number of ingenious sight gags,
filmmaking tricks (zooms and sweeps), flashbacks, cutaways, tangential
but inspired bits (as in the gleeful moment in the clubbing episode in
which their ecstasy-ed-out friend Tyres(!) finds a rhythm in a ringing
phone and from his POV it turns into a deranged musical number in his
head). All the first season episodes are standouts but I am
particularly fond of several: "Beginnings," where it all, yes, begins;
"Art," a delirious episode that lampoons pretentious performance art
and features a bit of foreshadowing for Shaun of the Dead; and the
sweet natured final episode of the first series which even offers a
touching finale (which at the time the creators thought might be it).
And the episode in which Daisy first acquires the dog also features a
memorable paintball battle.
While Season One is arguably (if minutely) superior to Two, the
latter has its share of wondrous moments. The second picks up some
months later (and aired some two years after the first series), and
finds Daisy having returned from a spiritually enlightening trip
abroad. The first two episodes contain very arguably the finest Anti-George Lucas/Phantom Menace
running jokes ever, including a moment in the comic book store in which
Tim works that is almost indescribably funny. The second series also
has a few more (but still very few) bits that don't quite work and
doesn't quite sustain the level of energy as the first, but these are
quite honestly small nitpicks. It remains inspired. Oh, and comic book
geeks in particular will enjoy many of the comic-al in-jokes. (CONTINUES...)
There's a superb episode of the TV series "Rescue Me," toward the end of its first season -- the third from last to be precise -- in which Denis Leary's character's mom passes away, his dad comes to live with him, and several other subplots that can't be done justice in describing here. It was written by Leary and his co-conspirator in "Rescue Me," Peter Tolan, who have written the majority of the show's episodes. It is so much better than the couple of episodes that came right before it. In fact, after watching the three DVDs that comprise Rescue Me Season 1 (2004; it's now into season 5), it's hard not to see the show's initial run as quite uneven. And often brilliant.
Maintaining a high level is a real challenge for a TV series these days. That's why short runs are often better (See: Lost); the writers can really focus on the core of the story, the key characters and plots (and most interesting subplots). At times Rescue Me has felt a little lost itself, sometimes playing up the farcical elements too much, too broadly, at other times going too far over the edge. But when it's on, it's really been on. And in Season 1, when it was still finding its way a bit, basically every other episode leaned into greatness. There were some plot threads that seemed dropped, others that went on too long, but, again, when it hit its stride it was capable of giving us an uncomfortable great hour of television.
The characters are sometimes not just assholes, but nervwrackingly so -- misogynist (and there have been times when the show itself has had no idea how to portray women), selfish, homophobic, abusive. Their antics in Season 1 at least are as often tiresome as they are entertaining. But it's also one of the few shows that willfully, sometimes even gleefully, pushes our buttons, the American taboos, left and right, until we are confronted with our own inner assholes.
In short, at its start, Rescue Me was uneven, often trying to do too much, tackle too many issues and purposely push buttons, but when it finds its rhythm, particularly in scenes with Leary reacting to the nightmares around him (Leary's at his best when he goes off) or in some ingenious black comedy, at its best it's pretty unforgettable.
Rescue Me: Season 1: *** (One episode per disc gets ****)
I have the vaguest of recollections of the Canadian short film Paddle to the Sea,
from probably around
the time I was in elementary school in the late
70s, probably rolling my eyes at the start -- "what's this dumb movie
about a carved Indian in a canoe?" -- until becoming, many years later
as an adult, completely engaged and enraptured by the story. Then, it
was probably a jittery, wobbly film print played on a dirty projector,
the voice over narration skipping and the sound warbling; now, thanks
to Criterion and Janus, Paddle to the Sea has been digitally
remastered, likely looking as good as it ever has, even if a bit faded,
and is as lovely as ever. The simple story follows a wood carving from
its inception, created by a Native boy living in remote Canada, who
sets the little figure - a man in a canoe - free above a river, with a
request carved at the bottom to return the boat to the water if found.
The film follows the progress of the little boat - called "Paddle" -
from body of water to body of water, through the seasons, found by
various people, set free again and again, making it through various
It's surprising how touching the simple film is, and there are
little messages to be received by willing children, too, as Paddle
sludges through mucky, polluted water near industrial plants, and as
kids learn to respect the boat's wishes. But it is the marvelous
photography, which combined with the film's overall documentary-like
feel, that makes viewing it such a breathtaking experience.
The DVD doesn't come with any extras, alas, and one has to wonder
why Criterion didn't release all three of the classic children's films
- this, The Red Balloon, and The White Mane
- together on one DVD, but they likely wanted to honor each of them
with their own disc; at least they have priced them accordingly. Still,
the film is a treasure, and it is good to see it on DVD.
Before I even knew there was a film called The Red Balloon,
I knew of a little hardcover photostory called "The Red Balloon," that
I was given when I was about five or six. This was before there was
home video (the mid 1970s) so it wasn't that odd, I suppose, but
fortunately, my father eventually procured a copy of the film, to show
a class he was teaching, and finally, the concept of the book was soon
forgotten. Either way, the images left an indelible impression.
The Red Balloon won a Best Short Film Oscar for Albert Lamorisse
and -- even more astonishingly -- for writing the best original
screenplay in 1956. Astonishing because the film has almost no
dialogue. It's essentially a simply plotted fantasy with a realistic
backdrop - the city of Paris - about a young boy and a balloon with a
mind of its own.
It's interesting to read some of the critical reception given the
film at the time of its release, almost all of it unilaterally
positive, though, oddly, one reviewer in the Washington Post in a
critique called it the "most seamless fusion of capitalism and
Christianity ever put on film."
To a child's eye, the film seems an innocent parable, a call for
escape by the end, but with no awareness of France's recent history of
war and occupation, it seemed then more simply a tale of a boy my age
and his magical balloon.
This was my first introduction to the City of Light, and I don't
know if it's ever looked more beguiling, before or since. The
photography is clearly among the best ever seen in a "children's film."
And here in this new digitally remastered DVD from Criterion, it looks
especially amazing, from the very first frame. Yes, the red pops off
the screen, but the entire piece looks gorgeous. As with the other
discs in this series, there are no extras to speak of but the film
itself is childhood magic revisited.
Passing this on from Terminal Pictures' Andre Perkowski:
Oozing Ed Wood Jr. Pulp, Forgotten Films Mutate in Closet -
Finally Pried from Death-grip of Crackpot Creator
back during those quaint days near the turn of the millennium, a
ridiculously overambitious 22 year old me began a project to make a
trilogy of feature films based on Edward D. Wood Jr. pulp novels and
old screenplays. Though highly impractical and fueled by a budget
1/40th or so of Wood's films even without even accounting for
inflation, I managed to shoot two of them: "DEVIL GIRLS" and "THE
VAMPIRE'S TOMB" - shot on a patchwork mix of Super-8, 8mm, 16mm, and DV
- everything from hideously outdated Soviet (!) filmstocks to good old
'Merican machine gun camera film, With acres of stock footage and
scrupulous dedication to the angora-ed one, a sickly joyous cathedral
to his enthusiasm against all odds. It was almost a religious endeavor,
the kind of strange crusade that seemed to make sense at the time.
through acts of dark alchemy and forbidden science, I've assembled them
into a viewable form... restored, revised, riddled with lost scenes and
all that shot on film footage I could never manage to afford paying for
at the time...
Now it can be told! From
beyond space and time, across the churning seas of bad continuity!
Here are some enticing trailers, with Phil Proctor of the Firesign
Theatre doing the voiceovers: