T'S A LIVING… BUT IT'S NOT A LIFE #11.2
All You Need To Know About J Church and Honey Bear Records
Spring 2003 - "A film is - or should be - more like music than
MICHAEL MOORE, BILL MOYERS AND THE QUIET AMERICAN
Yup, it was a left leaning week for me. I went and saw Michael Moore
speak here in Austin. Been really getting into Bill Moyers again. Finally
got around to seeing The Quiet American. It's all great.
Even though I couldn't really give a shit about the Democrats and the
Greens getting along, it was fun hearing Michael Moore speak. It's nice
just to be in a packed auditorium here in Austin, the belly of the beast,
cheering him on as he derides Bush, the War and capitalism in general.
It might almost seem trite in San Francisco. But here in Austin, it's
wild stuff. I mean, the Young Conservatives were protesting outside! You
don't get that at SF State. There's always good stuff to read at www.michaelmoore.com.
Of course, Now with Bill Moyers is the best thing on TV. If you're gonna
watch TV at all, you should really be following his show on PBS. I know
some of you are scared off by the NPR connection (Are they really Cointelpro?
I find that a little hard to believe…) and I know even more of you
are scared off by the Joseph Campbell stuff (which I actually really like).
But Bill Moyers is an old guy. He's got a lotta clout and he's gonna retire
soon. He can do whatever the hell he wants, and that means reporting the
news that no one else in the US is reporting. I like to think he's what
Michael Moore will be like when he gets old. You can find out more about
this show at www.pbs.org/now/
Most of you have probably seen The Quiet American by
now. It's been out for a while. It was a nice surprise to see the theater
packed this long after the film was first released. I used to think it
was such a dead subject, the US and its dirty dealings before, during
and after the war in Vietnam. Even if that's true, this film shows that
these history lessons are worth repeating. I guess I've never been paranoid
after all. I swear, I wanna believe that Brendan Fraser is a total moron
and then he goes and does something like this or Gods and Monsters which
I also totally love. Miramax is sort of totally evil, but it's better
to go right to the source than the truly horrible imdb.com - www.miramax.com/quietamerican/
Incidentally, the quote on the top is from Kubrick.
HONEY BEAR RECORDS TOUR
Okay, the tour is taking a more defined shape. Let's see what we've got…
23 Denton, TX Rubber Gloves
25 Phoenix, AZ Modified
26 Los Angeles, CA TBA
27 Anaheim, CA Chain Reaction
28 San Francisco, CA
29 San Francisco, CA one of these two dates will be the Bottom of
the Hill. Don't know which one yet or what we'll do on the other day…
30 Portland, OR TBA
31 Seattle, WA
1-5 Canada TBA
6 Minneapolis, MN Triple Rock
7 Chicago, IL Fireside Bowl
8 Cleveland, OH The Grog Shop
9 Pittsburgh, PA TBA
10 Philadelphia, PA Calvary Church
11 Boston, MA TBA
12 NYC w/ the Plungers
13 NYC w/ the Plungers
14 Washington DC
15 Baltimore, MD The Talking Head Club
16 Chapel Hill, NC TBA
17 Atlanta, GA Echo Lounge
18 Columbia, SC New Brookland Tavern
19 Gainesville, FL CG Coffeehouse
20 somewhere in FL TBA
21 somewhere in FL TBA
22 Houston, TX Fat Cat's
23 Austin, TX Emo's
Okay, wherever it says TBA, you could for the most part replace it with
HELP!!!! God, when did it get so hard to books shows in Boston and Chapel
Hill? Portland has always been hard for us. If you've got any leads in
any of those areas, lemme know! Keep in mind, there are three bands and
we wanna keep the shows as all-ages as is possible.
IN THE J CHURCH VIEWING ROOM
FIONA (directed by Amos Kollek) DVD
Amos Kollek must be crazy. Fiona is a film not only about prostitutes
and crack addicts. It was an entire supporting cast of the real deal.
Not just extras, several of the main characters are actual prostitutes
and crack addicts with much of the film shot in a NYC crack house / crash
pad. This is about as heavy duty as you can get without it being a documentary.
Actually, this is beyond documentary because Kollek is no quiet observer.
He's in there as a director working closely with the drug addicts and
prostitutes. It's Dogma taken in a weird, dangerous and, inadvertently,
The story follows a young woman, Fiona (Anna Thomson) from her recollections
of being sexually abused in a foster home to her adventures on the streets.
The plot turns Oedipal as we meet her mother, who is a much more weathered
prostitute working the same streets. Eventually, their paths meet and
our streetwise Ophelia finally transcends her destiny by taking control
Yeah, it's a simple plot. But the plot is really just a hanger with
which a series of vignettes, both shocking and touching, are draped. Kollek's
previous film, Sue (which also starred Anna Thomson),
let him wear his influences on his sleeve as it clearly brings Cassavettes
to mind. Fiona lets him take it to it's logical extent
which, while most people will remember the grim moments, also allowed
for some very real moments unlike anything you'll see at the multi-plex.
LEGEND OF RITA, THE (directed by Volker Schlöndorff)
LOST HONOR OF KATHARINA BLUM, THE (directed by Volker
Margarethe Von Trotta) DVD
I'm a big fan of Schlöndorff. I remember being deeply affected
as a child watching The Tin Drum and as a teen I was
equally horrified when I saw The Lost Honor of Katharina Blum
for the first time.
Okay, so I was really primed to love The Legend of Rita.
And, yes, no surprise, I love this movie. Here's why:
First of all, it's an objective film about the European left in all
its shapes and sizes. Rita is a member of a radical group of German urban
guerillas somewhat based on the Baader-Meinhoff gang and somewhat based
on the Hash Rebels. She kills a police officer, but unlike Western mainstream
cinema, we still sympathize with her and identify with her struggle. She
is aided by the East German Stasi, who see as normal people doing a job
they believe in, rather than as the Stalinistic secret police we're told
to believe they were. We see East Berlin as a difficult place to live.
But not as the colorless, endless ghetto with bread lines that books and
films have also told us. It's an objective film.
Second of all, it's a film where the main character is a woman driven
by her ideological convictions AS WELL AS her loves and desires. If Hollywood
made the film, unrequited love or some sort of sexual frustration would
drive her. Her political convictions and dedication to leftist revolution
are what give her strong character and is not her Achilles heel.
The film follows Rita as a young member of a radical group in `70s Berlin.
While traveling back from Lebanon, a series of events leads her to make
friends with the Stasi who aid her and her companions throughout their
misadventures. After killing a cop during a police chase, she creates
a new identity and lives a normal life in the East.
From there the film follows her life and the end of the Cold War (World
War III). I know most of the world was celebrating Glasnost. But to me,
it felt like such a huge failure. Now, I may be an anarchist and I may
have the same problems many of you had with the Soviet Union. But the
fall of communism still felt like defeat. And for revolutionaries around
the world, including people like Rita many of whom were turned over to
the invading right wing bureaucrats, it was a palpable defeat.
It's funny, but the recent Criterion DVD release of The Lost
Honor of Katharina Blum gives it a whole new perspective. Next
to The Legend of Rita, Lost Honor is
almost like Rosencrantz and Guildenstern are Dead. But
in this case, it's dead serious.
Katharina Blum is a normal German woman who has a one-night state with
a man she meets at a party. Later, she finds out that he is an anarchist
and part of a Baader-Meinhoff-type gang; the group Rita from The
Legend of Rita is supposed to be a member of.
Responding to the activities of German urban guerillas, there is a national
dragnet to hunt them down. Blum is arrested and gets caught up in the
hunt, revealing a myopic government at it's most abusive. Equally revealing
is the insidious nature of the media and it's role in repression. You
can't help but get a chill watching it not because you can't believe it
ever happened. But because you can't believe it happens all the time.
Life in America is a lot like Katharina Blum's for many people.
Schlöndorff is an intellectual. Both of these films are great reflections
of that. They're smart, challenging while being well paced and lithe.
Lost Honor marked the directorial debut of Margarethe
Von Trotta (in some ways a protégé of Schlöndorff's
not to mention lover) who would go on to great things including Rosa
Both DVDs come with great extras. The Legend of Rita
comes with a fantastic commentary track from the director. The
Lost Honor of Katharina Blum comes with recent interviews with
the directors as well as excerpts from a documentary on the author, Heinrich
(Kino Video / The
SUN RA ARKESTRA - Live at the Palomino DVD
Well, this was supposed to be the first in a 10 part series. But it looks
like someone put the kibosh on it as is usually the case with Sun Ra releases
of dubious origin. I guess I should be happy that any Sun Ra performance
is on DVD at all.
The Palomino was a club in the Valley. I kind of remember it being the
home for all kinds of Downey Mildew type bands. But I could be wrong.
This performance is from '88, so I was there in LA at the time. But I
was probably not seeing anything that wasn't either Savage Republic or
raging hardcore at the time. Oh, the impetuousness of youth…
So this one camera, straight off the video, DVD is as close as I'll
ever get to seeing Sun Ra. And it is really great. The sound is decent
(despite a roaring loud guitar at some points) and the cameraperson is
able to follow the action as well as can be expected. Are there any totally
bad Arkestra performances? There are so many great players that at any
given time, someone can jump up and do something terrific. It's so random
as to who is going to be hot (if not everyone) that it's no wonder there
are so many rabid collectors of Sun Ra shows.
In addition to the Palomino show is a great duet with Don Cherry. I
don't remember ever hearing about any of this stuff. But it's great. Sun
Ra at the keys and Cherry on some crappy little piece of plastic making
it sound like something "otherworldly", a term I vow to stop
The disc ends with a sympathetic interview with Sun Ra allowing him
to pontificate in his most verbose, equal parts free association and abstract
(Transparency - PO Box 81-1821, Los Angeles, CA 90081)
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