A challenge to myth of male dominance

By CHRISTINE MARIE Book Review: Adrienne Mayor, “The Amazons: Lives and Legends of Warrior Women Across the Ancient World.” Princeton: Princeton University Press, 2014. Marx and Engels, when developing their understanding of the relationship between class society and the oppression of women, relied heavily on the ethnology and archaeological science of their day. They wrote…

Mockingjay: Revolution will be televised

By GAETANA CALDWELL-SMITH Hunger Games, Mockingjay, Part I, directed by Francis Lawrence, with Jennifer Lawrence, Josh Hutcherson, and Liam Hemsworth. How to build a revolution: Start with a tyrannical, revengeful president with a well-armed military; add a charismatic, self-effacing, yet heroic persona whose homeland was destroyed by his government; enhance with a wise, capable rebel…

Snowden speaks in ‘Citizen Four’

By GAETANA CALDWELL-SMITH It is chilling to know for a fact that since 9/11/2001, the U.S National Security Agency, NSA, has been tracking phone calls from ATT and Verizon, and also bank activity, internet searches, and all social media sites used by every person in America. It also tracks our credit card purchases—on the internet…

‘Vietnam’: Riveting but flawed documentary

By GAETANA CALDWELL-SMITH “The Last Days of Vietnam,” a documentary film produced and directed by Rory Kennedy. Director Rory Kennedy, daughter of environmental activist Robert F. Kennedy, has created a riveting and heartwarming, yet heartbreaking, full-length documentary film, “The Last Days of Vietnam,” which takes place in South Vietnam from 1973 to 1975, the last…

Genet’s revolutionary ‘The Maids’

By MARTY GOODMAN “My sleepers will flee toward another America.” —Jean Genet As a New Yorker, I make sure to avoid Broadway’s annual run of middle-class junk. But in August, a production by the Sydney Theatre Company of Jean Genet’s great 1947 play “The Maids” got me shelling out bucks. I’m a big Jean Genet…

How fashion industry oppresses women

By CHRISTINE MARIE Tansey E. Hoskins clearly loves art, understands the impulse to body modification and sartorial statement, and can imagine a socialist society where the creativity of the vast majority will be unleashed to spectacular ends in clothing and many other spheres. She has also written the most devastating deconstruction of the fashion industry, as…

Snowpiercer: Revolution in a world of ice

By GAETANA CALDWELL-SMITH “Snowpiercer,” directed by South Korean filmmaker Joon Ho Bong (“The Host,” “Mother”), in his first English-language film, is truly an original, inventive, futuristic work—which transcends all previous apocalyptic films. He gives us a devastating concept of what might happen in the future if the outmoded and anarchistic capitalist system goes on unchecked…

Dreamers of the world, unite!

By MARK T. HARRIS Book review: “Imagine: Living in a Socialist USA,” by Frances Golden, Debby Smith, Michael Smith. (HarperCollins, 2014.) To imagine a socialist United States is what many people might consider a utopian vision. In that particularly pragmatic strain of American thought, utopian has an almost pejorative association to it, too. As in,…

Film: 12 Years A Slave

By GAETANA CALDWELL-SMITH “12 Years a Slave” is a disturbing film based on Solomon Northup’s 1853 memoir. The author was a free Black man from upper New York, who enjoyed a life in many ways commensurate with whites. Like many other Black men and women, however, he was tricked, drugged, kidnapped, and sent to the…

Wadjda explores role of Saudi women

 By GAETANA CALDWELL-SMITH “Wadjda,” a film written and directed by Haifaa Al-Mansour. In Arabic with English subtitles, filmed in and around Riyadh, Saudi Arabia. Al-Mansour’s beautiful, thought-provoking film focuses on a mother and daughter who live in socially, religiously, and culturally male-dominated  Saudi Arabia. Here, females are so devalued they are not included in depictions…

Film: Fruitvale Station

By GAETANA CALDWELL-SMITH “Fruitvale Station.” Directed by Ryan Coogler; starring Michael B. Jordan, Olivia Spencer, and Melonie Diaz “Fruitvale Station” is filmmaker and director Ryan Coogler’s first work and is as polished as any seasoned Hollywood filmmaker’s. He opens his film with the authentic, jumpy, low resolution of the cell-phone videos taken by passengers of…

Film: Scahill probes U.S. covert wars

By GAETANA CALDWELL-SMITH “Dirty Wars,” a documentary film, written by Jeremy Scahill and directed by Rick Rowley.  The documentary film “Dirty Wars” should sicken, anger, and depress you. Investigative reporter Jeremy Scahill, who wrote the film, has done his job. Seems that the United States presidential administration has allowed the CIA to work jointly with…

Film: Oblivion

By GAETANA CALDWELL-SMITH   “Oblivion” is an entertaining yet thoughtful film that has us pondering what would happen to humans once we kill Earth and all living things by blanketing the precious planet with deadly CO2. It stars Tom Cruise in yet another space, sci fi thriller, written by Karl Gajusek and Michael Arndt, directed by Joseph…

Film: Baseball legend Jackie Robinson

By GAETANA CALDWELL-SMITH “42,” written and directed by Brian Helgeland, starring Chadwick Bosemen, Harrison Ford, and Nicole Beharie. “42” is a fictionalized film biography that covers the years 1945 to 1947 in the life of baseball legend Jackie Robinson, when he rose from the Kansas City Monarchs, a Negro League team, to play with the…

Holy smoke! How about equal time?

By BARRY WEISLEDER Saturation coverage by the corporate media of a recent resignation and election in Vatican City showed how the ruling rich impose certain ideas. Even in an increasingly secular world, privileged elites continue brazenly to push ideological opiates. It helps them, I suppose, that in Pope Francis the patriarchal plutocracy has found a…

Inside Israel’s killing machine

By GAETANA CALDWELL-SMITH “The Gatekeepers,” a film directed by Dror Moreh, who also conducted the interviews. “The Gatekeepers” is a riveting documentary film that reveals the behind-the-scenes actions of one of Israel’s key tools for maintaining its repressive rule over the Palestinians—the Shin Bet (appellation for Israel Security Agency or ISA, formerly Mossad). The film…

The con that knows no borders

By BARRY WEISLEDER Book Review: Will Ferguson, “419” (Penguin Canada, Toronto, 2012, 399 pages). How are the sins of imperialism visited upon the common people of the “rich” countries? One way is “419.” That is the law against fraud in the criminal code of Nigeria. It is also the title of the Giller Prize-winning book by…

Django: Pulp Western look at slavery

By GAETANA CALDWELL-SMITH Django Unchained, a film written and directed by Quentin Tarantino. “Django Unchained” takes place in 1858, two years before the Civil War—the year that William Wells Brown published the first Black drama, “Leap to Freedom,” John Brown held an anti-slavery convention, Abraham Lincoln said  “A house divided against itself cannot stand,” and…

A musical for rebellion

By TYLER MACKINNON With Oscar night right around the corner, this iconic book-turned-play-turned-film is taking theatres by storm—and for good reason. “Les Miserables” combines superb drama, action, romance and tragedy. Written by French literary giant Victor Hugo over a century and a half ago, it is remarkable, if not a bit depressing, to see how…

Lincoln: Images of History

By DAVID RIEHLE “Remembrance for a great man is this. The newsies are pitching pennies. And on the copper disk is the man’s face. Dead lover of boys, what do you ask for now?” (“In a Back Alley,” Carl Sandburg, ca 1910-12) What was Sandburg getting at here?  The “copper disk,” the ubiquitous Lincoln penny,…

Films: Abandoned Detroit / Chasing Ice

 By GAETANA CALDWELL-SMITH “Detropia,” a documentary film, written and directed by Heidi Ewing and Rachel Grady. “Detropia,” created by noted documentarians (“Jesus Camp”) Heidi Ewing and Rachel Grady, is a powerful film about the demise of Detroit, one of America’s largest cities, home of Motown and General Motors, whose economy had been based on the…