BY EVAN ENGERING “This Changes Everything: Capitalism vs. The Climate”, by Naomi Klein, 566 pages, Knopf Canada, September, 2014. The latest book of Naomi Klein, the influential Toronto-based journalist, author, and activist, may live up to its ambitious title, “This Changes Everything.” In it, Klein turns her thorough, eye-opening brand of investigative journalism to the … Continue reading Climate change demands a radical solution
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 … Continue reading A challenge to myth of male dominance
By BARRY WEISLEDER Hollywood, Wall Street, and the White House are celebrating the release, albeit delayed and via the internet and small cinemas, of the third-rate comedy “The Interview.” The film is about a plot to assassinate the leader of North Korea. Pyongyang took exception to the idea, and threatened to retaliate, which set off a … Continue reading Why so much ado about ‘The Interview’?
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 … Continue reading Mockingjay: Revolution will be televised
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 … Continue reading Snowden speaks in ‘Citizen Four’
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 … Continue reading ‘Vietnam’: Riveting but flawed documentary
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 … Continue reading Genet’s revolutionary ‘The Maids’
By GAETANA CALDWELL-SMITH “A Most Wanted Man,” a film directed by Anton Corbijn, based on the novel by John le Carré. Director Corbijn set “A Most Wanted Man” in the port city of Hamburg, site of Mohammad Atta’s planning for the al-Queda jet-plane attacks on the World Trade Center and the Pentagon. Only now, it’s … Continue reading Movies: U.S. spy agency is the villain
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 … Continue reading How fashion industry oppresses women
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 … Continue reading Snowpiercer: Revolution in a world of ice
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, … Continue reading Dreamers of the world, unite!
By MARC NORTON “12 Years a Slave,” the story of a free Black man kidnapped by slave traders, has won an Oscar for Best Picture of the Year and a slew of other awards—including Best Writing for a screenplay adapted from another source, in this case the autobiography of Solomon Northup. But in one important … Continue reading 12 Years: What happened to slave rebellion?
By JOHN SCHRAUFNAGEL The 100th anniversary of the great imperialist slaughter known as World War I takes place this year. With 37 million casualties, over 16 million dead, and 20 million wounded, it was one of the bloodiest chapters of history. In the coming months the bourgeois press and historians will write about the causes … Continue reading War to end all Wars turns 100
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 … Continue reading Film: 12 Years A Slave
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 … Continue reading Wadjda explores role of Saudi women
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 … Continue reading Film: Fruitvale Station
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 … Continue reading Film: Scahill probes U.S. covert wars
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 … Continue reading Film: Oblivion
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 … Continue reading Film: Baseball legend Jackie Robinson
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 … Continue reading Holy smoke! How about equal time?
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 … Continue reading Inside Israel’s killing machine
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 … Continue reading The con that knows no borders
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 … Continue reading Django: Pulp Western look at slavery
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 … Continue reading A musical for rebellion
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, … Continue reading Lincoln: Images of History