Criterion Blu-Ray of the Day : Jeffrey Wright on the phenomenal film RIDE WITH THE DEVIL

Like the war it pivots around, Ang Lee’s RIDE WITH THE DEVIL, is a troubling property.

A box office failure on its release in 1999, the film came and went from theaters, virtually unseen. The release of the movie on Blu-ray, from respected Blu-ray Boutique label Criterion, finally gives audiences a chance to (most for the first time), see and explore what may be the most challenging film, from a director known for taking on eclectic and challenging material.

It is not an easy film, filled as it is with absurdities, and contradictions and stupidities reflective of the time. However stick with it, as it is a rewarding film, as much for what it says about the mistakes this nation has made, as it is prophetic and timely about the mistakes this nation is currently making.

Is it a great film? It has moments of greatness, and is never quite what you think it is.

It is ultimately a film I bought simply upon Jeffrey Wright, mentioning it as one of his favorites; and one I am very glad I bought. The beautiful criterion release offers a great interview with Jeffrey Wright, snippets of which I have provided below. However, please watch the film before indulging in the full special features.

In an age of streaming, this Criterion release of RIDE WITH THE DEVIL makes a case for physical media just in the gorgeousness of the gestalt. From the striking and handsomely designed packaging, to the overflowing with special features director’s approved and remastered release, to the eye-catching booklet filled with informative essays on the film; in every way this film is as much a tactile and dimensional experience, as a visual one.

A must own release. Grade: B+.

 

“I think that’s what separates this film from other films about the civil war, and other films that deal with historical racial dynamics in this country, that Ang was open to the complexity of it. That war is a seminal event in the character of American history, and it continues to inform who we are today, and who we will become. The story is a non-conventional look at historic race relations in this country. “

“I understood the attack they had planned, and I understood the subtlety of the character they had drawn. Holt, the character I played, that Ang described as an emerging character, and I thought it worked on multiple levels, relative to the film. Interestingly that was the first role I got, not having had to audition. Ang said that he had seen my work, he had seen Basquiat prior to that and maybe some of my stage work and said ‘There was something in your eyes that I saw, that was right for the character.’ That as well gave me a lot of confidence in the way that he worked, and  the way he understood what acting was.”

“Black folks in the south, in the years before the civil War did not have a voice. Holt, is reflective of the nature of Black folks relation to society at that time. And ultimately as he emerges out of that silence, what he does say is all the more heightened, and all the more powerful.”

“I think it has gained a core audience since then — an expanding audience, it’s a film that’s going to survive. RIDE WITH THE DEVIL is the last film about the Civil War of the 20th century, and I think the arc from BIRTH OF A NATION, at the beginning of the 20th century to RIDE WITH THE DEVIL is an evolution of our ways of portraying this critical and defining point in our history, through cinema.”

Get your copy here!

MATEWAN By John Sayles – A masterpiece made in 1987 that is absolutely relevant in 2020

 

‘You think this man is the enemy? Huh? This is a worker! Any union keeps this man out ain’t a union, it’s a goddam club! They got you fightin’ white against colored, native against foreign, hollow against hollow, when you know there ain’t but two sides in this world – them that work and them that don’t. You work, they don’t. That’s all you got to know about the enemy.’

-MATEWAN [2 syllables, pronounced MATE(as in your spouse)- WAN (as in WAND)]

 

Matewan

Click on the above image to purchase.

 

People use words like masterpiece and great, and sometimes the true weight of what you may be getting across may be lost.

Let me therefore explain MATEWAN to you thusly, I just finished watching the film yesterday. And I’m watching and listening to the, newly cut 2019 Criterion interviews today. (quick aside, i really appreciate that criterion went to the expense of doing new interviews and features for this film, which is something i am critical of them not doing, in other films. These 2019 featurettes are really— stunning, and on top of the greatness of the film, make the blu-ray a must own purchase.)

 

This morning I watched the news of Resident Trump dressing up essentially unidentified strike breakers and thugs, and letting them loose in Portland Oregon, and calling it the law.

 

“If you have vacation benefits, if you have unemployment benefits, worker’s compensation— these things weren’t given to you; they were fought for by people throughout this country. And i’m passionate about the fact that people have actually made an effort to fight for other people’s rights.”

—Karen VuRanch, THEM THAT WORK (2004) Documentary/featurette on the Matewan Massacre

 

Watching MATEWAN, a stunningly beautiful film, referencing a caustic bit of American history,  from exactly 100 years ago, gives me, and I think it will give you, one of the greatest gifts art can can give— perspective. Perspective on the mistakes we have made, and the tyranny we have allowed.

And perspective helps us deal with the present, without ignorance, and if not without fear, without hopelessness. Because we can see others have seen these days of Gethsemane, and endured it, triumphed over it.

You can go many days of your life without gaining that type of perspective, that barest hint of —- grace. Looking at the world, many people go their whole life without finding the type of perspective, that glimpse of grace— that MATEWAN hints at.

For $30 to $40, Criterion’s MATEWAN blu-ray is one of the best purchases you can make. And ultimately, what it has left me with, like the best of true art, is priceless.

 

 

 

” The way she poured herself into her song— it can make a doubting man religious.”

—James Earl Jones on Hazel Dickens’ song in the film

News You Can Use! From Google/Alphabet with access to your medical history to Tyson to Mars to EPA Attacks on the environment!

 

-You can’t trust these companies with your browsing or computer data, and now they want to secure (monetize?) your medical data as well? Thanks but no Thanks.

 

You know where I stand on this whole guilty before conviction nonsense, people losing their jobs, their homes, their reputations, their livelihood, their honors, based on innuendo, and rumors, and the murmurings of the faceless idiotic twitter and Facebook mob. I think moronic sound-bytes like ‘Me Too’ and ‘Black Lives Matter’ miss the point. The concept of ME TOO has no effing place in a court of law, only at a lynching. And it is not ‘Black Lives Matter’ that is the takeaway, it is ‘All lives matter’, and until you sell that, you can’t sell anything else to the takers of lives. I think a lot of earnest but misguided causes are being used by bad men to do dreadful things, and history will look back at this year of ‘ME TOO’ and see it for what it was, targeted political attacks. The age of McCarthy and the Salem Witch Trials updated, and social media weaponized.

 

The article describes speculation that what killed life (microbial life) on Mars… was water. An experiment in arid Chile, unexpectedly showed that a mass extinction occurred when water was introduced to an ecosystem that had learned to thrive in arid conditions.

The facts of today, wonderfully recalling the fictions of HG Wells. Once again HG Wells innovative fictions, do not all stay the stuff of fiction. Man would land on the moon. The conditions on Earth may be hazardous to life on mars. Even to the new types of war machines and warfare.

His WAR OF THE WORLDS, a wonderful work of fiction, but it posited that Martian Life was ultimately ended by germs and bacteria in the very air and water. It is so great to see that HG Wells, 7 decades after his passing, remains somehow timely and relevant.

 

 

Let’s leave untouched for the moment that Resident Trump did not win the popular vote. Let us even leave untouched that a percentage of votes cast for him are in doubt at best. Here’s the issue, millions of you did vote for someone who is doing a great disservice to the highest office in the land. You are the ones who worry me more than Trump.

 

 

And to leave on a more uplifting note, here are the first and last paragraphs of HG Wells’ WAR OF THE WORLDS(1898).

 

Here the opening paragraph of H.G. Wells’ The War of the Worlds:

No one would have believed in the last years of the nineteenth century that this world was being watched keenly and closely by intelligences greater than man’s and yet as mortal as his own; that as men busied themselves about their various concerns they were scrutinised and studied, perhaps almost as narrowly as a man with a microscope might scrutinise the transient creatures that swarm and multiply in a drop of water. With infinite complacency men went to and fro over this globe about their little affairs, serene in their assurance of their empire over matter. It is possible that the infusoria under the microscope do the same. No one gave a thought to the older worlds of space as sources of human danger, or thought of them only to dismiss the idea of life upon them as impossible or improbable. It is curious to recall some of the mental habits of those departed days. At most terrestrial men fancied there might be other men upon Mars, perhaps inferior to themselves and ready to welcome a missionary enterprise. Yet across the gulf of space, minds that are to our minds as ours are to those of the beasts that perish, intellects vast and cool and unsympathetic, regarded this earth with envious eyes, and slowly and surely drew their plans against us. And early in the twentieth century came the great disillusionment.

And here is the paragraph quoted from the end of the novel:

For so it had come about, as indeed I and many men might have foreseen had not terror and disaster blinded our minds. These germs of disease have taken toll of humanity since the beginning of things–taken toll of our prehuman ancestors since life began here. But by virtue of this natural selection of our kind we have developed resisting power; to no germs do we succumb without a struggle, and to many–those that cause putrefaction in dead matter, for instance–our living frames are altogether immune. But there are no bacteria in Mars, and directly these invaders arrived, directly they drank and fed, our microscopic allies began to work their overthrow. Already when I watched them they were irrevocably doomed, dying and rotting even as they went to and fro. It was inevitable. By the toll of a billion deaths man has bought his birthright of the earth, and it is his against all comers; it would still be his were the Martians ten times as mighty as they are. For neither do men live nor die in vain.

 

 

 

Ramblings from the Edge -End of Sept Edition

First Kudos to the NFL Players who chose to exercise their own form of protest.

The amazing thing about the theft of the white house by resident Trump, and his cronies of hate, is it is galvanizing people, that he thought he could count out and overlook, … to stand.

This country and people of color fought off Nazis and Terrorists from without and within before, I reckon we can do it again.

All that hate is mostly empty space, it is a vacuum that crumples reason and crumples lives and ultimately decimates itself, nothing built on it will stand.

And in the meantime we live our lives.

We donate to good causes.

We breathe deep and long.

We correct the agents of ignorance and class stratification the only way that makes sense. We take money out of their pockets  and the conversation out of their arena.

We build around them and despite them and if necessary through them.

These days are a curse to strive against.

But to strive is a blessing.

It wakes us from our apathy and our sleep of ages

to see naked the barbarians at our gate.

These days are a blessing, to see clearly those who want to step backward

And live yesterday’s mistakes anew

Those who want to surrender the burden of liberty, of progress, of humanity… those who want to end the dream of America

Because they lack the courage to go forward.

To see such cowardice clearly, is to have to see yourself clearly.

Is to take your measure, and decide if you will hide your light with the darkness of the unthinking mob

or if you will risk

And by that risking define yourself as man… as human.

By the repellant fear and cowardice of Charlottesville, masquerading as hate, bullies making noise to keep you from looking at their inadequacies, by looking at that pageant of loss…I saw in it where the righteous man and woman may be found

Where we have always been found

In the path of would be dragons.

Here endeth the lesson.

 

 

https://impeachdonaldtrumpnow.org

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Be well.

Brothers in Arms: The Epic Story of the 761st Tank Battalion, WWII’s Forgotten Heroes

Top MARVEL Artist Pledges Not To Visit U.S. States That Voted for Trump!

http://www.newsarama.com/31984-humberto-ramos-refuses-to-visit-states-that-voted-for-trump.html

 

‘There are 29 states that Ramos will no longer visit according to these terms, including Alabama, Alaska, Arizona, Arkansas, Florida, Georgia, Idaho, Indiana, Iowa, Kansas, Kentucky, Lousiana, Mississippi, Missouri, Montana, Nebraska, North Carolina, North Dakota, Ohio, Oklahoma, Pennsylvania, South Carolina, South Dakota, Tennessee, Texas, Utah, West Virgina, Wisconsin, Wyoming.

“For the fans. I ask your understanding and support. Hey, we can meet in many shows across your beautiful country but please understand I can’t go to a house I’m not being invited, the vote clearly says that.”

Trump campaigned on promises of building a wall between Mexico and the United States, and on some occassions even said that the U.S. would push Mexico to fund the wall. In his speech announcing his candidacy for president, he controversially referred to Mexicans emigrating to the United States as “rapists” and “criminals” that bring drugs into the country. ‘
Read full article:

I absolutely LOVE this article and Humberto Ramos’ stance! He has for years been one of Marvel’s go to artists. Not one typically on my radar, but his stance here just really makes me appreciate him more, and actively want to seek out his work!

And I’m likewise disappointed in the States (I count 30) whose Electoral College votes went to Trump, and I’m so thankful my state wasn’t one of them! And I can see how it makes you not want to visit or vacation or otherwise support those states. I travel for enjoyment quite a bit, and I have to say states I had planned to vacation at in the forseeable future, I honestly will choose a different location/states to give my money to.

It’s a huge black eye to some states that desperately should know better. Tennessee, North Carolina… what the eff were you thinking?

And I would go even further and while the electoral college disregarded the majority popular vote, they can’t stop you voting with your Dollars. So upcoming article will look at companies that supported Trump, and companies to cease or limit giving your business to.

And yes, states not to reward with your tourist dollars!

Big Kudos to Humberto Ramos!

 

 

FALL OF THE CITY / American Election Results! Hillary wins at the Polls but loses due to the bs Electorial College?! That’s Nonsense!

You expect me to rant, I’m not goint to rant.

Except to say I did my part, I voted for the candidate who actually had some experience both on the national and international stage, ie the candidate who wasn’t Trump.

First it is sad that in a nation of 322 million people, these are the two individuals that rise to the largest seat in the nation and the world. Sadder still that anyone would vote for Trump, much less in any numbers (That being relative since only about 125 million people voted in total. Not great numbers in a nation of over 300 Million). And yet more direness, that again the popular vote which is obstensibly what we are fed is this Nation’s great Democracy in action, loses to the backdoor shenanigans of the Electoral College (Clinton beat Trump by over 200,000 votes). A stop gap measure created for just such a reason, to muddy the waters, and make the will of the many, subbordinate to the desires of the few.

I guess I am going to rant.

This is a talk show president of an apathetic and ignorant population that chooses based on sound bytes and media bias rather than on the record/resume of the individual. Whatever else you say for or against Hillary Clinton, she is an experienced and tested politician on the national and international level.

Even the 2nd Bush, at least was a Governor first. Trump has never even been a mayor, he lacks any diplomacy. He’s a walking talkshow host. Who now… due to a, from my vantage, very suspect election day voting process, and the fuzzy math of the Electoral College has been granted the most powerful seat in the world.

And he is going to use it to make himself and his friends richer, by making the poor, poorer. That is absolutely his agenda. If you make under $300000 and voted for Trump, you are worse than an ignorant, fool… you are a slave.

You are a nation of masterless men… seeking a master. In Archibald MacLeish’s great FALL OF THE CITY, he forewarned against days like this , a whole population  ‘seeking to be free of the burden of their freedoms’.

The people invent their oppressors: they wish to believe in them.
They wish to be free of their freedom: released from their liberty —
The long labor of liberty ended!
— Archibald MacLeish, “The Fall of the City”

If I was a foreign nation looking at this election, I would see… opportunity. An America that eschews moving forward for the familiarity of moving back. That seeks division over unity, and hate over hope. An America that is ready to fall.

http://www.wnyc.org/story/86853-the-fall-of-the-city/

 

I can not control the ignorance of the led, or the machinations of their leaders, all I can do is prepare, enlighten, and support those better voices of our nature and our America. All I can do is define America not as those resources and liberties the venal waste, but those individuals who against the odds seek, preserve, and uplift what is best and noble.

But I think in this Trump coup, is the impetus for the formerly apathetic to get involved, to turn around this ship of corruption that is America, beginning with eradicating this Electoral college idiocy.

The end?

No, this is the beginning.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

On The Issues : A few thoughts on the upcoming 2016 Presidential Elections

There is a great site out there called ON THE ISSUES, that just breaks down the stances on the remaining Presidential candidates.

HILARY CLINTON (Democrat) – I was anti Hilary for no real reason I could name,  except it seemed to be in the air like a cold, and I had caught it. But once I got beyond the TV  noise, and started evaluating candidates just in terms of their stance and voting record and experience, I saw a candidate far different than the media caricature.  Her stance to look for alternatives to big oil, and willingness to embrace green energy options.  And her voting record has held big oil accountable which is a huge plus, and has made her enemies among the big pocket oil set. Which in my book raises her profile in a good way. And her stance to addess tax inequalities has appeal. She’s foreward looking which is what you want in a candidate to represent the US into 2020. Also Tim  Kaine her running mate  brings a stance and background on tax reform and tax equanimity as well as experience as Governor of Virginia.  The bad against Hilary is as Secretary of State she is the spearhead for an especially bloody foreign affairs record, with notable conflicts across the globe.

DONALD TRUMP (Republican) – The strength of Donald Trump is he is a successful businessman, and he is this crotchety, known, media personality. The crazy uncle you kinda like inspite of the idiotic things he says. The strength of celebrity, that got people like Reagan and Swartzenegger elected. People we are not better for having elected.

The weaknesses are he puts money over people, and has no problem widening the already dangerous gap between haves and havenots. And dismantling cultural, arts, education and civil liberties. He is also a dinosaur in his thinking, a 20th century oil worshiper, who is afraid and dismissive of  concepts such as climate control, solar power, wind farms, alternative energy. He is unable to make 21st century progress, he is too entrenched in supporting the continued 20th century strip mining of natural resources. And he is an exclusionist, rather than an inclusionist, seeking to divide and conquer, seeking to rule by fear and hate and division, and turn back the clock on ethnic rights, and civil rights, human rights and religious freedoms and tolerance. That makes him a candidate of yesterday, of moving us backwards as a nation, and completely unfit to represent the United States on the global stage as a diplomat, and a representative of America.

GARY JOHNSON (Libertarian) – His agenda is to make prevalent the flying of the confederate flag. Talk about moving a nation backwards. He probably also wants to reinstate slavery. Enough said.

 

JILL STEIN (Green) – Her stance is on women’s rights, alternatives to fossil fuels, Canceling college debt, business and privatization reform. Judicial and Policing reform.  Of all the remaining candidates her stances seem the most thoughtful and… presidential. She’s about moving the conversation forward rather than just muddying the waters.

The weaknesses of Jill Stein and Ajamu Baraka, while one is a physician and the other an activist and teacher, is they lack any previous domestic or international experience. And while everone has to start somewhere, using the most powerful office in the world as your training ground, is probably to be avoided.

So based on my reseach on the remaining candidates, much to my surprise, as of this writing Hilary Clinton is not just the lesser of two evils, her and her running mate are the most experienced and the most ‘pro the people, the citizen’, of  all the remaining candidates.

 

Glad I did this post as watching/listening to the media is designed to keep the masses confused, and now having done some researh feel good about casting my vote. I hope it helped some of you as well.

 

‘I think even a cursory examination of this site provides a quick clarity on the strengths and weaknesses of the candidates based on their record to date.

A clarity that gets lost by people who only absorb media soundbytes and shock jock extremes masquerading as news and journalism. People who live their lives as puppets to other men’s hates, easily manipulated and led by scarecrows of fear and greed and division.’