rasx() on film: 2008

Including the two flicks mentioned in “rasx() Screenshots: Shots out at Sci-Fi Slavery,” my film writing count of the year 2008 is 18. That’s less than my films for 2007 and the ones written in 2000 through 2006. I’m betting on a 20-movie cap for my pen per year going forward…

My 2008 journeys allowed me to visit James Spooner, Ava DuVernay, Issac Klotz, William Gibson, Samuel Beckett, Avery Brooks, Ronald D. Moore, Edward James Olmos, Marlon Brando, Paul Justman, Jean-Claude La Marre (and Ananda Lewis), Rutger Hauer, Lawrence Fishburne, Alfonso Cuarón (and Clare-Hope Ashitey), Mark Brian Smith, Charles Burnett (and David Lynch), Sotigui Kouyaté (not Morgan Freeman), Peter Brook, Janet Jackson, James Toback, Jim Brown, Francis Ford Coppola (and Mircea Eliade), Lou Ye and many more!

The table below will date and direct us to the articles. It will also have article excerpts and pictures. The table summarizes:

2008/01/01: “Flippant Remarks about Afro-Punk Buy this DVD at Amazon.com! “I am still amazed at how the team working on this film managed to locate people like Tamar-kali Brown and Mariko Jones. The candid testimony of Mariko Jones is the first time I have ever heard a self-described ‘black woman’ of the ‘younger generation’ discuss her serious tricycle issues with ‘black guys’ openly—how this fear complex was placed in her consciousness by racist lectures from her parents! …To me, one of the most important messages in this film is to see how ‘black kids’ can have all ‘white’ friends and still have this yearning for a Black community. Whatever yearning coming from a brother like me with my ‘inner city’ background has been too often forcibly associated with cartoon misrepresentations of hatred. In other words, a Black man cannot love Black people without hating so-called ‘white’ people. This film goes a long way—with very little effort—to show just how ridiculous this gross misunderstanding can be.”
2008/02/06: “Ava DuVernay and Issac Klotz Show R/Kain Blaze Ava Duvernay, photographybyhamilton.com “As time goes on and we get older we realize that it is important to make a record (in small and big ways) for ourselves because of our children. In our poverty and our impoverished relationships it becomes abundantly clear that we cannot trust others to speak accurately on our behalf—even the mothers of our children. It then becomes our responsibility to get out there and establish our testimony as Black men. Let the children take measure of what we say and compare it to other stuff they have heard. It is way too goddamn easy to turn Black men into criminals. Ava DuVernay and Issac Klotz with the 2008 Pan African Film Festival make this crime just a little bit harder… Much appreciation!”
2008/02/18: “Driving Mr. Gibson Buy this book at Amazon.com! “What’s important for me to understand—and what this documentary shows around the 27th minute—is that it was Gibson, Bruce Sterling and others in the cyberpunk movement that made personal computers sexy, dramatic devices in fictional prose. The leap from prose to film, punctuated by the huge Matrix movies, was just a matter of time. Also the carefully crafted desire for, say, Apple computers can be traced back to the conceptual aesthetics of this movement.”
2008/03/27: “The Blog and ‘Krapp’s Last Tape’ Buy this DVD at Amazon.com! “This is a shot from ‘Krapp’s Last Tape,’ starring the first guy that was killed by a Chestburster in Alien. This Samuel Beckett play quite adequately represents what my Blog writing means to me. For the most part, I am writing to myself—which may sound utterly ridiculous to people who are sincerely satisfied with their MySpace page.”
2008/04/17: “My Wacky Avery Brooks, Deep-Space-Nine Theory about Ronald D. Moore Buy this book at Amazon.com! This image is from a ‘special effects’ sequence that is one of the best set pieces of dramatic space flight I have ever seen. Oh, yes, I am sure you and that cute Aussie chick from fxguidetv can find numerous examples of technically superior shots. But what moves my heart is not inhuman advanced Western technology. What makes a ‘special effects’ sequence powerful is that it crosses over from ‘special’ and not only ‘helps to tell the story’ (another worn cliché) but also helps to reveal the character of the dramatis personae. When you look camera-up into a huge freaking several-million-ton fireball ripping through the atmosphere, you know that the great Edward James Olmos, his character, Commander Adama is riding that mufukka”.
2008/4/27: “rasx() Screenshots: Shots out at Sci-Fi Slavery Buy this DVD at Amazon.com! “Let me say it again in a brand new paragraph to threaten more ‘employment opportunities’ for myself: Black women have the most dominant genes. This science sounds strange to you? Well, that’s why these messages fare better in science fiction stories—because truth is stranger than the American pulp fiction swaddling imperial children over 40. This scene should represent the core of what dudes of color like DJ Spooky call Afrofuturism—since this dude is probably in Antarctica right now I fear it does not.”
2008/05/12: “Flippant Remarks about Last Tango in Paris “Netflix is now streaming Last Tango in Paris. This was the first “pornographic” film I ever saw. I saw it when I was left alone in a hotel room in Pasadena in the late 1970s (maybe the early 80’s). It was totally devastating to me and left me with sexual preoccupations that lasted decades. This film had a similar consciousness-shifting effect as Diva, mentioned under “Vietcong Diva” in “rasx() Screenshots: More Shots out at Slavery” here in the kinté space.”
2008/05/19: “Flippant Remarks about Standing in the Shadows of Motown Buy this at Amazon.com! Paul Justman’s 2002 documentary Standing In The Shadows of Motown tells a story that all too familiar to me: Black, grass-root genius disrespected but never overlooked by upper-class exploitation. Any red-blooded American paying for gasoline surely suffers from exploitation fatigue and is probably too poor to care about a group of musicians producing more number-one hits than all the Elvis impersonators combined (including Elvis himself).”
2008/07/04: “Flippant Remarks about the Color of Cross Buy this DVD at Amazon.com! “The threat of a full-blood African leading a rebellion against the Romans is more real and terrifying than some cute little modern preoccupation with the color of skin. The Romans would be seriously concerned with a new “false prophet” as another Hannibal attempting to restore the Old Kingdom of Africa as “heaven on Earth.” The makers of this film seem to forget on camera that Hannibal was also an African who died a mere 183 years before the birth of Christ. They lost an opportunity, in their European-suit ministry, to remind a new, young BET audience that the threat of an African subversive claiming descent from a royal blood leading a “rainbow coalition” army was (and is) a deep primal threat to an Imperial Roman sense of security.”
2008/07/17: “Flippant Remarks about Mark Brian Smith’s Overnight Buy this DVD at Amazon.com! “I’m risking my life on several African theories. Seriously. No, dude I mean seriously. One of them is that whatever happens to Africans now will eventually happen to the rest of the artificial under-classes around the world. So what I am saying is that Mark Brian Smith’s Overnight is a documentary of what happens to a bunch of n-words when they get some hint of Hollywood money coming their way. …There are many similarities between Irish American ‘genius’ talent coming out of the ’hood and African American ‘genius’ coming out of the ’hood. This film should be required viewing for young Black filmmakers without a DJ/research-librarian sense of history.”
2008/08/21: “Flippant Remarks about Killer of Sheep “Another one of things Killer of Sheep faithfully records is the state of Black females in 1977. When was the last time you saw a ten-year-old girl climbing on the roof of an apartment building for fun? I now think it unusual to see the girls as lean and rough-and-tumble as the boys these days. This athletic equality (often supremacy) of little girls around the way is captured almost as an afterthought by Burnett—and should be seen in stark contrast to the rampant, childhood inner-city, obesity of today. I really miss those girls… I thought we could grow up together…”
2008/09/15: “How to Impress Your Properly-Assimilated Francophone African Woman with Your African Film Knowledge Buy this DVD at Amazon.com! “What is most important is that you have two films to show to your darling because this means she will either have to leave your incredibly comfortable flat too late at night or succumb to staying over and getting it on. But do mention first that both of these films star the legendary Sotigui Kouyaté—who is like the Morgan Freeman of the French-speaking world. This implies that you have a truly talented older black man that is extremely agreeable with white authority figures—both in front of and behind the camera—to safely admire. You can go even further and expound on that incredibly fruitful relationship Sotigui Kouyaté has with Peter Brook—the jewel crowing this collaboration is my favorite (seriously), The Mahabharata.”
2008/12/05: “Without My Unwelcome Help, You will Never Find Fumi in That Janet Jackson Video “Was my unwelcome help helpful? It takes a lot of teenage, VHS-era, porn-viewing skills to rewind and freeze frames—not many girls learn how to do this outside of an editing bay. You see, my romantic wolf cubs, non-alpha-males are actually useful! …Now let’s get not-so-personal and be a little more cultural. I took another still from the Janet Jackson video. My viewing of this video, by the way, is from the excellent Mark Romanek compilation, Director’s Series Vol. 4.”
2008/12/22: “Jim Brown in ‘Fingers’ Jim Brown and Harvey Keitel in FINGERS “Director James Toback and his housemate pal, Jim Brown, probably knew exactly what they were doing when they staged this scene in their film, Fingers. You might call it the ‘money shot.’ This film comes in 1978—just a little over ten years after American pop culture started to be infused with the Black-Panther-inspired distortion that there would be a ‘race war’ in America and ‘we’ would take over the White House. This vibe peaks in film in the Ivan Dixon masterpiece, The Spook Who Sat by the Door. …The image of Jim Brown and two ‘white’ women performing in front of the impotent Harvey Keitel character is just the kind of liberal smut that would enrage the ‘traditional American’ coming from the John Wayne School of white supremacy. Simultaneously, for a self-proclaimed, ‘ultra-orthodox,’ conservative here in the rasx() context, this sort of scene of ‘black dominance’ actually reminds me of a very traditional Ante Bellum ‘buck’ character from the deep dark well of American slavery.”
2008/12/25: “Francis Ford Coppola Dramatizes the Hieroglyphs “Yes, quite a delicate business—especially when there is debate to this day about what any ancient Egyptian words sounded like. Also, how can the sound of what she is saying suggest how the words should be positioned? Notice in the frame above how there is a column of words at left next to the runs that appear left to right. This is just the beginning of Francis Ford Coppola overreaching. …This film is based on the novella of the same name by Romanian author Mircea Eliade. Along with some right-wing writings on ‘Shamanism,’ Yoga, Eliade comes equipped with the concept of Eternal Return and the ‘Terror of history.’
2008/12/29: “Lou Ye’s ‘Summer Palace’ Buy this DVD at Amazon.com! Promoting this film as a commemoration of the Tiananmen Square protests of 1989 works for customers, buying into this film with a lack concern for a human connection to the characters. But these buyers will be sorely disappointed—especially when they see the one scene of Chinese troops firing rifles into the air. Here in the rasx() context, the real reason to see this film is to experience one of the few dramas that follow the lives of confused, under-informed, idealistic young people into adulthood. There is a tendency in many films to make fun of this stage—especially when the kids are college students. Although Summer Palace is subtly playful, it is not a comedy.