Category Archives: Film

Who Needs Sundance?

Yale Latin American film series

For the past month, an exciting film series has been taking place in New Haven, apparently under the hipster radar. It is the NEFIAC Latin American and Iberian Film Series, sponsored by The Council for Latin American and Iberian Studies at Yale. All films are free, open to the public, and have English subtitles. The complete schedule is included in the poster above.

One event that has already occurred was the screening of two films by Cuban-born Miguel Coyula, his work in progress Blue Heart and Memories of Overdevelopment.

Ana Arellano’s CT Latino News article on Coyula will make you wish you’d gone to the screening:

Furthermore, it will make you NOT want to miss the last three screenings in the festival:

March 31, 2014. 7 pm. Luce Hall Auditorium. Aku Rodríguez will present La gran falacia (2013, Puerto Rico). Documentary.

April 9, 2014. 7 pm. LC102. Luis Argueta (Guatemala) will present the rough cut of his soon to be released documentary, Abuelos y nietos juntos: Two Generations Together.

He will also show scenes from his work in progress, The U-Turn,

April 14, 2014. 7 pm. Luce Hall Auditorium. Isabel Castro will present Crossing Over, a rough cut of her soon to be released documentary.


Inside Dave Van Ronk

Dave Van Ronk

For those who “got” the Coen Brothers’ excellent film Inside Llewyn Davis—which chronicles a week in the life of a struggling folkie in Greenwich Village in 1961—you owe it to yourself to read the source material. The title character in the film is largely based on Dave Van Ronk, who was, himself, a bit larger than life.

Before he died of cancer in 2002, Van Ronk, an irascible and witty raconteur, talked his way through his life and career to fellow musician Elijah Wald. They were ultimately collaborating on a giant, if not definitive, book about what really happened during the “Great Folk Scare” of the early 1960s.

Unfortunately, Van Ronk died and Wald was left with hundreds and hundreds of pages of transcripts, notes and archival material. Somehow, he was able to patch together an engrossing and entertaining memoir, called The Mayor of MacDougal Street, and it is that book that inspired the Coen Brothers to create the character Llewyn Davis and put him through some of the same paces, highs and lows that Van Ronk encountered during the early years of his career.

Van Ronk comes off as more of a hipster than a folkie. An exceptionally well read, self-taught man (he dropped out of high school in Brooklyn at 15), he loved to argue about politics and music and stayed true to his socialist convictions. Every page of this book contains some new twist on that cultural epoch known as the 1960s that forces readers to reexamine their own preconceptions. You can’t ask more from a book than that.

 Da Capo has wisely just reissued the memoir in a handsome trade paperback edition, with an explanatory postscript by Wald. Perhaps future editions of this will come with a CD compilation of Van Ronk’s songs, culled from his more than two dozen albums.

Visit Elijah Wald‘s website to learn more about Van Ronk, order the book, and listen to some of the “Mayor’s” music.


Steinem, Nevins and Feminist Art & Ideas

Sheila Nevins, President of Documentaries at HBO.

Sheila Nevins, President of Documentaries at HBO.

Women got an unexpected shout-out from President Obama at his Presidential State of the Union Address Tuesday night. There was a long bipartisan ovation for the concept that women should get paid the same wage as men. Obama capped his observation with a reference to the outdated work culture we see on Mad Men.

Good timing for a screening of Gloria: In Her Own Words. Continue reading

Hey, Satch!


The Bowery Boys

Volumes One through Three (Warner Archive Collection)

For years I looked for Bowery Boys DVDs, but could only find unreliable bootlegs. I gave up, assuming there was some sinister copyright issue or something which would had permanently affected the release of these movies which I’d enjoyed for so many Saturday afternoons on UHF TV channels when I was a child. Continue reading

What Did Delaware?

The answer to that question appears to be a well-tailored (law) suit:

Delaware’s new state motto should be: Welcome Corporate Criminals!

 What Did Mia Farrow?

The answer to that is a perhaps tastefully-tailored (law) suit or two by Woody Allen and maybe even the estate of Frank Sinatra. Turns out Woody Allen’s “son,” the golden boy now known as Ronan Farrow but was named Satchel Farrow Allen at birth, is probably not his—by Farrow’s own admission to Vanity Fair. Indeed, the boy may be the final seed Old Blue Eyes planted before shuffling off this mortal coil.

Those were the days

Those were the days

After all that screaming, gnashing of teeth and embarrassing herself in public about what a creep Woody Allen was—and, no doubt, there was some truth to those accusations—Mia Farrow has more than a few skeletons in her own closet.

Another reminder of that line from The Great Gatsby: “the rich are different from you and me.” And so are celebrities.

Ronan Farrow is coming to speak at Fairfield University’s Quick Center next spring, as part of the Open Visions series. Maybe the law suits will have started to really get going good by then.


A Mother’s Love

mother history

The new film Parkland is the first of what will be countless takes on the assassination of John F. Kennedy as we approach the 50th anniversary of that national tragedy. The film expands outward from the now iconic home movie by Abraham Zapruder (portrayed in the film by Paul Giamatti). Among the other peripheral characters if Mrs. Marguerite Oswald (portrayed by Jacki Weaver), the mother of the alleged assassin—we will never know for sure if he was the shooter or the “patsy” due to the utter incompetence of the Dallas Police Department who put him in the path of Jack Ruby, who killed him. Mrs. Oswald was a fascinating figure. For the remainder of her life, she tried desperately to prove her son’s innocence and rescue his reputation. She saw him as a “national hero” deserving of a plot in Arlington National Cemetery (he was, after all, a former U.S. Marine). Continue reading

Klaatu barada nikto Congress


flying saucer DC

Nothing feels more helpless than being trapped at an airport terminal with the stalactites of flat-screen TVs blaring at you on all sides. You can’t escape them.  Being trapped in this way in the present moment is a particularly gruesome form of torture, as I came to learn on a recent trip to Atlanta. These stalactites, all broadcasting the same Airport TV channel, are filled with nothing but government shutdown news. From such a perch, trapped at a gate between connecting flights, one gets the distinct impression that the government shutdown is fascinating ONLY to the TV commentators and non-stop series of “experts” called upon to offer their deep wisdom on all of this. With Congress sporting an approval rating of 5 percent, it’s clear that the American people have tuned out. Thus, watching these Fox and CNN living mannequins blathering on about the shutdown is as charming as eavesdropping at an all-you-can-eat breakfast buffet at the Marriott.


The most sensible reaction to this impasse, short of going to DC and overturning furniture in Republican Congressional offices, is to register to vote and then to exercise that right to vote on Nov. 5. Of course, being sensible seems a pretty tepid reaction to the current state of affairs in Washington D.C. What is really needed is an Occupy Wall Street movement relocated onto the Washington Mall.


Or, better yet, an alien spaceship needs to land on the Mall and out of it emerge a dignified extraterrestrial with a British accent and a warning for all of humankind: Klaatu barada nikto. 


Sort of like The Day The Earth Stood Still.


Here’s the trailer from the original 1951 film.


Seems pretty sensible to me.