Category: Good causes


CAROL directed by Todd Haynes (USA, 2015)

carol_film_posterI borrowed this film from my local lending library in Cesena, Italy. This excellent ‘mediateca’,  somewhat anachronistically, continues to maintain a healthy stock of old and new DVDs.

In a card inside the case of more recent acquisitions you are invited to write what you think of the movie: “Lascia un commento, potresti convincere qulache indeciso” (Leave a comment – it may convince others who are undecided).

For Carol, there is just one review which (translated from Italian) states that it is “the story of an upper class woman who destroys the life of her husband and, not content with this, also ruins the life of a poor young working woman. All this in the name of a presumed sexual liberation. A film of homosexual propaganda”.

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The offending review of ‘Carol’.

This blinkered and spiteful reading of Todd Haynes’ elegant and intelligent movie illustrates that, despite some encouraging advances in LGBT rights, this is no time for complacency. Continue reading

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EX LIBRIS: THE NEW YORK PUBLIC LIBRARY a film by Frederick Wiseman (USA, 2017)ex_libris_e28093_the_new_york_public_library

Zadie Smith expressed it well when in ‘North-west London Blues, when she wrote that: “Well-run libraries are filled with people because what a good library offers cannot be easily found elsewhere: an indoor public space in which you do not have to buy something to stay”.

Appropriately enough, this essay was published in the New York Review of Books for what applies to the London suburbs applies equally to the bustling metropolis of NYC.

This is more than clear from Frederick Wiseman’s painstakingly epic documentary film which presents many of the Big Apple’s library branches and buildings as beacons of anti-capitalist hope. Although not overtly political, it’s hard to miss the fact that these resources represent the polar opposite of everything Trump and his minions stand for. Continue reading

plantbasedThe UK monthly magazine ‘Cook Vegan’ is from now on to be known as ‘Plant Based’ and carries the subtitle ‘The Food Revolution’ .

In the editorial to the first issue under the new name (October 2017), assistant editor Blake Roberts writes  “Everything in this magazine is still vegan and we only want to expand and improve upon the content that you’re used to. However, we believe that if we are to make veganism more accessible for all, it is important that everybody feels part of it; under our new title we feel we can encourage seven more people to embrace a plant-based lifestyle”.

In this way he is seeking to reassure readers that this is a magazine that is solely focused on diet, health and recipes. It is still all about cooking, in other words.

But he also raises a more questionable point. Reading between the lines, he is suggesting that the label  ‘vegan’ is problematic in that it is automatically connected to lifestyle choices that go beyond what you keep in your fridge or serve up at mealtimes. Continue reading

I Am Not Your Negro directed by Raoul Peck (USA, 2016)
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The story of Black men and women in America is not a pretty one. This is an understatement. From slavery and segregation to the present day struggle to convince diehard bigots that their lives matter, the story is dominated by violence and oppression.

This sobering documentary may focus mainly on events from the past but it is no abstract history lesson.

The film is based on James Baldwin’s ‘Remember This House’, his uncompleted memoirs about Malcolm X, Martin Luther King and Medgar Evers; three prominent civil rights activists who were all assassinated in the 1960s before they reached 40. Continue reading

rockinThe sight and sound of 1000 (or as near as dammit) musicians and singers joyously reproducing some of Rock’n’Roll’s finest moments is a memory that still cheers me to this day. This was the mother of all tribute bands.

What an evening it was on Sunday, 24th July 2016 for the provincial city of Cesena in Emilia-Romagna. Rain had threatened to dampen the event but the God of rock intervened to ensure it stayed dry.

The packed soccer stadium were not denied the pure pleasure of witnessing what the banners billed as the ‘Greatest Rock Band On Earth’.

The hyperbole was more than justified for a unique spectacle first dreamed up by local boy done good Fabbio Zaffagnini and directed with an extrovert flourish by Marco Sabiu.

In the summer of 2015 the massed ranks had played one song – Foo Fighters’ Learn To Fly – which succeeded in achieving the objective of getting Dave Grohl’s band to play a one-off gig in Cesena.

The crowd-funded follow-up project was to play a full stadium concert and its overwhelming success was proof that a combination of big dreams and collective team work can be steered towards positive goals.

cd-coverToday sees the release of CD recorded at the show and endorsed with the affirmative slogans – NO MORE CONFLICTS- PLAY ROCK’N’ROLL – STICK TOGETHER.

A full length video would probably have captured the occasion for posterity more effectively but film of the performance of Smells Like Teen Spirit gives a good flavor and the music alone works surprisingly well in putting across the raw energy and infectious enthusiasm of what was a wondrous spectacle.

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