Tag: film

Sisterhood is powerful!

December 5, 2010

That was the rallying cry, back in the day. And by so claiming, and believing, they were powerful. It was an amazing period of history, when women got fed up with being exploited second-class citizens and took to the streets, the factory floors and the voting booths for their own and other womens’ lives and rights.

What happened to that power? Well, that’s another post. This one is about remembering the past when women got significant things done, not just for themselves, their own home or workplace, or their own narrow political constituency (like “feminist” Sarah Palin), but for all women everywhere (for even when their changes were ostensibly on a company, state or national level, the change in consciousness toward women was global). Just recognizing that women were a political class was an incredible revolution that rocked governments to their core.

In today’s Parade magazine I discovered a small clip about an upcoming film about a particular battle in this war for sexual equality, and how it changed everything: Made In Dagenham. To be released in this country on Dec. 17, and who knows when it will get to Oklahoma City, but look for it. Take your daughters (and sons) to see it, so they might be inspired to continue the ongoing struggle for justice and equality for all.

Siskel and Ebert outtakes

February 28, 2010

Oh. My. God. This had me wiping tears off my cheeks AND my keyboard, it’s so hilarious. Maybe to fully appreciate it, you had to have watched them religiously for years like I did, enjoying the tension between the two movie lovers who couldn’t seem to agree on anything.

I often wondered what they talked about during the commercials, so to speak. Well, now we know.

By the time Gene Siskel died much too early, they really had bonded and loved each other, though maybe they didn’t say it, or recognize it until Gene was sick and the writing was on the wall. Roger Ebert has memorialized his partner and friend so beautifully since then, in a way we should all hope to be honored when we are gone.

Now Roger himself is ill, has lost his voice, but still writes and his real Voice rings pretty clear on issues beyond celluloid and art. He has stood strong to rant against the violations of our constitution, and the immorality of war. You can’t keep a spirit like that down.

That pair has brought me a lot of insight, pleasure and laughter over the years. These outtakes — biting, argumentative, silly, make me love those guys all the more.

Understanding and treating the hidden wounds of war

July 20, 2009

PTSD DVD cover

Documentary video explores the hidden wounds of war

Date: Wednesday, 7/21
Time: 6:30 pm
Place: Joy Mennonite Church, 504 NE 16th, OKC

The Oklahoma Center for Conscience and Oklahoma GI Rights Hotline invite you to a screening of the film “PTSD: Invisible Wounds of War” on Tuesday, July 21 at 6:30 pm at Joy Mennonite Church in Oklahoma City. After the film, there will be a discussion led by Nathanial Batchelder, a medic in Vietnam and director of Oklahoma City Peace House, Phyllis Byerly, a retired psychologist, and James Branum, a lawyer specializing in military law and supervising attorney for the Oklahoma GI Rights Hotline.

The film presents information about the vast scope of the problem, the potentially severe consequences, and the necessity to seek help. Veterans, elected officials and therapists who specialize in PTSD (post-traumatic stress disorder) explain the condition and discuss what resources are available and what needs to be improved in treatment and public policy.

The event is free and open to the public. Joy Mennonite is located at 504 NE 16th Street, on the corner of Lincoln.

For more information, email info@centerforconscience.org or call 405-236-4938, ext. 2.

Indy film an intense Oklahoma love story

January 27, 2009

Sterlin Harjo, an Oklahoma filmmaker, had his latest movie, Barking Water, premiere at Sundance on Jan. 17. Here’s the synopsis:

Before Oklahoma was a red state, it was known as the Land of the Red People, described by the Choctaw phrase Okla Humma. In his sophomore film, Sterlin Harjo takes viewers on a road trip through his own personal Oklahoma, which includes an eclectic mix of humanity. Irene and Frankie have a difficult past, but Frankie needs Irene to help him with one task. He needs to get out of the hospital and go home to his daughter and new grandbaby to make amends. Irene had been his one, true, on-again, off-again love until they parted ways for good. But to make up for the past, Irene agrees to help him in this trying time.With steady and graceful performances by Richard Ray Whitman as Frankie and Casey Camp-Horinek as Irene, this story takes viewers for a ride in the backseat of Frankie and Irene’s Indian car, listening to their past and the rhythmic soundtrack that sets the beat for a redemptive road journey. Harjo wraps us in the charm and love of Oklahoma through the people and places Irene and Frankie visit along the way. In this sparingly sentimental and achingly poignant film, Harjo claims his place as one of the most truthful and honest voices working in American cinema today. Barking Water is an expression of gratitude for the ability to have lived and loved.
Bird Runningwater. Sundance Film Festival 2009 Catalog

A Q & A with Harjo at Sundance. And the just released trailer:

“Wouldn’t you rather be with someone with a working car?” So smart and real. And the actor, Richard Ray Whitman is incredibly sexy. So, um, “No!”

Barking Water looks spare and incredibly alive. Can’t wait to see it. No indication of when it might be in theaters. But look for it.

Hang tight, Rock Hard

December 14, 2008

I’ve been out of commission for a few days with a major head cold, and before that a few days of my mother needing all my attention.

But I’m feeling better and hopefully will be in a browsing and posting mood again soon, with some time to do so.

Unfortunately, I did not miss the “hamster on a piano” craze. Like I wasn’t in enough misery!

So, here’s a worthwhile video of the great Suzi Quatro. it was on the Times Square soundtrack album, which is one of my favorite albums of all time. If you find a copy, grab it. I first got a cassette tape of it on just by chance, and wore that out in no time. Then got vinyl, then got another. (Song list here)

Oklahoma long rider story soon to be a major motion picture?

November 17, 2008

Remember that movie from a few years ago, The Straight Story, about a man who rode a lawnmower across a state to see his estranged brother before he died? It won several awards.

Well I think Mark Ryan of Kingfisher can top that. He road a horse, with mule and dog in tow, from Okahoma to Washington state. Took five months — and  he’s not back yet because after he decided to get a truck to drive back, the truck broke down.

You just can’t count on those new-fangled contraptions.

Long Ride: Oklahoma cowboy rides his horse 2,000 miles to Washington state — Newsday.com.

Don’t spoil ‘Milk’ by seeing it at a Cinemark theater

November 16, 2008

In an earlier post about the Prop 8 backlash, I mentioned the fact that the CEO of Cinemark, which runs a chain of theaters, contributed thousands of dollars to the anti-gay Proposition 8 in California and a boycott was in order.

Is this kind of response over-reacting? Is it religious bigotry to fight back against those whose “faith” led them to contribute to the Prop 8 campaign? Should we lovingly nurture them until they see the error of their ways? Tbogg put it well:

The kind of person who contributes money to deny their fellow citizens their civil rights are not someday magically going to be part of the solution: they’re the problem. These are not people to be reasoned with; they’re ignorant, they’re haters and they’re bigots and the only thing people like that understand is power.

So when they stick their noses in other people’s affairs, they forfeit the right to be considered just another “ordinary person”. They’re involved and they would be foolish to expect that those other people in whose private affairs they have meddled wouldn’t return the favor. As they say: you pays your money and you takes your chances.

You don’t get to heaven above by trampling someone else’s heaven on earth.

I don’t and won’t deny these bigots their right to practice their faith, and to be active politically within all legal perimeters. But I am done coddling them, or being silent while they deny me and others our rights. The next time someone from LDS comes to my door, they are going to get a serious earful. (I’ve already started practicing, because I want to make sure my whole list of grievances gets covered before their sorry asses are out of the range of my very loud voice.)

Anyway, among the many events and actions coming out of the passage of Prop 8 is a blacklist of the individuals, organizations and their businesses that contributed to its passage.

Cinemark Theaters is a major target of this blacklist/boycott effort, not just because of the amount of the contribution or the high visibility of the chain, but because of the upcoming release of the Sean Penn film Milk, which is about gay rights hero Harvey Milk. The No Milk for Cinemark campaign makes the very significant connection between the film and the boycott: “Don’t let Harvey Milk’s legacy finance your oppression.” (Facebook group)

As I posted before, the Cinemark theaters in Oklahoma are:

– Cinemark North Hills Cinema 6 (1106 North Hills Shopping Centre)

Broken Arrow
– Cinemark Cinema 8 (3812 S Elm Pl)

Oklahoma City
– Cinemark Tinseltown (6001 Martin Luther King Blvd.)

– Cinemark Movies 8 (6808 S. Memorial)
– Cinemark Tulsa (10802 E 71st St South)
– Cinemark IMAX® Theatre (10802 E 71st St South)

If you are outside of Oklahoma, note that their theaters also go by the names Tinseltown, CineArts and Century.

I have previously posted about how much I am looking forward to this film, and how much it means to me, but I will be going to another theater to see it, or waiting for the DVD if no other chain near me screens it. If you want to join me in avoiding Cinemark (until further notice, not just this film, as far as I’m concerned) and/or tell other folks about the boycott, this flyer can help (pdf).

The film is set for wider distribution in the US on Nov. 2 and then nationwide on Dec. 5, which is the earliest we’d see it around here. But no schedules are available that far ahead. I’ll be checking for when and where Milk will be screened in Oklahoma, and post the news here.

Update [2008-11-16 23:45]: Nancy in NYC has a brilliant post about this up at Pam’s House Blend, Oh no you didn’t! (Why it’s not ok to support Prop 8, then hide behind the Constitution), and at Open Left, Paul Rosenberg takes the need to challenge the right-wingnuts on their hypocricy a step further, noting that

Now, however, it’s very clear that letting this stuff slide because it’s so idiotic is simply not an option.


There is word for this sort of total disconnect from reality: psychotic. And that, quite literally, is what we are up against: organized psychosis.

Milk the Movie

October 16, 2008

still from movie MilkI am SO excited about and looking forward to this movie. Harvey Milk, the first openly gay person elected to a major political office in the U.S., is a huge hero of mine. Now a whole new generation will learn about his vision and his courage. And maybe some will even internalize some of the truths that Harvey gave his life to share with the world.

In the preview video — which took my breath away — Sean Penn’s Harvey and Josh Brolin’s Dan White are so realistic it’s scary. And there aren’t a lot of directors that I would trust implicitly to bring Harvey to life, but fortunately one of them, Gus Van Zant, made this picture.

If you are not acquainted with story of this martyred civil rights pioneer, you should use the time until this fictional account comes out (sometime in November) to check out the biography written by the late Randy Shilts, The Mayor of Castro Street, and the Oscar winning documentary film, The Times of Harvey Milk. I’ve watched that film over 20 times, and I still cry every time. The silent vigil down Mission Street on the night of his death is something every citizen should see, and every activist should study. It symbolizes the very best of America in response to the very worst.

Some works of art are timed perfectly, either by accident or design, to provide an emotional and social lodestone in a culture. If Barack Obama wins this election, and he seems poised to do so, I think we can begin a new, positive and exciting chapter in the American story. Harvey Milk opened such a chapter years ago, and the film can help provide a reference point, a political roadmap of sorts, as we go forward into the future with our first black president.

Harvey talked repeatedly about the importance and power of hope, but it was more than just talk — which is why he was successful as a leader. Just like Obama. Opponents criticize such collective energy at their peril, now, as then.

Something you (probably) don’t know about the late Charlton Heston

April 6, 2008

Charlton Heston (1923 – 2008) passed away at his home on Saturday.

I wasn’t a fan of Charlton Heston the actor. I didn’t agree with his stance on gun rights. So, frankly, I didn’t have more than a neutral regard for him — until I found out something in his past that he humbly didn’t mention, but maybe should have. That he didn’t throw it in his critics’ faces says something quite positive about his character, regardless of any of his other political positions or character traits.

Because Charlton Heston was a great American, and was willing to put his career and reputation on the line at a moment in our history when it really mattered and made a difference.

And one of those those moments occurred right here in Oklahoma.

From Chapter 9 of The History of African Americans in the West by Professor Quintard Taylor, Department of History – University of Washington:


Today Charlton Heston is known primarily for the politically conservative causes and candidates he publicly supports. However in 1961 Heston was one of the first Hollywood celebrities to join the picket line established by Clara Luper to protest racial discrimination. Here is a brief description of his presence in Oklahoma City.

It was the last Saturday in May 1961, and Charlton Heston, Hollywood’s Oscar-winning Biblical actor, was on his way to Oklahoma City where he, Dr. Jolly West, nationally-known psychiatrist, and Dr. Chester M. Pierce, black scientist on the staff of the Veterans’ Administration Hospital, were scheduled to lead a protest march against Segregation in public accommodations in Oklahoma City.

The news had spread like wild fire and large crowds had assembled on Main Street to get a quick glimpse of the star.

Charlton Heston was met by the NAACP Youth Officers led by the president and about one-hundred black and white demonstrators, six policemen, a number of newsmen and Trudy, the black dog that took part in all the marches.

I was stationed with a large crowd of NAACP workers, friends, well-wishers and people of all ages, creeds and colors.

I have never seen anything more dramatic, more historical as those three handsome, dignified, successful men walking down the streets carrying signs that they had prepared themselves. The blue and black sign that Charlton Heston carried said, “All men are created equal–Jefferson” on the front and “Racial discrimination is Un-American” on the back.

The crowd was caught up in the unbelievable realities of the moment and when the trio reached our group, wild applause went up in the air. Oklahomans sounded like they do when the Big Red football scores against Texas or Nebraska. We waved flags, sang songs and in a military sounding voice, Dr. West issued a command. The trio marched with the crowd following. Charlton Heston stopped, shook hands, talked and marched.

A few hecklers yelled, “Go back to Hollywood, you Jew!!” “West, you are no psychiatrist, you’re a damn fool!”

But the march continued. We marched slowly by the John A. Brown' Department Store, Anna Maude’s Cafeteria and Bishop’s Restaurant–the three strongholds of Segregation. There was no violence.

Elliott Tyler, Jerry Nutt and John Fast carried anti-Heston signs which read, “Is Beverly Hills integrated?”

Charlton Heston's face was lighted with love and understanding of an oppressed people. He told the group that he sincerely believed that most Americans agreed with Thomas Jefferson.

This was his first demonstration. He said that a great many of us have only paid lip service to the equality of man and this is a very bitter thing for me to do.

Every step that Heston, West and Pierce took was adding tons of Freedom vitamins to our tired bodies that had been protesting for three years.

Heston took pictures with NAACPers, car hops, and the three got into a waiting automobile after the hour’s march and went to Calvary Baptist Church where a large crowd was waiting. There he told the crowd, “I was very pleased with the march and I was prepared for some hostility at the start of the march. I’m used to taking part in marches and chariot races only when they’re fixed, but today I didn’t have a script!” he said, smiling.

He explained that as far as he knew Beverly Hills was integrated, however, he had been in Spain making a movie… The audience went wild and Charlton Heston looked as if he was enjoying every moment…

Source: Clara Luper, Behold the Walls, (Oklahoma City, 1979), pp. 134-136.

This image of the Hollywood icon taking the kind of hostility he could easily avoid should give those of us on the left who continue to fight injustice pause before criticizing the man who, in his later years, suffering from Alzheimer’s in addition to the usual pitfalls of age, was gratuitously picked on by Michael Moore (in my opinion, a scene that Bowling for Columbine could well have done without), and regularly ridiculed by leftists (including me).

People –and their political beliefs — are seldom as simple and one-sided as our society (particularly the media) try to paint them.

Charlton Heston was a man who had strong principles and put them out there publicly despite the possible negative consequences that might ensue. He did it it at the height of his career, and at its lesser ebb. He took plenty of shots for his politics, mostly from those with nothing to lose by hurling them, and stood up pretty well to those as well.

What could be more righteous, more transcendently human and, dare I say, more patriotically American than that?

[Cross posted at Blue Oklahoma, and at okimc.org. I blogged about this OKC civil rights history previously here.]

Update, 12/29/08: A New York Times Magazine retrospective of public figures that died this year includes an interesting analysis of Heston’s political transformation in the late 60s from lefty to conservative. It is accompanied by a photo of Heston marching in Oklahoma City, in front of Maude’s, as chronicled in the excerpt above.