#52FilmsByWomen: The Hitch-Hiker (1953)

August 14, 2016 Leave a comment


Ida Lupino’s The Hitch-Hiker is a suspenseful thriller with noir and Western elements. When creepy tough-guy and serial murderer Emmet Myers (William Talman) hitches a ride with two vacationing regular Joes, it’s not a matter of whether he’ll kill them but when.

The interplay between the film’s three major characters really worked to heighten the suspense. Although there were other elements that worked to ratchet up the tension (like the cops closing in on Myers and his victims), not much else was needed. With two hostages, it was never certain that both would survive. Plus, as Myers himself points out late in the film, either man could have saved himself if he hadn’t decided to be a true friend to the other. This provides a moral foil versus Myers himself, who would never do such a thing. 

As with most films in the noir style, the camera work here is brilliant, especially the play with shadows and light. The characters are often sliding into the concealment of darkness or exposed to the blinding light of Mexico’s desert sun. The contrast works as a metaphor for the characters’ risk of discovery in addition to establishing a kind of visual rhythm of light and darkness.

One final observation: this might be the first mid-century film I’ve seen that didn’t play in awful, demeaning stereotypes of Mexicans. Here, the police are competent and principled, the citizens are kind but not fawning, and there are no layabouts in sombreros to be seen. It was a refreshing surprise. 

In all, a fine bit of suspense for my Sunday afternoon—it kept me far more engaged than many contemporary thrillers I could mention. 

9 of 10 stars

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52 Films by Women: Citizenfour (2014)

August 14, 2016 Leave a comment

image culled fromhttp://truthinmedia.com/documents-cia-flew-rendition-flight-in-attempt-capture-snowden/


Citizenfour probably doesn’t require much summary: it tells the story of Edward Snowden’s NSA leaks (aided by journalist Glenn Greenwald and filmmaker Laura Poitras) and shows the beginning of the US government’s chilling response to his disclosures. In the grand patriot-vs-traitor debate on Snowden, this film falls firmly in the “patriot” camp, even while it also captures Snowden’s tendency to self-aggrandize on occasion.

I appreciated this film, although I kept waiting for it to get somewhere it never seemed to get. Even I’m not sure what I mean by that. In any event, the documentary ends abruptly, while many important processes around Snowden’s actions are incomplete. I was surprised when the closing credits started! 

I will say that this film piqued my interest in Snowden’s story, which I confess I’d allowed myself to absorb passively as it’s unfolded over the past few years. I feel now that he and his revelations deserve a closer look. 

7.5 of 10 stars

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52 Films by Women: Take the Pledge

August 10, 2016 Leave a comment

Women in Film is challenging movie lovers to watch 52 films by women over the course of a year—one movie a week. Tonight, I decided to take the pledge. 

After browsing through the lists on the WIF site—and after eliminating the relatively small number of movies I’d already seen—I chose the following films to watch…if I can find them!

If you have any suggested edits to the list—movies I should add, subtract—please share.

52 Films by Women Directors

American Psycho, 2000

The Angel at My Table, 1990

The Apple, 1998

Appropriate Behavior, 2014

The Arch, 1970 

The Ascent, 1977

The Babadook, 2014

Beau Travail, 2000

Beyond the Lights, 2014

Boat People, 1982

Bright Star, 2009

My Brilliant Career, 1994

Butter on the Latch, 2013

Celia, 1989

Chilly Scenes of Winter, 1979

Cleo from 5 to 7, 1962

Citizenfour, 2014

Daisies, 1966

Dogfight, 1991

Dreams of a Life, 2011

An Education, 2009

Enough Said, 2013

Eve’s Bayou, 1997

Fat Girl, 2001

Fish Tank, 2009

Gas Food Lodging, 1992

Girlfriends, 1978

A Girl Walks Home Alone at Night, 2014

Grace of My Heart, 1996

Harlan County, USA, 1976

The Headless Woman, 2008

The Hitch-Hiker, 1953

I for India, 2005

Jean Dielman, Quai du Commerce, 1080 Bruxelles, 1975

The Loneliest Planet, 2011

Lourdes, 2009

Love & Basketball, 2000

Me and You and Everyone We Know, 2005

Morvern Callar, 2002

Near Dark, 1987

Obvious Child, 2014

One. Two. One, 2011

Orlando, 1992

Pariah, 2011

Persepolis, 2007

Ratcatcher, 1999

Ravenous, 1999

Rocks in My Pockets, 2014

The Second Awakening of Christa Klages, 1978

Selma, 2014

Seven Beauties, 1975

Sister, 2012

The Square, 2013

Stories We Tell, 2012

Sweetie, 1989

Thirteen, 2003

Tomboy, 2011

Vagabond, 1985

Wadjda, 2012

Wanda, 1970

Wendy & Lucy, 2008

We Need to Talk about Kevin, 2011

Winter’s Bone, 2010

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Deafening Silence: White Silence and Alton Sterling

July 7, 2016 Leave a comment

Worth reading.

What will I do today to work toward justice?

Form Follows Function

I want to start by being very specific about who I am talking to; this post is meant for people who look like me, those of us with white skin.

Many of you woke up this morning and heard the news about Alton Sterling, the 37 year old man who was shot and killed by the police in Baton Rouge, Louisiana. The sickening feeling in your stomach probably hit you hard as you watched the cell phone footage of a police officer charging and tackling Sterling to the ground. You knew what was coming next. And, within seconds you saw it: the police officer mounts Sterling like a UFC fighter. There is no confrontation. No struggle. Sterling is subdued and then another officer yells “Gun. Gun.” The officer on top of Sterling pulls his gun and within seconds fires multiple rounds killing Alton Sterling.

This morning my Facebook feed…

View original post 748 more words

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One day I made my first gif

January 4, 2016 Leave a comment

Make Me Wanna

I call it, “Make Me Wanna,” and it comes from, of course, Spike Lee’s timeless Do the Right Thing. And I feel this way much of the time, I might add.

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Playlist Poem 1/4/16: What a World

January 4, 2016 Leave a comment

A playlist poem from the first day back to work after a nice, long break.

playlist poem 1-4-16 picture.jpg

Songs

  • “Dark End of the Street,” Elvis Costello & The Imposters
  • “Panic,” Dilated Peoples
  • “Harlem Streets,” Immortal Technique
  • “I’m Not Afraid to Die,” Gillian Welch & Willie Nelson
  • “We Got The,” The Beastie Boys
  • “Babys,” Bon Iver
  • “Into Temptation,” Crowded House
  • “Why is That?,” KRS-One & Boogie Down Productions
  • “Fireplace,” REM

 

Photo is from a recent walk I took around Spring City, PA.

 

How to Write a Playlist Poem

1. Note the first line of each song you hear on your commute to or from work (or wherever). If you listen to news or talk, modify this rule as you see fit—perhaps you could use the first line from each news story or caller comment, or the first line from each commercial… If you listen to stuff with no words, you’re going to have to get really creative with this–maybe you could compose a song comprised of the first musical lines of all the music you hear or something?

2. Post your playlist poem on a blog, Facebook, or some other social media to spread the poetic love.

3. Be sure to include the “How to Write a Playlist Poem” guidelines along with your poem so that more people can play by the rules because…rules!

4. Um, that’s it. I guess there are only three instructions, but there are…

5. …Details and modifications:

  • I choose the freedom to re-arrange the sequence of the lines. If you want to go all “hardcore” dada, you can insist on keeping the lines in the order in which they occurred in nature.
  • It’s the playlist poet’s right to decide where the first line ends, based on her/his hearing of the song (not someone’s transcription of the lyrics).
  • You may add punctuation at the ends of lines, and capitalization at the beginnings of lines, as you see fit.
  • The Mulligan: if you must cheat, there’s one “out.” You may delete one line if it’s really messing with your chi. But that definitely wouldn’t be “hardcore.”
  • Clever titles of your own devising might enhance the overall effect of the playlist poem.
  • An appropriate accompanying graphic might put the power of your poetry right over the freakin’ top. (In the spirit of playlist poetry, you might consider going to http://www.flickr.com/photos/ and choosing the 9th “Most Recent Photos and Videos”.)
  • Don’t take too long–this isn’t exactly terza rima.
  • It’s fun, so don’t take your playlist poems too seriously, and please don’t assume that I’m taking mine too seriously!
  • Cite your sources, as fully as you can—give credit where credit is due.

Playlist Poem 1/2/2016: January 2nd Forsythia

January 2, 2016 Leave a comment

I used to call these “commutaikus” but now I’m calling them “playlist poems”…for what it’s worth.

January 2nd Forsythia

  • “Morning Yearning,” Ben Harper
  • “Soma,” Smashing Pumpkins
  • “Falling is Like This,” Ani Difranco
  • “Exhuming McCarthy,” REM
  • “That Was My Girl,” Funkadelic
  • “No City,” Aesop Rock
  • “So Much Things to Say,” Lauryn Hill
  • “Satisfied,” Tom Waits
  • “Blowin’ Down This Road,” Woody Guthrie
  • “Hell Broke Luce,” Tom Waits
  • “Werewolves of London,” Warren Zevon

(the forsythia photo is from my morning walk—so odd to see them blooming on the 2nd of January in SE Pennsylvania!)

 

How to Write a Playlist Poem

1. Note the first line of each song you hear on your commute to or from work (or wherever). If you listen to news or talk, modify this rule as you see fit—perhaps you could use the first line from each news story or caller comment, or the first line from each commercial… If you listen to stuff with no words, you’re going to have to get really creative with this–maybe you could compose a song comprised of the first musical lines of all the music you hear or something?

2. Post your playlist poem on a blog, Facebook, or some other social media to spread the poetic love.

3. Be sure to include the “How to Write a Playlist Poem” guidelines along with your poem so that more people can play by the rules because we’re Americans, gosh-darn-it, and we believe in the rule of law!

4. Um, that’s it. I guess there are only three instructions, but there are…

5. …Details and modifications:

  • I choose the freedom to re-arrange the sequence of the lines. If you want to go all hardcore dada, you can insist on keeping the lines in the order in which they occurred in nature.
  • It’s the commutaikuist’s right to decide where the first line ends, based on her/his hearing of the song (not someone’s transcription of the lyrics).
  • You may add punctuation at the ends of lines, and capitalization at the beginnings of lines, as you see fit.
  • The Mulligan: if you must cheat, there’s one “out.” You may delete one line if it’s really messing with your chi. But that definitely wouldn’t be hardcore.
  • Clever titles of your own devising might enhance the overall effect of the playlist poem. An appropriate accompanying graphic might put the power of your poetry right over the freakin’ top. (In the spirit of playlist poetry, you might consider going to http://www.flickr.com/photos/ and choosing the 9th “Most Recent Photos and Videos.”.)
  • Don’t take too long–this ain’t exactly terza rima.
  • It’s fun, so don’t take your playlist poems too seriously, and please don’t assume that I’m taking mine too seriously!
  • Cite your sources, as fully as you can, “after all…we are not Communists.”
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