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Radical Movies and Music - The Life and Thoughts of Zach

Nov. 3rd, 2003

09:46 pm - Radical Movies and Music

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rainbox just asked about radical, socially conscious, activist movies and music for her local Green Party and Film Club to sponsor at events. Here's the off the top of my head, woefully incomplete, list that I came up with.

Music

First the protest/union hall set, these folks travel the radical circuit (playing mostly non-profit venues, fundraisers, protests, rallies, etc). Their music is overtly radical and can range from brilliantly revolutionary to hokey preaching to the choir depending on your mood.

David Rovics - Sings Woody Guthrie style folk tunes about contemporary radical issues. Unions, Indymedia, Anti-Free Trade protests, direct action, anarchism, etc.

Charlie King and Karen Brandow - Charlie has been doing radical folk music since the 70s. Anti-war, pacifist, labor stuff.

Anne Feeney and Chris Chandler - Chris is a street poet from Philly and Anne has been a Labor Troubador for a few decades. Alone they are each awesome but together they're even more powerful. Chris does spoken word interludes over Anne's songs, they trade back and forth between singing and poetry every verse. So it's like the overlap of a poem and song about two different related things. Very cool stuff.

Jolie Rickman - Punchy Anarcho-feminist eco-folk. AWESOME stuff.

The next batch are more likely to be found playing the folk music circuit rather than the radical circuit but they are no less radical in their music. Alix Olson, Pamela Means, and Doria Roberts often coordinate their tours and guest appear at each other's shows.

Pamela Means - Very fast VERY high energy urban feminist folk. Race, gender, queer conscious.

Doria Roberts - Everything I said about Pamela, I say it about Doria. Not as fast, more melodic singing. AWESOME. A REALLY nice person to work with.

Alix Olson - Queer Feminist slam/performance poet. If you like Ani's poetry, you'll love Alix.

Allette Brooks - Eco-folk but much less agressively political than the other artists on this list. The personal is political and her politics weave through her folk songs, she's very socially conscious but many of her songs are love songs and other traditional non-overtly political folky fair. She's got the West Coast (San Fransisco) style whereas most of the others on the list are East Coast (Boston/New York).

Movies

Matewan - Completely brilliant! About miners in Virginia struggling to build a union around the turn of the century. Covers the interelations of labor, race, religion, immigration, class, private/public power, culture, etc that all ring true today. The central character is inspired by Joe Hill the famous IWW organizer. Directed by John Sayles, my favorite all time director. Any of his movies would be suitable for your list as they all deal with race, culture, and/or community. (****)
Bullworth - What if a politician had nothing to lose and told the truth? Comedy. Hilarious. (****)
Woodstock - Amazingly filmed vision of 3 days of peace and love. Covers the successes and the failures, the good and the bad, of this one (accidental) amazing utopian moment in the 60s. (****)
The Thin Blue Line - An chilling anti-death penalty movie by the master of documentaries, Errol Morris. (****)
Silkwood - The story of Karen Silkwood, a nuclear power whistle blower who was murdered for her activism. (***)
Steal This Movie - About Abbie Hoffman's anti-war activism in the late 60s and the FBI's COINTELPRO efforts to silence and discredit him. (***)
Panther - about the Black Panther Party for Self Defense (**)
Incident at Ogala - About the shooting at Pine Ridge Reservation which American Indian Movement leader Leonard Peltier is in jail for life for. (**)
Reds - About american radicals around the time of the 1917 Russian Revolution. (***)
China Syndrom - Fictional anti-nuclear movie inspired by the Three Mile Island incident. (**)
Norma Rae - A single working mother helps unionize textile workers in the 70s. (***)
The Hurricane - The story of Rubin "Hurricane" Carter, (subject of a Bob Dylan song) a boxer wrongly imprisoned for murder, and the people who aided in his fight to prove his innocence.

Comments:

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From:domystic
Date:November 4th, 2003 07:38 am (UTC)
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movies - smoke signals. better than chocolate. the brother from another planet. and of course i always promote the chicken movie whenever i can, since it is in fact the finest documentary ever assembled.

best of show
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From:zarfmouse
Date:November 4th, 2003 08:18 am (UTC)
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Ah yes. Brother was covered by my "John Sayles is GOD" stipulation at the end of Matewan. :)

I haven't seen better than chocolate or the chicken movie.

Smoke Signals is awesome.

Speaking of documentaries...I can't believe I didn't mention ANY Michael Moore movies. Duh.
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From:assclouds
Date:November 4th, 2003 09:01 am (UTC)
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I'm pretty sure there's a new John Sayles movie coming to the New Art sometime soon. Better check that webpage.
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From:assclouds
Date:November 4th, 2003 09:06 am (UTC)
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Also: Where's the nappy dugout? It's where you get the bug out. I love that movie. I have it upstairs - we should watch it sometime.
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From:goytoy
Date:November 4th, 2003 09:50 am (UTC)
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Can you get The Thin Blue Line anywhere? I want to show it to Neil but Netflix doesn't have it and I haven't seen it in any video stores, either.

I really like Chris Chandler and Pamela Means - maybe I'll hear some of the rest SOMEDAY! :) (I want to pile on the guilt to be funny - except that it will really make you feel guilty!)
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From:zarfmouse
Date:November 4th, 2003 09:58 am (UTC)
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SOMEDAY.

I'm past guilt. You're on my todo list. I know it. You know it. It'll happen. I will make no unkeepable promises (to you or myself) about timeline but it'll happen.

Note to self: add these other musicians to the mix. :)
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From:goytoy
Date:November 4th, 2003 10:17 am (UTC)
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I know it. You know it.

It's a date w/ destiny.
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From:zarfmouse
Date:November 4th, 2003 10:58 am (UTC)
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As for getting The Thin Blue line...our awesome locally owned video store has it. (only on Video, dunno if it ever made it to DVD).

It looks like there are several copies on eBay if you want one of your own.


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From:stuffedsheep29
Date:November 4th, 2003 09:56 am (UTC)
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May I put in a "hell yeah!" for "Steal This Movie"...great flick! The guy who plays Abbie Hoffman does an amazing job.
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From:xymboulos
Date:November 4th, 2003 09:58 am (UTC)
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Music (Recorded)
</br>
John Mellencamp - "To Washington" and "Pink Houses"
</br>
Megadeth - Heavy metal with an extensive range of activism including anti-war ("Ashes In Your Mouth"), endangered species ("Countdown to Extinction"), and the plight of the small farmer ("Foreclosure of a Dream").
</br>
Bad Religion - Greg Graffin fronts punk rock's socially conscious/academic wing. Check out his essay section on the band's website.
</br>
NoFX - No one rants like NoFX. Check out their latest, The War on Errorism, or Punk in Drublic for "Don't Call Me White," "The Cause," "Perfect Government," "Lori Meyers," and "Linoleum."


Movies


Better Than Chocolate - Light, enjoyable film that also manages to illustrate a number of social issues regarding lesbianism and sexuality in general.


Silent Running - Bruce Dern protects the last bit of nature in the known universe.


The Insider - Deals with the abuses of power by large tobacco corporations.


The Deer Hunter - Very powerful film dealing with the effect of the Vietnam War on surviving veterans.
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From:zarfmouse
Date:November 4th, 2003 10:01 am (UTC)
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Ooo The Insider is an especially good pick!

She was looking for bands that a small organization could book which is why I stayed away from the big popular bands.

Have you heard of Anti-Flag or Propagandhi? They're a couple of very political punk bands. I love em both. Especially Anti-Flag. (They have a song called Underground Network which really ought to be Indymedia's anthem.)

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From:assclouds
Date:November 4th, 2003 10:50 am (UTC)
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...or even just Fugzai. I like the Fug enough that I physically shudder to even use the term 'just' as a prefix for 'Fugazi', but I know some people consider them to be, perhaps, wishywashy, or maybe even 'past prime'. I say no.
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From:zarfmouse
Date:November 4th, 2003 10:53 am (UTC)
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I always forget about them. I haven't heard them. I liked what I read in the Onion's book of interviews and I've heard only good things about them.
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From:assclouds
Date:November 4th, 2003 10:59 am (UTC)
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We can have a listening party. I have all the albums, even a documentary video. We will edumacate you in the ways of Fug.
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From:zarfmouse
Date:November 4th, 2003 01:23 pm (UTC)
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Wow. Yah. Hook me up.
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From:boannan
Date:November 4th, 2003 11:06 am (UTC)
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Are you a Businessman or are you a newsman!!!

I love that movie! And I want to have Al Pacino's babies! So it all works out, really. :)
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From:boannan
Date:November 4th, 2003 11:17 am (UTC)
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My tiny addition (I am not cool enough to do live links, I apologize)

Music:
Sweet Honey in the Rock: Some awesome activists songs, and just great "progressive gospel" music (ex: We Who Belive in Freedom Cannot Rest)

Movies:
Bloody Sunday -- A movie done in a documentary style about the massacre of Irish citizens by the British military during a semi-peaceful civil rights march.

But I'm a Cheerleader! -- Fabulous and fun parody of gender norms -- apple-pie cheerleader discovers she's a lesbian, gets sent to reform school.

Girlfight -- It may not be super-radical, but I love this movie. A woman who really boxes.

I bet I'll think of more, and then I'll edit this post! :)


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From:zarfmouse
Date:November 4th, 2003 11:53 am (UTC)
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Suddenly for some reason I'm reminded by your picks of In the Name of the Father and Citizen Ruth.

I haven't seen Bloody Sunday. Girl Fight and But I'm a Cheerleader are both great. Did you know Champaign-Urbana has our very own competitive female boxer? She taught boxing classes for Girlzone, she'd bring in the big heavy bag and gloves and teach the girls to wail on it.
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From:domystic
Date:November 4th, 2003 01:10 pm (UTC)
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yeah, baby, yeah. having a crush on HER is a crucial developmental phase for the local babydykes. is she listening? i'm in the phone book.

...oh puh-leeze! i simply jest! don't throw that thing at me, young lady.
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From:ke_jia
Date:November 4th, 2003 08:47 pm (UTC)
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Can't believe Bob Roberts hasn't been mentioned yet. Like it much better than Bulworth. And I liked Bulworth.

Thunderheart isn't exactly a documentary, but began as one, and became a trippy, intense thriller very rooted in actual events and historical realities instead. Neat trick, that. It is set on Sioux Indian reservation, stars Val Kilmer, Graham Greene, and was directed by Michael Apted (creator of the "7up" documentaries).
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