Democracy Now!’s Renegade Journalist Amy Goodman’s MLK Recommendations

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Photo: Tony Webster on Flickr

Every morning, for as long as I can remember, Amy Goodman’s voice has streamed through the radio, and then the television, as she fearlessly broadcasts, Democracy Now!, The War and Peace Report on 1300 public tv and radio stations around the world. This morning, Goodman, broadcast a long-lost speech by Dr. King. When she was done, she took some time to chat with us about the songs she listens to, and interviews she’s done, that feel particularly relevant today.

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1. Billie Holiday’s “Strange Fruit”

*Ferguson October: Activists Call for Nationwide Convergence to Demand Justice for Michael Brown*

2. Nina Simone’s “Why? The King of Love is Dead”

*Black Lives Matter: Ferguson Erupts After Grand Jury Clears Officer in Michael Brown Killing*

3. Michael Franti & Spearhead’s “Same As It Ever Was (Start Today)”

*Was Key Grand Jury Witness in Michael Brown Case a Racist, Mentally Ill, Lying Ex-Felon?*

4. Angelique Kidjo’s “Agolo”
 

*I Can’t Breathe”: NYC March over Chokehold Death of Eric Garner Protests Police Violence Nationwide*

5. K’naan’s “Wavin’ Flag”

*Somali-Canadian Rapper K’naan on Journey from Civil War Refugee to Global Hip-Hop Artist, and the Devastating Effects of US Policy in Somalia*

See HERE

6. Bruce Springsteen’s “American Skin (41 Shots)”

*Questlove on Police Racial Profiling, Hip-Hop, Michele Bachmann & Soul Train’s Lasting Influence*

See HERE 

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Listen to Amy Goodman on Democracy Now! here and check out our other MLK lists:

Genius Writer Ta-Nehisi Coates Shares A Playlist to Get You in the MLK Day Frame of Mind

Star of ‘Selma’ Caremen Ejogo’s 5 Films Everyone Should Watch Today for MLK Day

Filmmaker Stephen Winter’s Cultural To-Do List for MLK Day

Social Justice Writer and Activist Rebecca Carroll’s Cultural To-Do List for MLK Day 

Genius Writer Ta-Nehisi Coates Shares A Playlist to Get You in the MLK Day Frame of Mind

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Here at BlackBook our level of obsession with the writing of Ta-Nehisi Coates can’t be overstated. When he sent us this list of Bob Marley tracks to listen to today, we put them on repeat immediately. Marley is a man whose overwhelmingly positive message has inspired millions if not tens of millions (100s of millions?) to seek positive change in their communities the world over. So please take Coates’s advice, and give this playlist a spin…like, right now.

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BOB MARLEY, “WAR”

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BOB MARLEY, “ME AND DEM”

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BOB MARLEY, “WAKE UP AND LIVE”

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BOB MARLEY, “EXODUS”

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BOB MARLEY, “TRENCH TOWN”

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For more thought-provoking MLK Day culture, check out:

Star of ‘Selma’ Caremen Ejogo’s 5 Films Everyone Should Watch Today for MLK Day

Social Justice Writer and Activist Rebecca Carroll’s Cultural To-Do List for MLK Day

Filmmaker Stephen Winter’s Cultural To-Do List for MLK Day

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From the website of his Speaking Engagement Agency:

Ta-Nehisi Coates is one of the most original and perceptive voices in black America—and one of our best writers, period. With rich emotional depth and a sonar sense of how pop culture, politics, and history shape discussions of diversity, Coates is “the young James Joyce of the hip hop generation” (Walter Mosley). His Atlantic cover story on slavery and race, “The Case for Reparations,” is one of the most talked-about pieces of nonfiction in recent memory.

Social Justice Writer and Activist Rebecca Carroll’s Cultural To-Do List for MLK Day

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Main image via Smack Mellon gallery

SEE: “I Am Ali” — because this 2002 narrative short film written, directed and produced by dream hampton is magnificently poignant, but also because we black Americans do not just fight for racial equality, but some of us fight for inner sanctitude and lose to mental illness. Also, it stars Ishmael Butler from Shabazz Palaces/Digable Planets, was shot by the brilliant Arthur Jafa and features the equally brilliant Sarah Jones as essentially an extra.

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FOLLOW ON TWITTER: Deray McKesson @deray — because he can’t stop, won’t stop and is a direct line on the daily to current civil rights activism and protests in Ferguson and across the country. <

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SEE: RESPOND exhibit at Smack Mellon gallery — an open call exhibition in response to the recent killings of unarmed black men by white police, because art in response to injustice is about as close to God as we can get without going to church.

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SUBSCRIBE, READ, FOLLOW, + WATCH: HRDCVR, a hardcover culture magazine created by Danyel Smith and Elliot Wilson — because it is a beautiful enigmatic gift of creativity that we deserve.

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WATCH + LISTEN: Jay Smooth’s The Illipsis on Fusion — On Ferguson, Riots and Human Limits — because “this white supremacist groundhog’s day” about sums it up. And because it’s about humanity.

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Genius Writer Ta-Nehisi Coates Shares A Playlist to Get You in the MLK Day Frame of Mind

Star of ‘Selma’ Caremen Ejogo’s 5 Films Everyone Should Watch Today for MLK Day

Filmmaker Stephen Winter’s Cultural To-Do List for MLK Day

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Social justice writer and activist Rebecca Carroll is the director of digital media and marketing at Scenarios USA, and a regular opinion writer for the Guardian. She has been editor at numerous online and print publications, and her writing has appeared in the New York Times, the Daily Beast, Ebony and the New Republic. The author of several nonfiction books, she is based in Brooklyn.

Desiree Akhavan on Her Feature Debut ‘Appropriate Behavior’

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 Originally run in January 2014, Appropriate Behavior begins its theatrical run today at IFC Center today.

As the old Beckett adage goes, “Nothing is funner than unhappiness, I grant you that. Yes, yes, it’s the most comical thing in the world.” And in her heartfelt and gutturally funny feature debut, Appropriate Behavior, Desiree Akhavan proves that’s certainly true—giving us a genuinely funny and delicately nuanced tale of heartbreak and self-discovery.  As the writer, director, and star of the film, she’s crafted a story filled with a refreshing sense of energy, that’s both poignant and full of strength, as well as simply enjoyable to experience.

Having evolved as the follow-up to her web series The Slope, Akhavan’s Appropriate Behavior dances back and forth between memories of her failed recent relationship and the consistent series of missteps in her current post-break up world, as she attempts to navigate the abyss of the future. And as a bisexual Persian Brooklynite trying construct an identity for herself and find a way to articulate her sexuality to her family, Akhavan’s Shirin undergoes an endless series of emotional pratfalls while trying to deconstruct just where it all went wrong with her last girlfriend Maxine.

Filled with a cast of talented actors and strong personalities, Akhavan is brilliant in her role and gives us a complex look at sexuality and the way we relate to the world around us and deal with the love we’re faced to lose. So last week, it was my pleasure to chat with the first-time feature filmmaker to discuss the emotional origins of this story, writing humor with caricature, and taking ownership over your own experiences.

I was at the screening last Friday and before it began, you said this was the first time you were watching it entirely completed. How was seeing it for the first time and to have everyone there for that?

It was really strange, but really exciting. I was very surprised by the jokes that landed. It was interesting how the slapstick humor really communicated more than some of the more sarcastic or witty comments—I liked that, that was entertaining to me.

So you had made your web series The Slope prior to this, but how did Appropriate Behavior come about for you and evolve from that?

Well, I was working on the web series and during the second season of the show I started writing a feature. It was a very different script back then—at first wanted to adapt the web series into a film. Then when I decided I didn’t want to adapt the series into a film anymore and my co-director and I parted ways, I realized that I wanted to make something completely different and that’s when the family started to play a larger role in the script. I think the heart of the film is really the family and her relationship to the family and her coming out process.

In your notes for the film you say that this is something that’s really been brewing since you were a child. Can you tell me about your background as a filmmaker? Was writing something you were always drawn to?

I really wanted to tell stories in whatever format that took. So I wrote plays growing up—my first play I wrote when I was ten, and I was constantly putting on plays in school. Then when I got to college, I took a film class on a lark and just fell in love very fast. It was a revelation for me. It never seemed like an option for me to make films. I grew up in New York and I thought that theatre was a possibility, a very realistic goal. It was lofty still, but it was something I saw people around me doing and thought I could maybe pursue. But then I realized film would be so perfect and I could have so much more control—it all comes down to being a horrible control freak. So in college I took more classes and added a double major and I went to NYU’s graduate film school. Then I just did a bunch of short projects; it’s just where my voice found itself. I really wanted to make films that reflected the things I was grappling with. At the time I was writing this, I had recently come out to my family and I wanted to find some way to communicate that. I was trying to break down my last relationship and see exactly where it went wrong. So I watched Annie Hall a lot and that film really inspired me to go this route with the narrative.

I really loved and admired the balance between the comedy—which was so strong–and the genuine way in which you dealt with the real pain and confusion of ending a relationship with someone you love deeply. It’s a fine line to walk when portraying something genuine that’s also laugh out loud hilarious, so what was the tone you were looking to strike?

All the filmmakers I want to emulate do that really nicely. I think Noah Baumbach does a fantastic job of balancing that, as does Sarah Polley whose work I really love. But that was a scene by scene struggle, and from every aspect of production—from writing to editing it—we were always like, is this going too far in one direction? It was a lot of pulling it back to where we thought it wasn’t gratuitous. We kept wanting to earn our jokes or earn our sad moments and never be too masturbatory or too self-pitying. It’s also a testament to my editor and producer, who both had a big hand in finding the right balance. I relied on them heavily to look over things and get me out of one schtick or the other.

Had you written it with the intention of playing the lead in the film? For a script that seems to stem from a very personal place, did it just make sense to imprint yourself on it that much more?

After I started the web series, it was a natural next step. I never considered casting someone else. I just knew that if I really wanted to put my money where my mouth was, I was going to have to do it myself—not to say that an actress wouldn’t have done a great job, but it was just right for this project. I don’t know if it will ever be right again, but sometimes you know in your gut how you want to portray something, and for this story it felt right to do it myself.

Was it challenging, for your first feature, to take on the starring role as well as being the director?

It was actually really positive, but it was definitely a challenge, and it took a couple days to find my footing, In terms of how I wanted the work to flow, I really had to detach myself once the camera was rolling. The first few days I kept finding myself tempted to look at monitors. One time we were doing a reverse on on someone I was talking to in a scene, and my eye kept wandering to the viewfinder in the camera, and I kept thinking I can’t do this, I need to be in it 120%. Once I figured that out, the balance between directing and totally throwing yourself into a scene, I felt very comfortable and really enjoyed that experience—but you’ve got to figure it out first. It’s a little bit of patting your head and rubbing your stomach at the same time.

How did you and Allison [Twardziak] go about casting. Eve the minor characters, like Felicia her roommate, were all really perfect for their roles. What were you looking for in terms of the supporting cast?

Allison and I were very much on the same page. We just wanted to keep it as two feet on the ground as possible and as realistic, just to avoid making caricatures. Like I think Annalisa [Rose] (Felicia) is a really intelligent artist and she understood that this was a farcical role, but still a real person. So I never wanted to take the piss out of anyone. And Alison was the same way, she knew this world and she knew what I wanted to put on screen. Our challenge was really finding Middle Eastern people. I’m not involved in that arts community of Iranians and that was my challenge. But when it came to finding people who fit into this world, Alison just knows so many great actors and so many different people. I remember her first day she brought in most of the people I ended up casting—it was kind of beautiful—but we still looked for weeks even though I knew what I wanted and I knew we had it on the first day. But I remember a couple days later a bunch of agents sent us people and they all looked like people in a very glossy film. I wanted to make a very different film, and I thought, if I cast these people, it would be a much more shiny, glossy cohesive narrative. But I had no interest in casting the butch lesbian stereotype either or the freaky artist. I really wanted to keep it nuanced and have you like each of the characters in their own way.

Although the film was a love story and a break up story between two women, the love and the challenges were entirely universal. Did you think at all about people looking at the film as a gay romance or how that would translate?

I didn’t think about that at all actually, and now people ask me if I was worried about that. But I wasn’t at all because I don’t worry in life. When I’m with a woman, I’m not walking around thinking, Oo it’s a gay relationship, we’re gay ladies in love. It feels very much like the relationships I’ve had with men, so I never wanted to shoot it differently on film. And how people react to it is kind of out of my own hands. I’m aware that we may get pigeonholed and I’m aware that we may not. I have faith in the movie going audiences that this would be perceived like any other relationship. It all depends on how others market us and how we’re perceived. I like to think this is just first in a long line of romantic films that treat same sex couples like human beings or not victims.

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What is your writing process like? Were the actors improving at all on set and did the script change once you locked in the cast?

Once I come to set I like my script pretty locked. There were a couple occasions where time permitted and I let people play around, but the final cut is very close to the script. I rewrite a lot—my process is rewriting. I work really closely with my producer and love to act out the scenes. I spent a year just going over it act by act, scene by scene,and  character by character. I write very rough drafts very quickly and then I write a lot of content and then I pair it down. I really try to get in there and make sure each scene is earned. I don’t like to play around if I’m under a time constraint. If I ever have the privilege of shooting for more time, I would love to play around and have a feel—that would be fun.

I loved how the film danced back and forth and jumped from their relationship her present life. It really gave the story an interesting sense of life and kept you engaged. I know you mentioned Annie Hall as a reference for that but were there any other films or writers you found inspiration in?

In Julie Delpy’s films, I think she does a really nice job of dealing with time. I also looked at Scenes From a Marriage, which is very episodic. I love episodic structures and I thought for this story this was appropriate. Another film I really love is Muriel’s Wedding. That’s a film I really worship and looked it, but I feel like these are people who tell stories that don’t follow a classic narrative yet you’re still engaged somehow.

What role did the different spaces and locations in Brooklyn play for in narrative?

I moved to Brooklyn straight out of college and found for myself that each neighborhood as a different personality. Then as I moved around, I felt like I was switching identities with each zip code. If I moved back or visited the old neighborhood, it was never the same. It’s just a place in constant flux right now, and I thought that really suited the film and suited the narrative of coming of age and figuring out your identity. It’s a place where adults live, and in your 20s you’re sort of an adult but still dealing with these ridiculous growing pains, except without the support of your family or any guardian—there’s no guidance counselor.

And how did your character’s job of teaching filmmaking to children come about? Was that taken from your own experience?

I’m glad that that made the film because it that really had the loudest comedic moments in that screening. People really liked it, and it provides a really funny break and perspective from this girl inside her own head. There’s a world outside of her that’s so different from her day to day. But that’s one of the few things that I did steal from life. I did teach filmmaking to five-year-olds and didn’t realize they’d be five when I got the job. They were all boys and I was a terrible teacher. My boss was not a stoner and he doesn’t lose his children, so it wasn’t strictly true to life—but I was really bad at it. And I was writing the script while I was teaching and it found its way into the script and I always wondered if it would stick, but it ended up being such a great vehicle for change and it was just too good to pass up.

Before the screening, you mentioned that you’d been here a year prior and amazed at how the filmmaker had everything all together and something completed. How does it feel now to be in that position? 

It doesn’t feel completed, just having finished days ago. It’s still new to me; ask me in a couple months. It hasn’t really sunk in yet. Any second now it feels like I’ll have to go back to nannying or teaching filmmaking to those five year olds. No,  I don’t think I could ever get that job again, I think I’m fired for life.

Is there a reason you’re drawn to telling these very person stories that stem from your own life? Does it feel cathartic for you to have made a first feature like this?

I don’t know how to communicate otherwise. You know, it’s gaining ownership of something that happens to you. It’s like having a sense of power in that situation—any situation, as small as having bad sex with someone or as dramatic as you coming out to your family. It’s feeling like that’s your story and you have a bit of control. The film isn’t true to life. Nothing happened that way, nothing worked out that way or was said that way but this is my reality of the world just entirely skewed. But I like creating that reality. If anyone’s going to engage in it in any way, that’s how I derive pleasure.

I wanted to ask you about the sex scenes as well. I thought you did a really fantastic job of making them so natural and familiar—both the good and the bad. Was that something of importance to you?

That means a lot to me. I really care about how sex is depicted on film. It usually goes one or two ways: it’s either incredibly smooth and effortless and beautiful or incredibly awkward and pained—a they’re both quite one note. In my own experience, usually they move in and out of awesome and terrible, and I never saw that. There’s a filmmaker I really like, Catherine Breillat, she did Fat Girl, I love her work and she really gets into it with sex in a graphic way that I respond to. I didn’t want to go about in quite that way, we’re very different, but I really admire the way that she shows sex and I wanted to do something that danced back and forth a bit and showed the subtle power shifts that happen. Especially when you have sex with a stranger or someone you don’t know very intimately, it’s neither one or the other. There’s a muddy grey area that is clearly shown—especially with women pursuing pleasure.

Are you pretty thrilled and nervous to take the film to Sundance?

It’s a dream come true. I’ve known for a month and a half now, and at first it was just complete shock, and then it was elation, and then this week I think the reality of it sunk it. So this week is when the actual terror of the reality of it is hitting me. It can make or break a film and I’m shocked that we’re in that arena. I’m very, very lucky.

Do you want to continue telling these kinds of personal, intimate female stories? Do you feel like Appropriate Behavior is a good introduction to you as an artist?

Definitely. I don’t think they’ll all be starring me for sure. I have another feature script that I want to shoot next that’s sort of an Election-esque high school comedy that would star a teenage girl and her teacher. But yeah, that story is personal to me as well and inspired by my years growing up in New York City at a very competitive prep school in the Bronx. I really care about these personal stories and particularly these women’s stories and the struggling, ugly stuff that people don’t talk about.

These Are the 5 Most Inspiring Art Shows to See This Weekend in NYC

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“URS FISCHER,” installation view. Artwork © Urs Fischer. Photo by Rob McKeever

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Urs Fischer at Gagosian Gallery, 980 Madison Avenue, NYC
Thankfully extended, the neo-Dada artist’s eponymous show will remain open through January 17 (Saturday,) so get there quickly this weekend. The show includes full room installations of Fischer’s large-scale, semi-impermanent sculptures.
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“URS FISCHER,” installation view. Artwork © Urs Fischer. Photo by Rob McKeever

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Works & Process Livestream: Miami City Ballet, Justin Peck & Shepard Fairey, through the Guggenheim
7:30 p.m. eastern sees the livestream of a discussion between artist Shepard Fairey and Wynwood Walls choreographer Justin Peck on Heatscape, which will premiere in March at the Miami City Ballet. As the two talk, dancers will perform. Watch it from wherever you are by clicking here.

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Cubism: The Leonard A. Lauder Collection at The Metropolitan Museum of Art, 1000 Fifth Avenue, NYC
This comprehensive collection, containing works by Picasso, Braque, Gris, and Leger, of Cubist art, one of the most influential art movements of the early 20th century. This is the first time this collection is on view to the public. Get there before it closes on February 16.
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“Two Nudes” Pablo Picasso. Paris, spring 1909. Promised gift from the Leonard A. Lauder Cubist Collection © 2014 Estate of Pablo Picasso / Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York

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Jennifer Nocon at Tracy Williams Ltd, 521 West 23rd Street, NYC
In her third solo show with the gallery, L.A.-based artist Jennifer Nocon continues to explore reoccurring patterns with her show “You See Ocean I See Sky”. Expect watercolor on paper, sculpture, and a frieze incorporating wool and ceramic to form, what else, patterns.
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“Sky Diamonds” by Jennifer Nocon

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Jesús Rafael Soto at Galerie Perrotin, 909 Madison Avenue, NYC
Timed to coincide with a show happening simultaneously at Galerie Perrotin in Paris, Soto’s Chronochrome explores the the relationship between monochromatic color and time, hence the title of the retrospective. Wall-mounted works join large-scale sculpture for the deceased artist’s show.
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Jesús Rafael Soto/Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York, ADAGP, Paris, Galerie Perrotin

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40 Great (And Diverse) Actors and Directors Not Nominated For 2015 Oscars

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Earlier this morning we took a look at the 2015 Oscar nominations. We were pleased to see some of our favorite films of the year recognized, such as Wes Anderson’s The Grand Budapest Hotel receiving nine nominations and Richard Linklater’s Boyhood with five. 29-year-old director Damien Chazelle’s Whiplash received nominations for Best Picture and four others, and the always brilliant Marion Cotillard stepped into the Best Actress category for the Dardenne Brothers’s Two Days, One Night. But what about the films that didn’t make the cut, how did those fall to the wayside, and what does that mean?

This year showed a truly alarming lack of diversity in the nominees, disregarding female filmmakers and actors of color and merit. Ava DuVernay’s Selma was the only Best Picture contender not to receive a single acting nomination (a huge surprise in light of David Oyelowo’s incredible performance in the film), nor did DuVernay make it onto the Best Director list. Gina Prince-Bythewood’s Beyond the Lights one of the most intelligent and honest films of the last year but failed to garner attention from the Academy aside from Best Original Song. Angelina Jolie’s name was not announced once this morning for her drama Unbrokenand Gone Girl screenwriter Gillian Flynn did not make it onto the male-centric list for Best Adapted Screenplay.

So as we reflect on this morning’s decisions and what they mean about the future of film and the type of work that is appreciated and can be given a future in our current Hollywood system, let’s take a moment to celebrate the directorial work and performances we loved that were not nominated for an Oscar this morning–from the best of independent cinema to snubbed contenders.

BEST DIRECTOR NOT NOMINATED IN 2015.

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Ava DuVernay, Selma
James Gray, The Immigrant 
Gina Prince-Bythewood, Beyond the Lights 
David Fincher, Gone Girl
Alain Guiraudie, Stranger by the Lake
Ruben Östlund, Force Majeure
Jean-Luc Godard, Goodbye to Language
Xavier Dolan, Mommy
Angelina Jolie, Broken
Jean-Pierre and Luc Dardienne, Two Days, One Night
Philippe Garrel, Jealousy
Hirokazu Koreeda, Like Father, Like Son
Arnuad Desplechin, Jimmy P
Lars von Trier, Nymphomaniac

BEST ACTOR NOT NOMINATED IN 2015.

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Joaquin Phoenix, The Immigrant 
Ralph Fiennes, The Grand Budapest Hotel

David Oyelowo, Selma
Benecio Del Toro, Jimmy P
Jake Gyllenhaal, Nightcrawler
Miles Teller, Whiplash
Channing Tatum, Foxcatcher
Chadwick Boseman, Get On Up
Mathieu Amalric, Jimmy P
Timothy Spall, Mr. Turner
Oscar Isaac, A Most Violent Year
Jack O’ Connell, Unbroken

BEST ACTRESS NOT NOMINATED IN 2015.

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Jennifer Aniston, Cake
Anne Dorval, Mommy

Gugu Mbatha-Raw, Beyond the Lights
Tilda Swinton, Only Lovers Left Alive
Elizabeth Moss, Listen Up Philip
Uma Therman, Nymphomaniac
Emily Blunt, Into the Woods
Jenny Slate, Obvious Child
Essie Davis, The Babadook
Minnie Driver, Beyond the Lights
Jessica Chastain, Interstellar
Stacy Martin, Nymphomaniac
Suzanne Clement, Mommy
Amy Adams, Big Eyes

The Return of the Blonde Supers + Sasha, Natalia, & Gemma’s Best Campaigns of All Time

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Sasha Pivovarova in the Saint Laurent resort 2014 campaign shot by Hedi Slimane

There was, embarrassingly, an actual squawk emitted from this editor when my eyes caught Gemma Ward stomping down the spring 2015 Prada runway in Miuccia‘s socks + high, high heels.

Gemma’s presence had been missed since 2008, when the ethereal, fair-haired beauty with the most delicate bone structure retired from the fashion industry altogether.

It’s easy to remember models in groups; Christy Turlington + Linda Evangelista + Naomi Campbell, Joan Smalls + Karlie Kloss + Cara Delevingne, and then there’s Gemma Ward + Natalia Vodianova + Sasha Pivovarova.

All three of the latter grouping are starring in major campaigns this season. For Gemma, it’s Prada photographed by Steven Meisel. For Sasha, it’s Balenciaga. Most recently announced is Natalia for Stella McCartney.
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Sasha Pivovarova for Alexander Wang‘s Balenciaga, shot by Steven Meisel and styled by Panos Yiapanis, whose work is new to the house.

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Natalia Vodianova shot by new photographed Harley Weir, and styled by Stella McCartney herself.

To celebrate their collective presence on the scene, we’ve rounded up their best campaigns of all time. 

GEMMA WARD

Photographed by David Sims for Balenciaga’s spring 2006 campaign (also featuring Caroline Trentini, Erin Wasson, Lily Donaldson, Raquel Zimmermann, Iselin Steiro, and Hana Soukupova):
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Starring in Dolce & Gabbana’s spring 2008 campaign photographed by Steven Klein:
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Ward also modeled for Dolce’s fall 2006 campaign, again lensed by Steven Miesel. Others appearing in the campaign included Coco Rocha, Lily Donaldson, Julia Stegner, and Iselin Steiro:
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NATALIA VODIANOVA

Stella McCartney fall/winter 2010 photographed by Mert & Marcus:
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Louis Vuitton spring 2008 photographed by Mert & Marcus:2891-800w

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Givenchy spring/summer 2010 photographed by Mert & Marcus, also featuring Mariacarla Boscono:15446-800w

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Chanel Beauty spring 2009 photographed by Dominique Issermann:5531-800w

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YSL spring 2010 styled by Joe McKenna and photographed by Inez & Vinoodh:16210-800w

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SASHA PIVOVAROVA

Giorgio Armani spring 2009 photographed by Mert & Marcus:
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John Galliano spring 2009:5488-800w

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Saint Laurent resort 2014 photographed by Hedi Slimane:170136-800w

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Longchamp spring 2009 also starring Kate Moss photographed by Mert & Marcus:3718-800w

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Chanel prefall 2009 photographed by Karl Lagerfeld:7174-800w

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17 Films to See This Weekend: David Cronenberg, Martin Scorsese + More

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Sundays may be a “wan, stuff shadow of a robust Saturday” or a day of “forced leisure for folks who have no aptitude for leisure,” but a weekend is still a weekend. We wait for the pleasure of a Friday night, knowing the burdens of the work week have a brief respite, and what better way to indulge than heading to the cinema. And this weekend from BAM and MoMA to The Film Society of Lincoln Center and Nitehawk Cinema, there are more than enough wonderful films showing for you to happily disappear into.

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***FRIDAY, JANUARY 16***

CRASH, David Cronenberg
IFC Center

“David Cronenberg wrote and directed this 1996 film, a masterful minimalist adaptation of J.G. Ballard’s 1973 neo-futurist novel about sex and car crashes, and like the book it’s audacious and intense… James Spader meets Holly Hunter via a car collision, and they and Spader’s wife (Deborah Kara Unger) become acquainted with a kind of car-crash guru (Elias Koteas) and his own set of friends (including Rosanna Arquette). Sex and driving are all that this movie and its characters are interested in, but the lyrical, poetic, and melancholic undertones are potent, the performances adept and sexy, the sounds and images indelible. If you want something that’s both different and accomplished, even if you can’t be sure what it is, don’t miss this.” – Jonathan Rosenbaum, Chicago Reader

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INVOLUNTARY, Ruben Östlund
The Film Society of Lincoln Center

Described by Östlund as “a tragic comedy or a comic tragedy,” the director’s second feature examines group dynamics and the dark side of human nature in five tales of social discord. In one, a teacher sees a colleague carry discipline too far and mentions the act in the staff room, with startling consequences. In another, a party host, afraid of losing face, unwisely neglects an injury. Two parallel stories detail groupthink among young men and women respectively. Co-written with Östlund’s long-time producer Erik Hemmendorff, and inspired by personal experiences, Involuntary situates the viewer inside each social powder keg, where recognition and uneasy laughter coalesce.

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MACBETH, Orson Welles
Film Forum

In the gloomy, claustrophobic atmosphere of a studio-shot primitive world, a feudal lord (Welles in the title role) decides to go for the kingship, with horrifically fated results. Re-edited by its studio – with the original Scottish brogues redubbed into American accents – this is Welles’ original 108-minute cut, as restored by UCLA Film Archive.

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RAGING BULL, Martin Scorsese
Nitehawk Cinema

In the ring, Jake LaMotta was a fearless middleweight champion, a fighter whose animal strength made him unstoppable; but the traits of a champion aren’t always what they’re cracked up to be. Quick to anger, sexually frustrated, brutally masochistic, all traits of a punishing fighter; but a husband? A brother? In Raging Bull, Martin Scorsese side-steps the typical sports biopic that lionizes its subjects in favor of a violent, unflinching portrait of a man controlled by his animal lusts.

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JURASSIC PARK, Steven Spielberg
IFC Center

“In JURASSIC PARK, each dinosaur encounter is exciting in a different way. At one point, Grant finds himself amid a flock of gallimimus, who are like galloping, earthbound birds. There’s a sickly triceratops, a sprightly dilophosaur that transforms itself like one of Spielberg’s gremlins, a brachiosaur seen in close-up (the only moment that looks a little fake), and, finally, a thrillingly staged battle in which a pair of raptors attack the Hammond grandchildren. These medium-size predators appear unspectacular at first, but their lightning cleverness grows on you. When one of them leaps without warning through a ceiling grate, it seems as lethal as a giant cobra. By the end of the movie, the raptors, like the T. rex, have become true characters, their personalities emerging from their scaly physique.” – Entertainment Weekly

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***SATURDAY, JANUARY 17***

PARIS IS BURNING, Jennie Livingston
The Film Society of Lincoln Center

Jennie Livingston’s iconic documentary offers an at once dazzling, dynamic, and intimate portrait of the Harlem drag balls of the 1980s, where rival fashion “houses” competed for trophies and cash prizes in categories like “face,” “femme queen realness,” and “voguing.” Winner of a Sundance Grand Jury Prize, Paris Is Burning celebrates how African-American, Latino, gay, and transgender New Yorkers, for whom racism, poverty, and homophobia were daily realities, created a world of survival and joy.

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EL TOPO, Alejandro Jodorowsky
IFC Center

Jodorowsky’s legendary, notorious cult hit essentially created the genre of the midnight movie — a spectacle so stunning and bizarre that normal hours couldn’t contain it. Incorporating influences from tarot to the Bible to surrealism into a mind-blowing western, Jodorowsky cast himself as the leather-clad gunman, El Topo (‘the mole’), who wanders through a desert strewn with mystical symbols on an unnamed quest, leaving blood and carnage in his wake. Declared a masterpiece by no less than John Lennon himself, EL TOPO tops even the most outrageous aesthetic experiments of its radical era and remains unmatched in its provocations and strange beauty. Long unavailable, EL TOPO is presented in a gorgeous new restoration personally overseen by Jodorowsky.

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TWO BY GINA TELAROLI
Museum of the Moving Image

Filmmaker, archivist, and cinephile extraordinaire Gina Telaroli makes works that artistically examine her love of cinema. Silk Tatters (U.S., 2014, 17 mins. World premiere) is a cine-essay that explores holding onto the past as a way to embrace the future, inspired by Vincente Minnelli’s Brigadoon. InStarting Sketches #7 (U.S., 2014, 4 mins. World premiere) Jennifer Jones meets Joan Crawford in a haze of criss-crossing black and white as the two dance out their social-class dreams and nightmares.

Followed by a screening of Brigadoon (Dir. Vincente Minnelli, 1955, 102 mins. 35mm. With Gene Kelly, Van Johnson, Cyd Charisse), a haunting, enchanting musical about a magical Scottish village that rises out of the mist every hundred years for only a day.

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THE MAGNIFICENT AMBERSONS, Orson Welles
Film Forum

Turn-of-the-20th-century Mid-America: Joseph Cotten pursues lost love Dolores Costello, despite her imperious son Tim Holt – himself smitten with Cotten’s daughter Anne Baxter – and lovelorn spinster aunt Agnes Moorehead (Best Actress, NY Film Critics). Welles’ low-key, reflective follow-up to Kane, adapted from Booth Tarkington’s Pulitzer-winning novel, chronicles the decline of a family and the end of an era. Re-edited in Welles’ absence, its ending re-written and re-shot by others. But “even in this truncated form it’s amazing and memorable” (Pauline Kael).

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BREAKIN’, Joel Silberg
The Film Society of Lincoln Center

Breakin’ did perhaps more than any other single work of art of any discipline to bring a marginal street dance form to the forefront of mainstream American pop culture—and to put spandex on the silver screen. Dated but still devastatingly entertaining, the film tells the tale of a struggling jazz dancer who, with the help of street-dancing friends, becomes the new sensation of the crowds, despite disapproval from her dance instructor and the bitter rivalry from another crew. A variety of hybrid breakthrough performances, alongside a fantastic soundtrack that included Ollie and Jerry’s “There’s No Stopping Us” and Chaka Khan’s “Ain’t Nobody,” made Breakin’ a major success for the iconic low- and medium-budget Cannon Films.

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EC: VALENTIN / VIGO
Anthology Film Archives

Karl Valentin
CONFIRMATION DAY / DER FIRMLING
(1934, 23 min, 35mm, b&w. In German with no subtitles; English synopsis available.)
A father and son, celebrating the son’s confirmation, go to a fancy restaurant and drink all day. They want to order Emmentaler cheese, but can only find Affentaler wine on the menu. How did the Affentaler, which they think is cheese, get into the bottle? They keep on drinking away, attracting attention and causing more and more confusion.
“Valentin plays a drunken father treating his giggly young son to lunch, and the inspired muddle he creates out of a table, two chairs, an umbrella, and a watch chain rivals some of Laurel and Hardy’s best moments.” –J.R. Jones, CHICAGO READER

&

Jean Vigo
ZERO FOR CONDUCT / ZÉRO DE CONDUITE
(1935, 44 min, 35mm, b&w. In French with English subtitles.)
An eloquent parable of freedom versus authority, Vigo’s film is set at a boys’ boarding school and undoubtedly echoes Vigo’s own unhappy experiences as a child. Under the pressure of various civic groups the film was removed from screens several months after its release in 1933. It was branded “anti-French” by censors and was not shown again in Paris until 1945.

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CLUE, Jonathan Lynn
Nitehawk Cinema

Well someone’s got to break the ice, and it might as well be me. In CLUE, a group of nefarious strangers meet up at a spooky mansion on a dark and stormy night. They’ve been invited to dinner to discuss a blackmail plot against them, and what they can do to put a stop to it. What’s on the menu? Monkey’s brains. What’s for dessert? MURDER.
A screwball murder mystery that fires one-liners like a machine gun, Clue sidesteps mystery in favor of mayhem as the houseful of suspects fall over each other to finger someone (anyone) for the evening’s ever-rising body count. The film’s three different endings calls back to its board game roots. Don’t like whodunnit? Shuffle the cards and play again.

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***SUNDAY, JANUARY 18***

HIS GIRL FRIDAY, Howard Hawks
IFC Center

“Most of what Robert Altman has done with overlapping dialogue was done first by Howard Hawks in this 1940 comedy, without the benefit of Dolby stereo. It isn’t a matter of speed but of placement—the dialogue almost seems to have levels in space. Hawks’s great insight—taking the Hecht-MacArthur Front Page and making the Hildy Johnson character a woman—has been justly celebrated; it deepens the comedy in remarkable ways. Cary Grant’s performance is truly virtuoso—stunning technique applied to the most challenging material. With Rosalind Russell and Ralph Bellamy, a genius in his way too.” – Dave Kehr, Chicago Reader

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COMING TO TERMS, Jon Jost
Museum of the Moving Image

Director Jon Jost cast fellow filmmaker James Benning as a dying Montana patriarch who gathers his dysfunctional family together for a final request. Jost, a maverick independent filmmaker for the past 50 years, has made a bracing and audacious work that alternates between stark, expressive landscapes and unusually filmed encounters between the father, his estranged sons, and their mothers in which the actors/characters address the audience as much as each other. Preceded by Éphémères (Dir. Yuki Kawamura, France, 2014, 14 mins.), an evocative, and cinematically dazzling study of fireflies.

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JANE EYRE, Robert Stevenson
Film Forum

Joan Fontaine’s Jane graduates from the Orphanage from Hell to be governess to the ward of Welles’ brooding Rochester. “He strode on the set and proclaimed, ‘All right, everyone turn to page eight’ and we did it, though he wasn’t the director.”

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IN OUR GARDEN, Giuseppe Andrews
Anthology Film Archives

“Daisy is devastated. Her boyfriend recently committed suicide in their ‘garden’ – a loving reference to the beach volleyball court where they first met. Unable to find happiness, she’s lost in a world of borderline insanity. One day, police officer Rick stops by her trailer. He is the one who found her dead lover, and hopes he can make a connection with the grieving gal. Sure enough, they become an item, which irks toupee-wearing Bill to no end. He’s the father of the man who killed himself, and he wants Daisy as well. As the suitors maneuver for her affections, our heroine is confused. She has strong feelings for both of them. Then Rick drops a personal bombshell which violates her ever-present trust issues. As Bill moves in, our former cop turns to the bottle, and then crack cocaine. All he wants is a chance to get back into Daisy’s good graces. But unless something happens to Bill, that seems unlikely.” –Bill Gibron

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TOMORROW IS FOREVER, Irving Pichel
Film Forum

Listed among the dead of WWII, Welles, sporting a new face, returns anyway, only to find wife Claudette Colbert now remarried to George Brent. Easy choice? With 7-year-old Natalie Wood as Welles’ adopted daughter. 

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Everything You Need to Know About Nigeria’s Ongoing Nightmare, Boko Haram

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Photo: Diariocritico de Venezuela via Wikimedia Commons

Last week while the internet raged about Charlie Hebdo, militants from Boko Haram carried out their bloodiest attack yet. At least 2,000 civilians, mostly women, children, and the elderly, were killed. An estimated 16 towns around the target region of Baga have been razed to the ground.

Back up. What’s Boko Haram?
“Boko Haram” which roughly translates into “the sin of Western Education,” is a radical insurgent group based mostly in the Northern, less oil-rich half of Nigeria. Though founded in 2002, Boko Haram executed their founder in 2009, installing leadership that was much more violent and radical. Since then, the group has orchestrated a massive prison break, kidnapped and murdered hundreds, if not thousands, of children, and reduced much of the region into a state of emergency.

It’s not really about radical Islam.
Off the record sources I spoke with who work in Western Africa downplayed the role radical Islam played in Boko Haram’s rise. One of the reasons it’s been so easy for Boko Haram to recruit has been the wide-spread unemployment– particularly youth unemployment– in Nigeria’s more rural north. Supporting this notion is a study from the Brookings Institute this year which found that youth unemployment outside of the cities almost doubled between 2009 and 2012–precisely the period when the group began to gain momentum.

Why now?
Many suspect that the attack was in anticipation of next month’s elections in Nigeria.  President Goodluck Jonathan has garnered criticism for his failure to address the crisis, reportedly taking last weekend off to attend his daughter’s wedding. Boko Haram’s ultimate goal is to defeat the Nigerian Army and establish a Caliphate under Sharia law. The acceleration of the attacks is most likely an attempt to undermine public safety in the name of pursuing a coup.

#BringBackOurGirls
Last April, when Boko Haram abducted 276 girls from their school in the Northeastern town of Chiboc, the hashtag #BringBackOurGirls, garnered wide-spread participation, including from First Lady Michelle Obama. However to date, none of the girls have been released (although some have escaped), and the international response has been widely condemned as insufficient.

Why is it so hard to stop them?
Most blame a variety of factors. President Goodluck obviously bears much of the blame for presiding over violence that has escalated dramatically each year. Nigeria is an economically powerful country, the largest economy in Africa and a major oil exporter. However it is also rife with corruption, and exact figures over where and how international aid has been put to use are impossible to come by. Boko Haram is also crueler than most militants– even ISIS–frequently using the children they kidnap in suicide bombings. Unlike France, Nigeria also does not have wide-spread freedom of the press or internet infrastructure, which has made reporting the crisis difficult.

What can I do to help?
The Christian Association of Nigerian Americans has set up a relief fund for the victims. You can also donate to Amnesty International here.

jesuisnigeria
Photo: @ashramchic on Instagram