4 items from 2016
“Husters Convention” pays due tribute to the eponymous 1973 album, a pseudonymously credited, underground-distributed proto-rap album that wound up hugely influencing a hip-hop culture not yet extant at the time of its creation. Mike Todd’s documentary rewards in shedding some light on this simultaneously important and obscure slice of vinyl African-American history, while also frustrating with its somewhat limited insight. Beyond music-focused fests and other venues, primary exposure will be in home formats.
“Hustlers Convention” was attributed to “Lightnin’ Rod,” whose real identity would remain a matter of conjecture for many years. But the pic immediately abandons any pretense of suspense by focusing on Jalal Nuriddin, nee Alafia Pudim, whom several here cite as “the Grandfather of Rap” not just for the aforementioned disc, but also for his membership in the Last Poets, the remarkable spoken-word trio bred in a Harlem writers’ workshop. Their performance poetry, with variably complex musical backing (at first just percussive, »
- Dennis Harvey
Sex GameWith so much gentility and desire for respect and accolades to be found in a random scan of any film festival program, the audacity of highlighting the films of someone with as checkered a history—to say the least—as Japanese director Masao Adachi might seem a provocation if this filmmaker was not in his venerable 70s, yet even so his home country wouldn't allow him to travel to Rotterdam for a spotlight on his career. Infamous first as a collaborator with prolific Japanese art-exploitation master Koji Wakamatsu—for whom he wrote a number of screenplays before then directing for Wakamatsu's production company—then for going with Wakamatsu to shoot 1971’s Red Army / Pflp: Declaration of World War in Lebanon, then for joining the Japanese Red Army and remaining in Lebanon for twenty years (an idea even more shameful in Japan than it might be considered elsewhere), Adachi was then arrested for passport violations, »
- Daniel Kasman
Director and writer Edward Parone, who was a mentor to many of the promising young playwrights in 1960s New York, including Edward Albee and LeRoi Jones (Amiri Baraka), died at his home in Nambe, New Mexico, on Sunday, January 24 after a short battle with cancer. He was 90.
In what was one of the most fertile periods in American theater, with the emergence of edgy, boundary-pushing playwrights, Parone was an artistic member of New York’s Albee-Barr-Wilder Playwrights Unit, a company devoted exclusively to the development and production of new American plays and an early pioneer of the type of new play development that has since been replicated by nonprofit theaters across the country. During this period, Parone directed the world premiere of LeRoi Jones’ signature play “The Dutchman,” and would go on to nurture playwrights such as Sam Shepard, Lanford Wilson and John Guare.
In 1967 Parone joined Gordon Davidson, artistic »
- Carmel Dagan
In remembrance of Amiri Baraka's death, at 79 years old, almost exactly 2 years ago, January 9, 2014 (the anniversary of his death would've been over the weekend, on Saturday)... A a creative and political force, Baraka was 79 years old at the time of his death, which came after he was placed in intensive care at Beth Israel Medical Center for an unknown reason. Baraka had long struggled with diabetes, but it was not immediately clear if that was the cause of death. Later reports indicated that he died from complications after a recent surgery. You’ll be hard pressed to think of a controversial play or film that, even decades later, still remains just as controversial. »
4 items from 2016
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