The evenings include a screening of Naked Lunch with live accompaniment by such giants as Ravi Coltrane, Henry Threadgill, Charente Moffatt, and Denard Coleman. Coleman will also be part of a Prime Time Reunion that will honor guitarist Bern Nix who sadly recently passed away and who had been a long time member of the original band. This night the members will include Joshua Redman,
On a beautiful late spring afternoon in New York, across the street from Central Park and a few blocks down from The Metropolitan Museum of Art on Fifth Avenue, Museum of Modern Art curator in the Film Department Dave Kehr was presented with the insignia of Chevalier of the Order of Arts and Letters by Cultural Counselor of the French Embassy Bénédicte de Montlaur (dressed in Diane von Furstenberg) at the Cultural Services of the French Embassy.
For Films on the Green, Isabella Rossellini has chosen Jean Renoir's Elena and Her Men, starring Ingrid Bergman Photo: Anne-Katrin Titze
Past American recipients include Robert Redford, Paul Auster, Uma Thurman, Ornette Coleman, Jim Jarmusch, Agnes Gund, Marilyn Horne, Richard Meier, Robert Paxton, and Meryl Streep.
The 10th anniversary of Films on the Green had guest curators Wes Anderson,
The restlessly inventive director Ben Wheatley gives us the crime-thriller equivalent of a violently atonal jazz suite lasting an hour and a half, like a Sam Peckinpah movie storyboarded by Ornette Coleman and Sun Ra. Gunshots here are as frequent, numerous and noisy as an avant garde drumroll. The film turns out to be plotless, formless, shapeless, McGuffinless, directionless and ruthless, but it is dazzlingly well put together, with some lethal zingers amid the gunfire and a droll use of John Denver on the soundtrack – alluding subtextually, I suspect, to the urban myth about Denver’s war service in Vietnam.
It’s supremely stylish and smart, and the melee becomes so disorientating that you forget, almost, that the whole thing is taking place in just the one place.
This Past Weekend:
It was absolutely no surprise that Hugh Jackman’s last Wolverine movie Logan would top the box office, but it actually ended up doing even better than my prediction when actual numbers came in, grossing $88.3 million over the weekend. That makes it the fourth highest X-Movie opening (including Deadpool) but also the biggest R-rated opening for March, defeating 300’s once-impressive $70 million opening. It’s also the fourth highest R-rated opening of all time after Deadpool, The Matrix Reloaded and American Sniper.
The bigger surprise was how well Jordan Peele’s thriller Get Out held up in its second weekend, not only because it was going up against Logan, but also because high-profile horror films tend
1. Matthew Shipp & Bobby Kapp: Cactus (Northern Spy)
Based on the novel Twins by Bari Wood and Jack Geasland, Dead Ringers tells the story of identical twin gynecologists—suave Elliot and sensitive Beverly, bipolar sides of one personality—who share the same practice, the same apartment, and the same women. It is a chilling tale,
Photos of Mezco Toyz’s New Chucky Doll: From Mezco Toyz: “Unlike the scarred and battle-damaged look Chucky normally bears (people have tried to destroy him in six films so far), this version represents the cleaner, earlier Chucky. His trademark outfit is un-slashed, his face is not yet mauled.
Just as he did in his films, Chucky has lots to say from his trademark “My name is Chucky” to far more sinister phrases.
The star of the Child’S Play films, Chucky stands fifteen inches tall and features real cloth Good Guys clothing, eleven points of articulation, his trademark orange hair and realistic glass-like eyes.
Mondo, in collaboration with Howe Records, announces three incredible Howard Shore scores from classic David Cronenberg films Naked Lunch, Dead Ringers and Crash. This continuation of Mondo’s Cronenberg series, which began with a soundtrack for Scanners and The Brood, features beautiful and haunting design work and marks the first time all three titles will be available on vinyl.
Can’t wait to own these. While you’re waiting for these records to go on sale, check out this new Hoop Dreams print from Mondo.
Crash (1996) – Original Motion Picture Soundtrack 2Xlp Music by Howard Shore Original Artwork by Rich Kelly 20th Anniversary. First time ever on Vinyl. Available online at mondotees.com this July $35
Dead Ringers (1988) – Original Motion Picture Soundtrack LP Music By Howard Shore Performed by London Philharmonic Orchestra Original Artwork by Randy Ortiz First time ever on Vinyl. Available online at mondotees.
Paul, though studied, was completely naturalistic and organic in his musical conception. He had a mindset that was always in the moment, and if so-called history ever came through in his playing, it was more a function of the
With success came the challenge of avoiding complacency, which Metheny has met masterfully with a wide-ranging series of albums in a variety of stylistic bags, from atonal skronk to mellow Brazilian, from thorny Ornette Coleman covers to mercurial bebop. Along the way he has lent his prestige to both respected elders (Hall, Burton, Coleman,
'Jason and Shirley': The Cruelty and Irresponsibility of 'Satire'
by Amy Heller
In the twenty-five years that we have been running Milestone Films, we have never before reviewed or commented publicly on anyone else’s film—except to recommend it. But we have now encountered a new feature film that purports to “satirize” a film and a filmmaker we represent and have spent years researching. While we are absolute believers in freedom of speech and artistic expression and do not dispute that the producers, writers and stars of Jason and Shirley have every right to make their “re-vision” of the making of Shirley Clarke’s great documentary "Portrait of Jason," we feel we must go on the record about the film’s inaccurate and simplistic portrayals of a brilliant filmmaker and her charismatic subject.
Director Stephen Winter (and co-writers Sarah Schulman and Jack Waters) have created a fictitious drama that imagines what might have happened on December 3, 1966 when Shirley Clarke spent twelve hours with Jason Holliday, Carl Lee, Jeri Sopanen, Jim Hubbard and Bob Fiore shooting "Portrait of Jason." The filmmakers claim the right to re-imagine the events that took place in that Hotel Chelsea apartment, but they fail to understand something that Shirley Clarke knew and conveyed in all her films: the need for integrity.
Clarke’s first feature, "The Connection," a fiction film based partly on real people, has enormous respect for all its characters, an understanding of humanity, and a love for cinema. Shirley knew that a genuine artist values inner truth, whether the film is a documentary or a dramatic feature. And of course, Shirley did not use real names. She knew that when you use real people’s names and identities, you need to seek and explore the truth in all its complexities. Ornette: Made in America, a film that she and Ornette Coleman were very proud to create, is an example of Clarke’s quest for meaning and authenticity.
We at Milestone are now in the seventh year of “Project Shirley,” our ongoing commitment to learn everything about Clarke as a director, an artist and a person. With the cooperation of the Wisconsin Center for Film and Theater and the Clarke estate, we have digitized nearly one hundred of her features, short films, outtakes, unfinished projects, home movies, and experimental films and videos. We have gone through thousands of pages of letters, contracts, and Shirley’s diaries. We have interviewed and talked to dozens of people who knew and worked with her.
We have heard wonderful stories, tragic stories, and stories of such real pain that they are almost unbearable. Shirley Clarke was a sister, wife, mother, dancer, lover, filmmaker, editor, teacher, and yes, for a sad period, a junkie. It wasn’t intended, but along the way we fell in love with Shirley and came to feel that we owed it to her to create a portrait of a real woman and an artist. Shirley’s daughter Wendy Clarke and her extended family have supported our efforts every step of the way, encouraging us to reveal what is true, for better or worse. We have shared our discoveries with the world in theaters, on television, on DVD and Blu-Ray, in lectures — and in our exhaustive press kits (available on our website, free for everyone).
We have strived for the highest levels of accuracy, knowing that critics, academics, bloggers, and the general public deserve and depend on our research. We corroborated all the oral histories we conducted using primary sources, including original letters, interviews, and contracts. Finally, we asked people who knew Shirley to check and proof all our work. We have shared this research with every filmmaker, scholar and critic who has asked us for information.
So it was truly agonizing for us to watch Stephen Winter’s "Jason and Shirley," a film that is bad cinema and worse ethics—that cynically appropriates and parodies the identities of real people, stereotyping and humiliating them and doing disservice to their memory. The filmmakers may call it an homage, but their complete lack of research and their numerous factual errors and falsehoods have betrayed everyone who was involved in making "Portrait of Jason."
Winter and his team call their film an “imagination” of the night (although they stage the filming during the day) of December 3, when Shirley Clarke shot "Portrait of Jason." But interestingly, they only use the real names of those participants who have died: Clarke, Jason Holliday and Carl Lee (perhaps because you cannot libel the dead). They did not interview the people who were on the set that long night and who are still around—filmmakers Bob Fiore and Jim Hubbard.
They also chose not to work with Shirley’s daughter, artist and filmmaker Wendy Clarke, whom they never bothered to contact (and go out of their way to mock in the film). Jason and Shirley even features a title card in the closing credits thanking Wendy, implying that she has given her approval for the film. In truth, Wendy’s response, when she finally saw Jason and Shirley, was: “I don’t want people seeing this film to think there is any truth to it. This film tells nasty lies and is a parasitic attempt to gain prominence from true genius.”
Similarly, the filmmakers never asked us at Milestone for access to the reams of documents we have discovered from the making of "Portrait of Jason." Instead, they preferred to pretend to know what happened, to create their own “Shirley Clarke,” “Carl Lee,” and “Jason Holliday,” rather than try to create honest and respectful portraits of these very real people.
Lazy filmmakers make bad movies and "Jason and Shirley" is false, flaccid, and boring—unforgivable cinematic sins. Perhaps its most egregious and painful crime is taking the strong, brilliant woman that Shirley Clarke truly was and portraying her as a lumpy, platitude-spouting Jewish hausfrau—an inept cineaste who doesn’t know what she is doing and eventually needs her boyfriend to “save” the film for her. In service of their alleged investigation into race relations (a topic Shirley explored far better with her powerful and intelligent films "The Connection," "The Cool World," "Portrait of Jason" and "Ornette: Made in America"), they reduced her to a sexist cliché—the little woman—and a tedious cliché at that.
Shirley Clarke was wild, creative, brilliant, graceful, challenging, incredibly stylish, vibrant, and alive with the possibilities of life. At home at the center of many creative circles in New York City and around the world, she was adored by countless admirers—despite (or sometimes because of) her faults and failings. And Shirley is still loved by those who remember her—the people who worked on her films, her friends, her family, and the audiences who are rediscovering her great films. She was incredibly special. The misshapen caricature of Clarke in Jason and Shirley insults and trivializes a great artist and pioneer.
We also find “Jason” in Winter’s film to be a one-dimensional and disrespectful distortion of the very complicated man who was born Aaron Payne in 1924. Jason Holliday’s life was difficult in many ways—as a gay black man he experienced police harassment, poverty, family rejection, imprisonment, painful self-doubt, and innumerable varieties of personal and institutional racism. But he was also vibrantly an original, a self-invented diva, a survivor, and a raconteur of the first order who was the inspiration for his own cinematic Portrait. Shirley decided to make her film in order to explore this extraordinary Scheherazade’s 1001 stories—and the fragile line between his reminiscences and his inventions.
And truly, it is not easy to tell what was real and what was not in Jason’s life. In his “Autobiography” (reprinted in Milestone’s press kit), Holliday talked about appearing on Broadway in “Carmen Jones,” “Finian’s Rainbow,” and “Green Pastures” and about performing his nightclub act in Greenwich Village. And while much of his narrative may seem improbable, the Trenton Historical Society found newspaper articles from the 1950s corroborating Jason’s claim that he was a performer at New York’s Salle de Champagne. So did he study acting with Charles Laughton and dance with Martha Graham and Katherine Dunham? We may never know. But the man who spun those marvelous yarns was not the alternately maniacal and weepy loser in "Jason and Shirley."
Here are just a few of the other things that are obviously, carelessly and offensively wrong in "Jason and Shirley":
In the very beginning, there is a title card stating that the filmmakers were denied access to the outtakes of "Portrait of Jason." These recordings were available for all to hear at the Wisconsin Center for Film and Theater Research, where all of Shirley’s archives can be found—or by contacting Milestone. In fact, all the outtakes (30 minutes of audio) were released on November 11, 2014 as a bonus features on Milestone’s DVD and Blu-Ray of the film. That was six months before "Jason and Shirley" was completed.
In "Jason and Shirley," “Jason” has never previously visited “Shirley’s” apartment and knows nothing about her. In reality, they had been friends for many years and Jason would often visit her apartment. The film states that the cinematographer on Portrait of Jason had worked on Clarke’s other two features. Actually, the film was Jeri Sopanen’s first job with her. Further, absolutely no crew member had an issue about working on "Portrait of Jason," as the new film portrays.
In the film “Shirley” says, “See that horrible painting on the wall? My daughter painted that… I have a daughter who is a terrible artist.” Fact: in several video interviews with Shirley (including one released as a bonus feature on Ornette: Made In America, which also came out last November) and in many of her letters and diaries, Clarke talked about how extremely proud she was of her daughter Wendy and her art. Mother and daughter worked happily together for years on many projects including the legendary Tee Pee Video Space Troupe. Wendy’s fine art, textiles, and video work have received critical praise for nearly 50 years. It was needlessly and maliciously hurtful for the filmmakers to include a line that is so obviously false and unkind.
In the film, “Shirley” says her maiden name was Bermberg. She was born Shirley Brimberg.
There is an Academy Award® statue for "Robert Frost: A Lover’s Quarrel With the World" in “Shirley’s” apartment and the other characters repeatedly mock her for it. The film did win an Oscar®, but although she received directing credit, Shirley had been fired from the final edit and producer Robert Hughes picked up the award. (You can see this on YouTube at https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zOS70Tqsz7U)
“Shirley” asks “Jason” to go up on the roof of the Hotel Chelsea with her to talk. In reality, her apartment was famously on the roof.
In the film, “Shirley” is unable to finish Portrait of Jason and tells everybody to go home and “Carl Lee” comes in to take over the film and save it. This is ludicrous, wrong and misogynistic. Clarke was a consummate film professional and all her collaborators attest to her skill and drive.
The film ends with a title card stating that Shirley died in New York (which is simply incorrect) and that Carl Lee died of a heroin overdose. Tragically, Lee died of AIDS and this information is in the Milestone press kit.
Another title card indicates that when Jason Holliday died that there were no friends or family listed in his one obituary. In truth, the Trentonian on July 31, 1998 wrote that two sisters, six nieces and two nephews survived him. We found the relatives when doing our research.
The filmmakers have labeled "Jason and Shirley" a satirical work of fiction. We are just not sure who or what they claim to be satirizing. The film is not ironic, humorous, sardonic or tongue-in-cheek. We can only surmise that they are deliberately parodying the idea of cinematic integrity.
On behalf of Milestone, Wendy Clarke, and Shirley Clarke’s extended family and friends, we respectfully ask film fans not to base their appraisal of Clarke and her filmmaking on the unkind depictions in "Jason and Shirley."
Yours in cinema,
Amy Heller and Dennis Doros
Over the years I read many articles, by Ornette or interviewing Ornette or theorizing independently, that tried to explain his concept of harmolodic music (so called because HARmony, MOtion Aka rhythm, and meLODy
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