A look at Paul Taylor (1930- ) and his dance company over several months in 1997. Preparation of Taylor's piece, "Piazzolla Caldera," from conception and rehearsals to opening night at City... See full summary »
Rachel Berman Benz,
Iconoclast Lenny Bruce appears at San Francisco's Basin Street West in what was his next-to-last live appearance. His act that night consisted of reading allegations and transcripts from ... See full summary »
In this film made over ten years, filmmaker Barbara Sonneborn goes on a pilgrimage to the Vietnamese countryside where her husband was killed. She and translator (and fellow war widow) Xuan... See full summary »
Five Jewish Hungarians, now U.S. citizens, tell their stories: before March, 1944, when Nazis began to exterminate Hungarian Jews, months in concentration camps, and visiting childhood ... See full summary »
Few people know of him... Yet hundreds of millions of people are alive because of him. The actions of Stanislav Petrov, a retired Soviet military officer, prevented the start of a worldwide... See full summary »
It's December 1969 in Watford, England, and Jeremy Sloane is at the end of his rope - literally. His failed attempt to end it all has just joined a growing list of recent setbacks, which ... See full summary »
In 1961, Robert Young and Michael Roemer shot a gritty documentary in Palermo's Cortile Cascino, a slum reserved for rag pickers and scavengers. Thirty years later, Young's son and ... See full summary »
Funny, touching, a testament to the power of words
I caught this documentary on the Sundance channel, knowing Lenny Bruce very well as being influential (I listened to one of his later recordings) though not knowing a whole lot on why he became the most controversial comic of the pre-Vietnam era. What I learned was that Lenny Bruce's story - of rising to fame as a satirist and stand-up comic after working in strip joints, and then being put down by the legal machinations of the United States government - is both hilarious and engrossing, and here and there a (necessary) downer. What the system pulled over on Lenny was a travesty, and the mere fact that (technically) the charge of swearing/indecency still stands decades later is an insult to, if any, meaning by the constitution. When Lenny does do his act in the film, one who's never heard most of his material can be drawn in, the style in which he lays his bits is extraordinary. If one had to describe this film to someone who hasn't seen it, or perhaps might not know who Lenny Bruce is (most of my friends don't, though they know his descendents like George Carlin), 'Lenny Bruce: Swear to Tell the Truth' is about a terrific wordsmith who's self-esteem got crushed to oblivion & suicide by those who felt that they had the right over another person's language. It also includes some good narration by old Bobby De Niro. Grade: (strong) A
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