Double G & Hal Masonberg on Chet Hanley’s “JAZZ IN THE MODERN ERA”


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New doc JAZZ NIGHTS: A CONFIDENTIAL JOURNEY’s sax player and composer extraordinaire, Geoff “Double G” Gallegos and JAZZ NIGHTS’ director Hal Masonberg were this week’s guests on Chet Hanley’s 3-hour TV show JAZZ IN THE MODERN ERA from April 5, 2016.

There’s a lot of music and extraordinary archival video to listen and watch on this episode. And weaving in and out of those, Chet Hanley interviews Double G and Hal Masonberg about both JAZZ NIGHTS and Gee about the saxophone and his lifelong influences.

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Double G & Hal Masonberg on Chet Hanley’s “JAZZ IN THE MODERN ERA”

Why Academy Members’ Lack-of-Diversity Is An Important Conversation


 

oscar_statueI’ve heard a whole lot about this topic from many different sides of the conversation lately. I come at this already not being a fan of the Oscars as a representation of film and cinema and I gave up watching them several years ago.

It’s been suggested by some (or many, even) that the reason for the complete lack of minority nominations this year may just be that the performances by non-white actors simply weren’t as good this year as the other’s nominated. Or that it’s a numbers game and there are fewer films and performances to choose from that highlight and showcase non-white actors and stories. While that second statement is certainly true for Hollywood and is something that desperately needs to change, it’s still far too easy an answer as to why most of the nominees this year are white. And it misses a crucial part of the point.

Here’s why I think the lack-of-diversity complaint that is taking place now is undeniably spot on: I know someone who has been in the industry most of their life and has been successful. This person is white. This person is older. And this person said to me that they walked out of the movie FRUITVALE STATION, not because it was a bad movie or that this person didn’t like the performances, but because, and this is verbatim, “I’m just not interested in movies about the black experience.” 

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Why Academy Members’ Lack-of-Diversity Is An Important Conversation

Disagreeing with Carol Cadwalladr’s Assessment of THE REVENANT


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I couldn’t possibly disagree more with Carol Cadwalladr‘s assessment of THE REVENANT in her recent piece in The Guardian titled “The Revenant is Meaningless Pain Porn.”

I would agree that our culture displays a whole lot of meaningless violence, yes, even to a pornographic level, but of all the films to accuse of this, THE REVENANT is simply not one.

Yes, there’s pain. Yes, human suffering and graphic violence. But to minimize this film and place it alongside the hoards of films spit out by Hollywood each year disguised as entertainment but, instead, offering us vapid exercises (in, among other things, killing and human suffering), is to completely miss the point of the entire film.

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Disagreeing with Carol Cadwalladr’s Assessment of THE REVENANT

STAR WARS: Another J.J. Abrams’ Jedi-Mind Trick


Contains Spoilers. 

star-wars-force-awakens-official-posterI know people were very excited for this newest STAR WARS film. I also know that some people hate to be disappointed and will hold onto anything that feels positive and that perpetuates their most-cherished narrative. I also believe that audiences have become so accustomed to comic-book movies and Hollywood origin-story rehashes that they have essentially forgotten not only what good storytelling is, they have forgotten its importance to human society and development.

STAR WARS: THE FORCE AWAKENS suffers from far worse than a wholly unoriginal story, which on its own would be bad enough. Not only did J.J. Abrams decide that what the film, the franchise, and the Star Wars universe needed was a remake of the original STAR WARS, it now required a version of that story sans heart and soul. STAR WARS: THE FORCE AWAKENS is yet another mournful stop on the road map charting the demise of Hollywood storytelling. We’re past the death-throws here, we’re now in “I’m exhausted, will it just die already” territory.

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STAR WARS: Another J.J. Abrams’ Jedi-Mind Trick

Fear The Walking Dead Writers


FTWD-NewKeyArt-400x600You know things are off to a bad start when you can feel the writers’ fear more than the characters’.

I always thought the writing on THE WALKING DEAD was terribly inconsistent. Sometimes downright awful. But I love the zombie genre (saw NIGHT OF THE LIVING DEAD in a movie theater at age 9 and it has been burned into my psyche ever since), and if there are some good visceral moments now and again, I find myself drawn back. In fact, I’d even go so far as to say that the writing on THE WALKING DEAD improved in the last two seasons, it felt more consistent, more organic.

So when I read that there’d be a spinoff series, I hoped that the writers, creators and anyone else involved with the series had evolved in their storytelling sensibilities to offer something interesting, maybe even slightly provocative or, god-forbid, original. Instead, what I found was an hour of the kind of silly character reactions and scenarios I would expect from network TV at its most benign. Why is this?

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Fear The Walking Dead Writers

Observations on Cinema vs. the Capitalist Feeding Frenzy


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Filmmaker William Friedkin was recently interviewed for a piece in The Telegraph titled “Superhero movies are ruining cinema, says Exorcist director William Friedkin.”

I agree with Friedkin’s sentiment and I would take it one step further and say that it’s not “Superhero movies” that are ruining cinema, but that those films are a product of what has so dramatically changed since the 70’s.

The corporate greed and the paint-by-numbers mentality that has now driven cinema for many decades is, in itself, a product of a state of mind that has been vigorously taught, conditioned, indoctrinated and embraced in the U.S. Its impact is reflected in all aspects of our lives socially, culturally, politically and, yes, artistically…

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Observations on Cinema vs. the Capitalist Feeding Frenzy

Does “SELMA” Shine A Light On More Than Just Its Story?


selmaI liked SELMA. And I thought it suffered a bit from the usual standard biopic pitfalls of not digging more deeply into the complex areas inherent in its story and characters, as well as not trusting actual events to be powerful enough of a story to not have to alter history to create extra drama or to paint a more “desirable” picture. That said, I still found the film effecting and it stayed with me longer than either THE IMITATION GAME or THE THEORY OF EVERYTHING, the other 2 biopics from last year made in a similar mold.

For me, these kinds of linear tellings of stories with historical beats that need to be hit always feel too manufactured. Which isn’t to say they don’t have impact or are not good films. Many are, and this one is. But there’s a deeper level of human experience, the human condition, that these types of films never quite manage to reveal for me. More often than not, this begins at the script stage. These films often feel like the events themselves were strung out in a line with index cards and the characters’ personal struggles inserted to up the drama instead of revealing and exploring the many layers and complexities of the human beings and their struggles being portrayed. For me, the film MR. TURNER was the only biopic I saw from last year that transcended this issue. Perhaps because the filmmaker/writer, Mike Leigh, knows that it’s the characters’ inner journeys that dictate the “events” that unfold and not the other way around.

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Does “SELMA” Shine A Light On More Than Just Its Story?