Category Archives: Movies

A Conversation With Michael Bentham

“Our film is sadly inspired by real-life events.” Says Michael Bentham, director of the new independent Australian movie, Disclosure. “We made this film because we want to help change policy, by raising the profile of the pressing issue of child-on-child abuse, and the inadequate institutional responses to this escalating problem”. One of the key challenges faced by young children who have experienced abuse is the reluctance of parents, and institutions, to accept the words of children as evidence, despite the wealth of research showing that children almost never make up stories about being sexually abused. The reality of Disclosure’s basic plot is unsettling. In conversation with Norman B, Michael explains why and how it was so important to deliver his message in a unique and powerful way. His dialogue is, at times, brittle yet so authentic you forget this is a movie drama. Are the difficulties of speaking about sexual abuse amongst children made all the more obvious when we consider how long it has taken for the Me Too movement to be taken seriously? Bentham understands this, so he forces us to watch entranced at gorgeous, lush, verdant settings as four adults grow increasingly agitated. His static camera and middle distance framing are quietly unnerving. 

We encourage you to listen carefully to what Michael Bentham has to say, not only because he is a wonderful conversationalist and guest, but also because the distribution company of Disclosure is giving us 10 DVDs to give away to our attentive listeners. All you have to do is answer a simple question, “What country do the two sound designers for Disclosure work in?” The first correct 10 answers we receive will each receive a copy of the Disclosure DVD.

Send your correct answer to normanb@lifeelsewhere.co

Thank you to producer Donna Lyon, and Michael Bentham for very kindly allowing us to use a clip from Disclosure

You can watch the movie Disclosure now on iTunes, Vimeo, Vudu, and FandangoNow or order the DVD on Amazon

Show #382

Two Disturbing Books. An Impressive Movie. Plaintive New Music.

 
James B. Stewart – Deep State: Trump, The FBI, And The Rule Of Law

There are questions that the Mueller report couldn’t—or wouldn’t—answer. What actually happened to instigate the Russia investigation? Did President Trump’s meddling incriminate him? There’s no mystery to what Trump thinks. He claims that the Deep State, a cabal of career bureaucrats—among them, Andrew McCabe, Lisa Page, and Peter Strzok, previously little known figures within the FBI whom he has obsessively and publically reviled—is concerned only with protecting its own power and undermining the democratic process. Conversely, James Comey has defended the FBI as incorruptible apolitical public servants who work tirelessly to uphold the rule of law. For the first time, bestselling author James B. Stewart sifts these conflicting accounts to present a clear-eyed view of what exactly happened inside the FBI in the lead-up to the 2016 election, drawing on scores of interviews with key FBI, Department of Justice, and White House officials and voluminous transcripts, notes, and internal reports. In full detail, this is the dramatic saga of the FBI’s simultaneous investigations of both Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump—the first time in American history the FBI has been thrust into the middle of both parties’ campaigns for the presidency. Stewart shows what exactly was set in motion when Trump fired Comey, triggering the appointment of Robert Mueller as an independent special counsel and causing the FBI to open a formal investigation into the president himself. And how this unprecedented event joined in ongoing combat two vital institutions of American democracy: the presidency and the Federal Bureau of Investigation. At stake in this epic battle is the rule of law itself, the foundation of the U.S. Constitution. There is no room for compromise, but plenty for collateral damage. The reputations of both sides have already been harmed, perhaps irrevocably, and at great cost to American democracy. Deep State goes beyond the limits of the legally constrained Mueller report, showing how the president’s obsession with the idea of a conspiracy against him is still upending lives and sending shockwaves through both the FBI and the Department of Justice. In this world-historical struggle—Trump versus intelligence agencies—Stewart shows us in rare style what’s real and what matters now. And for the looming 2020 election.

Julian E. Zelizer – Burning Down The House: Newt Gingrich, The Fall Of A Speaker, And The Rise Of The New Republican Party

When Donald Trump was elected president in 2016, President Obama observed that Trump “is not an outlier; he is a culmination, a logical conclusion of the rhetoric and tactics of the Republican Party.” In Burning Down The House, historian Julian Zelizer pinpoints the moment when our country was set on a path toward an era of bitterly partisan and ruthless politics, an era that was ignited by Newt Gingrich and his allies. In 1989, Gingrich brought down Democratic Speaker of the House Jim Wright and catapulted himself into the national spotlight. Perhaps more than any other politician, Gingrich introduced the rhetoric and tactics that have shaped Congress and the Republican Party for the last three decades. Elected to Congress in 1978, Gingrich quickly became one of the most powerful figures in America not through innovative ideas or charisma, but through a calculated campaign of attacks against political opponents, casting himself as a savior in a fight of good versus evil. Taking office in the post-Watergate era, he weaponized the good government reforms newly introduced to fight corruption, wielding the rules in ways that shocked the legislators who had created them. His crusade against Democrats culminated in the plot to destroy the political career of Speaker Wright. While some of Gingrich’s fellow Republicans were disturbed by the viciousness of his attacks, party leaders enjoyed his successes so much that they did little collectively to stand in his way. Democrats, for their part, were alarmed, but did not want to sink to his level and took no effective actions to stop him. It didn’t seem to matter that Gingrich’s moral conservatism was hypocritical or that his methods were brazen, his accusations of corruption permanently tarnished his opponents. This brand of warfare worked, not as a strategy for governance but as a path to power, and what Gingrich planted, his fellow Republicans reaped. He led them to their first majority in Congress in decades, and his legacy extends far beyond his tenure in office. From the Contract with America to the rise of the Tea Party and the Trump presidential campaign, his fingerprints can be seen throughout some of the most divisive episodes in contemporary American politics. Burning Down The House presents the alarming narrative of how Gingrich and his allies created a new normal in Washington. 

Disclosure

Disclosure, a new independent movie from Australia asks the question, what would you do if your child came to you and began telling you a story about something that happened to them, that is one of your worst nightmares as a parent? And what would be the consequences of your actions? This is director, Michael Bentham’s debut full-length film, set in the lush tropical landscape of Victoria. The story is a dark psychodrama, yet Bentham shooting in 4K captures startlingly colorful scenes with unobtrusive camerawork and exceptional acting. Norman B was so impressed with Disclosure, he wants you to know all about it. In this edition of Life Elsewhere, you’ll hear his review.

Jess Williamson ft. Hand Habits – Pictures Of Flowers

To round out the show, new music from Jess Williamson featuring Hand Habits with the lovely and plaintive, Pictures Of Flowers. Written by Jess and performed by Jess Williamson (acoustic guitar, vocals), Meg Duffy (electric guitar), and Jarvis Taveniere (bass, drums, mellotron) remotely from their homes during quarantine. In her bio, the Texas-born, L.A.-based singer-songwriter is described as making “…deeply felt songs that orbit around her powerful voice, a voice that’s strong and vulnerable, big room flawless, quietly ecstatic, and next-to-you intimate.” We agree. 

Please let us know what you think of Life Elsewhere, we want to hear your feedback, your questions, queries, and comments. Write to normanb@lifeelsewhere.co

Show #381

Streetlight Harmonies

Brent Wilson

“The main thing was all the girls used to come to the best group. And we were the best group … they used to come and crowd and load up our corner.” The Drifters’ Charlie Thomas on the motivation for starting a vocal group, then he pauses and looks off-screen and says, “Excuse me wife, those were my younger days.” This is just one of the many evocative scenes in the new independent documentary, Streetlight Harmonies. Director, Brent Wilson talked to Norman B about the making of a film which surprisingly, is the first to seriously explore the origins of Doo-Wop. The music is so very familiar, yet few people know the artists. Streetlight Harmonies traces the history of the genre from its street-corner origins through to 60s girl groups and beyond. The film is masterfully put together featuring interviews with Brian Wilson, Al Jardine, “Little” Anthony Gourdine, Lance Bass, and the Crystals’ La La Brooks, among others, as well as restored archival footage. The documentary also touches on the problems the vocal harmony groups faced performing in the segregated South, an issue so pertinent today. During our conversation with Brent Wilson, you’ll hear clips from Streetlight Harmonies and the director’s high regard for the artists and enthusiasm for their influential music.

Show #379

A Tribute to Albert Finney + New Music From The UK

“The death of Albert Finney could mark the end of a certain generation of British actors.” Says film and media critic, Bob Ross in our tribute to the highly-rated star of stage, screen, and TV, who sadly died a few days ago on February 7. Finney came to prominence in the era of the “Angry Young Men”. It was a period that transformed the face of British theater and cinema from the 1950s. Powerfully built, Finney had the resonant voice beloved by earlier generations of stage actors. Born in Salford, Lancashire, May 1936, Finney’s father was a bookmaker. Always proud of his working-class roots, he once said, “It’s part of you, it’s in your blood.” Although he had acquired a taste for acting while still at Salford Grammar School where he won a scholarship to The Royal Academy of Dramatic Art. He worked first with Birmingham Repertory Theatre before moving on to the Old Vic and National Theatre. His first London stage appearance was in 1958 in Jane Arden’s The Party, which was directed by Charles Laughton, who also starred. A year later, the young Finney was at Stratford where he replaced an ill Laurence Olivier in the role of Coriolanus. In 1960, he appeared alongside Olivier in his first film, The Entertainer, directed by Tony Richardson. Based on a play by John Osborne, it was an example of a new gritty style of British film-making that became known as kitchen-sink drama. Its heroes were invariably working-class, the backdrops often that of northern England, and it explored themes of social alienation. Finney’s next film, Saturday Night and Sunday Morning, gave him a starring role as a young factory worker who was disillusioned with his lot. The plot, based on a novel by Alan Sillitoe, featured extramarital sex and abortion, earning it an X-certificate from the British Board of Film Censors. He was approached to play Lawrence of Arabia in David Lean’s film but, after going through a four-day screen test, Finney decided not to take the role that eventually went to Peter O’Toole. Instead, he teamed up with Tony Richardson again for Tom Jones, an adaptation of Henry Fielding’s bawdy 18th Century novel. Tom Jones made Finney an international star and he was voted one of the top ten British actors of 1963 by cinema owners. In the 1967 film Charlie Bubbles, which Finney also directed, he played a writer returning to his northern roots after becoming successful in London. In one scene, Finney’s character is pictured driving his gold Rolls Royce through the crumbling streets of his native Salford. He also proved he could sing, first in the title role of the 1970 musical film Scrooge and then in the 1982 film version of the Broadway musical Annie. In 1974, he played the pedantic Hercule Poirot in the film Murder on the Orient Express. He had a magnetic presence off-screen too. His lovers included Joan Baez, Carly Simon, Billie Whitelaw, Jacqueline Bisset, Shelley Winters, and Diana Quick. In 1957, he married Jane Wenham, with whom he had a son. The couple divorced just five years later. In 1970, he married the French actress Anouk Aimee. Later in life, he settled down with Penne Delmarche and admitted to only two vices – wine and horseracing. He owned several racehorses, stabled in America. He had kidney cancer diagnosed in 2007, and he disappeared from public view but returned with roles in The Bourne Ultimatum and James Bond film Skyfall. He largely ignored the celebrity lifestyle and refused becoming CBE in 1980 and a knight in 2000. “I think the Sir thing slightly perpetuates one of our diseases in England, which is snobbery,” he said at the time. “And it also helps keep us ‘quaint’, which I’m not a great fan of.”

Also in this edition of Life Elsewhere, three new singles from the United Kingdom. First up, a four-piece band who prefer their name in all caps, ISLAND with All In My Head. On our show, you’ll hear instrumental and vocal versions from the London-based band. If you don’t understand the song, you’re not alone, this is what frontman, Rollo Doherty says about their new single, “It’s weird, we didn’t really understand the song when we started writing it but we liked that about it, we didn’t try to understand it. The lyrics just take that idea and put it through a blender. Weirdness just mixed up with more weirdness. Just like what’s in my head.” Next up, a young gentleman we have been raving about for around two years now, the very talented, Leaone. The singer-songwriter was in the US a few months back and had the opportunity to record a few cuts in a Brooklyn studio with producer, Tom Marsh. The results are what Leaone refers to as “The Brooklyn Sessions”, Prairie Fire is his latest single. Our third new release is from the fine folks associated with Gad Whip. Lee who tinkers around in his Yuba Recording Studio sent us a new single, Now, a mesmerizing track that we have had on repeat play for the last few days. Yubamusic is the moniker Lee is using for this release. If we can be of any encouragement at all, we’d like to hear more cuts in this vein from Yubamusic.

The Podcast is available at NPR One, Apple Podcasts & Mixcloud

Sundays 12 noon ET at The Source WMNF HD3
Sundays 10.00am ET at WNRM The Root
Mondays 5.00pm PT & Wednesdays 2.00pm PT at 
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Thursdays 6.00pm ET at Internet Radio Network
Fridays at 9.00pm GMT on Cornucopia Radio

If you miss any editions of Life Elsewhere, go here then go to the Listen On-Demand panel, choose the date of a show and click play.

Life Elsewhere Music airs:
Sundays 11.00am ET at 
WNRM The Root
Wednesdays at 3.00pm Pacific Time on 
NWCZ Radio
Fridays at 10.00am Eastern Time on IRN
Cornucopia Radio airs Life Elsewhere Music throughout each week
You can hear all the volumes over at Mixcloud

Show #310 V3

The Real Tony Montana(s)?

In answer to the question, “Was the truth hard to decipher?” Roben Farzad admits when dealing with notorious cocaine dealers, where each and everyone suggests that they were the role model for Tony Montana in Scarface”You have to select and trust your research carefully.” Farzad replies. His new book, Hotel Scarface Where Cocaine Cowboys Partied and Plotted to Control Miami is a fantastical read. No details, no matter how gruesome or potentially unbelievable are spared. Roben tells the story of Miami’s notorious Mutiny Hotel with delicious enthusiasm and if prompted will manage a spot-on impersonation of one of the extraordinary cast of characters. Roben Farzad joins Norman B to talk about Hotel Scarface in the next edition of Life Elsewhere.

Life Elsewhere is now available at NPR One & iTunes

Sundays 12 noon ET at The Source WMNF HD3  
Mondays 5.00pm PT & Wednesdays 2.00pm PT at NWCZ Radio
Thursdays 6.00pm ET at Internet Radio Network
Fridays at 9.00pm GMT on Cornucopia Radio

If you miss any editions of Life Elsewhere, go here then go to the Listen On-Demand panel, choose the date of a show and click play.

Life Elsewhere Music airs:
Mondays at 6.00pm & Wednesdays at 3.00pm Pacific Time on NWCZ Radio
Fridays at 10.00am Eastern Time on IRN
Cornucopia Radio airs Life Elsewhere Music throughout each week

You can hear all the volumes over at Mixcloud

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