Archive for November, 2009

The American Ruling Class

DVD: The American Ruling Class

Free Online (temporarily)

Film’s Website

This film describes itself as follows:

“In this first of its kind dramatic-documentary-musical,” essayist Lewis Lapham and an all-star cast (including Kurt Vonnegut, Robert Altman, James Baker and Arthur Ochs Sulzberger Jr.) take two young Ivy-League graduates on a tour of the corridors of power. This “astonishing”, “coruscating” satire poses the question: Is it better to rule the world, or to save it?”

I like this film for its boldness, tackling one of the most ignored open secrets in America. There are numerous cameos from people across the spectrum: Howard Zinn, Kurt Vonnegut and Pete Seeger to some of the darker Lords of the Sith. Each thinker is given screen time to get in his/her own take on America’s ruling class, what it means to them, and to weigh in on the moral implications.

DVD: Towelhead

Normal is hard to watch in “Towelhead
Review by Jasmin Ramsey, P U L S E

Towelhead” is based on a novel by Alicia Erian and directed by “American Beauty” writer Alan Ball

While taboo topics like underage female sexuality and racism in America will inspire controversy on their own, combining them as the main focus of a feature film guarantees discomfort from all fronts. In fact, the unease viewers experience while watching Alan Ball’s “Towelhead” is constant throughout, beginning with the opening scene which narrows in on an older stay-at-home boyfriend shaving the bikini line of his girlfriend’s 13 year old daughter Jasira, played by 18 year old Summer Bishil.

Taxi to the Dark Side

Get the DVD: Taxi To the Dark Side

See also:
Taxi To the Dark Side (2007)

Taxi to the Dark Side
by Jasmin Ramsey, P U L S E

(This review first appeared on

“We’ll have to work … the dark side, if you will. We’ve got to spend time in the shadows … A lot of what needs to be done here will have to be done quietly, without any discussion … it’s going to be vital for us to use any means at our disposal basically, to achieve our objectives.”

These were the words of former U.S. Vice President Dick Cheney, during a Meet the Press interview with Tim Russert five days after the September 11 attacks of 2001.

Acknowledging Cheney’s words as a telling precursor to America’s self-serving and calamitous ‘War on Terror,’ Alex Gibney’s 2007 documentary Taxi to the Dark Side provides viewers with a glimpse of what the ‘dark side’ of the Bush administration’s tactics and policies entailed for detainees who had been apprehended by U.S. military forces.

The Hurt Locker

See also:
The Hurt Locker (2009), Cultural Politics and Uncritical Critics

Watching “The Hurt Locker” Hurts
by Jasmin Ramsey, P U L S E

“The Hurt Locker” was a Box Office favorite and may become an Academy Award contender.

…That a film that does not include a single Iraqi perspective is being hailed as an accurate portrayal of the situation in Iraq is either indicative of the blatant bias and possibly hidden intentions of the film’s creators and reviewers, or representative of the flawed view that continues to resonate within people’s minds about the war in Iraq.

As the year winds down and Hollywood gets busy creating Oscar buzz, one unlikely contender is “The Hurt Locker,” the widely praised Iraq movie that premiered at the Venice Film Festival last year and was released in the U.S. in June 2009.

Just when I thought I’d seen enough of Iraq war movies, along comes (Hurt Locker),” an Access Hollywood film critic told USA Today in September. “If any movie about Iraq is going to break through to the academy, this is it.

Sleep Dealer
DVD: Sleep Dealer
Blu-ray: Sleep Dealer

Independent Sci-Fi is where it’s at.

Are “CyberBraceros” the future? Or are they another really good metaphor for globalization?

Sleep Dealer came into existence as a result of a huge effort by its writer/director Alex Rivera, who also workshopped it at the Sundance Institute.

Sleep Dealer attacks current issues with future scenarios. Privatized water supplies, forced migration to the cities, working in dangerous conditions and at pittance wages, all the themes are current and relevant to the lives of billions.

Shown from the perspective of the global south, the drone warfare, corporatized control of natural resources and dehumanizing sweatshops resonate loud and clear. Definitely check out Sleep Dealer.