Posts Tagged ‘1960s’

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“Let me tell you: You take on the intelligence community — they have six ways from Sunday at getting back at you.”
–Senator Chuck Schumer, 2017


“Don’t you understand the way intelligence works? Do you think that because I’m chairman of the Intelligence Committee that I just say ‘I want it, give it to me’? They control it. All of it. All of it. All the time.”
–Senator Jay Rockefeller, 2007

 

They infiltrate the media, dirty police departments, drug-trafficking cartels, and terrorist organizations. They lie with impunity and bury secrets indefinitely. They spy on whomever they like and commit blackmail and false-flag terrorism with impunity. And Hollywood idiots turn them into heroes.

 

The CIA Takeover of America in the 1960s Is the Story of Our Times

 

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This ensemble comedy features Phillip Seymour Hoffman, Bill Nighy, Nick Frost and others. Very loosely based on a true phenomenon, the story is completely fictionalized and excessively silly.  They didn’t take it very seriously.

Made as an homage to rock music, the name of the ship has changed. The story was Hollywoodized with some familiar tropes. The British government clowns are ridiculously over the top and given names like Twatt.

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The BBC monopoly on the airwaves, however, is true. As is the Marine Broadcasting Offences Act of 1967. Government hostility to freedom is a clear theme throughout. In the spirit of the times however, the government found itself on the wrong side of a majority of the population. The film could have been funnier. Perhaps they rushed the script and went for a number of silly setups. The characters often veer into slapstick territory, diminishing the gravity of the situation. It’s all a non-serious bit of escapism set to a 60’s rock track. Perhaps there were too many characters fighting for screen time, and they couldn’t develop them quite enough to make them real. Something didn’t quite click here, but it picks up in the second half.

3/5

 

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The Doors is one story of rock icon Jim Morrison, directed and written by Oliver Stone with Randall Jahnson.  The film combines historical recreation with shamanistic mysticism weaving in and out like threads of a dream.  This is, in my opinion, one of Stone’s best films alongside JFK.

The Doors movie is a pack of lies.”
-Ray Manzarek

Ray Manzarek, The Doors’ late keyboardist, greatly disliked the film, and he called it a “powder movie,” implying that cocaine was more of an inspiration than were psychedelics.  He also disliked Val Kilmer’s portrayal of fallen rocker Morrison.

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The band’s initial formation was linked to psychedelic experiences in the mid 60s, and that is a plot point in the movie.  The band’s name is itself an allusion to a psychedelic awakening and is taken from a William Blake quote about the “doors of perception.”

“If the doors of perception were cleansed every thing would appear to man as it is, Infinite. For man has closed himself up, till he sees all things thro’ narrow chinks of his cavern.”

Obviously a reference to Plato’s Cave in there.  We are the blind, deaf, dumb slaves and only through opening these doors of perception can we realize our full lives, our potentials, our true places in the universe.  These were the kinds of ideas that drove Jim Morrison.  These themes reappear in his songs and in his personal journey.

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With such a controversial story, the principal character long dead, the survivors fighting with the director for their own visions it’s amazing the film got made in the first place.  Robbie Krieger, John Densmore and Patricia Kennealy all served as advisers on the Stone film, however they did complain that Stone went his own way much of the time.  The historical accuracy of the film is challenged, but this is a fictional portrayal of a very mystical character.  “The Lizard King” was not your typical subject, and I’m not seeing that the inaccuracies greatly changed the public’s perception of Morrison.  He did, in the end, kill himself with heroin.  He was known for excess and bouts of outrageous behavior.  If the specifics changed somewhat for dramatic effect and through the fog of memory and time, the main thrust does not seem to have been significantly altered — to me anyway, but then again Manzarek was there.  The most formidable detractor of the film has been the Doors’ keyboardist.  His main beef is the concept of “sensationalism.”

“What are the poems about? And man, they’re about much further out stuff than the sensationalism going around now, the sensationalism of the Oliver Stone movie.”

Is this a valid critique?  Did the film gloss over the more esoteric and provocative ideas of Morrison in favor of sex, drugs and rock and roll?  Perhaps so, but a two hour poetry reading just doesn’t work either.  Balance is key, and Morrison’s verses without the edgy sound of the band would have gone nowhere.  This marriage of intellectual and visceral is part of the terrain.  What is sensationalism?  Is it a real thing?  Does it actually exist?  Or is it more of an opinion that someone was expecting one thing, and got something else instead?

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Ray Manzarek also complained loudly about Oliver Stone’s presentation of Jim Morrison:

“Jim with a bottle all the time. It was ridiculous . . . It was not about Jim Morrison. It was about Jimbo Morrison, the drunk. God, where was the sensitive poet and the funny guy? The guy I knew was not on that screen.”

Excess and wild behavior are more cinematic, but the idea that Morrison wasn’t presented sober and with emphasis on his words and ideas is false.  Much screen time is devoted to the early period, Morrison’s poetry, acclimation to stardom and interviews.  Manzarek was biased before production even began and refused to talk to Kilmer or anyone involved on the project after talks with director Stone broke down.

As a first-person eyewitness, however, Ray Manzarek is not shy about Morrison’s legendary excesses:

“Jesus Christ, at the fucking University of Michigan homecoming with the football players, Jimbo took over and Jim was simply not able to perform. It was so bad that John and Robbie left the stage. I picked up a guitar and played some John Lee Hooker kind of stuff hoping we could get through at least something and Jim was just drunk as a skunk berating tuxedoed guys and gowned, coiffured girls who had come to hear the band with that hit song Light My Fire and instead they get The Dirty Doors. It was like a tragedy, man. (laughs)  We got banned from the Big 10.  The letter went out.  Never hire this filthy, dirty, disgusting band ever again.”

Robbie Krieger:

“When the Doors broke up Ray had his idea of how the band should be portrayed and John and I had ours”.

Stone’s talent for combining various film formats and looks that signify different time periods and subplots works fantastically to deepen our understanding, or at least our appreciation for, Morrison.  This is, however, not a happy tale, and everyone already knows how it ends.  That kind of hurdle can kill a lot of films, as suspense is somewhat diminished.  But The Doors lived on, and Morrison lived on past his own demise and to this day.  The movie attempts to show why.  The band arguably changed rock and roll forever, and they did so in the most turbulent period, the late 1960s, dragging music from corporate plastic prefabricated product into the realms of mystery and psychological aggression.

Stone makes movies for grownups, and the material is blunt, sexual, edge of the law and beyond.  He isn’t restrained by the usual Hollywood sensibilities, pandering to 13 year olds and the producers who think like them.  He presents the facts, and he presents the interpretation of the visions taken from Morrison’s works and interviews.  Stone attempted to expand the consciousness of the film beyond what is in front of the camera and to tie it to the age, the shifting culture – all very difficult to do.  Some were unconvinced, or perhaps they misunderstood the intent, but Stone out on a ledge is far more interesting than most directors’ straight bio-pic.  Keeping with Morrison’s own intent, to cleanse the doors of perception, Oliver Stone approached the material from every conceivable angle, to subvert preconceptions.  That’s a very Morrison thing to do, and it should be appreciated as such.

The surviving band members have since put together a documentary, When You’re Strange (2010) from old documentary footage.  Manzarek is highly pleased with this portrayal.

When You’re Strange: The End

 

Donald Sutherland as President Snow in The Hunger Games: Catching Fir

“We did it in ’68.”
Donald Sutherland: ‘I want Hunger Games to stir up a revolution’

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Did Jerry Rubin sell out?  He seems more concerned with rejecting the past than in addressing the ongoing problems.

 

One hour documentary on the handheld, portable cinema camera, and the rise of documentary filmmaking in 1960.

 

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(in the early 1970s)

Domestic right wing extremists were armed and organized by FBI agents to attack Vietnam War protesters.

Must read:

“The report also stated that the SAO planned to kidnap and murder protestors of the 1972 Republican National Convention, which was to be held in San Diego before being relocated to Miami Beach. An assassination attempt of Dr. Peter Bohmer, professor at San Diego State University, and Paula Tharp, reporter for the San Diego Street Journal, brought about the arrests of several SAO members who later acknowledge an FBI connection. During the investigation, the gun used in the assassination attempt was found in the home of FBI agent Steven Christiansen, who was subsequently identified as a SAO contact. In 1973, Godfrey, testifying as an FBI informant, claimed he received up to $20,000 in weapons and a $250 per month income from the FBI to recruit new SAO members and provide information to agents. He also testified to the criminal acts of several SAO operatives, including fellow leader Jerry Lynn Davis. Official statements from the FBI claimed no involvement with the SAO, and no agents were prosecuted.”

…[admitted FBI informant Howard Barry] Godfrey had regularly supplied the SAO with money and weapons on behalf of the FBI.”

A newspaper office was attacked. A car firebombed. Informants infiltrated, while meetings were monitored. There were plans to poison the punch at antiwar meetings. A theater was bombed. Bulletins were published on “how to make booby traps, how to use ammonium nitrate in high explosives,””

DHS says FBI “possibly funded” Terrorist Group

 

Freak Daddy rages and cults up LA, babies (Boingboing).

 

Now there’s a guy who’s livin’ the life (film website).

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FULL REVIEW HERE

 

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To me, a film is great if you’re still thinking about the ideas it dramatized twenty years later. Night of the Living Dead (1968) for example wouldn’t remain such a haunting masterpiece if not for the parallels the drama brought out, such as willful self-deception when family members are involved and, of course, race. If the lead character, played by Duane Jones, had been a flavor of the week pretty white boy (the Hollywood standard), I doubt the film would matter all that much to so many people. Such brilliance as casting the protagonist with a black man, surrounded by frantic and often irrational white people, elevated the film to its esteemed status.

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Easy Rider is also a masterpiece, and is one of the 1960’s most salient time capsules. Not quite realistic, but hyper-real. It captured the spirit of an era, with a war of ideas concerning society, concerning America and the types of people found here. It focused on two outsiders, the two motorcycle-riding drug dealers who take off across the southwest in search of a place they can settle down in and call home. They went “looking for America” and I do believe they found it.

This was Dennis Hopper’s directorial debut, and of course, Hopper also co-stars in this extensive road movie done for $360,000. Estimates of its returns are listed as $60,000,000, making this one for aspiring indie filmmakers to take notes on. The film succeeded for its artistry, for its musical score which is superb and includes classics of the era, and for its hard edged story.

Hopper refused to pull his punches. With a script by Peter Fonda and Terry Southern, as well as himself, the story doesn’t attempt to gloss over anything. For this rawness and unflinching look at the conflicts of the age, the movie received several nominations and wins, including at Cannes.

SPOILERS AHEAD

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