John Powers http://upr.org en Werner Herzog's Audacious Early Films Showcased In New Boxed Collection http://upr.org/post/werner-herzogs-audacious-early-films-showcased-new-boxed-collection There are lots of good filmmakers, but only a handful are always, unmistakably themselves. One of these is Werner Herzog, the 71-year-old German director who now lives in L.A. Herzog has done things nobody else would do for a film — like trying to tug a 350-ton steamship over a small mountain. This has made him notorious as a wild, love-him-or-hate-him monomaniac — an image he's been canny enough to milk.<p>Herzog rose to fame as part of the New German Cinema, a '70s boom that also included Rainer Werner Fassbinder, Wim Wenders and Margarethe von Trotta. Fri, 22 Aug 2014 19:51:00 +0000 John Powers 45774 at http://upr.org Werner Herzog's Audacious Early Films Showcased In New Boxed Collection 'A Hard Day's Night': A Pop Artifact That Still Crackles With Energy http://upr.org/post/hard-days-night-pop-artifact-still-crackles-energy <p>http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=OHas50cupCA</p> Wed, 23 Jul 2014 19:15:00 +0000 John Powers 44425 at http://upr.org 'A Hard Day's Night': A Pop Artifact That Still Crackles With Energy 'Violette' Evokes Exasperating Self-Pity, A Trait The French Like http://upr.org/post/violette-evokes-exasperating-self-pity-trait-french Americans put a lot of stock in being likable. Pollsters take surveys of the president's likability. Test screenings check whether we like the characters in movies. And when a literary novelist like Claire Messud mocks the notion that fictional characters should be someone we'd like to be friends with, writers of popular fiction attack her for snootiness.<p>You rarely find such disputes in France, which finds our fetish of likability charmingly simple, rather like our shock at politicians committing adultery. Tue, 08 Jul 2014 21:17:00 +0000 John Powers 43709 at http://upr.org 'Violette' Evokes Exasperating Self-Pity, A Trait The French Like Two Italys Take A Road Trip In 'Il Sorpasso' http://upr.org/post/two-italys-take-road-trip-il-sorpasso If the road movie has a home, it's surely the United States. After all, the settling of America was itself a kind of humongous road picture — all those wagons rolling across the new continent's spectacular vastness. And with our ceaseless love of movement, we became the first people to be transported — in every sense — by the automobile. Thu, 08 May 2014 17:26:00 +0000 John Powers 40763 at http://upr.org Two Italys Take A Road Trip In 'Il Sorpasso' Exploring Life's Incurable Soiledness With The Father Of Italian Noir http://upr.org/post/exploring-lifes-incurable-soiledness-father-italian-noir Although there's no rigid dividing line, fans of the crime genre generally fall into two camps. There are those who prefer stories which, after titillating us with dark transgressions, end by restoring order — the show <em>Law & Order</em> is an aptly named example. And then there are those who prefer stories which, even after the mystery is solved, leave you swimming in the murk — think <em>Chinatown</em>. Wed, 16 Apr 2014 19:33:00 +0000 John Powers 39719 at http://upr.org Exploring Life's Incurable Soiledness With The Father Of Italian Noir 'Redeployment' Explores Iraq War's Physical And Psychic Costs http://upr.org/post/redeployment-explores-iraq-wars-physical-and-psychic-costs Here's an old joke you may have heard: "How many Vietnam vets does it take to screw in a light bulb?" Answer: "You wouldn't know, you weren't there."<p>This joke gets told in <em>Redeployment</em>, a stingingly sharp short story collection that itself addresses the gap between the American soldiers who've fought in Iraq and those of us back home. It was written by Phil Klay who <em>does</em> know because he <em>was</em> there. After graduating from Dartmouth, he enlisted in the Marines and served as a public affairs officer in Anbar province during the 2007 troop surge. Wed, 26 Mar 2014 18:50:00 +0000 John Powers 38754 at http://upr.org 'Redeployment' Explores Iraq War's Physical And Psychic Costs Remembering Harold Ramis, Master Of The 'Smart Dumb-Movie' http://upr.org/post/remembering-harold-ramis-master-smart-dumb-movie Transcript <p>DAVE DAVIES, HOST: <p>This is FRESH AIR. Harold Ramis, who died earlier this week, was a writer, director and actor who played a key role in several of the most popular comedies of the last half-century. His list of credits includes "Animal House," "Caddyshack," "Meatballs," "Stripes," "Ghostbusters," and of course "Groundhog Day." Our critic-at-large John Powers is a fan and says there was more going on in Ramis' work than you might think.<p>JOHN POWERS, BYLINE: Back in the '90s I was talking to a DP who'd been working on a Hollywood comedy. Thu, 27 Feb 2014 19:36:00 +0000 John Powers 37575 at http://upr.org For A Rabbi Who Worked With The Nazis, Is Judgment 'Unjust'? http://upr.org/post/rabbi-who-worked-nazis-judgment-unjust When you're faced with something as heinous as the Holocaust, it's tempting to turn it into a simple morality play. This isn't to say one can't pass moral judgments — Hitler and his cohort were undeniably evil. But judging can become a form of lazy evasion, a way of closing the book on the tricky realities of failure, guilt and complicity.<p>Those complexities lie at the heart of <em>The Last of the Unjust</em>, the new documentary by Claude Lanzmann, the prickly Frenchman whose 1985 work <em>Shoah</em> is often called the best film about the Holocaust. Wed, 19 Feb 2014 19:11:00 +0000 John Powers 37215 at http://upr.org For A Rabbi Who Worked With The Nazis, Is Judgment 'Unjust'? 'Borgen' Is Denmark's 'West Wing' (But Even Better) http://upr.org/post/borgen-denmarks-west-wing-even-better <em>The Danish television series Borgen about a female party leader who unexpectedly becomes Denmark's prime minister was a hit in its home country and in the U.K. It won numerous international prizes, and a cult following in the U.S. after its sporadic TV broadcasts — Stephen King named it his favorite piece of pop culture of 2012. Tue, 04 Feb 2014 17:48:00 +0000 John Powers 36569 at http://upr.org 'Borgen' Is Denmark's 'West Wing' (But Even Better) Three Protesters, One 'Square': Film Goes Inside Egypt's Revolution http://upr.org/post/three-protesters-one-square-film-goes-inside-egypts-revolution A revolution is a bit like a writing a mystery novel. It's hard to start but even harder to come up with a satisfying ending.<p>They're still working on that in Egypt. Three years after the toppling of dictator Hosni Mubarak — the crowning moment of the Arab Spring — the army's running the country again; the elected president, Mohammed Morsi, has been arrested and charged with treason; the Muslim Brotherhood has been banned; and Tahrir Square's secular protesters are getting arrested. Mon, 13 Jan 2014 19:01:00 +0000 John Powers 35666 at http://upr.org Three Protesters, One 'Square': Film Goes Inside Egypt's Revolution