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Left-Wing Films

This list is by no means exhaustive, but it will give you lots of ideas for films to show at chapter meetings or for public events. Of course, any film can be watched and deconstructed for its lessons about race, class, gender and power, but these films make those discussions a little easier. Showing films can be a great way to have political discussions at the same time you are having fun. You can even use them as fund-raising events, but remember that you cannot charge admission to events where you are showing videos you have rented from a store. You could sell popcorn though. Most of these films can be rented from your local video store.

Please send suggestions for additions to: 

(e-mail) jhughes@changesurfer.com 


Contents


SOCIALIST REALISM

Grapes of Wrath, The (1940) - Henry Fonda in the classic tale of exploited Okie laborers in the 30's.

Let Him Have It - that is the english title to a UK film, a naturalist style production in which a young man, with a mental age of 12, is sentenced to hang for "inciting" a fellow youth to murder. A little over-long perhaps, but the "Bentley case" certainly aroused some heated debate at the time, so it seems worth-while in an era in which young people around the world are hung as part of some bizarre social ritual designed perhaps to prove "justice always works" 

The Saint of Fort Washington - About the drugs trade and criminality thriving in the homeless shelters of your country, as the pollies pretend that the have "solved" homelessness. Very sad ending involving the death of a young schitzoprenic {as many homeless are}, and the prolonged lonliness of a black, Vietnam war vet who was his only friend. Very bleak and disillusioning, a real tear-jerker. 

The Skin Game - 1931 - One of Hitchcock's first films, he brilliantly depicts the struggle between the rising industrial bourgoisie and the old British aristocracy, full of noblesse oblige for their peasant dependents.


ENVIRONMENTAL AND FARM STRUGGLES

Babe (1995) - Pig wins sheep dog competition. Portrays the horror of animal-flesh-eating more slyly than any other talking animal movie.

Bear, The - A very emotional tale of an orphaned cub who is befriended by an older male bear. 

The Burning Season: The Chico Mendes Story - dir: John Frankenheimer Raul Julia, Sonia Braga, Kamala Dawson, Luis Guzman, Nigel Havers, Thomas Milian, Esai Morales, Tony Plana, Marco Rodriguez, Edward James Olmos Warner Brothers/HBO, 1994, 123 min film blurb: "Some call his a hero. Others label him bad for business. But enemies of Brazilian rain forest activist Chico Mendes call him something else: a target. "In one of his last roles, Raul Julia plays real-life hero Mendes in the powerful adventure "The Burning Season", directed by John Frankenheimer. Spurred to action after a key organizer of the rain forest's working poor is slain, Mendes stands firm against slash-and-burn deforestation. He becomes a nonviolent activist, union leader, political candidate and a recognized authority who helps alert the world to the plight of the Amazon. With unflinching courage, Mendes puts his principles to the test -- even when the test means a deadly showdown with destiny." Some scenes in this film are clearly derived from Julia's earlier film "Romero" (1989) -- to which it could almost be a (more-or-less) secular counterpart. (From Kelsey@iw.net) 

China Syndrome, The - A classic anti-nuclear power movie with Jane Fonda, about a plant that almost blows up and the ensuing cover-up.

Country - Jessica Lange portrays a soft-spoken, hard-working woman who fights to keep her family united and to prevent the loss of her family's farm. 

Emerald Forest, The - A unique adventure based on a true story. Powers Boothe stars as an engineer working in a culture totally foreign to Western civilization. A fascinating story of parental love, culture-clash, and the results of "progress." (113 min.) 

Gorillas In The Mist - Sigourney Weaver stars as Diane Fossey, a pioneer in the field of gorilla studies. Her work has helped to preserve the gorilla population and has curbed the selling of these animals and subsequent poaching. This is a very indepth look into Fossey and her work and is a must-see for any environmentalist/animal rights activist. 

Medicine Man stars Sean Connery as a scientist who may have discovered the cure for cancer. Unfortunately the cure is found in the Brazilian Rain Forest which is being slashed and burned around his ears, literally. 

Millagro Beanfield War - Mexican-Americans do battle against capitalist exploitation, with the intercession of magic. 

Nausicaa of the Valley of the Wind a Japanese animated film set in the distant future in a world that is slowly healing itself from pollution. A young girl tries to stop both a war between two rival clans, and the destruction of the misunderstood "toxic forest". The environmental aspect of this movie is sublte. 

Never Cry Wolf - A biologist takes to Northern Canada to conduct a study on the wolf population. His unforgettable experiences prove a valuable lesson in survival. Splendid wildlife photography, lots of good humor and fine performances. (105 min.) 

Places in the Heart - The triumph of a young widow during the depression who succeeds in keeping her family together by harvesting a crop against all odds. (110) 

Soylent Green - The world is over-populated and dominated by mega-rich corporations in walled-off compounds. A detective discovers the link between the Stop-and-Kill-Yourself suicide centers and the new green protein crackers used to quell food riots. Based on Harry Harrison's Make Room, Make Room.

Toxic Avenger, The - A cult classic about a man deformed by pollution who wreaks havoc on the polluters.

Where Have All The Dolphins Gone? - (In the Tuna Every One. - ed.) Documents the confrontation between major multi-national companies and environmental groups, which see the plight of the dolphins as symbolic of the crisis facing many species today. The film portrays the beauty and charm of our aquatic relatives. Rare footage also dramatically depicts the slaughter of these gentle mammals. (58 min.) 

Stopping the Coming Ice Age -This program dramatically illustrates how the greenhouse effect may be increasing temperature differences, creating more clouds, and transferring huge quantities of moisture to the higher latitudes, building up the polar glaciers. Combines expert commentary with excellent visuals. (45 min.) 

The River That Harms - documents the largest radioactive waste spill in U.S. history- a national tragedy that has received little media attention. This film tells the story of this tragedy and the toll it continues to take on the Navajos, who have lost the use of their water and witnessed the sickness and death of their animals. To the Navajos this event is also a prophetic warning for all humanity. (45 min.) 

Atomic Cafe - A montage of American propaganda films depicting the threat we faced from Soviet expansionism, and our optimism about the winnability of nuclear war. Hilarious. 

Free Zone: Democracy meets the Nuclear Threat - is the first film to document the growing international nuclear-free zone movement.The film also provides a a useful overview of the economic and environmental consequences of the arms race and raises fundamental questions about the sacrifice of basic democratic freedoms in the name of national security. (57 min.) 

Dark Circle - this film interweaves dramatic personal stories of American nuclear victims with rare footage of the secret world where the hydrogen bomb is manufactured, tested and sold. It is a major accomplishment which serves as a reminder of the great dangers posed by nuclear technology. (82 min.) 

Chernobyl: Chronicle of Difficult Weeks - This film was shot contiuously for three months. It chronicles a lifeless city, empty villages, a dead forest, and the movie itself was exposed with white bloches- a radiation leakage. (53 min.) 

Project X - Action/drama staring Matthew Broderick as a maverick Air Force pilot whose stunts get him demoted to "nursemaiding" a group of lab chimps. When he learns of the experiments' fatal consequences, he teams up with the apes's trainee to arrange a break out. (108 min.) 

People of No Interest - This film shows a concrete example of the struggle between the local people at the mouth of the Amazon River in Brazil victimized by several enormous development projects, the multinational corporations and the government of Brazil. (29 min.) 


FEMINISM

A League of Their Own - Tom Hanks, Geena Davis, Rosie O'Donnell and Madonna star in this dramatization of the true story of a group of women enlisted by the government and professional basebal to play baseball (albeit like ladies, in miniskirts) while the men were in WWII. Though the league faded away in the early 1950s, it paved the way for new attitudes towards women in sports. 

Accused, The - (1988, Jonathan Kaplan) An ambitious assistant district attorney (Kelly McGillis) and a free-spirited waitress (Jodie Foster) wage a personal battle against the legal system in this gripping' h)' contemporary drama. Foster stars as the victim of a brutal barroom gang rape that is witnessed by a roomful of patrons and employees. Foster and McGillis join forces in a determined attempt to bring to trial the people who are as guilty as the men who committed the crime- the bystanders who let it happen. The Accused is an EXTREMELY disturbing film that explores the devastating aftereffects of a vicious crime and the shocking apathy that allowed it to occur. (110 min.) Hollywood comes to grips with rape as a pervasive attitude rather than an isolated incident. Anchored by Jodie Foster's she's-no-angel protagonist, it launched a whole genre of made-for-TV movies, an indication that a film has hit a cultural nerve."Review by John Sayles, in Mother Jones, 1996

An Angel at My Table - A film by Jane Campion (The Piano) based on an autobiography of an New Zealand woman writer who was diagnosed as mentally ill, and long mistreated in the health care system.

Betrayal - A woman is sexually abused by her psychiatrist and brings him to trial on rape charges in this timely, emotional drama. Starring Rip Torn, Lesley Ann Warren, Richard Masur and Ron Silver. (100 min.) 

Frida - A biography of the Mexican, transgendered, disabled, Trotskyist, bisexual artist, Frida Kahlo.

Fried Green Tomatoes (1991) - Jessica Tandy, Kathy Bates, Mary Stuart Masterson, Mary-Louise Parker. An elderly woman recounts her lesbian feminist past in hostile, rural America.

Handmaid's Tale - A horrific vision of a world where Pat Buchanan/Pat Robertson-types have taken over in a Christian fascist coup, and enslaved the few remaining fertile women as the breeders for the elite.

I, the Worst of All (1995) - This Spanish movie is a beautiful, deeply affecting dramatization of the life of Sister Juana Ines de la Cruz, one of the greatest Spanish language poets. Sor Juana became a nun in the 16th century in Mexico because she would not have been allowed to pursue a life of scholarship and writing as an aristocratic married woman. The free-thinking and feminist sentiments of her poetry, however, bring her into conflict with the intensely misogynist ArchBishop. She is protected from the Inquisition by her erotic muse and special friend, the wife of the Governor of Mexico. Her Sapphic poems to the governess eventually bring about her downfall.

Kahlo - A documentary about the Mexican, transgendered, disabled, Trotskyist, bisexual artist, Frida Kahlo.

Ladybird Ladybird: an award winning film by English Socialist Ken Loach examines the life of an unmarried mother of four, all by different fathers, and the social services agencies and courts who remove her children from her care. She meets a Paraguayan political refugee who changes her life. Based on a true story. 

Marie: A True Story - Sissy Spacek stars as a Tennessee criminal justice head who uncovers a massive conspiracy of graft and corruption that reaches the state capital, and her battle against the system also stars Jeff Daniels and Morgan Freeman. (112 min.) 

Mildred Pierce - is a story of a woman who rises from waitress to restaurateur in order to support her spoiled daughter.(111 min.) 

Out of Africa - the accounts of Isak Dinesen's life in 1910's Africa. Meryl Streep stars as the Danish woman who reluctantly goes to Africa with her husband Klaus Brandauer to run a coffee plantation, but slowly comes to fall in love with the land. (161 min.) 

The Piano - Jane Campion's story of repression and self-discovery in Australia.

She's Gotta Have It - Spike Lee's most fun movie, about a young black woman living independently, and making decisions about what she wants from the men in her life. Silkwood - Meryl Streep is Karen Silkwood, the free-spirited, nuclear plant worker who questions the safety of her work environment, investigates on her own, and dies in a mysterious car accident on her way to deliver evidence of wrongdoing. (131 min.)

Thelma and Louise - Two gals escape from patriarchy, kill a rapist, self-actualize while on the run from the cops, and then kill themselves.

The Scarlet Letter - There are three versions of this Nathaniel Hawthorne novel. The first version was made in 1934 and captures the classic drama of Puritan life in the 1600's and the secret that forced Hester Prynne to wear the scarlet letter. The second version is from Wim Wenders. This version lends insights into the novel through the unjust treatment of Prynne and her daughter. The final version was broadcast on PBS for Masterpiece Theatre five years ago. This version is a classic rendition of the novel and is, by far, the best of the three but is also the hardest to obtain. 

I Want to Live - This true story stars Susan Hayward as a woman framed for murder and sentenced to death for a crime she didn't commit. (122 min.) 

Katherine - An absorbing drama fueled by a stand-out performance from Sissy Spacek. A spoiled little rich girl, through her fight against social injustice, turns to radicalism and eventually, political terrorism. (98 min.) 

Rape and Marriage:The Rideout Case - A timely drama set around the 1978 court case where a woman charged her husband with rape. Starring Mikey Rourke, Rip Torn, Linda Hamilton and Conchata Ferrell. (96 min.) 

Killing Us Softly - Advertising's image of women is a 30 min. film based on a multi-media presentation created by Jean Kilbourne. This movie was made in 1981, so therefore, much of the material is dated. The information presented is often very disturbing and provides a great backdrop for sexual stereotypes discussion. 


PEACE, IMPERIALISM and the THIRD WORLD

All Quiet on the Western Front (1930) - A classic pacifist tale set in WWI.

America's Defense Monitor . Over 200 half-hour episodes on military related subjects that challenge the insanity of U.S. military policy. These programs are a staple in college classrooms and over 100 PBS and cable systems around the country. 

Apocalypse Now - Based on Conrad's Heart of Darkness, about a rogue general in Vietnam driven crazy by the war.

The Ballad of Gregorio Cortez (1982, Robert M. Young) A late skirmish in the so-called Mexican War. The oppressor's need to demonize the oppressed has seldom been better realized."Review by John Sayles, in Mother Jones, 1996

Battle of Algiers - This 1962 film is widely considered the best radical film ever made. Directed by Pontecorvo in cinema verite , documentary style, it chronicles the Algerian war against French colonialism. French with English subtitles. There are two versions, one is about 150 min., the other about 210 min. 

Braveheart (1995) - Award-winning story of the medeival Scottish struggle against British imperialism. 

Breaker Morant - Edward Woodward plays a soldier commanding a squad of Australian fighting for Britain during South Africa's Boer War. Explores the brutality and corruption of the British colonial struggle. 

Camp de Thiaroye - Senegalese film about African soldiers forced by the french to fight on front lines in Europe against Hitler. Takes place mostly in a holding camp following the Allied Victory. Also, see Sembene's "Black Girl," about a Senegalese woman who leaves Dakar to be a nanny for her French employers, is exploited and learns the true nature of black-white neo-imperialist relations.

Coming Home (1978) - Jane Fonda and Jon Voight in one of the first post-Vietnam films about Vietnam vets.

Dades Kaden - by Akira Kurosawa, shows the devastation left by WWII in Japanese town.

Dear America: Letters Home From Vietnam (1987, Bill Couturie) Couturie takes a simple idea--matching letters from soldiers in Vietnam with images of the war--and creates a powerful yet surprisingly subtle film. Couturie screened the entire archive of NBC News war footage, and in many cases matches letter writers with TV, film, home movies, and photographs of them at play, in action, wounded, and dead."Review by Roger Ebert, in Mother Jones, 1996

Dr. Strangelove - The Kennedy-era classic that spoofs the Cold War in a story about a mad American general who blows up the world. Brilliant performances by Peter Sellers in three or four roles.

El Norte - (1983, Gregory Nava and Anna Thomas) Beginning in the remote mountain jungles of Guatemala, this extraordinary odyssey focuses on two young people seeking a better life as their world begins to crumble. When their mother is abducted by soldiers and their father killed, Enrique and Rosa are forced to set out for the "promised land" of the north- "el norte"-The U.S. They must travel dangerous roads and cross heavily patrolled boarders. Once in America, they are "illeagals" and must live in constant fear of discovery. But they do have each other and the faith and fortitude of their native land. Spanish with English subtitles. (141 min.) A simple story, directly but poetically told: A brother and sister leave Guatemala and trek the length of Mexico, slipping across the U.S. border in search of employment and better lives in "el norte." Pat Buchanan may rail against "immigrants" as a faceless horde, but this movie gives a face to two of the many."Review by Roger Ebert, in Mother Jones, 1996

Fat Man and Little Boy Paul Newman stars in this movie about the development and deployment of the atomic bomb.

For Whom the Bell Tolls (1943) - Hemingway's tale of the Spanish Civil War.

Gandhi - Ben Kingsley won an Oscar for this portrayal. (188 min.) 

Good Morning Vietnam - Based on a true story, Robin Williams plays a very funny disk jockey who got very popular in Vietnam and then got booted out.

Hidden Agenda (1990, Ken Loach) Loach's films are always, in one way or another, political. This one is based on the Stalker Affair, a scandal involving a senior British police official (Brian Cox) who is investigating a shooting by security forces and gets reassigned after he discovers the killing was unjustified. Set in Northern Ireland, Hidden Agenda argues that a right-wing cabal successfully plotted a "dirty tricks" campaign against Prime Minister Harold Wilson."Review by Roger Ebert, in Mother Jones, 1996

I Am Cuba, made by Russian filmmakers in the early '60s and explores the communist uprising in Cuba. The cinematography is mind boggling and the film is extremely moving. 

Killing Fields, The - Based on a true story of friendship between an American and Cambodian covering the fall of Cambodia at the end of the Vietnam War. The Cambodian was captured by the Khmer Rouge and then escapes to freedom. (135 min.) 

Land and Freedom by Ken Loach about an unemployed man in Liverpool who goes to fight in the spanish civil War against Franco. 

La Hora de los Hornos (The Hour of the Furnaces) This semi-documentary was made by Argentinian revolutionaries Fernando Solanas and Octavio Getino in 1968. Designed specifically to make the audience participants instead of just spectators, this film not only called for political revolution in the name of Marx, Che, and others, it also called for a cinematic revolution. The two co-wrote "Towards a Third Cinema," a manifesto criticizing the American "first cinema" approach to filmmaking. Not just revolutionary propaganda (although it contains a great deal of that), the film examines the American/European imperialism and neocolonialism which caused widespread poverty and class distinctions across Argentina and the whole continent of South America. 

Missing - (1982, Constantin Costa-Gavras) Based on the true story of the disappearance of an American writer, Charles Horman, after the Pinochet coup in Chile. Focuses on the political transformation of Charles's father Ed Horman, a New York businessman who arrives in Chile to try to find his son. Initially trusting his advice from the U.S. embassy, Ed Harman comes to recognize the complicity of the United States in the coup. 

Like Reds, it reinforces the idea that if an American wasn't present it didn't really happen, but explores sharp implications about U.S. imperialism. Jack Lemmon and Sissy Spacek get to the point."Review by John Sayles, in Mother Jones, 1996

Mission, The - Based on a true story, about Jesuits in Amazon in the 1600s who solidarize with their converts and lead an unsuccessful Indian revolt against the conquistadors.

Moses (1994) - Ben Kingsley leads the people of Israel out of bondage.

My Brilliant Career Movie about an Australian woman discovering herself in the outback.

On the Beach A chillingly depressing depiction of the final survivors of a nuclear war, waiting for the end.

Paths of Glory (1957) Directed by Stanley Kubrick. When soldiers are sent on a suicide mission and fail, their ambitious General chooses from the survivors at random to face court-martial. Kirk Douglas is the soldier-lawyer defending his comrades.

Platoon (1986, Oliver Stone). Platoon helped vets feel acknowledged, which The Deer Hunter, Apocalypse Now, or The Green Berets never did. Red Sorghum Traditional Chinese class and sex relations, and the struggle against the Japanese Imperialist agression against China.

Salvador - James Woods brilliantly portrays the outspoken American photojournalist Richard Boyle in 1980 during the civil war in El Salvador. The real life Boyle collaborated with director Oliver Stone to create a movie which is thrilling, terrifying, suspenseful and impossible to forget. This is an exceptionally powerful film which will promote intense discussion. (123 min.) 

Swimming to Cambodia - Brilliant one-man performance art piece by Spalding Gray about his participation in the making of The Killing Fields, and dissects American foreign policy along the way.

Ten Commandments The - Charlton Heston leads the chosen people out of slavery to the land of milk and honey.

Testament (1983, Lynne Littman) Many films have portrayed life after a nuclear war, but none were so shattering as this. Jane Alexander stars as a suburban mother trying to hold her family together in the aftermath of the Bomb. We never see a mushroom cloud or know who started the war. What we see is even more affecting: A speculation about how communities of survivors might organize after the devastation."Review by Roger Ebert, in Mother Jones, 1996

Under Fire with Nick Nolte, Joanna Cassady and Gene Hackman, on the U.S. presence in the war in Nicaragua.

War Games (Matthew Broderick , Ally Sheedy, Dabney Coleman - 1983) High school computer wizard David Lightman (Broderick) breaks into computer not knowing it belongs to the United States Air Force. Lightman sets a Soviet suprise nuclear attack simulation as a joke. It backfired. Lightman escapes from Federal custody to find Dr. Stephen Falken, an elusive and enigmatic computer expert, for he alone knows what Joshua (USAF's computer) can do. 

Year of Living Dangerously - Follows a journalist in the midst of Suharto's bloody coup to overthrow the democratically elected, leftist Indonesian government of Sukarno.


SEXUAL FREEDOM

Bostonians, The - Vanessa Redgrave as a lesbian suffragist, involved in the Socialist milieu in the 1910's. Not a very happy picture of pre-WW I gay life.

Carrington (1995) - Emma Thompson in the true story of the love triangle around the gay 19th century British author Lytton Strachey. 

Celluloid Closet, The (1995) - A brilliant documentary on the 100-year history of Hollywood depictions of gays and lesbians, with wonderful interviews and video clips (102 min).

Desert Hearts - Two women fall in love at a women's writers' retreat.

Dresser, The - Albert Finney is a cantakerous, aging, Shakespearean actor; Tom Courtenay is the doting dresser who cares for him and lives vicariously through his performances. (118 min.) 

Edward II - A reinterpretation of the Marlowe classic that makes explicit the gay subtext.

Entre Nous - A homoerotic friendship between two women. 

Harold and Maude (1971) - A love affair between a neurotic young aristocrat, and a fesity old Jewish anarchist Holocaust-survivor.

Henry and June - The story of the menage a trois of Henry Miller, Anais Nin, and June, Henry Miller's wife.

Incredibly True Story of Two Girls in Love (1995) - A light-hearted, and optimistic, teen lesbian love story that explores race and class in unexpected ways.

I, the Worst of All (1995) - This Spanish movie is a beautiful, deeply affecting dramatization of the life of Sister Juana Ines de la Cruz, one of the greatest Spanish language poets. Sor Juana became a nun in the 16th century in Mexico because she would not have been allowed to pursue a life of scholarship and writing as an aristocratic married woman. The free-thinking and feminist sentiments of her poetry, however, bring her into conflict with the intensely misogynist ArchBishop. She is protected from the Inquisition by her erotic muse and special friend, the wife of the Governor of Mexico. Her Sapphic poems to the governess eventually bring about her downfall.

Kiss of the Spider Woman - Two prisoners in a Latin American jail, Raoul Julia, a Spartan revolutionary leader, and William Hurt, a movie-obsessed homosexual, find their lives and destinies intertwined in this bizarre drama that blurs the lines between reality and fantasy, freedom and entrapment. (119 min.) 

Lianna - Lianna is a wife and mother who returns to college and falls in love with Ruth, her child psychology professor. John Sayles captures the joy and pain of a woman coming to terms with her sexuality and depicts the effect her decision has on her family. 

The Living End, two HIV positive men do a Thelma and Louise. 

Long Time Companion - Story of AIDS and gay life in the 80s, centered on a group of friends. (96m)

Making Love - Yuppie angst when married man has affair with another man. (103m)

Maurice - E.M. Forster story about a young Brit coming to terms with his gayness in 1910s. (135m)

My Beautiful Launderette - A Pakistani youth living in London starts working for his businessman uncle and is given a laundromat that he, along with his English lover, renovates into a neighborhood landmark. A unique seriocomedy that blends dark humor, racial drama and offbeat romance for an intriguing look at modern British society. (93 min.) 

My Own Private Idaho - River Phoenix and Keanu Reeves as male prostitutes in Seattle who have a tragic love affair while everyone recites Henry IV (102m)

The Naked Civil Servant - is a biographical look at Quentin Crisp, a British author who was one of the first crusaders for gay rights. Based on Crisp's best-selling memoirs, the film is touching and inspiring in its view of one man's struggle to live his life. (80 min.) 

Paris is Burning - A documentary about drag queen subculture in New York.

Parting Glances (1986, Bill Sherwood) One of the earliest films about gay men to acknowledge AIDS, it never loses its sense of fun and solidarity."Review by John Sayles, in Mother Jones, 1996

Prick up Your Ears - Based on a true story, about the tragic relationship of a gay novelist and his lover.

Times of Harvey Milk - Academy Award-winning, powerful documentary about the powerful, charismatic, compassionate, gay San Francisco city official Harvey Milk, who was suddenly assassinated. (90 min.) 

The Rocky Horror Picture Show, a hilarious poof of 50s science fiction movies, with a great celebratory attitude about sexuality in general, and bisexuality in particular. Spawned a cult following in the 70s that must have led to untold millions of sexual experiments. 

Strawberry and Chocolate (1995) - A Cuban film that contrasts a straight Communist man with his gay friend who wants to leave.

Summer Vacation 1999, a beautiful Japanese film about a school boy who committed suicide and returns to woo his beloved class mate who spurned him, claiming he's someone else.

Torch Song Trilogy - Harvey Fierstein brilliantly re-creates the role he originated on stage, that of Arnold Beckoff, a shy, introspective female impersonator who longs for love and fulfillment, but never loses his sense of humor. Matthew Broderick and Brian Kerwin costar as Fierstein's lovers and Anne Bancroft is perfect as his nagging Jewish mother. (126 min.) 

The Trials of Oscar Wilde (1960) - Dramatization of the events leading to Oscar Wilde's imprisonment

Urinal - Famous, dead, gay artists are mysteriously collected to fight homophobia in modern Canada.

We Were One Man - A simple French farmer and a wounded, abandoned German soldier are ultimately united in an openly sexual relationship in this award winning French film. French with English subtitles. (90 min.) 

When Night is Falling - A women repressed confronts her lesbian desires. Critics choice at the Berlin Film Festival in 93

Wild Life - A video portrait of two 15-year-old gay Latinos, this work by John Goss combines documentary-style interviews with fictional segments in which the young men act out their fantasized day in Los Angeles. As they talk about their lives, we see scenes of them changing into wild clothes on the street, cruising around "Gay City," meeting their friends at the park, and "throwing attitude." They are questioned about the nature of being gay, relationships with friends and lovers, style and image, and their use of gay language. (40 min.)

The Woman Inside - A young man comes to grips with his own sexual identity in this dramatic look at transsexualism. Medical science makes him a woman, but can she find acceptance and love? (94 min.) 

Sergeant Matlovich Vs. The U.S. Air Force - Real-life drama of a decorated Air Force officer who takes the military to court after he's dishonorably discharged because of his homosexuality. (96 min.) 


HISTORY OF THE LEFT

1900 - Robert DeNiro learned to speak Italian for this 3-hour saga about the Italian Communist party and the rise of the Black Shirts.

Absolute Beginners -- A one-hour show about the Bolshevik-Menshevik split, starring Patrick Stewart as Lenin!, which is one of 13 episodes of the British Series "Fall of Eagles" series. 

Daniel - Timothy Hutton turns in a powerful performance as a young man trying to clear his family name years after his parents are executed for conspiracy. Taken from the best-selling novel by E.L. Doctorow and based on the tragedy of Julius and Ethel Rosenberg. (130 min.) 

Fame is the Spur - A British film starring Michael Redgrave on the life of Ramsay MacDonald, the first Labour PM.

Half a Life - Winner of the Camera D'Or at the 1982 Cannes Festival and the Cesar, Half a Life is a personal memoir of that brief moment in French history, during the late `60's, when the youthful Left seemed to be successfully storming the Bastille. (95 min.)

Last Emperor, The - Bernardo Bertolucci's beautiful story of the last Emperor of China, demonstrating the necessity and horror of the Chinese Revolution.

Man of Marble (1977, Andrzej Wajda) This film and Wajda's sequel, Man of Iron, not only documented the Solidarity movement, they became part of it."Review by John Sayles, in Mother Jones, 1996

May Fools - A 1990 Louise Malle film about a bourgeois French family screwing around at a funeral in May 1968, and suddenly realizing the country is in revolution.

Reds - The 1981 history of John Reed, author of Ten Days That Shook the World and a founder of the American Communist movement, and his wife Louise Bryant. Though the portrayal of Socialist Party politics has an unfortunate tilt towards the Bolshevik faction, the main point is the struggle between love and political sacrifice. Starring Warren Beatty, Diane Keaton and Jack Nicholson. 

Rosa Luxumburg - The story of the Polish socialist leader who neared turned the tide for socialism in Western Europe after the Russian Revolution.

Seeing Red - Done by the same independent producers as Union Maids, this documentary history of the U.S. Communist Party pulls its punches, never asking its respondents the hard questions about support for Uncle Joe, or the Hitler-Stalin pact.

Things to Come - This 1933 H.G. Wells novel was a summary of his vision of the coming of world-wide war with total weapons, leading to the rising of a scientific dictatorship which will rebuild society, and establish a utopian world government.

The Way We Were Barbara Streisand as a Communist, and then former Communist left-liberal, involved with Robert Redford. 


LABOR AND BIG BUSINESS

9-to-5 - Dolly Parton, Lilly Tomlin, and Jane Fonda are secretaries who unite to throw off corporate patriarchy in the persona of evil boss, Dabney Coleman. Check out the fanatasy dope-smoking scene.

Agitator, The (1944) A British film about a socialist who inherits the ownership of a major firm and begins wrestling with his beliefs.

Alien, Aliens and Aliens III An underlying message in this series, especially in Aliens, seems to be that unrestrained capitalism is monopolistic, deceptive, and inhuman, often with horrifying consequences. The film's Company men, along for want to bring back live specimens of Alien for use as biological weapons. There's a strong implication that the Company is ready to sacrifice individuals, whole communities, and ultimately human civilization, to the proft motive. At one point one of the humans says of the aliens that "at least they don't fuck each other over for a percentage." Doesn't paint a pleasant picture of the military as unwitting cannon fodder, either. It does, however, have a strong, intelligent, active female lead whose match can only be found in Sarah Connor's Terminator 2 performance.

American Dream (1990, Barbara Kopple) Kopple's earlier 1976 documentary about striking Kentucky coal miners, Harlan County, U.S.A., might seem a more obvious choice. But American Dream speaks directly to the era of downsizing, and the waning power and focus of labor unions. During the long, painful strike at the Hormel meatpacking plant in Austin, Minn., we realize the union members are fighting each other while the employers hold all the cards." Review by Roger Ebert, in Mother Jones, 1996

Blue Collar (1978, Paul Schrader) The ending is purposely didactic, but the trip there delves into racial and union politics at a depth seldom matched before or since." Review by John Sayles, in Mother Jones, 1996

Business as Usual - A British drama about a woman fired for protesting sexual harassment, who inspires a nation-wide strike that successfully gets her reappointed. Along the way it portrays the failures of the labor movement as the result of collaboration, and is sympathetic to the Labour Party's Militant Tendency.

Carry On at Your Convenience (1971) This is the tale of industrial strife at WC Boggs' Lavatory factory. Vic Spanner is the union representative who calls a strike at the drop of a hat; eventually everyone has to get fed up with him.

A Christmas Carol -- This is certainly generally done as a parable about the need for the wealthy employer to be generous and paternalistic, rather than as a criticism of systemic inequality, but the 1951 Alistarir Sim version shows the Leftist nature of the parable very clearly - Christmas Present with Ignorance and Want under his robe!

Eight Men Out - The loose history, directed by John Sayles, of the 1919 Chicago Black Sox scandal. The players received a pittance and turned to the only source of financial security they could find, the bookies. With stunning performance by John Cusack as the only player who refuses to go along, and a cameo by Studs Terkel.

F.I.S.T. - Sly Stallone plays a young truck driver who organizes a truckers union, gets heavily indebted to Mafia guns in his rise to power, and then (dumb, dumb) tries to distance himself from the Mob. Loosely based on Jimmy Hoffa and the Teamsters, is very sympathetic to the difficulties of workers against armed company goons.

Germinal is the story of a group of coal miners in late 19th century France, and to me it had some similarities to "The Grapes of Wrath", even though the setting was different. 

Last Exit to Brooklyn (1989) Set in Brooklyn during the 1940s against a backdrop of union corruption and violence. A prostitute falls in love with one of her customers. Also a disturbed man discovers that he's gay.

Matewan - The brutal confrontations between mine operators and striking workers in West Virginia's coal fields during the 1920's. Created by writer/ director John Sayles in this stunning drama of diverse people united by a common goal (132 min.)

Melvin and Howard (1980, Jonathan Demme) The Odyssey of the American working stiff. Media-driven dreams, divorce, restlessness, serial employment--like a wake-up call for the '80s." Review by John Sayles, in Mother Jones, 1996

Modern Times - Charlie Chaplin's classic take on the exploitation of the worker.

Norma Rae - This 1975 classic of labor and feminist history tells the story of Norma Rae's struggle to organize her fellow textile workers in a small town in the South. Sally Field in Oscar winning performance, based on a true story.

On the Waterfront - This hard-hitting drama about corruption in the Longshoremen's Union stands as a major achievement in American film. Without losing any of its dramatic force, it tackles complex social, political and personal issues. The implicit support for those who testified before the HUAC gives this McCarthy-era film a disturbing edge. (108 min.) 

Riff-Raff - (1991, Ken Loach) British socialist director Ken Loach takes you on a tour of a building site during the Thatcher era. The workers are exploited and underpaid; unions not permitted; conditions in which the men work are extremely hazardous. After one of the "mates" is killed because of unsafe equipment the workers strike back. The legacy of Thatcherism and the inept Labour Party seen through the eyes of the multi- ethnic crew at a construction site." Review by John Sayles, in Mother Jones, 1996

Roger & Me (1989, Michael Moore) This surprisingly successful film was a populist thumb in the eye of General Motors. Wearing a baseball cap and dingy windbreaker, Moore elbowed his way into GM offices and stockholder meetings, and documented what he considered the company's rape of his hometown of Flint, Mich. Yes, the film took cheap shots--but it took them openly and gleefully, and that was part of the fun." Review by Roger Ebert, in Mother Jones, 1996

Salt of the Earth - LAB Tells the story of a New Mexico zinc miner's strike that was taken over by the wives of the miners when they were prohibited from picketing. Most of the film crew was black listed in Hollywood in 1954 for doing this film. This movie remains a stirring demand for worker unity and sexual equality. (94 min.) 

A Taxing Woman (1987, Juzo Itami) The individual's relationship to the group and to the state in modern Japan, played out in a duel between a love-hotel franchiser and a tax investigator. How many movies make you want to hang with an IRS agent? " Review by John Sayles, in Mother Jones, 1996

Total Recall - Arnold Schwarzenegger is a brainwashed Martian cop on the run, or maybe just a tripping Earth-bound worker on holiday. In any case, a corporate fascist government is exploiting workers on Mars and somethings got to be done about it.

The Triangle Shirt Factory Fire Scandal - LAB Real-life drama of the tragic sweatshop fire in 1911 New York that awakened public awareness, as seen through the eyes of four women that worked there. Starring Stephanie Zimbalist, David Dukes and Tovah Feldshuh. (98 min.) 

Tucker: The Man and His Dream - is the true story of Preston Tucker, a brilliant automobile designer of the 1940s who overcame extraordinary obstacles to realize a lifetime dream- the manufacture of his own "car of tomorrow, today." Instead of embracing the higher standards and innovative features advocated by Tucker, Detroit manufacturers forced him out of business. Although his dreams were crushed by big business during his lifetime, Tucker's extraordinary vision made him immortal. (111 min.) 

Union Maids - A documentary about three women in the Communnist Party who organized in the Back-of-the-Yards meatpacking district of Chicago in the 1930s. DSA's own Vickie Starr stars as "Stella Nowickie". 

Out of Control - A 1990 documentary which combines firsthand experiences of workers and industry experts to explain the deterioration of worker safety in the petrochemical industry (30 min.) [OCAW Visual Productions, PO Box 2812, Denver, CO 80201]

Wall Street - The archetypal film of 80's corporate greed, graft and decadence.


RACE RELATIONS

A World Apart - Based on a true story, Barbara Hershey is arrested for her anti-apartheid activities, leaving her troubled teenage daughter to cope with the tumult. (112 min.) 

Alien Nation - Aliens land in L.A. and take the place of blacks and Latinos in the underclass. An alien cop and a human cop team up against alien drug pushers exploiting the alien ghetto. 

Bread and Chocolate - An Italian film, protraying the discrimination, partly based on skin color, of the Swiss against their imported Italian laborers.

Boyz N the Hood (1991, John Singleton) "Boyz N the Hood let people into a world they didn't want to know existed." Review by John Sayles, in Mother Jones, 1996 "A first film of astonishing power and insight, showing how the fates of inner-city black youths can be decided by the social environment. As the hero's father (Larry Fishburne) tries to focus his son (Cuba Gooding Jr.) on the future, the danger of guns and gangs is always present. The best of an extraordinary group of debut films, including Menace II Society, Straight Out of Brooklyn, and Fresh." Review by Roger Ebert, in Mother Jones, 1996

Brother From Another Planet - An alien slave, who bears a striking resemblance to an African, hides from alien cops, who look like whites, in the ghetto.

Countdown to Freeedom A documentary chronicle of campaigns and days leading up to first post-apartheid elections in South Africa. Directed by Danny Schechter. 

Chocalat - A highly charged relationship between a French family and their African servants in Africa.

Cry Freedom - Stirring drama by Richard Attenborough that follows the friendship between white South African journalist Donald Woods (Kevin Kline) and black activist Stephen Biko (Denzel Washington) through the violent struggle against their country's racist regime. (157 min.) 

Cry the Beloved Country - A Black South African priest travels to the city in search of his son, only to learn that the boy has been sentenced to death for murder. (105 min.) 

Dances with Wolves (1990) Lt. John Dunbar is dubbed a hero after he accidentally leads Union troops to a victory during the Civil War. He requests a position on the western frontier, but finds it deserted. He soon finds out he is not alone, but meets a wolf he dubs "Two-socks" and a curious Indian tribe. Dunbar quickly makes friends with the tribe, and discovers a white woman who was raised by the Indians. He gradually earns the respect these native people, and sheds his white-man's ways.

Do the Right Thing (1989, Spike Lee) This record of one hot summer day in Bedford-Stuyvesant is the most important and moving film about race in America. What empowers the film is its fairness; watching it, you can identify with most of the characters, black and white. As a series of trivial incidents and misunderstandings escalate into the death of a man at the hands of police, and then the destruction of a pizzeria, Lee shows that the divide of racism, more than any particular event, has led to the film's disturbing conclusion." Review by Roger Ebert, in Mother Jones, 1996

Dry White Season - Donald Sutherland awakening to the horror of S. African apartheid in the 1970s.

Great White Hope, The - James Earl Jones is Jack Johnson, the first Black Heavyweight World Boxing Champion. Even when stripped of his title by whites, Johnson triumphs over his persecutors. Jane Alexander gives a remarkable performance as Johnson's girlfriend, who is torn apart by her ordeal and the boxer's unfocused hostility. (103 min.) 

Guess Who's Coming to Dinner (1967) - Sidney Poiter stars as the young black UN diplomat who surprises middle class liberals on the Upper West Side, Spencer Tracy and Katherine Hepburn, by proposing marriage to their daughter. 

Hoop Dreams (1994, Steve James) Not really about basketball at all, but the most powerful American documentary of modern times. It's a story, told over five years, of two inner-city Chicago boys who dream that their basketball skills will provide them a college education, and perhaps a ticket to the NBA. How could the filmmakers have guessed, as they filmed their subjects in eighth grade, that their stories would encompass so many aspects of big-city African-American life? " Review by Roger Ebert, in Mother Jones, 1996

House Made of Dawn - based on N. Scott Momaday's book about the condition of American Indians has been made into a poetically beautiful film. More convinving and authentic than any Hollywood effort to understand the Indian, it is clearly the definitive statement on the plight of Native Americans. (91 min.) 

KKK - B-grade melodrama about Southern racism.

Last Wave, The (1977) - An Australian lawyer defends an aborigine on trial for murder, while having premonitions that white Australia will be destroyed for its genocide against native people.

Liberation of L.B. Jones - Story of Southern racism. (102m) 

Little Big Man - Dustin Hoffman as a white boy kidnapped and raised by Indians, then taken back to "civilization" in adolescence, and then returning to "the human beings" as an Indian scout for General Custer. A lot funnier than Dances with Wolves, and just as radical.

The Long Days of Summer - A small town in the 1930's New England is the focus for this look at prejudice, as seen through the eyes of a young Jewish boy whose lawyer father comes under attack from the townspeople. (78 min.) 

Malcolm X (1992, Spike Lee) Lee maintains what Alex Haley's Autobiography of Malcolm X captured the incredible evolution of Malcolm X's thought."Review by John Sayles, in Mother Jones, 1996

Mandela - The courage and self-sacrifice of South African freedom fighters Nelson and Winnie Mandela is the subject of this critically acclaimed production, starring Danny Glover and Alfre Woodard. Their enduring love and dignity despite three decades of imprisonment and oppression symbolize the determination of an entire people. (135 min.) 

Mississippi Burning - A supposed dramatization of the investigation of the Cheney et al. murders during Freedom Summer. A total whitewash of the FBI's role in ignoring Klan activity.

Mississippi Masala - Indian girl and black man start affair that scandalizes both communities. 

Native Son - [1951] The first filming of Richard Wright's controversial novel. Wright stars as the young black chauffer who is befriended by his employer's daughter and her beau...with tragic consequences.(90 min.) [also a 1987 version with Oprah Winfrey, Matt Dillon and Victor Love, 112 min.]

Once we were Warriors - The title is ironic as this recent {1994?} New Zealand film deals with the collapsing Moari {native NZ} family. Quite shocking and a welcome antidote to the conservative "family values" bull-shit, which is set in another world from that of oppressed peoples. Includes youth suicide, child rape, and several feminist themes. 

Planet of the Apes (1967-1973) - These five movies are, in part, an exploration of racism and slavery transposed to speciesism, culminating in the 1973 Battle for the Planet of the Apes in which our enslaved simian servants revolt.

Prisoners of Hope A documentary chronicle of the reunion in 1995 of 1500 political prisoners formerly held captive on Robben Island, South Africa, where President Nelson Mandela was also imprisoned. 

Sarafina (1992) - The film version, with Whoopi Goldberg, of the hit musical from South Africa about a township heroine.

Sounder - Black sharecroppers in the 1930s. (105m)

A Time to Kill (1996) - A black man is tried for killing the white men who raped his daughter. Two young white lawyers defending him experience anti-racist redemption.

To Kill a Mockingbird - Black man gets framed for rape of white girl, town goes into racist lynch frenzy, and he gets defended by courageous white man.

Voices of Sarafina - The beautiful musical, performed by kids from Soweto, about a courageous girl "comrade" in the township.

White Man's Burden (1995) - John Travolta and Harry Belafonte in an America in which whites are the poor underclass and blacks are the ruling class.



NORTH AMERICAN HISTORY AND POLITICS

3 Days of the Condor - The CIA tries to kill one of its own who knows too much.

All the President's Men - The scintillating, and mostly true story, of Bernstein and Woodward breaking the Watergate coverup. (138m)

All the President's Men (1976, Alan J. Pakula) Excellent Hollywood ensemble casting and William Goldman script. At the time it felt like the end of the nightmare.... Little did we know." Review by John Sayles, in Mother Jones, 1996

American Pictures - For five years Jacob Holdt, a young Dane, hitchhiked 100,000 miles throughout the U.S., living with some 350 families. American Pictures is not only a stunning visual essay on the vast disparities between American affluence and poverty, but also a fascinating personal meditation on one man's experience. This is a very powerful movie and if shown should allow for an hour after the presentation for discussion. It is often times appalling and is continuously disturbing. (105m min.)

Bob Roberts - Tim Robbins plays a right-wing folk singer whose folksy populism catapults him into Congress, adabd for the Presidency. Disturbingly plausible parody of American politics.

Born on the Fourth of July (1989, Oliver Stone) Like many Vietnam-era youths, Ron Kovic enlisted out of patriotism and became disillusioned by the war. Disabled by wounds in Vietnam, Kovic gets further radicalized stateside--in mounting fury at the way the nation seems content to shelve and forget him. This is the most powerful of Stone's Vietnam trilogy (released between Platoon and Heaven and Earth), and centers on Tom Cruise's career-best performance as Kovic." Review by Roger Ebert, in Mother Jones, 1996

Canadian Bacon - Michael Moore's first non-documentary film, with Alan Alda as a President with failing fortunes who decides to encourage a Cold War with Canada. Some laid off defense workers, led by John Candy, take some of their former product and attack Canada in a patriotic raid.

Citizen Kane - The story of Charles Foster Kane, Goliath of the publishing world, is told with dynamic editing, imaginative camera angles and ever-shifting perspective. This is a story of the rise of one man and the effects of the depravity of capitalism with a final crashing result. 

City of Hope (1991, John Sayles) Sayles weaves together many strands--there are some 36 meaningful speaking roles--in a story of how life, work, race, and politics connect in a modern New Jersey city. Joe Morton is poignant as a black alderman who tries to effect change but is efficiently pushed toward the system, and Vincent Spano is lost and touching as a man whose father supplies him with a job, but not with an occupation." Review by Roger Ebert, in Mother Jones, 1996

Daniel - Timothy Hutton turns in a powerful performance as a young man trying to clear his family name years after his parents are executed for conspiracy. Taken from the best-selling novel by E.L. Doctorow and based on the tragedy of Julius and Ethel Rosenberg. (130 min.) 

Dead Man Walking (1995, Tim Robbins) Robbins' film plays the death penalty issue down the middle, giving equal weight to the convicted murderer (Sean Penn) and the anguish of his victims' families. Susan Sarandon, as the nun who grows to know him, is torn by the struggle to see both sides. The buried subject is the society that deprives Penn's character of the insight to understand what he has done, and what he feels about it." Review by Roger Ebert, in Mother Jones, 1996

Deer Hunter, The - The blockbuster about the lives of steelworkers before during and after the Vietnam conflict. Harrowing, brilliantly acted and unforgettable.

Grand Canyon (1991, Lawrence Kasdan) Danny Glover plays a tow truck operator who saves an attorney (Kevin Kline) from certain mugging in an unsafe neighborhood. Kline seeks him out to thank him, and a tentative friendship begins. The film explores how every day involves countless possibilities, some hopeful, some deadly. It is about practicing free will in a jungle." Review by Roger Ebert, in Mother Jones, 1996

Grapes of Wrath, The - A family of Sharecroppers travels westward, driven from their home in Oklahoma farm during the Great Depression, but the golden dream of California also fails them. This unforgetable movie about the triumph of humanity over adversity is based on John Steinbeck's classic novel. (124 min.) 

JFK (1991, Oliver Stone) Take it apart incident by incident, but the fact remains: We all think the government is lying. With Kevin Costner as Jim Garrison to sugarcoat the bitter pill, Stone's JFK is a larger version of Joe Pesci's memorable paranoid speed-rap. It is to conspiracy theorists what Clueless is to valley girls--a point of reference in a treacherous world." Review by John Sayles, in Mother Jones, 1996

Manchurian Candidate - A brain-washed POW returns to the U.S. under the control of Communist agents, trained for assassinations of leading politicians. Released shortly before the assassination of John F. Kennedy, and then quickly withdrawn from circulation for more than twenty years, this brilliant and shocking film skewers both McCarthyite anti-Communism and totalitarian Communism at the same time. The 1963 film stars Frank Sinatra, Lawrence Harvey and Angela Landsbury. 

Medium Cool - Haskel Wexler uses a TV cameraman as the eyes through which the 1968 Democratic Convention riots are viewed. He creates an idyllic romance framed by the realities of death, political hypocrisy and racial hatred. (110 min.) 

Mr. Smith Goes to Washington - What happens when venal corporate elites try to use a naive Boy Scout leader as their foil in the U.S. Senate. A classic in the Frank Capra genre of true-blue American populist struggle films. The 1940 film stars Jimmy Stewart and Claude Rains. 

Nixon (1995) - Oliver Stone directs Anthony Hopkins in a really depressing look inside Nixon's life.

Red Dawn - The great, and goofy, story of ordinary high school kids fighting back when the Russians invade the U.S. Great example of Reagan-era Cold War hysteria, excelled only by the mid-80s Amerika miniseries.

Reds - The 1981 history of John Reed, author of Ten Days That Shook the World and a founder of the American Communist movement, and his wife Louise Bryant. Though the portrayal of Socialist Party politics has an unfortunate tilt towards the Bolshevik faction, the main point is the struggle between love and political sacrifice. Starring Warren Beatty, Diane Keaton and Jack Nicholson. (1981, Warren Beatty) Bohemian romance meets the Russian Revolution, or why Americans make lousy communists." Review by John Sayles, in Mother Jones, 1996

Running on Empty (1988, Sidney Lumet) Judd Hirsch and Christine Lahti play married 1960s radicals living on the run. They blew up a building, accidentally killing a janitor, and it left their life a shell: While they appear ordinary to their neighbors, they have trained their two boys to keep secrets, and be ready to leave town in an instant. Now their older, teenage son (River Phoenix) needs a "real" identity to pursue education and a career. Politics, ironically, have been left far behind; that kind of involvement would blow the family's cover." Review by Roger Ebert, in Mother Jones, 1996

Secret Honor (1984, Robert Altman) Those who thought Oliver Stone's Nixon went too far should see this film. Philip Baker Hall delivers a virtuoso monologue as Nixon in the dark hours after his resignation, pacing his office and addressing ghosts, memories, and the pictures on the walls. Both in this film and in Nixon, the man himself becomes more human, understandable, and--dare it be said?--sympathetic." Review by Roger Ebert, in Mother Jones, 1996

The War at Home (1979, Barry Brown and Glenn Silber) A "found" documentary: The filmmakers had access to all of the television news footage shot in Madison, Wis., in the years of the Vietnam War, and employed it to create a film about how the war, and the protests against it, affected one American city. Far more than a cut-and-paste, talking-heads job, it records social, as well as political, history as the shape of the 1960s gradually reveals itself." Review by Roger Ebert, in Mother Jones, 1996

The Un-Canadians - A feature length documentary is about the way Canada handled the McCarthy period during the 50's and 60's. It focuses on the blacklisting of performers and innocent victims during the anti-communist hysteria. It interviews those whose lives were torn apart during the red scare decades by the hidden black lists of the Canadian government and the RCMP.



ANTI-AUTHORITARIAN STRUGGLES 

10 Rillington Place - True drama of a British murder case that led to the abolition of the death penalty. John Hurt stars as a man sentenced to die for the murder of his family, a crime he didn't commit.(111 min.) 

1984 - The 1984 production with the Eurhythmics soundtrack and Richard Burton as the party official. (115m)

Blade Runner - The plight of enslaved cyborgs and our corporate-dominated future through eyes ofa sympathetic cop. (113m) 

The Blue Kite (1993, Tian Zhuang- zhuang) A boy, born in Beijing in 1954, grows up amid the political upheaval and zealotry of the Cultural Revolution. One day his father's library co-workers meet to practice "self-criticism" and to identify reactionaries in their midst. When the boy's father returns from the toilet, all eyes are on him: He has been selected as the reactionary, and that is his death sentence. The mother remarries twice seeking stability, unsuccessfully. It's a remarkable portrait of a society victimized by ideology." Review by Roger Ebert, in Mother Jones, 1996

Brazil (1985, Terry Gilliam) In a dystopian vision, Gilliam takes what Kafka started to operatic heights in a film that is fantastic but not, finally, unrealistic." Review by John Sayles, in Mother Jones, 1996

Burnt by the Sun (1994, Nikita Mikhalkov) A lament for the loss of idealism. A populist Red general and eccentrics holed up in an artists' retreat are the last to get the news of Stalin's purges. The director and his own daughter play the leads. " Review by John Sayles, in Mother Jones, 1996

Catch 22 - A brilliant dark comedy about mercantilism and the military.

Clockwork Orange - An argument against involuntary behavior modification that portrays the beauty of stylish rapes and beatings along the way.

Farewell My Concubine Chen Kaige's beautiful and achingly sad portrayal of a doomed love triangle between two Chinese opera stars, and a former prostitute. Following the protagonists from the '49 revolution through the Cultural Revolution, portrays the horror of Maoist totalitarianism.

Fatherland In this HBO special, it is 1964 in an alternative history. The Normandy invasion failed. Germany conquered Europe. Russian Communist guerrillas continue a defensive fight against occupying Germany. Dignitaries gather in Berlin, the capitol of European Germania, to celebrate the Fuhrer's 75th birthday. The focal point is the scheduled meeting between Hitler and U.S. President Joseph P. Kennedy, Sr., which may bring an end to U.S. aid to the Russian guerrillas. But a German police officer and a visiting American journalist discover evidence of the completely covered-up Holocaust, and race to deliver it to the American delegation to prevent detente.

In the Name of the Father (1993, Jim Sheridan) A "paddy thief" is swept into the black hole of the Irish-British conflict. Sheridan presents his main characters as unwilling pawns, then uses them to flush out the bigger players."Review by John Sayles, in Mother Jones, 1996

The Kiss of the Spiderwoman - A radical activist imprisoned by a Latin dictatorship in the same cell with a romantic homosexual, discovers their solidarity against oppression.

Lord of the Flies - Classic, chilling tale of British schoolboys stranded on a remote island without adults, and their homemade society's slide into savagery. (90 min.)

Mephisto (1981, Istvan Szabo) "Klaus Maria Brandauer, in one of the best performances I've ever seen, plays a German actor who is, at first, a socialist and the proud lover of a black woman--but by the end has found that his beliefs were a pose, and happily discards them to gain success under Hitler. As he climbs to the top of the Nazi propaganda structure and the bottom of his own soul, the movie is both merciless and understanding. This is a weak and shameful man, the film seems to say--but then it cautions us against throwing the first stone."Review by Roger Ebert, in Mother Jones, 1996

Metropolis - Robot chick leads the oppressed workers in revolt.

Modern Times - Worker guy, Charlie Chaplin, caught in the cogs of the industrial wheel.

Nasty Girl, The - German woman gets in big trouble when she starts investigating her town's collaboration with the Third Reich.

Not Without My Daughter - True story of an American woman who risked life and veil to rescue her daughter from Islamic fundamentalist Iran.

The Official Story - (1985, Luis Puenzo) The adoptive parents of children whose parents were disappeared by the Argentine junta.The emotional fallout of Argentina's "dirty war," starring a terrific Norma Aleandro. Posits that political awareness is a responsibility, not an option." Review by John Sayles, in Mother Jones, 1996

One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest (1975) - A rebellious mental patient challenges institution, gets fried, inspires native American to seek freedom.

People Under the Stairs - Courageous African-American houseburglar liberates tongueless zombies from the basement of Ron and Nancy Reagan's prison-America.

The Rapture - Woman confronts God, the ultimate dictator, after she kills her daughter in a religious frenzy.

Romero - The life and death of El Salvador's martyred social justice Bishop.

Seven Samurai, The - Kurosawa's masterpiece, about seven samurai who train a village in armed self-defense, helping them defeat marauding bandits. The depiction of class and caste is raw and riveting.

Schindler's List (1993, Steven Spielberg) The story of a flawed and complex man who decides, while working for the Nazi war machine, to shelter some 1,000 Jews. Oskar Schindler (Liam Neeson) begins by sucking up to the Nazis, but some deep chord in his soul is struck, and he begins to cheat them of money, work, and lives. It's a rare blending of superb Hollywood artistry and deeply felt emotional and political content."Review by Roger Ebert, in Mother Jones, 1996

Shoah (1985, Claude Lanzmann) This nine-hour film is one of the most remarkable documents imaginable about the Holocaust. Without using documentary footage from the war, Lanzmann relies on eyewitnesses, narration, and the eerie remains of the death camps to investigate a chapter of human horror. His film is patient: He listens to his subjects as they run through their rehearsed feelings about events that occurred 40 years earlier, and we watch them reveal the lessons they've absorbed into their very beings."Review by Roger Ebert, in Mother Jones, 1996

Sleeper - Woody Allen, refugee from the 20th century, becomes leader of the revolt against a future oppressive regime.

Sneakers (1992) A group of security analysts, including Robert Redford, Dan Akroyd, and Sidney Poitier, are offered a job by the CIA and when they are reluctant, pressure is brought to bear by the threat to disclose the identity of their leader, a 60s radical with outstanding warrants. A chip exists that will allow any computer to be cracked, and organized crime will soon control it, though sudden changes in their police records suggest that it is already operational.

Spartacus (1960) - Classic story of Roman slave revolt leader. Watch for the homoerotic "do you like snails?" master-slave scene that was expurgated by the censors, but added back in re-release.

Terminator, Terminator 2 - Arnold Schwarzenegger makes a lot of radical films, such as the Terminator movies, for the Republican bimbo that he is. In the Terminator films, the military-industrial complexes computers have become sentient, and carried out their anti-human programming. In T1, the future robot empire sends a cyborg back in time to kill the mother of the future leader of the human resistance. In T2, a suspence-action classic, this same mother is a hardened guerrilla who mid-way through the movie blows up a central military-industrial research facility.

They Live - A homeless drifter discovers that yuppies and the Republican elite of the U.S. have been bought out by ugly aliens, who are beaming obedience messages at us from billboards, newspapers and TV. Problem is you can't see that they're aliens unless you're wearing these special sunglasses, so people get a little upset when he starts blowing the yuppie alien heads off. 

THX-113 - More horrific than 1984, George Lucas' first film, produced by Francis Ford Coppola, and starring Robert Duvall as the worker drone awakening to the need for freedom in a subterranean, post-individualist society.

Tin Drum, The - Midget with a drum terrorizes the Third Reich.

The White Rose - German film with sub-titles, about a group of young Germans resisting the Nazis during WWII - a tragic ending

Wisdom - Emilio Estevez stars as a chronically unemployed ex-con who sets himself up as a modern day Robin Hood, knocking over banks to destroy mortgages and help the poor. (109 min.) 

Yellow Submarine - The struggle against the Blue Meanies by the boys from Liverpool is a brilliant allegory for world uprising against the Bad guys.

Z - A gripping true-life Greek drama about the assassination and cover-up of a leader of the resistance movement in Greece. This is an exciting film by Costa-Gavras. Dubbed in English. (127 min.) 


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