Those who are interested in the Iranian election and protests should see this superb Iranian film that is one of the finest explorations of freedom, elections, democracy, and the rule of law I have ever watched on screen.
It begins with a surreal image as a solitary soldier patrolling an Iranian island coast sees a box dropped by parachute from a plane. Soon after, a boat arrives and a woman disembarks. She informs the soldier that she is there to collect as many votes as possible before 5 pm and he is to accompany her. They travel the island debating the legitimacy of the voting process and the ability of the law to ensure fair treatment. The woman is a stickler for the letter of the law, even when the result is difficult to justify. That is, until they get stopped by a broken red light and she must decide whether to stop at the deserted intersection, missing her boat and invalidating the votes she has collected, or break the law by running the light. The film, made by Canadian-Iranian Babak Payami works brilliantly as allegory and as quasi-documentary. We never learn the names of the characters; they are just “the soldier” and “the girl.” But they and their predicament are immediately involving and distinctive. Highly recommended for high school and college civics classes and for anyone who appreciates superb film-making.
The latest in Disney’s popular karaoke series is Disney Channel, Vol. 1, with sixteen tracks, half with vocals and half without, so you can provide your own singing. Selections include songs from “High School Musicals” 1, 2, and 3, “Hannah Montana,” “The Cheetah Girls,” and “Camp Rock.” The CD works on karaoke machines and on regular CD players, so you can sing along at home, in the car, or with friends.
The first person to send me an email at firstname.lastname@example.org with “karaoke” in the subject line will win this CD. Tell me what songs you like to sing. Good luck!
In the documentary Young @ Heart, we saw how elderly people singing rock songs gave the music a resonance and power that even its platinum-record-selling originators could not have imagined. And now we see the way that children led their sweet, sincere voices to rock and pop songs thanks to a talented music teacher at New York’s PS 22. Their touching renditions of songs like “Landslide,” “Don’t Stop Believing” (coincidentally also featured in the new television series “Glee”), and “Viva La Vida” have become a YouTube sensation that has led to appearances on Good Morning America and the Bonnie Hunt Show.
Many thanks to Kyle Osborne for bringing this beautiful choir to my attention. It reminds me of the wonderful Innocence and Despair, recordings made in 1976 by an elementary school music teacher who had his students sing classic rock/baby boomer music.
I saw Michael Jackson’s first appearance on national television. I was sitting on my parents’ bed with my sisters, watching a variety show called “The Hollywood Palace.” The Jackson 5ive came on stage and I was mesmerized. The lead singer was a kid who was younger than I was and he was sensational. I loved those early songs, “ABC” and “One Bad Apple” and “Never Can Say Goodbye.” I even watched the animated series. Many years later, I was in the front row of the crowd on the lawn of the White House when he visited Ronald Reagan for some event that had to do with auto safety. I could see how shy he was. The gloved hand was shaking. He was at the time the biggest performing artist in the world, which is what he wanted.
Over the past twenty years, Jackson was better known for headlines than for music. He was known as “Wacko Jacko” and there were rumors about his weird, childlike, possibly predatory behavior. He spoke about abuse in his own childhood. He had extensive cosmetic surgery and he and his children appeared in public with their faces concealed. He was accused of molesting young boys. He had two brief marriages. He had financial difficulties. He once said he was Peter Pan. Now he will never grow old.
Let’s remember Michael Jackson when he was young and full of talent and possibility.