I took an online script writing class from a professor at UCLA a few years ago, and when I asked him what his favorite script ever was, he said “Network” by Paddy Cheyefsky. Not only did he say it was his favorite, but that it was also the best. He said it was, in his opinion, the greatest screenplay ever written (at that point, someone else in the class asked “You mean the greatest modern screenplay?” to which the professor replied “Well yes, because all those ancient screenplays never did get produced.”) When the film was released, it received great critical acclaim and won four Oscars including Best Original Screenplay for Cheyefsky and Best Actor for Peter Finch who’s featured in this scene.
The film was about an aging news anchor who is told that he’s being let go because the network’s ratings are slipping. He decides to rant on air in one of his last broadcasts about how the world is going to hell, much for the same reasons networks try to make money off of something as utilitarian as the news. The rants go so well, and are watched by so many people that the network allows him to continue. The commentary in this scene is almost before it’s time, I feel like it applies more today than it did in ’76 when it came out. This scene is one of the most famous speeches in film history, modern film history of course. Enjoy.
So as often I can I go to local bookstores in whatever city i’m in and buy poetry books, I am sure we all do this right? right? 🙂
So a book that I recently picked up is Mouth by Lisa Chen. I did not know anything about the author but the bookstore person recommended it so I gave it a read. Luckily I was not disappointed!
Mouth, Lisa Chen’s debut collection of poetry, travels from parachute girls in Millbrae to Ezequiel the murderer at a border town, creating a cartography of geographic and bodily landscapes whose distances are measured by languages. As if wandering from place to place, Chen dabbles in different poetic forms, but always, words here confuse and betray, mouths eat and are eaten. Mouth is an elegiac love song to the mundane horrors of loss – genocide, heartbreak, revolution, exile. Yet, like Diane Arbus’ photos, Chen’s poems exude a mix of humor and pleasure, highlighting beauty in the perverse, and the perverse in the everyday. She gives voice to things that occur below the level of hearing or just beyond our notice—fragments of translated stories, unanswered bits of conversations, the mute assertiveness of a room.
[Source: Kaya Press]
The book is published on Kaya Press which is a really really dope platform for promotion of wirters from asia pacific. Kaya Press is a group of dedicated writers, artists, readers, and lovers of books working together to publish the most challenging, thoughtful, and provocative literature being produced throughout the Asian and Pacific Island diasporas.
Below is a reading Lisa Chen gave at Berkeley University for a series of readings called lunch poems.
August Wilson is one of the most respected American playwrights and was the author of ten plays known collectively as the Pittsburgh Cycle, one play written for each decade of the last century. Wilson is probably my favorite playwright, his work has both a groundedness to it as well as a mythic fog that sits underneath the surface. Often enough in his plays, that mythic layer is only touched on or hinted at, but in “Gem Of The Ocean,” one of the last plays he wrote but the earliest to take place chronologically, there is a great deal of otherworldly belief and mention. This is a monologue from Phylicia Rashad (you know, Mrs. Huxtable) who originated the role of Aunt Esther on Broadway in “Gem Of The Ocean,” and was nominated for a Tony Award for her performance. There is a brand new PBS American Masters special about August Wilson which is available on their website (link below) and I suggest any of you that are interested take the time to watch it. Enjoy.
I have a lot of feelings about the Oscars that aired a few nights ago. I was, as most were, disappointed in the lack of racial diversity of any kind in the nominees, though I think the Academy (as well as the Recording Academy which produces the Grammys) is starting to understand that without seeking minority leadership, there are no minority voices in the rooms where major decisions are being made. It is a lesson we should have learned a long time ago, and one would assume the infamously liberal Hollywood could have thought this up decades ago, but nonetheless is a lesson we are living through and hopefully one that will spur less likely organizations to follow suit. I also thought Neil Patrick Harris taking shots at that lack of diversity was just a way to get around the issue without having a serious conversation on the matter.
Lastly, I haven’t seen “Selma” but was well aware of the controversy surrounding it’s lack of nominations especially in the Best Director category. I had heard John Legend and Common perform “Glory” at the Grammys and thought it was a powerful song, but it wasn’t until the Oscars a few nights ago when they staged it under a recreation of the Edmund Pettus Bridge and had extras/vocalists dressed as protesters that the song proved it’s power to me (The Edmund Pettus Bridge in Selma, Alabama is the site where in 1965, Dr. King and his followers had an encounter with law enforcement during the march from Selma to Montgomery that has since been known as Bloody Sunday). Just after the song was performed, the Oscar for Best Original Song was presented and Common and Legend won and their speeches were breathtaking. There were a handful of great speeches the other night, but these two were the best in my mind. Common’s was powerful and lofty, whereas Legend’s was grounded in both fact and message, I was having an Oprah moment in my living room. I am officially posting the video of their speeches here today, but if you haven’t seen the original performance, it’s posted below and you should do yourself a favor.