During the recording of A Love Supreme in 1964, Chuck Stewart caught the jazz legend in his element.
Nelson George writes: On December 9, 1964, saxophonist John Coltrane led a quartet that featured pianist McCoy Tyner, drummer Elvin Jones and bassist Jimmy Garrison into Rudy Van Gelder’s studio in Englewood Cliffs, New Jersey, where countless jazz recording sessions were held in the 1950s and ’60s. For photographer Chuck Stewart, Van Gelder’s was a short drive from his home in Teaneck.
That day nearly 50 years ago the band recorded a Coltrane composition titled A Love Supreme, a profound expression of his spiritual awakening divided into four movements—“Acknowledgement,” “Resolution,” “Pursuance,” “Psalm.” For its soaring ambition, flawless execution and raw power, it was hailed as a groundbreaking piece of music when it was released in February 1965, and it has endured as a seminal part of the jazz canon. The work and its composer will be highlighted anew this April during Jazz Appreciation Month, an annual event launched in 2001 by the National Museum of American History, whose collection includes Coltrane’s original manuscript for A Love Supreme.
“I couldn’t shoot during the take because the recording equipment would pick up the clicks. So what I did was meander around the studio. When I saw a picture I thought worked, I’d take it.”
— Photographer Chuck Stewart
For Stewart, whose photographs have graced thousands of album covers, from Ellington to Davis, from Basie to Armstrong, that session with Coltrane—a friend of his since 1949—was no different from countless others. “When I did a session I would go in and shoot the rehearsal before they did any takes,” the 86-year-old photographer recalls, sitting in his cozy, picture-filled living room in Teaneck. “I couldn’t shoot during the take because the recording equipment would pick up the clicks. So what I did was meander around the studio. When I saw a picture I thought worked, I’d take it.”
Stewart still has the Rolleiflex camera he used at the session, and the contact sheets as well. Many of the images he shot have been seen on CDs, as well as in numerous books and magazine articles. But 72 photographs from six rolls of film never made it beyond the contact-sheet stage, and so haven’t been published. Stewart’s son David recently rediscovered those images in his father’s collection, and now Stewart is scheduled to include some of them in a donation to the museum this month. Read the rest of this entry »
Unfortunately for Cranston and the makers of Trumbo, it has all been for naught. The film has imploded at the box office, and even by the standards of a sluggish season at the movies, Trumbo is a cold dud.
…Based on the Bruce Alexander Cook’s biography of the same name, Trumbo tells a well-worn tale about the moment when Hollywood woke up to the fact that Tinseltown was underwater. Most of the sea was rosewater, with a vast assortment of pink “co-travellers,” but as Allan Ryskind shows in Hollywood Traitors, there were plenty of hardline Stalinists and admirers of Adolf Hitler working to undermine American culture from within the studio system, as well. And like a lot of the mythologized “Hollywood Ten,” Trumbo was in fact a Soviet lackey who followed the Comintern’s lines like a sacred screenplay.
Of course, this history makes for poor copy in today’s Hollywood, which has increasingly become dependent upon those denizens of the Internet who see politics and entertainment as two sides of the same cudgel. The better story, for their purposes, is that Trumbo was a victim of political bigotry. Like Julius and Ethel Rosenberg, Trumbo was a freethinker who did not fall into the atavistic mindset that demanded a puritanical allegiance to God, country, and American capitalism, you see. Trumbo names and shames the protagonist’s “oppressors,” from the fiercely anti-communist gossip columnist Hedda Hopper (played by Helen Mirren) to the ardent American nationalist John Wayne (played by David James Elliott). In other words, the enemies were Republicans—much like today.
Although thoroughly red, Trumbo still has to contend with green. Enter Bryan Cranston, the film’s talented leading man. Until recently, Cranston was not well-known for professing political views in public. But as the release date for Trumbo crept closer, Cranston, like a lot of actors, began to believe that his cinematic performance was enough to justify his own “expert” opinions. As such, Cranston has appealed to the left by calling Obamacare “fantastic,” while at the same time he has (begrudgingly) sung the praises of Donald Trump. By doing all this, Cranston has toyed with the milquetoast middle in order to deflect any potential blowback from conservatives on the lookout for liberal bias. Read the rest of this entry »
Kipp Jones reports: CBS has banned advertisements for the film Truth, which stars Robert Redford as Dan Rather and Cate Blanchett as disgraced CBS News producer Mary Mapes, during the events of a notorious discredited 2004 news story regarding former President George W. Bush’s military service record.
“I don’t think anyone expected them to send flowers…To get an official statement from them that is negative was not surprising to anyone involved in the film. I think the one thing that surprised everyone was the tone and the emotional nature.”
— Brad Fischer, one of the film’s producers
Both Mapes and Rather were fired by the network over the story, which used questionable documents supposedly written by late Lt. Col. Jerry B. Killian to support a claim former President Bush deserted from the Texas Air National Guard in the early 1970s.
“It’s astounding how little truth there is in ‘Truth.’ There are, in fact, too many distortions, evasions and baseless conspiracy theories to enumerate them all.”
— CBS spokesman
Rather has maintained the facts of the story to be correct.
‘It’s Astounding How Little Truth There Is In TRUTH‘
Tim Graham: Variety reports CBS News is hopping mad about the forthcoming Dan Rather-lionizing movie Truth. They hoped it “would come and go quickly in limited release. But [Cate] Blanchett is generating Oscar buzz as a best actress contender for her tour de force performance as [Mary Mapes,] the hard-charging producer swept up in a firestorm of partisan politics and media scrutiny of her work.”
“There are, in fact, too many distortions, evasions and baseless conspiracy theories to enumerate them all. The film tries to turn gross errors of journalism and judgment into acts of heroism and martyrdom.”
“It’s astounding how little truth there is in Truth,” proclaimed CBS in a statement. “There are, in fact, too many distortions, evasions and baseless conspiracy theories to enumerate them all. The film tries to turn gross errors of journalism and judgment into acts of heroism and martyrdom. That’s a disservice not just to the public but to journalists across the world who go out every day and do everything within their power, sometimes at great risk to themselves, to get the story right.”
Kyle Smith writes: The classic definition of chutzpah — the guy who murders his parents and then begs for mercy because he’s an orphan — is getting a rewrite with the Oct. 16 release of “Truth,” a movie that insists forged documents are real.
“She gives an impassioned defense of her work in a speech meant to make the audience stand up and cheer — but instead comes across as obtuse to the point of being self-delusional.”
Robert Redford, who makes no effort whatsoever to look or sound like Dan Rather, plays the CBS newsman undone after he presented to the public obviously forged documents about then-President George W. Bush’s Texas Air National Guard service in the early 1970s.
“Mapes found a squirrely retired National Guard colonel named Bill Burkett, who gave her photocopied memos that purported to show Bush had been AWOL for a significant portion of his National Guard tenure.”
It was September 2004, two months before Bush was to be re-elected in a tight race against Vietnam veteran John Kerry, and Rather’s “60 Minutes II” producer Mary Mapes (played by Cate Blanchett with her usual brittle intensity) is desperate for a scoop.
She and her team of researchers (Dennis Quaid, Topher Grace and Elisabeth Moss) set out to find information damaging to the president, methodically contacting everyone they can think of in the chain of command during Bush’s National Guard days to find some dirt on him.
“The font and spacing on the memos perfectly matched the default settings on a 21st-century Microsoft Word program, Burkett kept changing his story about how he got the documents until he sounded completely insane.”
(In one unintentionally revealing moment in the film, co-written and directed by “The Amazing Spider-Man” scribe James Vanderbilt, Mapes is shown watching a TV commercial paid for by the Swift Boat Veterans for Truth, an ad hoc group formed by Kerry’s former colleagues in the Navy.
She shows a complete lack of interest in digging into their stories. In fact, in the summer of 2004, the mainstream media almost completely ignored the Swift Boat veterans, as the ad campaign did serious damage to Kerry’s reputation.)
Mapes found a squirrely retired National Guard colonel named Bill Burkett, who gave her photocopied memos that purported to show Bush had been AWOL for a significant portion of his National Guard tenure. The font and spacing on the memos perfectly matched the default settings on a 21st-century Microsoft Word program, Burkett kept changing his story about how he got the documents until he sounded completely insane (and Blanchett is shown making the “cuckoo” sign as she listens to him), two of CBS’s own document experts raised doubts about them — and Burkett was a Bush hater who agreed to hand over the documents in the first place on the condition that Mapes put him in touch with the John Kerry campaign, which he wanted to assist. Mapes and Rather ran with the story anyway, defending it for days — even after other media organizations began casting doubt on them. Read the rest of this entry »
Polish police are currently investigating the death, according to family friend and publicist Jim Dobson.
Wrona was preparing for the Polish premiere of “Demon” at the Gdynia Film Festival. The movie was also set to bow at the upcoming Fantastic Fest in Austin and the Sitges Film Festival. It was slated for a theatrical release in Poland in October.
“As the organizers of the festival and at the same time friends of Marcin, we are deeply shocked and saddened by this information. We would like to express our sincere condolences to the wife of the director and all the people who were close to him.”
“We are all deeply shocked and saddened at the news of the sudden death of Marcin Wrona,” the Toronto Film Festival said in a statement. “His film ‘Demon’ truly marked the emergence of a strong new voice on the world cinema stage. Our thoughts go out to his friends and family, especially his wife and producing partner, Olga Szymanska, who was with him at the premiere in Toronto.”
Ron Capshaw writes:
“…What is striking about these films is that, murder aside, they are very close to the mark in depicting American Communists. As Jim McClain suspected, for example, screenwriters such as John Howard Lawson and Dalton Trumbo, while publicly defending the Bill of Rights, privately amended it. Behind closed doors, Lawson declared that “fascists” (a term defined rather broadly in his lexicon) were ineligible for free-speech protections. Trumbo would later brag to comrades of how he kept anti-Communist films from being made and of how he suppressed anti-Communist submissions to a Hollywood journal he edited during the war. Far from supporting free speech as editor, he told an anti-Communist writer that “free speech” was what had led to the gas chamber in Germany…”
This week’s opening night tribute to the Toronto Film Festival’s chief cheerleader, the late Roger Ebert, will beg a key question: Can anyone fill his shoes? No other critic ever possessed the international platform of his TV gigs, his visibility, celebrity or his Pulitzer Prize.
To put it another way: Was Roger Ebert the last film critic who mattered?