Street Corner Confessions

Man-on-the-street interviews can often be unexpectedly hilarious, insightful or surprising if the interviewer is a prankster like Triumph The Insult Comic Dog or a non-traditional reporter such as an anthropologist, professional prostitute or ….a pair of nuns. The latter, in fact, are showcased in the 1968 documentary, Inquiring Nuns, which is not an oddball stunt but a sincere attempt to capture some honest responses about the human condition via two unlikely interviewers. It was produced by Kartemquin Films, the non-profit documentary collective that was founded in 1966 in Chicago by Gordon Quinn, Jerry Temaner and Stan Karter and has produced such acclaimed work as Hoop Dreams (1995), Vietnam, Long Time Coming (1998), the PBS miniseries The New Americans (2004) and The Interrupters (2011). Continue reading

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The Transmutational Music of Arthur Russell

Wild Combination film posterSometimes a figure in popular music will develop a small cult following but never crack the mainstream market because their music is unclassifiable…or as some critics like to say, “ahead of their time.” But what does that mean anyway? Is it too experimental in nature or lacking an easy access point for first time listeners? Or it is simply a matter of underexposure that keeps it from becoming recognized as something truly progressive and unique? A perfect example of this is Arthur Russell, the subject of Matt Wolf’s Wild Combination: A Portrait of Arthur Russell (2008), an intimate and moving look at an influential figure in New York City’s music scene in the ’70s and ’80s who is finally acquiring the reputation of a musical visionary more than 30 years after his heyday.  Continue reading