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Ken Burns has spent all of his thirty year (and running) career as a documentary filmmaker turning his camera back on the history of the United States: the defining people, events and accomplishments that defined, divided and united the country. From "Brooklyn Bridge" and "The Statue of Liberty" to "The Civil War" and "Jazz" and "The National Parks" (to name but a few), he has tackled subjects small and expansive with the same focus: finding the human stories that illuminate the history. His latest production, "Prohibition" (PBS/Paramount), presents a complex story of unlikely allies, disastrous political misjudgments and destructive consequences, and a political climate that is eerily familiar today.
The three-part documentary debuted over three nights on PBS and arrives on DVD and Blu-ray on Tuesday, October 4. Videodrone spoke with Burns about "Prohibition," his fascination with American history and what he's been watching.
What have you been watching?
Ken Burns: Not much. I've been working 24/7 promoting the "Prohibition" series. Basically I've been watching "Boardwalk Empire," which is a kind of cousin of what we've done, a dramatic, fictionalized version of the themes that we tackled with our documentary on "Prohibition."
What does Ken Burns pull out of his DVD library to watch to relax after working on a documentary all day?
I'm a child of R&B and rock and roll, I was born in the early fifties and grew up in the late fifties and early sixties and that was my music, but in 2001 we released a 17 ½-hour history of jazz and everything is filled with jazz, I listen to it all the time. I like the old stuff, I like the new stuff, I listen to Louis Armstrong, I think he's God. I think he is to music in the 20th century -- and I didn't say jazz -- I think he is to music in the 20th century what Einstein was to physics, what Freud was to medicine and what the Wright Brothers are to travel, that is to say, a quantum leap in our musical understanding.
My father told me stories of my grandfather, who as a child in the Dakotas would accompany my uncle as he made deliveries of moonshine that his family made from a still in the hills.
Burns: You know what? We traveled all around the country on this promotional tour, every walk of life, and I don’t know anybody that doesn't have some related prohibition story. It's really wonderful. I love the way our films -- "The Civil War," "Baseball," "Jazz," "The National Parks" -- but this one in particular draws out stories in people quite apart from our own stories that we're trying to tell.
"Prohibition" is available on DVD and Blu-ray from PBS and Paramount Home Video on Tuesday, October 4 , the day after the final chapter plays on PBS.
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Documentary about punk rock dads is an unexpected charmer
What happens when punk rockers grow up? More specifically, what happens when tattooed, pierced, authority-hating, anarchist, party animals grow up and become fathers? How can a dad who is most famous for singing a song called “F—k Authority” issue authority to his own brood? That’s what Pennywise’s Jim Lindberg attempts to answer in the new documentary, “The Other F Word.”
In her feature debut, director Andrea Blaugrand gathered together a number of punk rock dads to talk about the other “f” word – fatherhood – and how their roles as dads fit into their roles as punk rock royalty. The film world premiered at this year's SXSW film festival to positive reviews, charming the safety-pinned pants off its audience. The film’s first trailer captures the film and its merits – it’s well put-together and honest, funny and touching. Some of the other punk rock dads featured in the film include Mark Hoppus (Blink-182), Flea (Red Hot Chili Peppers), Tim McIlrath (Rise Against), Art Alexakis (Everclear), Mark Mothersbaugh (Devo), Tony Adolescent (The Adolescents), Fat Mike (NOFX), Lars Frederiksen (Rancid), skater Tony Hawk, and many others.
"The Other F Word" opens in New York and Los Angeles on November 4. Check out the film's trailer, thanks to Rolling Stone, after the break.
What makes this time different?
Fans of cult new-classic television show "Arrested Development" have been waiting for years for a film version of the completely hilarious and totally underseen Fox show that launched in 2003. The series only ran for three seasons (fifty-three episodes), but the rumors about a film have persisted for almost twice as long as the show was even on the air. It has not helped that some of the biggest spreaders of those rumors have been members of the show's cast and creative team.
Today, creator Mitch Hurwitz set tongues wagging at The New Yorker Film Festival, announcing during a panel that he is planning a limited number of new episodes that will each focus on a different member of the Bluth clan and will then lead into the long-awaited feature film. Though this news seems par for the course, Deadline has added on some interesting details that seem to add some credence to Hurwitz's announcement. The outlet reports that "20th Century Fox TV, which co-produced 'Arrested Development' with Imagine TV, has had talks with Netflix, which has been on the hunt for original programming, and Showtime, whose new entertainment president David Nevins shepherded 'Arrested Development' when he ran Imagine TV." 20th Century Fox TV did not comment, but this is the first news that has come with any sort of additional back-up to claims that the show would get a film.
Hurwitz appeared on today's panel with the show's stars Will Arnett, Jason Bateman, Portia de Rossi, Michael Cera, Tony Hale, Jeffrey Tambor, David Cross, Alia Shawkat, and Jessica Walter. It was Bateman himself that backed Hurwitz's announcement on Twitter, writing “It’s true. We will do 10 episodes and the movie. Probably shoot them all together next summer for a release in early ’13. VERY excited!”
Are you a fan of "Arrested Development"? Do you want to see a new film based on the show?