WBAI-FM Upcoming Program
Arts Express

Sat, Jun 18, 2022 6:00 AM


** "It was an incredible time. The sound that we had created when we made our three voices into one, was something that none of us had heard before. And I realized at that moment that my life had changed completely - and I would follow that sound..."

Graham Nash Talks Music, Memories, War - and a multitude of magical moments through the years. The iconic Crosby, Stills, Nash & Young performer, songwriter, two-time Rock & Roll Hall of Famer, Songwriters Hall of Famer and Grammy Award winner revisits that classic musical movement - and its impact that continues to resonate today.

Screening Room: 'The Story Behind The Song...'

"When the birds begin to sing at sunrise this time of year, it's an experience of the gradual crescendo of delight - and the most powerful theater you can imagine."

Concert In The Barn: A Conversation With Paul Winter. The musician, composer, 'earth music' pioneer and seven time Grammy Award winner checks in to the show about his latest album - and how it came to be created, livestreamed from his New England barn in the age of covid.

Plus...Juneteenth week poem gleaned from a gathering of protest voices...Hello America!... 

Good Luck To You, Leo Grande Review: Sex Work Is The New Black Mammy

If the audience feels as uncomfortable as Emma Thompson's middle aged retired British religion teacher nervously purchasing sex online to treat her lifelong lack of fulfillment, that spectator side effect may range from untintentional to cringe. Starkly and strangely designed as a claustrophobic setting on stage even if again, not intended, the talky when not whining drama plays out as a series of presented sex therapy lessons between Thompson's Nancy, and the young enigmatic, proficiently accommodating, for a better term, call boy of the film title, portrayed by Daryl McCormack.

That the story plays out nearly the entire time in the hermetic confines of that hotel room, is much more than about physical space. That is, with assorted elephants in the room anticipated along the way but never materializing, and seemingly far from coincidental. And with sex as a commodity rather than a social problem, in this mindlessly consumer driven culture.

For starters, the origins of this insistently happy hooker and the question of invisible balckness. He happens to be black, but this is oddly never discussed or raised in their endless conversations. Would a clearly conservative woman show no surprise let alone curiosity, when a hired help of color knocks on her door in this racially polarized Western society today. 

Did she request a black man from his agency, or was informed. These issues remain unanswered let alone unexplored, among many threadbare plot points. Though in one scene, Nancy asks if the song he's playing is 'his people's music.' In any case, Leo's character perpetuates the 'black mammy' stereotype that has historically plagued movies - the 'happy slave' in this case the sexualized black male caricature, who exists only to serve and fulfill the white protagonists - whether physically, emotionally or dramatically. Or as Spike Lee popularized it, the 'magical negro.'

After relentless persistence in breaking through Leo's determined silence about his background, he finally admits that a mother who shunned him as a boy, led Leo to run away and eventually pursue his kinky career choice. And wouldn't you know it - yet one more mother in the endless procession of 'Mommie Dearest' villains in movies. As for any existing father, no mention is made - so the patriarch is conveniently off the hook. Nor mention of how youth, especially from disturbed home settings and in dire economic circumstances, are lured into yes, prostitution - though this more problematic concept is absent. Nor the physical and psychological horrors visited upon especially youth in the sex trade, one out of four of whom are children.

So what seems to remain of this sometimes sexual too much information, often inappropriately giddy and details-in-denial weirdly warped Hollywood happy ending fairy tale, are psychological issues. Would Nancy, a longtime lonely widow, not develop any sort of emotional feelings for her handsome young pretend suitor. Not at all. In fact, during a final scene when one of her former students materializes in the hotel lobby, Nancy suggests purchasing Leo's services to the shocked young female -  as if the elder woman were contemplating a future career move as Leo's pimp.

Which in conclusion begs the questions, if Nancy's sole obsession is to obtain physical fulfillment she's never experienced, why not just drop by the local pleasure boutique for a sex toy - and save all that money lavished on hotel rooms, hooker house calls, and the cash invested on this pointless movie.

And better yet, there's a timeless 1971 Hal Ashby classic out there to watch instead, about a sensitively conveyed relationship between a boy and a female elder - Harold And Maude. Described as follows: 'A disillusioned 20-year-old obsessed with suicide and a loveable fun-loving 80-year-old eccentric meet at a funeral. And develop a taboo romantic relationship, in which they explore the tired theme of the meaning of life with a fresh perspective...'

Prairie Miller



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