Kurosawa’s The Bad Sleep Well

Final Friday Film Series

directed by Akira Kurosawa
Japan, 1960, 150 minutes

One of three noirs made by Kurosawa

A young executive hunts down his father’s killer in the scathing The Bad Sleep Well. Continuing his legendary collaboration with actor Toshiro Mifune, Kurosawa combines elements of Hamlet and American film noir to chilling effect in exposing the corrupt boardrooms of postwar corporate Japan.

There is one point where a wedding cake arrives,. It is in the shape of corporate headquarters. A rose protrudes from the office where Furuya, a former Corporation employee, committed suicide. Many people believe Furuya, implicated in a scandal, killed himself to keep from testifying against his superiors.

Police interrupt the wedding to arrest corporate assistant officer Wada (Kamatari Fujiwara) on charges of bribery, and they question him about a kickback scheme. After Wada is released, Nishi must prevent him from committing suicide.

His motives are not kind. Nishi wants to use Wada and also contract officer Shirai (Ko Nishimura) to exact revenge on the Corporation. He reveals to Wada and Shirai that Furuya was his father. According to Nishi, he only married Yoshiko to get close to the family.

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Nicaragua in Crisis

A Forum with Father Octavio Altamirano • Jorge Blass •
Dan La Botz • Lisa Maya Knauer • Nicaraguan Students

co-sponsored with Haymarket Books, NACLA, New Politics and Democratic Socialists of America, NYC Chapter
WITH THE CHANGE OF VENUE, THIS IS NOW A DONATIONS-BASED EVENT.
Since late April the Nicaraguan Sandinista government of President Daniel Ortega has been challenged first by a popular uprising in which dozens were killed by the government and then by mass demonstrations demanding peace and justice. Now the Catholic Church is attempting to mediate between the Ortega government and the movement, but so far without success. What is the source of Nicaragua’s crisis today? And what are the roots of the problem in the experience of the last forty years? How does it affect Nicaraguan immigrants to the United States? What stand should progressive Americans take on the Nicaraguan crisis?

SOME OF YOU HAVE PAID FOR TICKETS FOR THE OTHER VENUE. THESE PURCHASES CAN BE A DONATION OR WE CAN REFUND YOU IF YOU PROVIDE AN ADDRESS. info@marxedproject.org

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African Literature: Post-Colonial Struggles

A 9-week reading group
Thursdays, April 27 through June 22, 7:30 to 9:30 pm
Organized with the Indigenous People’s History and Literature Group

“Real misfortune is not just a matter of being hungry and thirsty; it is a matter of knowing that there are people who want you to be hungry and thirsty.” ― Ousmane Sembène

During this term we will begin with Egypt with Mahfouz, visit West Africa with Chris Abani then travel south to South Africa with Zakes Mda then conclude in June with NoViolet Bulawayo in Zimbabwe. Again we examine four different areas of Africa as the peoples there emerge first from European colonization, then face the forces of global domination in the long neoliberal phase we yet endure.

Respected Sir
Naguib Mahfouz
Egypt, 1975
With this portrait of a misanthropic civil servant, Mahfouz devises a cunning send-up of egregious ambition, stodgy bureaucracy and cloying piety. The novel’s overblown language mirrors the grandiose aspirations of protagonist Othman Bayyumi, an archives clerk who schemes for a lofty appointment as Director General, expounding that “a government position is a brick in the edifice of the state, and the state is an exhalation of the spirit of God, incarnate on earth.”

Song for Night
Chris Abani
Nigeria, 2007
Song for Night is the story of a West African boy soldier’s lyrical, terrifying, yet beautiful journey through the nightmare landscape of a brutal war in search of his lost platoon. Our guide is a voiceless protagonist who, as part of a land mine-clearing platoon, had his vocal chords cut, a move to keep these children from screaming when blown up, and thereby distracting the other minesweepers. The book is written in a ghostly voice, with each chapter headed by a line of the unique sign language these children invented.

The Heart of Redness
Zakes Mda
South Africa, 2007
In Mda’s novel, there is Camugu, who left for America during apartheid, and has now returned to Johannesburg. Disillusioned by the problems of the new democracy, he follows his “famous lust” to Qolorha on the remote Eastern Cape. There in the nineteenth century a teenage prophetess named Nonqawuse commanded the Xhosa people to kill their cattle and burn their crops, promising that once they did so the spirits of their ancestors would rise and drive the occupying English into the ocean. A failed prophecy split the Xhosa into Believers and Unbelievers, dividing brother from brother, wife from husband, with devastating consequences. 150 years later, the two groups’ decendants are at odds over plans to build a vast casino and tourist resort in the village, and Camugu is soon drawn into their heritage and their struggles for a future worth living for.

We Need New Names
NoViolet Bulawayo
Zimbabwe, 2012
Darling is only ten years old, and yet she must navigate a fragile and violent world. In Zimbabwe, Darling and her friends steal guavas, try to get the baby out of young Chipo’s belly, and grasp at memories of Before. Before their homes were destroyed by paramilitary policemen, before the school closed, before the fathers left for dangerous jobs abroad. But Darling has a chance to escape: she has an aunt in America. She travels to this new land in search of America’s famous abundance only to find that her options as an immigrant are perilously few.

The Indigenous Peoples’s Reading Group, which has grown from the enthusiastic call for the need of greater understanding of the long history of the peoples of North America and other continents of the world who were of those continents before and remain after the European colonists came to settle and bring this capitalist relations to every corner of the globe. Our group began following a stirring presentation by Roxanne Dunbar-Ortiz September of 2014 where she introduced An Indigenous Peoples’ History of the United States.

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African Literature: Colonialism, Liberation, Disillusionment

We will meet for nine more weeks
Thursdays, February 9 through April 6, 7:30 to 9:30 pm
Organized by Ibrahim Diallo of the Indigenous People’s History and Literature Group

Once you allow yourself to identify with the people in a story, then you might begin to see yourself in that story even if on the surface it’s far removed from your situation. … this is one great thing that literature can do – it can make us identify with situations and people far away. If it does that, it’s a miracle. –Chinua Achebe

With the reading of novels by Ousmane Sembene (Senegal), Tayeb Salih (Sudan), Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie (Nigeria) and Ngugu wa Thiong’o (Kenya), we examine four different areas of Africa as the peoples there emerge from European colonization. We witness the struggles of workers on strike before their full independence, anti-colonial resistance spanning from Mount Kenya to academic circles in London. As nations become independent we discover new and recycled forms of oppression, exploitation and war. In the midst of disillusionment, we see resolve and signs of what remains possible.

Les Bouts de Bois de Dieu (God’s Bits of Wood) considered to be Ousmane Sembene’s masterpiece, rivaled only by Xala. The novel fictionalizes the real-life story of a railroad strike on the Dakar-Niger line that lasted from 1947 to 1948. Though the charismatic and brilliant union spokesman, Ibrahima Bakayoko, is the most central figure, the novel has no true hero except the community itself, which bands together in the face of hardship and oppression to assert their rights.

Season of Migration to the North (Arabic: موسم الهجرة إلى الشمال ‎‎ Mawsim al-Hiǧra ilā ash-Shamāl) is a classic post-colonial Sudanese novel by the novelist Tayeb Salih. Salih was fluent in both English and Arabic, but significantly chose to write this novel in Arabic. The novel is a counter-narrative to Heart of Darkness. It was described by Edward Said as one of the 10 great novels in Arabic literature.

Petals of Blood by Ngugu wa Thiong’o The novel largely deals with the skepticism of change after Kenya’s liberation from the British Empire, questioning to what extent free Kenya merely emulates, and subsequently perpetuates, the oppression found during its time as a colony. Other themes include the challenging of capitalism, politics, and the effects of westernization.

Half of a Yellow Sun, a novel by Nigerian author Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie, tells the story of the Biafran War through the perspective of the characters Olanna, Ugwu, and Richard. The book jumps between events that took place during the early 1960s and the late 1960s, when the war took place, and extends until the end of the war.

Ibrahim Diallo was born in Guinea but has lived in Brooklyn, New York since his childhood. He has lived, worked, studied and/or travelled in nearly a dozen African countries. Ibrahim is one of the initiators of The Indigenous People’s History and Literature Group at The MEP.

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Left Noir 3: “You Talkin’ To Me?”

Cops, Corruption and Capitalism in Crime Fiction
S.A. Solomon, Ken Wishnia
and Steven Wishnia

The depiction of cops by American crime writers ranges from the hopelessly corrupt (James Ellroy) to the heroic (Michael Connelly) to the conflicted (Richard Price). Recent high-profile cases such as the killings of Michael Brown in Ferguson and Eric Garner in Staten Island, as well as the wholesale use of “stop and frisk” tactics in black and Latino neighborhoods, have thrust the ages-old issue of discriminatory policing fully into the public eye. Some people argue that police exist solely to enforce order for the ruling capitalist powers; some question whether we even need cops. Yet, we expect police to come quickly when we call, and ask them to put themselves between us and danger when our bodies or property are threatened. Should we turn our backs on cops when they crack under the strain? Aren’t bad cops just a mirror of our corrupt society? Writers Kenneth Wishnia, Steven Wishnia, and S.A. Solomon take on these questions and more in a panel on cops, corruption, and capitalism in crime fiction.

S.A. Solomon has published crime fiction and poetry in New Jersey Noir (Akashic Books), Grand Central Noir (Metropolitan Crime), Jewish Noir (PM Press), The Five-Two Crime Poetry Weekly, and Heroes: Stories to Benefit PROTECT, Vol. 2. She’s a member of the Mystery Writers of America, New York chapter, a freelance writer on legal topics, and an attorney licensed in New York and Florida. You can find her on twitter @sa_solomon.

Kenneth Wishnia’s novels include 23 Shades of Black, an Edgar Allan Poe Award and Anthony Award finalist; Soft Money, a Library Journal Best Mystery of the Year; Red House, a Washington Post Book World “Rave” Book of the Year; and The Fifth Servant, an Indie Notable selection, a Jewish Press Best Mystery of the Year, winner of a Premio Letterario ADEI-WIZO, and a finalist for the Sue Feder Memorial Historical Mystery Award. His short stories have appeared in Ellery Queen, Alfred Hitchcock, Queens Noir, Long Island Noir, Send My Love and A Molotov Cocktail!, and elsewhere. Most recently, he edited the anthology Jewish Noir for PM Press. He teaches writing, literature and other deviant forms of thought at Suffolk Community College on Long Island.

Steven Wishnia is author of the rock’n’roll novel When the Drumming Stops (Manic D Press); the short-story collection Exit 25 Utopia; and The Cannabis Companion, which has been translated into six languages. His fiction has also appeared in Jewish Noir and Long Island Noir. As a journalist, he’s won two awards for reporting on New York housing issues; covered urban politics, labor, drugs, and civil liberties; and written and edited for publications from High Times to Junior Scholastic. He works as a reporter at LaborPress and editor of Tenant, and freelances regularly for Gothamist and The Indypendent. Bassist in the ‘80s punk band False Prophets, he currently plays guitar in Blowdryer Punk Soul and bass in the Brooklyn Klezmeroids and the multimedia shows of artist Mac McGill.

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