Ed Rampell

Film historian and critic Ed Rampell was named after CBS broadcaster Edward R. Murrow because of his TV exposes of Senator Joe McCarthy. Rampell majored in Cinema at Manhattan’s Hunter College. After graduating, Rampell lived in Tahiti, Samoa, Hawaii, and Micronesia, where he reported on the nuclear free and independent Pacific movement for “20/20,” Reuters, AP, Radio Australia, Newsweek, etc. He went on to co-write “The Finger” column for New Times L.A. and has written for many other publications, including Variety, Mother Jones, The Nation, Islands, L.A. Times, L.A. Daily News, Written By, The Progressive, The Guardian, The Financial Times, AlterNet, amongst others. Rampell appears in the 2005 Australian documentary “Hula Girls, Imagining Paradise.” He co-authored two books on Pacific Island politics, as well as two film histories: “Made In Paradise, Hollywood’s Films of Hawaii and the South Seas” and “Pearl Harbor in the Movies.” Rampell is the sole author of “Progressive Hollywood, A People’s Film History of the United States.” He is a co-founder of the James Agee Cinema Circle and one of L.A.’s most prolific film/theatre/opera reviewers. Rampell is also the author of "The Hawaii Movie and Television Book", published by Honolulu's Mutual Publishing, drops Nov. 25 (see: http://hawaiimtvbook.weebly.com/).

Ukrainian-Americans Must Speak Out

Less powerful nations must chart their own courses without foreign interference Her earliest memories were of endless wheat fields and the sweeping steppes. She also remembered being afraid of the police - and the bitter cold. My babushka advised me: “If your feet stay warm the rest of your body will, too.” Like Tevye, Fiddler on the Roof’s beloved dairyman who dreamed of being “a rich man,” my grandmother Dorothy Kwass was a Ukrainian Jew who Continue Reading...

Film Review: Abominable

Crazy Yeti: Himalayan Hi-Jinks Highlight Awesome Animated Adventure plus Some Ruminations on Animation and Race The delightful computer-animated feature Abominable is one of those rare movies that will enchant adults and children alike. Set mostly or entirely in present day China, the 97 minute movie about an Abominable Snowman starts out in Shanghai then embarks on a road trip throughout the People’s Republic. Various destinations in the Continue Reading...

Film Review: Fast and Furious Presents: Hobbs & Shaw

The Rock Gets Back to His Roots as Samoa Gets the Black Panther Treatment: South Seas Cinema Stars in Action Series Spin-Off Hobbs & Shaw is an action-packed spin-off from the Fast & Furious film franchise, with Dwayne Johnson (aka The Rock) and Jason Stratham reprising their roles from that highly kinetic cinematic series as the titular Luke Hobbs and Deckard Shaw. There are plenty of explosions, car chases, combat, death defying Continue Reading...

Film Review: At War (En Guerre)

Class Struggle Cinema Coming Soon to a Theater Near You Stéphane Brizé’s award-winning At War (En Guerre) is a French feature about unions, strikes and class struggle being released in America shortly after Bastille Day, which commemorates that “other” French Revolution. In this movie a German-owned company reneges on promises to keep a factory open in an economically depressed region of France, despite the workers’ sacrifices, agreeing to Continue Reading...

Film Review: The Edge of Democracy

South American Documentary Sheds Light on Brazil - and a USA Teetering on the Brink As America ponders the impeachment of Trump and investigating him for crimes a young South American female director has made a documentary about another large democratic nation that recently underwent the ordeals of impeaching one president plus the trial and imprisonment of an ex-president. Petra Costa’s The Edge of Democracy is a sprawling nonfiction epic Continue Reading...

Book Review: Fire on the Mountain

John Brown's Story Lies A-Mouldering on the Page John Brown is one of American history’s most fascinating characters. The American Spartacus, Brown led an anti-slavery revolt in 1859 and has often been depicted as overzealous and even stark raving mad. After all, to racists, any white man who’d place himself in harm’s way by taking up arms in order to free Black slaves by definition had to be a lunatic. After his failed raid at Harpers Ferry a Continue Reading...

Book Review: Understanding Marxism

Understanding “Wolff-ism”: Prof. Richard Wolff’s Take on Karl Marx in New Text The 2008 crisis of capitalism sparked and regenerated interest in alternatives to the capitalist system, which was on the verge of collapsing. This included revived interest in socialism, with one of the results being the propelling of an obscure leftwing academic into history’s headlights. With appearances on TV shows including Bill Moyers’ and Charlie Rose’s Continue Reading...

Film Review: The Man Who Killed Don Quixote

Terry Gilliam’s Quixotic Quest: Mancha Ado About…? Monty Python collaborator Terry Gilliam’s The Man Who Killed Don Quixote falls into an interesting motion picture category. Cinematic lore includes a sort of subgenre of “difficult” films often made by powerful directors seeking to impose their exacting, iconic, auteurish visions on studios, audiences, critics, etc. During the silent screen era the original uncut versions of D.W. Griffith’s Continue Reading...

Film Review: Us

Jordan’s Jeremiad: Bunnies, Ballerinas - and the Revenge of the Underclass? OK, I admit it - I’m a cinematic scaredy-cat. Ever since small kid days, horror movies have frightened the hell out of me. The last one I went to see was a 2018 LA Film Festival screening of Spell, which I saw because it was set and shot on location in Iceland, a country I’ve only seen from the sky and am interested in. To tell you the truth, I did manage to get Continue Reading...

How Will Trump’s Presidency End? Seven Ways It May

Donald Trump’s campaign and presidency have been marked by extreme controversy, divisiveness, and partisan polarization. Many contend America hasn’t been this divided since the Civil War. Shortly after 2016’s election, comedian Cecily Strong played CNN’s chief political analyst Gloria Borger in an SNL skit, repeatedly complaining Trump “is not normal.” In fact, one of the rare things an overwhelming majority of Americans can agree on nowadays Continue Reading...

Film Review: Cold War

Defective Defectors Don’t Hit Trifecta Shot in glorious black and white, Cold War’s helmer Pawel Pawlikowski’s won the 2018 Cannes Film Festival’s Best Director award and the film was nominated for Cannes’ prestigious Palme d’Or. Cold War won six European Film Awards and as of this writing has won a total of 20 prizes and been nominated for another 32. In 2015 Pawlikowski’s Ida was nommed for a cinematography Oscar and earned the Best Foreign Continue Reading...

Film Review: Vice

Bureaucratic Brio: The Man Who Would Be Vice President - or Viceroy? Writer/director Adam McKay’s Vice, an all-star biographical movie about Dick Cheney is among Hollywood’s top 2018 political pictures. It’s utterly uncanny how Christian Bale completely disappears into his role as the former vice president, just as John C. Reilly does as Oliver Hardy in another biopic being released in America during the holiday season, Stan & Ollie. With Continue Reading...