New and notable movies, music and books

New and notable movies, music and books By American Labor Education Center

This edition of the free bulletin, World Wide Work, is published by the American Labor Education Center, an independent nonprofit founded in 1979.

New and worth noting…

FILMS

*Outsourced (). This romantic comedy follows a young “fulfillment executive” in Seattle who is sent to India to train workers who will be taking over the work the team he supervised used to do. In the process, he falls in love, learns something about Indian culture as well as his own, and finds out that Indians too are subject to the whims of global capital.

*Freeheld (). The 38-minute Oscar winner for short documentary is a powerful tool for provoking discussion about the rights of partners of the same sex. As a woman who has served for 25 years as a police officer in Ocean County, New Jersey, is dying of cancer, county politicians refuse to exercise their power to pass her pension on to her female partner, as it would be to a male husband. The male officers she has worked with lead a community movement that forces change.

*August Evening (). This gorgeous independent feature about cross-generational relationships in a Mexican family in Texas has the authentic emotion and subtlety that is missing from most Hollywood blockbusters. Key roles are played powerfully by people from the area who never acted before.

*War Made Easy (). This feature film takes the viewer inside the head of a returning Iraq war veteran whose wounds – physical and psychological – dominate his life even as he tries to make a new friend back home.

*Secrecy (). An 87-minute, dispassionate documentary interviews intelligence and military insiders as well as outside watchdogs on the question of how to balance the public’s need for information to make democratic decisions and agencies’ desire to maintain secrecy.

*Young@Heart (foxsearchlight.com/youngatheart). A documentary that is both warm and poignant about a musical performing group of people in their 70s and 80s whose repertoire includes hard-driving punk rock songs as well as favorites from the 1960s.

*My Effortless Brilliance (). A rare movie that explores male friendship as a young writer tries to reconnect with a buddy he lost touch with after achieving some commercial success.

*7,500 Miles to Redemption (). This half-hour documentary about Asian-American inmates in an Oregon prison who raise money to build a school in rural Vietnam underscores the waste of human potential when millions of Americans are warehoused behind bars.

BOOKS

*Unafraid by Jeff Golden (). At a time when a new national figure is leading for his party’s presidential nomination by tapping into many Americans’ yearning for a break from conventional politics, this novel evokes the author’s vision of what is possible. His starting point – what if the bullet fired at John F. Kennedy in Dallas in 1963 only wounded him, and in the process gave him a new willingness to take risks for progressive policies and an intense sense of urgency? How might the years since then have been different?

*Swim Against the Current by Jim Hightower with Susan DeMarco (Wiley). The populist with a sense of humor chronicles grassroots activists across the U.S. who have made a difference in their communities.

*Stand Up Straight by Robert Creamer (Seven Locks Press). A long-time political organizer provides nearly 600 pages of thoughtful advice for campaigners of all kinds about how to communicate and organize effectively for progressive issues and candidates.

*Keeping the Promise?: The Debate Over Charter Schools (Rethinking Schools). Charter schools promised to jumpstart new models for education reform at a time when many school systems have not been able to respond with appropriate urgency to children’s needs. Most charter schools are smaller than traditional public schools. Some are operated by profit-making chains. Nearly all are nonunion. This collection of essays examines whether they are fulfilling their promise, and what lessons they are teaching about education policy.

*The Big Squeeze by Steven Greenhouse (Knopf). One of the few labor reporters left at an American newspaper, the New York Times reporters draws on years of interviews to paint a human picture of declining living standards and workers’ rights. He contrasts the Wal-Marting of the economy with the high road he says employers such as Costco have followed. He also proposes reforms for the country, corporations, and unions to ease the squeeze that most workers are facing.

*Tree Barking by Nesta Rovina (Heyday). A home health therapist schooled in South Africa and Israel provides an unvarnished memoir of her work with desperately poor county clients in northern California.

*The Flowers by Dagoberto Gilb (Grove). A gritty novel about a Mexican-American teenaged boy in Los Angeles and the people who live in his apartment building.

*Dreams and Shadows by Robin Wright (Penguin Press). A veteran Washington Post correspondent draws on decades of reporting to provide a primer on the recent history and possible future of key countries in the Middle East.

*Linked Labor Histories by Aviva Chomsky (Duke University). New England and Colombia are used as case studies to show that globalization is not new, that its long existence is a major reason for the wealth gap around the world, and that U.S. unions have historically sided with capital against workers in other countries.

*Greening Your Office by Jon Clift and Amanda Cuthbert (Chelsea Green). Practical tips on reducing contributions to global warming.

*The Gum Chewing Rattler by Joe Hayes (Cinco Puntos). A vividly illustrated children’s book about a story a boy tells his mother.

MUSIC

*Chameleon by Tim O’Brien (Proper American). This solo album from a leading bluegrass and folk musician features the joyful “Get Out There and Dance.”

*Beautiful World by Eliza Gilkyson (Red House). The singer-songwriter finds herself “on the corner of ruin and grace,” looking for hope in the darkest times.

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