A Scottish-born photographer, Harry Benson’s big break came when he started traveling with The Beatles in 1964. His photo of the band having an impromptu pillow fight at a Paris hotel quickly became part of rock ‘n’ roll history, but his six decades of imagery have captured more than just the music world. A steadfast photojournalist, Benson has shot portraits of every American president from Dwight Eisenhower to Barack Obama. Photographing for Life magazine from 1970 to 2000 and producing more than 100 cover shots for People, the talented lensman has enjoyed unlimited access to celebrities while also spending time in the trenches to report on protests and conflicts around the world.
The subject of an extended exhibition at Staley-Wise Gallery in New York, Benson presents his quirky images of Jacqueline Kennedy, Michael Jackson, Frank Sinatra, R. Crumb, Andy Warhol, and Muhammad Ali, as well as a few recent portraits, including a dynamic 2007 shot of a vivacious Amy Winehouse. Click through to view a selection of our favorite photos from the show.
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Today at Flavorpill, we watched a tribute to Muhammad Ali that played during the Olympic opening ceremonies, created by remix master Steve Porter. We found out dumps are currently overflowing with old pianos, which sounded sad and strangely beautiful. We got the details on all the food and drink name-dropping Rick… Read More
Last week, we took a look at a few of Hollywood’s stranger casting decisions for previous (and upcoming) biographical films. But with the Oscar-winning Iron Lady out today on DVD and Blu-ray, we thought we might also take a look at some of the more successful actor/biographical subject match-ups—with a particular eye on those that most convincingly embodied the figures they were playing.
Playing a well-known and well-documented actor, musician, or public figure can’t be easy, even for the best of actors — they not only have to assemble a serviceable performance in the conventional sense, but must also work up a convincing impersonation. They’re playing people that we’re used to seeing, whose look and speech have become familiar and distinctive, and must thus be replicated. The great performances in biographical movies must also then transcend the mere imitation, and create a compelling character beyond that. After the jump, we’ve assembled a dozen of the actors who memorably got into someone else’s skin; add your own in the comments.
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Last night, Current TV wrapped up “50 Documentaries to See Before You Die,” a month-long countdown series summarizing the best of non-fiction cinema. And our sympathies go out to the folks at Current, because as we well know, any time you put together a “best of” anything list, you’re going to get second-guessed from here to kingdom come. But let’s face it: there are some absolutely puzzling exclusions. No Grey Gardens? Gimme Shelter? Hearts of Darkness? Gates of Heaven? Woodstock? The oldest titles on the list are The Thin Blue Line and The Decline of Western Cilvilization Part II: The Metal Years — golden oldies from 1988. We liked Catfish fine, but is there anyone on this earth who thinks it’s a better doc than Salesman? Who thinks Shut Up & Sing tops Don’t Look Back? Who finds Food, Inc. more vital than Titicut Follies?
And don’t even get us started on the fact that Dear Zachary isn’t on there.
But let’s put those complaints aside, because a list like this ultimately does more good than harm — any time a cable network can shine a light on great documentary films, we’re all for it, and these are (almost) all genuinely great documentaries. Where we really disagree is in the ranking — they picked the right movies (post-’88, anyway), but they’ve got them in the wrong order. Super Size Me at #5? Seriously? (Yes, yes, of course it’s just a coincidence that the show is hosted by Super Size Me director Morgan Spurlock.) So we’ve taken the 50 titles Current compiled and reorganized then into own top 10, with the reasons why, after the jump.
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Afsoon, a young Iranian artist who’s getting a lot of play on the developing Middle Eastern art scene, migrated from Iran to San Francisco to London, where — as an adult — things finally clicked. Enjoying her first solo show in New York at the touted Leila Taghinia-Milani Heller Gallery, Afsoon offers works from her Fairytale Icons series, which features black-and-white appropriated portraits of Iranian rulers, heads of state that brokered the WWII peace treaty in Tehran, and celebrated Muslim actors, artists, poets, princesses, musicians, and sport’s figures, such as the controversial boxer Muhammad Ali, who’s visualized surrounded by butterflies and bees.
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Today at Flavorpill, we wondered if Google paper towels are more absorbent. We were frightened by the story of a Peruvian gang killing people for their fat. We disagreed with Slate’s take on book trailers. We were blown away by Spencer Krug’s energy. We learned to be wary of any … Read More
Soul Power documents the Zaire ’74 all-star concert that set the stage for Muhammad Ali and George Foreman’s legendary Rumble in the Jungle.
Originally uncovered during the editing of Oscar-winning documentary When We Were Kings (1996), which captured the Ali/Forman fight, this sizzling footage has been waiting nearly 35 years to see the light. Kings incorporated just a few tantalizing glimpses of the three-day concert.
Soul Power sets the record straight by featuring complete, historic performances from legends such as B.B. King, Bill Withers, Miriam Makeba, and an incendiary James Brown, whose 1971 single lends the film its title.
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On October 30th, 1974, Muhammad Ali touched gloves with George Foreman in Kinshasa, Zaire. After 8 epic rounds, Ali put the mighty Foreman, and the demons of his late career achievements, down to the mat. The Rumble in the Jungle is legendary, but so was what led up to it. The Oscar-winning doc When We Were Kings told that story and captured Ali’s magical verbal sparring, along with the feeling generated by American pop and confidence merging with tribal rhythms and home-coming warmth. But that was only half the story.
To celebrate the monumental event, concert promoters got together and created Zaire ’74, which took mega-American-talents like James Brown and B.B. King and matched them with other members of the African Diaspora’s musical royalty. Overshadowed by Ali and Foreman’s pugilist dance, the concert, and the back-story of what it took to make it happen, has sat in cold storage. It’s about to defrost. Soul Power, opening in New York and LA this Friday, should join the concert film brotherhood of Gimme Shelter, Wattstax, and Woodstock. We sat down with the film’s director, Jeffrey Levy-Hinte, who edited Kings, to discuss his return to the fall of ’74 and the raw power of raw… Read More