Sunday, 27 February 2011

Phil Ochs: There But For Fortune Documentary Movie Reviews

Art-house films: ‘Phil Ochs,’ ‘The Grace Card’
Chicago Sun-Times
by Bill Stamets
This well-made documentary profiles folk singer Phil Ochs (1940-1976) and also chronicles the counterculture of the ’60s. Director Kenneth Bowser’s writing and producing credits include documentaries about John Ford, John Wayne, Frank Capra and Preston Sturges. He also directed “Easy Riders, Raging Bulls,” a look at a renegade generation of Hollywood directors in the ’70s.

The Films Of Folkways
SEE Magazine
There was a time when the names of Phil Ochs and Bob Dylan were of equal status. Those were the days of protest marches and protest singers: the early ’60s, when fashion and politics coincided briefly. But fashion moved on. Since then, Dylan has become an international icon with almost god-like status and Phil Ochs is largely forgotten, except by those who were around during the folk scene.

Drive Angry 3D, Hall Pass & Phil Ochs: There But for Fortune
Gapers Block
by Steve Prokopy
Sometimes, the value of a documentary is in the learning more than the form the film takes. For example, director Kenneth Bowser's well-researched, extremely knowledgeable work about folk-singing legend Phil Ochs is a fairly standard issue biography with talking-head interviews, films clips, and lot of Ochs' powerful music. I knew a bit about Ochs because I had a history professor in college who was obsessed with him, and would take any opportunity to pull out one of Ochs' albums (on vinyl, naturally) to play for the class.

Phil Ochs: There but for Fortune
Vue Weekly
by Josef Braun
Phil Ochs went to New York to become the world's greatest songwriter, but he met Bob Dylan and thereafter amended his ambition: he'd settle for second greatest. Dylan, who does not appear in Kenneth Bowser's Phil Ochs: There but for Fortune, was reportedly unkind to Ochs, despite a friendship that would last until Ochs' death in 1976. Yet Dylan's advice to Ochs, his insistence that songs be grounded in the personal as much as the political, tells us a great deal about the difference between these mutually single-minded, era-defining artists.

Monday, 21 February 2011

Where is Phil Ochs When We Really Need Him?

by Peter Stone Brown

I’m pretty sure it was in the ’80s when Reagan was president that these buttons appeared in the remains of head shops, probably in what was once the hip sections of certain cities that said: “Where is Phil Ochs now that we need him?” Those buttons would be equally relevant and perhaps more so right now.

[Read More at CounterPunch]

Phil Ochs Documentary - The Sunday Edition on CBC Radio

Phil Ochs Documentary - Our Third Hour this morning is all about the towering talent and tragic life of Phil Ochs.

His protest songs became the anthems of the 60s upheaval in civil rights, poverty and an immoral war.

He was gifted, funny, abrasive, a raging ego-maniac and a victim of severe mental illness.

He committed suicide more than 30 years ago at the age of 35 but a new documentary about his life and work brings him alive again. Michael will talk to the director.


Saturday, 19 February 2011

Phil Ochs in the News

On Screen - Phil Ochs: There But for Fortune
By James Anderson
“He was like the hero of his own movie,” says Sean Penn of the singer-songwriter who blazed a path for artistic do-gooders. But it wouldn’t be easy for Phil Ochs to maintain his self-made image as a valiant troubadour striving to rid America of all that ailed her. As Kenneth Bowser’s documentary makes painfully clear, the personal toll would be immense. One of the key figures to emerge from the Greenwich Village folk scene of the early ’60s, and the author of “I Ain’t Marching Anymore”—the de facto anthem of the anti-war movement—Ochs would die by his own hand in 1976, at the age of 35.

What killed Phil Ochs?
NOW Magazine
By Susan G. Cole
Director argues politics, as much as illness, brought him down

Q&A with Director of Phil Ochs Documentary Part of Opening Night Event at Gables Cinema
Miami New Times
By Sebastian Del Marmol
Despite what we've seen on Mad Men, the Sixties were not all about capitalistic greed. In fact, the decade witnessed the explosion of counterculture movements, social revolution, and most importantly the birth of the hippies. Enter Phil Ochs. The anti-Don Draper.

‘Ochs’ more than just a biopic
Toronto Sun
By Liz Braun
More than just a biopic of the famed troubadour, Phil Ochs: There But for Fortune is also a brief, brisk, brilliant history of social turmoil in America in the '60s.

Friday Film: Phil Ochs Finally Gets His Biopic
By Susie Davidson
Last month, fans of 1960s singer-songwriter Phil Ochs got some long-delayed gratification when the film “Phil Ochs: There But For Fortune,” directed by Kenneth Bowser, opened in limited release at New York’s IFC Center. With reviews ranging from good to excellent, the movie is now scheduled for runs at 57 theaters nationwide. Aficionados are optimistic that the enigmatic topical singer will finally get the recognition he craved.

New Phil Ochs Film: Still Marchin' Across the Land
The Nation
By Greg Mitchell
When the new documentary about legendary political folk singer Phil Ochs opened in New York early last month, its touring schedule cited only nine cities in all. But after playing for four weeks in New York, and doing well elsewhere, it's now opened or is opening across the country in a total of 60 cities. It's debuting today, for example, everywhere from Coral Gables, Fla. to Toronto, Ontario.

Ambition runs head-on into reality
The Columbus Dispatch
By Stephen Holden
To say that 1960s folk singer Phil Ochs dreamed big is to understate the size of his ambition.

Two music docs sing vastly different tunes
The Globe and Mail
By Liam Lacey
Two documentary musical biographies are being released in Toronto this week, both artifacts of the pop-music big bang of the 1960s.

Movie Review - Phil Ochs: There But For Fortune
NOW Magazine
By Susan G. Cole
Would a gifted artist kill himself in response to his political environment? Kenneth Bowser makes that argument in his documentary about charismatic songwriter Phil Ochs.

Thursday, 17 February 2011

Ex-agents describe spying on civilians

Former Army undercover agent Christopher Pyle testifies Wednesday before the Senate Constitutional Rights subcommittee. Pyle, a former captain, is holding a photo he said was taken on a college campus as part of Army spying activities.February 25, 1971

WASHINGTON (UPI) -- Former military undercover men testified Wednesday that the Army snooped on politicians, celebrities, civil rights leaders, radicals, reporters and thousands of ordinary Americans and kept personal files on them in big, centralized computers.

They said 1,500 Army plainclothes agents had infiltrated, photographed, recorded and watched over political picnics, party conventions, peace marches, a union meeting, yippie communes, a church youth group and a drunken college brawl in Yap, N.D.

Sen. Edward M. Kennedy, D-Mass., said even the hearing itself was being watched. He said an Army military intelligence unit was taping the session.

Names names, dates and places, former agents Christopher H. Pyle, Ralph M. Stein and John O'Brien went before the Senate constitutional rights subcommittee to document their assertion that military intelligence had intruded into American political affairs in a growing threat to the right of free speech and separation of the military from civil politics.

Pyle and Stein told the subcommittee that Army files and blacklists include not only Communists such as Gus Hall, but former servicemen who have spoken out against the Vietnam war, such as Adm. Arnold E. True and Brig. Gen. Hugh B. Hester; folk singers Pete Seeger, Arlo Guthrie, Phil Ochs, Joan Baez and Judy Collins; Executive Director Whitney Young of the Urban League; Julius Hobson Jr., a member of the District of Columbia School Board; actress Jane Fonda; Ralph David Abernathy, head of the Southern Christian Leadership Conference, and others.

Stein, who spent 15 months as a sergeant in the Army's Counterintelligence Analysis Branch in 1967-68, said the files contained detailed financial information, sexual activities, "especially illicit or unconventional," and personal beliefs and associations.

He said the names and data were put in a microfilm bank and given a number to classify the individual's political beliefs.

"For instance, 134.295 indicated that a person was a non-Communist, while 135.295 indicated Communist Party membership or advocacy of communism," Stein said.

Pyle, a former Army intelligence captain who is preparing a doctoral dissertation on the subject, said the Army maintains more than 1,500 plainclothes agents working out of 300 offices and scores of military bases from coast to coast.

Sen. Sam J. Ervin, D-N.C. charged that military spying was a direct threat to the First Amendment of the Constitution.

"The purpose of the Army is to protect this country against foreign forces," he said. "The Army under no circumstances has any right under the Constitution to enter into this area except where it is apparent that civilian law enforcement officers have attempted to suppress violence and failed."

O'Brien, 26, a former sergeant who served for a year with the 113th Military Intelligence Group in Evanston, Ill., said he had personally seen the file on Stevenson. It was started in September, 1969 when Stevenson was state treasurer of Illinois, he said.

He said the only reason the Army started the file was that undercover men had attended a Democratic Party picnic at Stevenson's home in Libertyville, Ill. and reported back that the Rev. Jesse Jackson was planning to endorse Stevenson's pending candidacy for the Senate. Jackson is a leader of Chicago's Black Community, heading an organization called Operation Breadbasket.

O'Brien said Stevenson's folder began to build with newspaper clippings and more reports from agents on his activities. Once a file was started, he said, undercover agents were on orders to collect all information possible on the "target."

Tuesday, 15 February 2011

Phil Ochs in the News

Now Playing: Phil Ochs: There but for Fortune
Miami New Times
Protest singer Phil Ochs found the sources for his lyrics in periodicals, titling his 1964 debut album All the News That's Fit to Sing. ...

'60s voice of protest had roots at OSU
Columbus Dispatch
By Nick Chordas - Five decades after singer-songwriter Phil Ochs left Ohio State University, stories about the artist still circulate among the old guard of ...

'The Daily' Borrows Joan Baez
The AtlanticWire
And, if you ask us, it sounds suspiciously like the Phil Ochs song "There But Fortune," popularized by Joan Baez. Find me an amazing human story at a trial ...

Sunday, 13 February 2011

The Revolution Is Televised

by M. Dennis Paul, Ph.D

As I endlessly stare at Al Jazeera and CNN and strain to hear a message of hope from someone..anyone.. and dissect it.. placing it in comparison with all the coups of history having occurred in my lifetime.. I cannot help but run Phil Ochs' “CRUCIFIXION” over and over again in my mind and endlessly wipe my eyes. These people will either live or die.. and all will eventually die. These people will struggle as they have never struggled before.. and their pain will pour from their flesh like fire and like ice. These people and their future generations will win almost as much as they will lose. History reminds me that evil is overcome only for short stretches of time. It hovers over the newborn waiting for the first sign of weakness.. waiting for the ill and the maimed. Inevitably the workers who have overcome the hive succumb to a queen. Inevitably, the lovers find fault and crush the spirit that dared them to challenge the odds of everlasting.

[Read More]

Thursday, 10 February 2011

Vets to attend war inquiry

January 29, 1971


About 25 members of Ohio State Veterans Against the War (VAW) are planning to participate in their own inquiry on Vietnam war crimes in Detroit this weekend.

The purpose of the "Winter Soldier Investigations" (WSI) is to prove war crimes were committed by U.S. soldiers and that they were "the inexorable result of national policy," according to Tim Holder, a junior from Columbus and president of the local VAW.

The WSI takes its name indirectly from Thomas Paine's phrase "the summer soldier and sunshine patriot" of the American Revolution, those men who fought for the cause when the weather was good. A statement from WSI reads, "our greatest debt is to the men who served during that cold winter at Valley Forge."

"Those who testify in Detroit are the winter soldiers of the Vietnam War," William Crandell, a graduate student from Sylvania member of the steering committee of WSI, said.

According to Holder, former enlisted men and officers from various Marine, Army, Air Force, and Navy divisions will testify about war crimes their units had committed. He said testimony of massacres, torture of prisoners and murder of prisoners will be offered.

"No names will be used, so there will be no scapegoats," Holder said. "And those who testify need have no fear of prosecution since they are out of uniform."

The first day will begin with accounts of the use of weapons which have been outlawed by international treaty. Holder cited the use of anti-personnel bombs which are timed to explode a few minutes after they hit the ground and the all clear signal has been sounded.

"We feel an obligation to inform the American public about what's happening," Crandell said. "We know, we are there."

The investigation is being conducted by honorably discharged veterans who served in Vietnam, he said. It is being supported by donations from Businessmen for Peace and contributions raised by singers Phil Ochs, Dave Crosby and Graham Nash.

Crosby and Nash will perform Saturday in Detroit, and admission will be free for veterans, Holder said.

Free room and board will be provided for all veterans who attend either to testify or to watch.

Howard Zinn, professor of political science at Yale will be the moderator, according to Crandell. Zinn recently visited American POWs in Vietnam.

WSI has called on all churches to declare Sunday, a day of mourning for those who have died in Vietnam, and a day of prayer that the war will now end. Veterans will speak in churches throughout the country on Sunday morning, Holder said.

Saturday, 5 February 2011

Phil Ochs: There But For Fortune Documentary Film - DVD Release

The DVD release of Phil Ochs: There But for Fortune, directed by Kenneth Bowser, is scheduled for release on DVD by First Run Features on July 19, 2011. A theatre listing of screenings of the film can be found here.

Thursday, 3 February 2011

Wednesday, 2 February 2011

Phil Ochs: There but for Fortune - Metro Times Film Review

By Corey Hall
Metro Times
Quixotic, troubled, joyful and haunted, Phil Ochs was among the most tragic casualties of the collapse of the '60s idealistic dream, because, deep down, nobody believed in it more than he. A protest singer back when that actually meant something, Ochs was a flamethrower with a poet's heart, and a folkie with the rocker's soul.

Listen to - Phil Ochs: Still Marching

Billy Bragg looks at the life of Phil Ochs, who was part of the 1960s folk revival and the protest singer of his age.