Director Oliver Stone doesn’t mind incurring the wrath of the mainstream media with his documentaries, which he has recently been releasing in between his studio features. “Finding Fidel” and “Comandante” attempted to rescue Castro from decades of demonization, with Stone sitting down and chatting up Cuba’s leader. In the new “South of the Border,” Stone travels down to Venezuela to do the same thing with Hugo Chavez.
The brisk and informative “South of the Border” begins with the talking bobble heads of Fox News’ morning show, snarking about how Chavez must be insane because he eats a bowl of cocoa every day. The most intelligent of the three hosts steps in to bravely ask if they mean coca. Nobody is really sure, and who cares, right? (Knowledge is so elitist.) It’s a scene that promises to melt your brain right there and then, and then make one despair for modern media in general. But after a quick history lesson on the West’s finagling in South America, Stone brings in Hugo Chavez and sits down with the man we’ve been led to believe is a bloodthirsty monster.
UCSB’s Arts & Lectures capped off its 50th anniversary season with a special dinner, auction and lecture event at the Coral Casino on Monday night. With the Pacific Ocean rolling and crashing right up to the rocky berm not that far below the resort, the evening reminded the $350/plate guests how their support plays out in season after season of musicians at the top of their game, stellar dance and theater companies, humorists, intellectuals and the best in cinema. Part fund-raiser for next season, part thank-you, and part private party, the evening ended with a special appearance by documentary filmmaker Ken Burns.
In his 50s now, but still looking a boyish early-30s, Mr. Burns is coming off his most recent multi-part documentary for PBS: a history of the National Parks. In the style that he made famous through docs on the Civil War, baseball and jazz, this journey through our national treasures once again made centuries-old voices come alive, still photographs look like they were shot yesterday, and revealed the weird and wonderful fabric of America.
Ken Burns has been shaping the way we think about history for the past 30 years with his epic, sprawling narratives of America’s past. In his multi-part documentaries for PBS, he has taught us about the Civil War, baseball, jazz, World War II and, in last year’s 12-hour series, the history of our National Parks.
UCSB’s Arts & Lectures celebrates the end of its 50th anniversary season with a very special appearance by Ken Burns on Monday, May 24, at the Coral Casino. Paula Poundstone emcees the event, which includes dinner and a silent auction of such goodies as a guitar autographed by Elvis Costello.
When the Franciscans abandoned their missions in 1833 after the Mexican congress passed the secularization act, our own Mission Santa Barbara wound up as the repository of much of the artifacts. By that time, Tina Foss explains, our mission had lost some of its importance, and with the others looted, became an unintentional museum of a historical period. Nearly two centuries later, some of these treasures, along with popular pieces, will be open for viewing for a very brief time.
The second annual Mission Art Tour will give two hours to see artworks that have long been in storage. Of the 56 pieces on display, half come from the Provincial Archive in Oakland and the other half from the mission’s storage and permanent collection. Objects include textiles, statues, paintings and religious artifacts like gold chalices. Many date back to the 17th century, and most need some sort of restoration.