Boots Riley

Bullseye with Jesse Thorn: Forest Whitaker and Armando Iannucci

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Show: 
Bullseye
Guests: 
Forest Whitaker
Guests: 
Armando Iannucci

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Photo: Kris Connor/Getty Images

Forest Whitaker on playing Desmond Tutu in his new movie "The Forgiven"

Forest Whitaker has been acting for over thirty years now and has won award after award including the Academy Award for best actor for his role as Idi Amin in "The Last King of Scotland." He has a knack for taking huge figures from history and portraying them as complex, fascinating, and sometimes really fragile people. He played Charlie Parker in "Bird." He played Cecil Gaines, the White House butler in "The Butler." Now, he's starring as Archbishop Desmond Tutu in the new film "The Forgiven," directed by Roland Joffe, who also made the classic 1984 film "The Killing Fields."

"The Forgiven" takes place in South Africa, just after apartheid. The Truth and Reconciliation Commission is in full swing- holding public and private testimony from the victims and perpetrators of past wrongs. Archbishop Tutu was the chairman of the commission, appointed by Nelson Mandela himself.

Whitaker chats with Jesse about Tutu's struggle to love the most heinous of criminals and how he himself struggles to love people that have hurt him. He talks about the origin of his movie "Ghost Dog: The Way of the Samurai" and what he learned about acting while playing the title role. He also explains why he stands by his movie "Battlefield Earth" - despite the many haters ready to poke fun about how bad the film was.

Click here to listen to Forest Whitaker's interview on YouTube.


Photo: Tara Ziemba/Getty Images

Armando Iannucci on his new movie "The Death of Stalin"

Armando Iannucci is a writer and director who created the HBO TV series "Veep," which has won seventeen Emmy Awards. He also created the BBC political comedy "The Thick of It," which later spun off into the move "In the Loop." He specializes in finding comedy in broken political systems and the bureaucrats who run them. He's found most of his material in the people who run democracies - UK cabinet ministers and presidential wannabes.

His latest project is called "The Death of Stalin." The film is set in Russia in 1953. Josef Stalin is dying from a cerebral hemorrhage and there's a power struggle brewing among members of his advising committee. He says the film is about five terrible people who pretty much all think they're fighting the good fight. The characters are all classic Iannucci: they're ambitious, chaotic and all deeply insecure. They betray one another at every turn, then feign concern and friendship when it's politically convenient.

He'll talks to Jesse about how this new movie took him out of his comfort zone, the fascinating stories he gathered from survivors of Stalin's regime, and why doing satire nowadays is harder than ever.

Click here to listen to Armando Iannucci's interview on YouTube.


Photo: Joe Brusky via Flickr Creative Commons

The Outshot: "The Coup"

Oakland's "The Coup" stand out among the greats of hip-hop's golden age of the late 80's and early 90's. They are standard bearers of that period's mix of politics, humanity, and humor.

Click here to listen to Jesse's Outshot on The Coup on YouTube.

Bullseye with Jesse Thorn: Roman Mars and Boots Riley, Live at SF Sketchfest

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Show: 
Bullseye
Guests: 
Roman Mars
Guests: 
Boots Riley
Guests: 
Steve Agee
Guests: 
Peter Hartlaub

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This week, a live recording of Bullseye, held at the Punchline Comedy Club as part of SF Sketchfest.


From 1978's Invasion of the Body Snatchers

Peter Hartlaub Recommends San Francisco on Film: "The Conversation" and "Invasion of the Body Snatchers"

The San Francisco Chronicle's pop culture critic, Peter Hartlaub, joins us to share some of his favorite San Francisco films.

He recommends Francis Ford Coppola's The Conversation for its realistic depiction of San Francisco, as well as the 1978 version of Invasion of the Body Snatchers, which, in spite of its terrifying story, might give San Francisco's public transit planners some food for thought.

Peter Hartlaub writes for the San Francisco Chronicle and blogs about pop culture at The Big Event.

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Roman Mars on 99% Invisible, Public Media and Crowd-Funding

You'd think that it'd be almost impossible to tell stories about architecture and design in a completely invisible medium, but Roman Mars makes it work. The public radio host and producer's stories show that design is everywhere – he's produced stories about the unintentional music of escalators, failed prison designs, and reclusive monks who make the best beer in the world.

These stories are all a part of 99% Invisible, "a tiny radio show about design" that Roman hosts and produces. The show is truly tiny; it airs for only five minutes on a handful of public radio stations, including KALW. But the podcast is another story. Episodes of the podcast version of 99% Invisible are longer and more detailed – and they reach a much larger audience. Last year, Roman led a massive Kickstarter campaign to fund the show's third season. Fans gave more than $170,000, making it the most successful journalism Kickstarter to date.

Roman joins Jesse onstage to discuss his theory of creativity, his reasons for exchanging his dream of becoming a scientist for a career in public radio, and his Doogie Houser-esque college experience.

99% Invisible is available on iTunes and Soundcloud. You can follow Roman on Twitter at @RomanMars.

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Comedy: Steve Agee on Movie Trivia in the Pre-Internet Age

Why did God invent the internet? Steve Agee has an idea. It's probably not what you think.

Steve Agee is a writer, actor, and standup comedian. He's a former writer for Jimmy Kimmel Live! and appeared as Steve Myron on the beloved Sarah Silverman Program.

You can follow him on Twitter at @SteveAgee.

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The Coup's Boots Riley on Merging Music with Social Activism, and What to Learn From Telemarketing

Boots Riley's life has always been about change, and never about complacency. He was already an leftist activist in high school, staging walkouts on school grounds, and he followed his parents' lead into community organizing. He was immersed in rap and hip hop in his hometown of Oakland, California, but didn't make the connection between the power of music and activism for several years.

Boots has fronted the hip hop group The Coup for over two decades as an MC and producer, and the group's positive, funky, and danceable music is still clearly message-driven in 2013. Their lyrics confront injustice, police brutality, and the rise of corporatism with aggressive wit. The group released a new album, Sorry to Bother You, late last year.

Boots talked to us about why he thinks an active engagement with world makes life worth living, finding humor in the disturbing reality of poverty and injustice, and what he learned from his time in, of all things, telemarketing.

BONUS AUDIO: Boots and his longtime collaborator Eric McFadden performed several songs live on stage. You can listen and share those tracks here.

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The Outshot: "I Got Five On it" by The Luniz

What says "Bay Area" to you? For Jesse, it's all about I Got 5 On It by the Luniz – specifically, the Bay Ballers remix.

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