Making Wishful Thinking Real

Wish Tree for Pasadena by Yoko Ono recently opened on August 2nd and will continue to November 9th. The art installation consists of 21 living crape myrtle trees installed amongst the cafe tables and chairs in the Courtyard of One Colorado. Visitors are invited to write their wishes on pieces of paper and hang them on the tree branches. The wishes will be joined with others from around the world and placed in specially constructed capsules to be installed in the area surrounding Yoko Ono's Imagine Peace Tower on Videy Island, off the coast of Reykjavik, Iceland. With a need to celebrate my 12th wedding anniversary I combined a trip to an Old Town restaurant with a visit to Yoko Ono's latest installation.

Before I begin the fast decent into criticism, I would like to apologize to all of the rabid Beatles fans, and the much much smaller Yoko Ono fan club. I also apologize to anyone who finds these often beautiful but empty experiences cathartic.

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Frozen River: Oscar-worthy indie

Frozen River may be the most moving and relevant independent film this summer.   It deals with single motherhood, immigration, and native peoples’ sovereignty in surprising ways.  Frozen River presents characters we haven’t seen in situations we’ve never imagined.   It bursts with compassion and humanity.  But like many earnest and original independent films, it will need plenty of advocates urging audiences to see it.

Frozen River won the Dramatic Grand Jury Prize at the Sundance Film Festival in January.  When jury chair Quentin Tarantino announced the prize for Frozen River, he said it “put my heart in a vise and proceeded to twist that vise until the last frame.”     It is a riveting story of two determined women, forced by trying circumstances into smuggling immigrants into the United States.  Melissa Leo stars as Rae, a working Mom, fighting off poverty with quiet fury.   She longs to provide her kids with a new home.   Misty Upham plays Lila, a Mohawk woman desperate to get her baby back.  They become unlikely partners, traversing the frozen St. Lawrence river that separates the Canadian/American border. 
 
Filmmaker Courtney Hunt has made a remarkably assured debut. Frozen River is taut, heartfelt, and authentic. She and the cast convey such compassion for the characters. It affirms single mothers struggling to pay the bills.   It presents a complex portrait of Native Americans.  It dignifies people who live in trailers, but strive for something more.   Melissa Leo’s powerful, empathetic performance is Oscar-worthy.    She burns with intensity amidst the snow and ice.  
Tags | Film

Art In Action (Part V): Stand Together

IAM’s next Encounter will take place February 26-28, 2009, in lower Manhattan, and the theme of the Encounter will be “Art in Action.” When asked about the genesis of the next Encounter’s theme, Makoto Fujimura points to the 1982 book by Nicholas Wolterstorff of the same title. “Art in Action” has remained a staple on the bookshelf of artists and creative catalysts throughout the world who seek to dig deeper into the meaning and purpose for art.

Following is Part Five of Christy Tennant’s recent interview with Makoto Fujimura about the theme of the next IAM Encounter:

CT: You mentioned that merely reacting to things that happen in our society is a violation of Christian love. Can you elaborate on that a bit? What are some of the reactions you are referring to?
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Poetry Friday: Lawrence Ferlinghetti

This isn't strictly shape poetry, but the shape of the lines mirrors the movement of the words. Enjoy.

# 46

And every poem and every picture
a sensation in the eye and heart
Something that jolts you awake
from the rapt sleep of living
in a flash of pure epiphany
where all stands still
in a diamond light
transfixed
revealed
for what it truly is
in all its mystery
So a bird is an animal
flown into a tree
singing inscrutable melodies
As a lover stands transparen
Screened against the sun
Smiling darkly in the blinding light

Tags | Writing

July Reviews

More quickie reviews, cooled from weeks of neglect:

The simple appeal of the first Hellboy can be found in its paradoxical protagonist: a demon with a gentle spirit who fights on behalf of the good guys. In Hellboy II: The Golden Army, director Guillermo del Toro does almost nothing with this conceit, showing little interest in the interiority of its characters while fanning his obsession with elaborately designed monsters. Like his overrated Pan’s Labyrinth (whose fairy tale atmosphere was patronizing), there is a lot to distract the eye, but little to engage the head or heart. Briefly, fleetingly, the film will seduce you with its majestically dark vision of a supernatural underworld, but this vision is undermined by the silly comic book plotting, which basically comes down to a lot of martial arts-style skirmishing. Still recommended for the memorable appearance of a legless Irish troll, a butt-ugly creation that finds the right balance between humor and terror.

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Tags | Film

The Dark Knight: Best of the Decade?

With The Dark Knight’s claims to box-office pre-eminence secured, the spin cycle begins.   What does this hugely popular, amazingly resonate movie mean?   What is the message amidst all the madness cruising through Gotham’s streets?     At HollywoodJesus.com, The Joker is associated with postmodernism and all things relative, making Batman the force for moral absolutes.   At Dirty Harry’s Place, Batman emerges as a surrogate George W. Bush, willing to be hated for the sake of a larger mission.  Yet, at Beliefnet.com, The Dark Knight is traced back to St. John of the Cross and his dark nights of the soul.   Is this the sign of a great movie or merely a conflicted audience?  How many readings are possible?  How many readings are helpful?  What might be the filmmakers’ intent?

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Tags | Film

Art In Action (Part IV): Loving Offensively

IAM’s next Encounter will take place February 26-28, 2009, in lower Manhattan, and the theme of the Encounter will be “Art in Action.” When asked about the genesis of the next Encounter’s theme, Makoto Fujimura points to the 1982 book by Nicholas Wolterstorff of the same title. “Art in Action” has remained a staple on the bookshelf of artists and creative catalysts throughout the world who seek to dig deeper into the meaning and purpose for art.

Following is Part Four of Christy Tennant’s recent interview with Makoto Fujimura about the theme of the next IAM Encounter:

CT: If art is supposed to be a means of repairing and rehumanizing the culture around us, what is the artist’s responsibility to that end? Does Nicholas Wolterstoff place the responsibility on artists themselves?
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Poetry Friday: Donald Hall

An amusing - and possibly thought-provoking - image.

 We Bring Democracy To The Fish

It is unacceptable that fish prey on each other.
For their comfort and safety, we will liberate them
into fishfarms with secure, durable boundaries
that exclude predators. Our care will provide
for their liberty, health, happiness, and nutrition.
Of course all creatures need to feel useful.
At maturity the fish will discover their purposes.

Tags | Writing

THE DARK KNIGHT: Instant Classic

The Dark Knight is the most ambitious and satisfying comic book movie ever, an instant classic.   It thrills and chills, combining massive spectacle with timeless questions regarding our humanity.  In exploring our disturbing depths, director Christopher Nolan attains unparalleled cinematic heights.   It is a feast for the eyes and a challenge to the brain.   While Batman battles the Joker for the soul of Gotham City, Nolan pulls audiences into the rarest of responses to a Hollywood blockbuster:  genuine introspection.  It is a soulful adventure.   The Dark Knight explores the cost of combating evil.   How many rules are we willing to break to maintain order?   How many freedoms will we sacrifice to reign in chaos?   The Dark Knight calls us to give an account.

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Tags | Film

Poetry Friday: Roger Mitchell

I'll be honest and say that I chose this solely for the amazing imagery of "God's unshaven face".

The Stones at Callinish, Isle of Lewis

A boarded-up hotel beside
a fishing pier, a pub. Above them both,
a church crouched on a hill. Whoever brought
Christ to this desolate coast did it
with sword and fire, and it's not clear today
whether it took, or whether the slow seep
of centuries, the long winter nights,
would ever let anything be that wasn't
as sullen as the hill. The village
is that way, too. When you step outside,
there it is, the universe, all of it,
the glare of it pure, God's unshaven face
so close your skin rasps. Whoever raised
the stones did a good job of vanishing, too,
though the longer I stand here, the more
it seems it was deeper into the genes
they went, not just into the air.
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