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Archives for January 2018

Hell’s Mels!

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It looks like Mel’s not gonna make my movie after all. Nor the movie that my movie was about the not-making of. Nor the Revelations movie he was always meant to make. Instead, he’s taking on Christ’s post-Resurrection sojourn, which, frankly, seems more in Terrence Malick’s wheelhouse. But then, nobody asked me.

A Post about The Post

From the moment we linger on that typewriter in the opening scene, we know we’re watching a film directed by Stephen Spielberg and starring Tom Hanks. It’s pretty good, even great if you enjoy footage of the newspaper production process in the 70s—hot type, giant spools of paper, the whole Rube Goldberg machine for distributing a fresh pack of lies every day—which I do.

Yes, newspapers are in a sorry state these days, and no, perhaps not exactly for the reasons we’re lead to believe while watching The Post, but while everybody disagrees with everybody else when it comes to the how and why truth has become so imperiled, I don’t think anybody much doubts that it is, in fact, imperiled. Always has been, always will be. The Post is pretty good on the has been.

Phantom Thread

This was an excellent movie. Being written and directed by Paul Thomas Anderson, I knew it would be a good movie, but I didn’t know what to expect in a movie about a dress designer in London during the 1950s. I strongly suspect that the inspiration for the story came from years of reading fairy tales to his children, as a fairy tale is precisely the sort of story Phantom Thread is. We’re a long ways from Boogie Nights. I mean, I love Boogie Nights, and though I’m not suggesting Phantom Thread is any more appropriate for children than his ode to the porn community, I suspect it will wear better and longer.

The Master remains my favorite of Anderson’s films, even one of my favorite films ever, being a generous portrayal of the Master/Slave relationship comparable to Tolstoy. Phantom Thread, if not (to my eyes) quite as great a film, is yet a greater surprise, where in the end what matters most are the life and death stakes of marriage, a fairy tale for what happens after the fairy tale. No, I have no idea what I’m talking about. Still, don’t miss it.

Happy Belated Feast of Saint Thomas Aquinas!

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First Dolores—Now Echo. Who’s Heart Is Not Being Broken?

Echo Helstrom Casey

Hibbing native Echo Helstrom Casey, Bob Dylan’s first serious girlfriend and widely viewed as the inspiration for his 1963 song “Girl From the North Country,” died this month in California. She was 75.

Google Alert: Catholic Arts Today

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The good people at the Benedict XVI Institute for Sacred Music and Divine Worship could not help but cast a curious eye on the strange and shadowy world of Catholic art, and for whatever reason, they saw fit to take note of my little poem “Leaving.” I’m tickled pink.

In Which Joseph and Cecilia Indulge the Wisconsin Malaise

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Mr. Arkadin

I didn’t care for it, not at all. Watch Touch of Evil again instead, or even The Stranger. Above, you can listen to Welles deploy a Russian accent through an improbable beard as he regales partygoers with the story of the Scorpion and the Frog. Then compare it to versions from The Crying Game, Drive, and Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, all of which you can find on the side bar.

Okay.

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So The Shape of Water (my review, for what it’s worth, is here) got a whole bunch of Oscar nominations. I’m gonna use that as my spur for writing Volume Two of Lives of Famous Catholics. See if I can get it done in time for the ceremony in early March. No title yet, but my subject is director Guillermo Del Toro. I know, I know — another film director? But I can’t help myself. For what it’s worth, I still hope to finish Gaga Confidential, perhaps pegged to the release of A Star is Born later this year. I have plans for the other four entries that will make up the eventual seven-story book, but there’s no sense in getting ahead of myself. Let’s see if I can do one.

Fathers and Sons

ADDED: A primer for those who don’t know why NYFG fans hate the PEs (and, yes, of course, the NEPs too.

ADDED: Exhibit A & B.

How I Feel Now that Philadelphia ("Ptui!”) Is Going to the Super Bowl

How I Feel Now that Philadelphia (“Ptui!”) Is Going to the Super Bowl

 

There is the boy and there are the certain facts of boyhood
(Though nothing autobiographical
Is ever really deduced, is ever really reducible).

Yet the boy’s whole story is as any boy’s life, full
Of moment and followed by others, messily progressing
Along in the plain old myth-telling style.

There was the boy and his father — a fact which must go
Unverified as a creature’s cause. That which didn’t
Make self, though, inherited at least this knowledge:

There is the father and the son – met in boisterous love of sport
Which welded the lessons of thunderous anger
And the sadness hidden in laughter’s cloudbanks.

The boy’s hand consumed in his father’s, they would walk
The yard, policing November’s washout of light;
Spring would arrive only later in the Sun’s cult.

But now was the time to take all of creation into account,
To find the faults in the earth where hide the virtues
Of fathers, to corral the sins of the sons with a hard stewardship.

In these wintry days, the son played Icarus with his father’s
Crafted matchstick ships, motorized by cleverness;
Or played Phaeton pilfering matchbooks and cigars; or Ganymede

Holding the cold brown bottle of Olympia beer for
Father Zeus watching Sunday football, weighing and sighing
In the gridded and hashed balance of his favor-fought heroes.

Thus, Zeus’s gaze fell shadow-like on the U.S.S. Missouri’s
Jacked keel, but withheld just punishments for playing
Fire’s innocence, and hounded the N.Y. Giants weekly battles

Against his patience – all things that youth reaches for
In the hardened hands of time, the works and ways
Of which the golden scales tip in a boy’s growing favor.