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Today in Catholic Artists: Ben Hatke

Ben Hatke: Artist & Adventurer from Mirandum Pictures on Vimeo.

The man is talented and prolific and weirdly happy-seeming. He’s probably also disciplined and sober and able to face his demons with a confident smile. I’m baffled.

Today in Catholic Artists: Gene Yang

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Gene Yang, a MacArthur Genius whose work I once reviewed, continues to sound his great theme, the meeting of East and West, this time by putting Superman in China. Not Kal-El, Mr. Truth, Justice, and the American Way, but an analogue, Kenan Kong. (There’s a Chinese Batman and Wonder Woman, too!)

I like the idea behind Sleez, the villain here. He feeds off unhealthy desires. Like something out of The Great Divorce.

Because “Kulture Klash” is one of our categories…

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…and because a few of us tackled the kulturkampf-inspired Exiles lo these ten years ago, and because I’ve been spending a lot of time on the astonishing blog Monster Brains of late, I am sharing a link to The Kaiser’s Garland. As Gaga Confidential will eventually attest, I’m a sucker for illustrations featuring perversions of the Mass, and Garland is full of ’em. Here, the innocent angel Belgium has been slain on the altar and offered to Moloch. Love the simian acolytes.

“Natural order? You sound like one of those insane Neo-Catholics.”

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…is an actual line of dialogue from Altered Carbon, Netflix’s dense and gorgeous sci-fi series about life after death has been digitally defeated. Consciousness has been codified, so you can get “spun up” into a new bodily “sleeve” for all eternity — provided you have the means. But wouldn’t you know it, there’s this weird bunch of religious zealots who object — who make noises about soul and body having more to do with each other than ghost and machine, who think it devilish to deny death and what comes after. Who make noises about human dignity. Remarkable.

It’s chock full of sex and violence, and the dialogue isn’t always the strongest, and the acting isn’t always spot-on. But there’s a lot there, and I’m kinda fascinated. It’d be fun to see some smart Catholic critic dig into it. Heh.

Hello sophomore, my old slump…

So as I dig into Entry Two of Lives of Famous Catholics, I realize that I’m basically re-doing Entry One. A story about a film director (Guillermo Del Toro) pursuing a passion project (At the Mountains of Madness) that never gets made but nevertheless reveals something about his spiritual state, told from the perspective of a collaborator on the project (an illustrator). For that matter, Gaga Confidential also treats a failed artistic effort (The Secret Show), only it’s told from the perspective of an embittered fan who uncovers a link to a collaborator on the project (H.R. Giger).

I keep thinking back to the line from the opening to Donna Tartt’s The Secret History: “I suppose at one time in my life, I might have had any number of stories, but now there is no other. This is the only story I will ever be able to tell.” Heh.

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.

Happy Belated Feast of Saint Thomas Aquinas!

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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.

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.

Wow.

I almost think the opening scene of Nocturnal Animals is there to scare the moralists away via aesthetic assault. (It also serves a narrative/thematic function, sure, but…) Because after that, it plays out with the blunt trauma moral force of a Flannery O’Connor story, only without the promise of grace. Maybe it was the tequila watching, but I liked it a lot.