“Rebellion vs Conformity in ‘We Are the Best!’”: Me at AmSpec

on a terrific new film. And given my readership, I'll note that Hedwig is one of the most fascinating and nuanced Christian characters I can remember in a recent movie which isn't centrally concerned with faith: If We Are the Best! were The Breakfast Club, Allison would make over Claire—and the boys would just be accessories.We Are the Best! is Lukas Moodysson’s confection about middle-school punker chicks in early ’80s Stockholm. Klara (Mira Grosin) is the cute, strident one with the cool  … [Read more...]

“Geishas by Gaslight”: I review a show at the Freer

for AmCon: The Freer Gallery named their show of wood-block prints by fin de siecle Japanese artist Kobayashi Kiyochika “Master of the Night” (on display through July 27th), but night is ancient and Kiyochika’s work is distinctly modern. His prints show a world in transition. Some of the street scenes might almost be Victorian London; even the rickshaw used to pull a geisha through the night turns out to be a recent import, an innovation. Many of the scenes show people in traditional kimono mixi … [Read more...]

A Musical Rosary–The Visitation

During those days Mary set out and traveled to the hill country in haste to a town of Judah, where she entered the house of Zechariah and greeted Elizabeth. When Elizabeth heard Mary’s greeting, the infant leaped in her womb, and Elizabeth, filled with the holy Spirit, cried out in a loud voice and said, “Most blessed are you among women, and blessed is the fruit of your womb. And how does this happen to me, that the mother of my Lord should come to me? For at the moment the sound of your gre … [Read more...]

A Musical Rosary: New Series–The Annunciation

Hey y'all. I decided to start this new series of very brief reflections on the mysteries of the rosary, linked to songs, so you end up with a kind of rosary playlist. We'll begin at the beginning, with the Annunciation. In the sixth month, the angel Gabriel was sent from God to a town of Galilee called Nazareth, to a virgin betrothed to a man named Joseph, of the house of David, and the virgin’s name was Mary. And coming to her, he said, “Hail, favored one! The Lord is with you.” But she was gre … [Read more...]

And All at Once I Had to Face the Big Light: Some movie reviews

Rachel Getting Married: The story of a woman coming out of rehab just in time for her sister's wedding. I think even people who don't share my particular issues would find this a gripping, intensely painful story, showing our attempts at self-justification (and how even our attempts to do the right thing, be good, and/or make amends become self-centered and self-justifying) and how hard it is for well-meaning people to love one another. The set-piece scenes, like the toasting, are uniformly … [Read more...]

“Music of the Trilobites”: I’m in AmSpec

on music, drinking, and John Darnielle's novel Master of Reality. You can read it now even if you don't subscribe: I read John Darnielle’s 2011 novel Master of Reality under the unfamiliar constellations of Australia—which was fitting, since the slender book is about being both physically and spiritually far from home. Master of Reality is an entry in Continuum’s “33 1/3” series of books about pop or rock albums. (The other books in the series tend to be straightforward critical studies.) I’ve n … [Read more...]

Painting the Town Red: “The Exiles,” A Masterpiece of Lost L.A.

Kent MacKenzie's The Exiles played exactly once, at the 1961 Venice Film Festival, and then vanished for more than forty years. It was rediscovered in 2003, and you can find it now on Netflix--which you should do, for real, here's why.The Exiles follows a group of American Indian men and women over the course of one night at the very end of noir-era Los Angeles. The neighborhood where the film was shot was demolished--excuse me, I mean renewed--shortly afterward. The Native actors were … [Read more...]


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