The Hobbit movie as “tedious havoc”

I was greatly disappointed in the third part of Peter Jackson’s makeshift trilogy based on The Hobbit.  The Battle of the Five Armies was mostly, to use Milton’s words, tedious havoc.  It was two-and-a-half hours of killing orcs, with little story beyond that.

But here is what artists who aspire to the genre of fantasy need to realize:  a good fantasy evokes a sense of wonder, of the numinous.  Jackson’s version of The Lord of the Rings had that; his version of the Hobbit did not.  Tolkien’s novels have that on virtually every page. [Read more...]

The #1 most popular Cranach blog post of the year

The year’s most viewed post by far was not written this year, but rather in July 2011.  And it wasn’t written by me, but by my liberal Democratic Southern Baptist musical genius brother, Jimmy.  Here it is:

The Devil’s interval.

People who google this legendary evil-sounding musical lick–and I presume most of these are heavy metal head bangers (I’m sure my terminology is out of date)– are directed to this post, and I hope they find a warm welcome and become regular readers of this blog.

My brother, very kindly, is not lording it over me for outblogging me on my own blog.  Nor do I resent it.  In fact, I am trying to get him to write more guest posts for me.  He has some very interesting ideas about music education that I’d like him to share with the general public on this blog.

“Frozen” is Entertainer of the Year

If you have young girls in your household, your Christmas gift exchange was probably dominated by “Frozen” merchandise.  Now, the computer-animated film has won the AP designation “entertainer of the year,” even though it came out in 2013 and has no human characters.  But it is the most successful animation film in history, and it has earned Disney $1.27 billion.

And it is an excellent movie, not only aesthetically but in the way it teaches some important lessons in life (marry for friendship, not “love at first sight”; love between family members is among the most precious; love is when you would lay down your life for someone).  But, speaking as a grandfather, I just cannot understand how little girls as young as three, who presumably are missing these finer points, can get so caught up in the “Frozen” frenzy! [Read more...]

The American themes of “It’s a Wonderful Life”

Columnist Paul Greenberg has written a wonderful column about It’s a Wonderful Life.  Read it all.  After the jump, I excerpt his points about how the movie deals with some distinctively American themes.  He also cites a critic who thinks it’s tragic that George Bailey had to give up his big dreams because of the responsibility he felt for his family and his community, a reaction that is tragic in itself. [Read more...]

So how is “The Hobbit”?

The final movie of the Hobbit trilogy has already made $350 million world-wide, though the reviews have been somewhat mixed.  I haven’t gotten around to seeing it yet, but it figures in our holiday plans.  So, to those of you who have seen it, how is The Hobbit:  Battle of the Five Armies?

Sony will release “The Interview” after all

Sony has backed down from its backing down to North Korean hackers, announcing that it will release “The Interview” simultaneously  on Christmas day in select theaters and on Video on Demand. [Read more...]