The Cost of Glory

7046282179_622499c0c6_zHere I sit, watching the Olympics again; it hooks me every time. I always say I like the winter ones better because there aren’t so many sports to keep track of, but when I start watching the summer ones, they suck me in too. In the winter, the downhill racing and the extreme sports I can’t remember the name of (what do you call the thing where they fly down a slope and do flips in the air?) grab my attention.

In the summer, I like the swimming and the diving and the track and the gymnastics and the volleyball and pretty much whatever else is on at any given time. The other day I watched something that involved a net and a ball but was like nothing else that I’ve even seen.

I would never watch some of these sports outside of this context, but every couple of years, I do. [Read more…]

When Ethics Conflict with the Law

26682691294_385a8a19c4_zAmong the courses that I teach is Professional Responsibility—Legal Ethics—which is a subject covered on every state bar exam in the country. The professional code of ethics—the Model Rules of Professional Conduct—sets out in statutory form a log of rules that cover such varied topics as candor to the tribunal and third parties, conflicts of interest between former, current, and prospective clients, the safekeeping of client property, and a list of deeds that amount to lawyerly misconduct. Falling afoul of these rules puts the attorney in danger of a range of penalties, from private reprimand all the way up to disbarment. [Read more…]

Risen

risen finalIn a well-written and well-acted scene from Kevin Reynolds and Paul Aiello’s recent film, Risen, the Roman tribune, Clavius (played by Joseph Fiennes), questions one of the guards left to watch the tomb of the crucified Jesus.

The guard, drunk in his cups, has been pardoned by the prefect, Pontius Pilate. Clavius knows that the guard was only pardoned from such a dire offense—falling asleep while on duty—because he has sworn to a purchased tale: Jesus’s followers fell upon the hapless Romans, overcame them, and stole the body.

Clavius then threatens the man to get the truth and in return is given the real story—that the stone blew away from the sepulcher, the ropes and chains exploded, and a new light filled the world. But instead of awe and peace, what the guard witnessed has driven him nearly mad. He clutches at the tribune and whispers, beseechingly, a request:

“Explain it to me.” [Read more…]

God Ponders the Heart

macbethIn Justin Kurzel’s Macbeth, the writers frame the story in such a way that the common motivations are nested within, or are born from, a new one: the story opens upon a Scottish heath—damp, cold, and windblown—where the Thane of Glamis (Michael Fassbender) and his Lady (Marion Cotillard) stand at the graveside of their young child.

The boy has succumbed to some sort of pox, and the grief the parents bear is depicted so that the pain is the kind of blunt, brutal type—the emotional equivalent of a limb cropped away with a pair of dull shears. From now on, the life of “going on” will be as tedious as the life they have just come through, to borrow a line from later in the play.

Of course, this is not in Shakespeare’s work itself, but the writers and director have taken artistic license from a much-debated line spoken by Lady Macbeth when she is encouraging her husband to commit regicide: [Read more…]

The World Beyond the Room

Room MovieThe most obvious analysis of Emma Donoghue’s Room, one of last year’s most heralded films, is on the basis of what it says about imagination.

In the film version of the novel, five-year-old Jack is provided a means by which to live his life through images, crafts, pictures, and stories. That would not be so extraordinary, nor his exceptional character so marked, if it were not for the fact that he has lived his entire existence closed up inside a small shed.

Jack’s mother, who was abducted seven years before by a sexual predator, is his co-prisoner in a world no larger than twelve feet square. But she has made the most of every inch.

A feat of maternal determination makes all of her efforts for him dual-purposed: she has him do exercises with her to stay physically strong, but also to provide him with some concept of distance and space; she has him read aloud from a book to give him an education, but also so that he can access a type of freedom that is otherwise denied; she has him mark his height upon a wall to gauge his growth, but also to give him something to look forward to—a time in which he will outgrow the room. [Read more…]