Hi 5: Creativity in the Dark; Sam Phillips; Todd Fadel; Mike D’Angelo; Matt Zoller Seitz; John Sayles; and More.

Hi 5′s Cravis Frankly gets his best ideas when he works in the dark.

What is Hi 5 to the Face? Find out here.

This week, Hi 5s go out to…

Fast Company’s Eric Jaffe: For this fantastic article on “Why Creativity Thrives in the Dark.”

I’ve known instinctively since childhood that I’m more creative in a dimly lit, or dark, room. And since high school I’ve felt frustrated in rooms brightly lit with fluorescent panels, sensing my best creativity and capacity for learning is going to waste beneath them. Under fluorescent arrays, I feel like a bug on a bug zapper. I learned to save my homework until I could get home to my bedroom, control the light levels, and really concentrate. And I learned to write stories in dark rooms, dreaming myself into other worlds, with the focused beam as a desk lamp like a lighthouse calling me through the fog, wild ideas coming to life in the shadows around me.

Every day, I look for an opportunity to spend time in a cave of my own design, where I will have the strange sensation that I am truly waking up. Lately, that has become extremely difficult, as the only cave I have time to visit is my car during my commute, and I can’t get much writing done there.

This article doesn’t just back up my convictions. It affirms them with … can it be? … SCIENCE.

It may not help solve my current challenges. It may not provide me with the time I need or a space of my own. But it tells me I’m not crazy for believing that light makes a huge difference in my creative life, and that I’m not crazy for thinking that my work is harder in a bright, harshly lit, wide-open space.

NPR’s John Burnett and my lifelong friend Todd Fadel: For working together to make this article about the volatile combination of beer-drinking and church happen. This article led to a live chat at NPR in which Todd threw down all kinds of wisdom.

Oh, and here are two pictures of two Todd Fadels — a beardless one, and the one who plays a dwarf that was cut from Peter Jackson’s The Hobbit.

Sam Phillips: For being one of the most relentlessly creative artists I know, for releasing one of the most wildly inventive albums I’ve heard all year (Push Any Button), and for writing this commentary on how visual art inspires her music… for The New York Times!

Mike D’Angelo: For writing the first concise review of 12 Years a Slave I’ve seen that is both an adequate description of the film and a thought-provoking one. He writes:

In the film’s most extraordinary moment, a despairing Solomon looks directly into the camera, as if asking those of us in the audience how we can sit there and dispassionately consume his pain. Few viewers will have a ready answer, apart from the duty to stare our country’s shameful legacy square in the face now and then, acknowledging that it happened. Like Schindler’s List, to which it’s frequently been compared, 12 Years a Slave tells a story with a somewhat happy ending, but never loses sight of how many others met a much sadder fate. (Bear in mind that Solomon could be freed only because he had started out as free, which was an accident of his birth. For most African-Americans on plantations, it was 75 years a slave.) As both drama and cinema, the film is merely solid, impressive. As a cultural object, however, it’s essential.

Matt Zoller Seitz, James Rocchi and John Sayles: Matt and James, for his review of the new John Sayles movie Go for Sisters. And Sayles for being, well, John Sayles (director of The Secret of Roan Innish, Lone Star, Limbo, and several more favorites) — one of the most consistently intriguing filmmakers and thoughtful storytellers in cinema today.

Matt Zoller Seitz writes:

Sayles is never better than when he’s delving deep into characters working together or at cross purposes, and pointing out how the reasons that people give for doing things are rarely the real reasons. He also gives you a sense that these characters existed long before the film began—that they have tangled personal histories that affect their decisions in the present. … It’s the sort of film that isn’t afraid of pausing the story to let the characters deliver amusing anecdotes or heartfelt confessions.

And James Rocchi says:

Regardless of its pros and cons, Go for  Sisters  – the latest from John Sayles, marking his 18th film since his debut in 1979 — is, in its way, a small miracle: A film about people, and about people with real lives, that could stand in its own way as half of a double bill with Jackie Brown, a similar film about how both goals and risks become much more immediate in the later stages of life. Almost no one makes films like this anymore — whether at studios, or, for that matter, independently — but Sayles is still out there, not only making actual films about actual human beings, but doing so superbly.  It is not, as some might think, that the American cinema has passed Sayles over; rather, it has rushed by him, and in doing so made a huge mistake.

Jackson Cuidon: For this deep-thinking review of Free Birds, in which he writes:

It’s telling that a kid’s movie that nominally celebrates what may be the foundational American holiday, Thanksgiving, actually ends up being a love letter to the most purely-American philosophy ever invented: pragmatism, which says, “nothing means anything, objectively. Whatever meaning is, you’ll only find it by making it yourself. And you’ll know when it’s real, because it’ll work.” What’s more American than that?

ESPN’s Rick Reilly and filmmaker Ridley Scott: Reilly for having the courage to speak the truth at ESPN, which I’m sure earned him the wrath of a torch-wielding mob. And Scott for having the guts to make a feature film on the subject — a very bold move indeed.

I had the privilege and pleasure of editing a blog series on this very subject, composed by Dr. John Medina, New York Times-bestselling author of Brain Rules and Brain Rules for Baby. If you scroll down through the archives of his blog Brainstorm, you’ll find that 13-part series, in which the science supports our worst fears about what football is doing, and has been doing, to players who have entertained us for decades.

We cannot just sit back and enjoy our Monday Night Football like we used to. Not unless we harden our hearts to what we now know is happening out there.

A guy named Siraj Datoo: For tweeting this hilarious display for Thor 2 in Shanghai. Apparently, some fan art was accidentally stolen as used as an official promotion for the movie.

Finally, a sharp GNASH OF THE TEETH to that Big Fat Lying Liar Telemarketer who greets me by thanking me for my past generous support when I haven’t given them a penny.

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About Jeffrey Overstreet

Jeffrey Overstreet is the author of a “memoir of dangerous moviegoing” called Through a Screen Darkly, and a four-volume series of fantasy novels called The Auralia Thread, which includes Auralia’s Colors, Cyndere’s Midnight, Raven’s Ladder, and The Ale Boy’s Feast. Jeffrey is a contributing editor for Seattle Pacific University’s Response magazine, and he writes about art, faith, and culture for Image, Filmwell, and his own website, LookingCloser.org. His work has also appeared in Paste, Relevant, Books and Culture, and Christianity Today (where he was a film columnist and critic for almost a decade). He lives in Shoreline, Washington. Visit him on Facebook at facebook.com/jeffreyoverstreethq.


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