26 May, 2006

A "culture of transcendence" . . .

“Virtually all cultural institutions, from literature professors at Ivy League schools to producers of soap operas to the loudest heavy metal bands, are all equally bereft of points of perspective for their activities.  In such a time the church could be a community displaying, in its corporate life and the lives of its members, a culture of transcendence.  This would not mean escaping from the world.  It would require refusing to conform to its ways, not only when they are evil, but when they are not beneficial or constructive.” (Kenneth A. Meyers, All God’s Children and Blue Suede Shoes, p. xvi)

17 May, 2006

Of Da Vinci and Darwin . . .

    I think it's about time for me to weigh in on this Da Vinci Code mess.  I find the uproar in the Christian community to be utterly ridiculous.  It's a movie.  It is fiction.  If people watch this movie and believe it (or much of it) is true, they are mindless buffoons whom natural selection will deal with accordingly.   But I think you'll find the majority of people want to see this film for the purpose of escapism: a smart action flick is what they're looking for.
    And there's nothing wrong with that!  A person can enjoy a fast-paced mystery film whether or not it agrees with his theology or worldview.  If you are interested in the movie, bully for you!  Go see it and have a good time!  If you're not interested in the movie, that's great, too!  Just don't see it.  And for the sake of my sanity and your physical condition, don't tell me that I'm risking the triumph of God's Kingdom if I decide The DaVinci Code is worth my hard-earned money.  Christ will prevail against the gates of Hell no matter what you or I do to "help" or "hinder" it.
    Personally, I think I would enjoy the movie . . . to a point.  By all accounts, it's an engaging mystery (a genre we don't see a lot of anymore), with twists and turns that will make one's head spin.  The trailers and clips I've seen kind of remind me of the earlier seasons of ALIAS.  But I digress.  However much I would enjoy the treasure hunt aspect of the film, I think it's conclusion would drive me mad in that it doesn't jive with my beliefs.  I would most likely leave the theater wanting to do violence to the film's creators and that is something I would like to avoid.
    Therefore, I will not be seeing the much-anticipated Da Vinci Code.  If you want to see it, go ahead, but don't come crying to me that it ticked you off.

09 May, 2006

Wanted: One Dramaturg

    I just saw The Jacket this afternoon and I think I’d give it three stars out of seven.  It was an enjoyable movie, but the writer and director could have done several things to make it much better and more coherent.
    Personally, if a movie wants me to suspend my disbelief in time travel, I’ll do it without hesitation – just because it’s a cool idea – as long as it’s presented well.  What I liked about The Jacket’s presentation of time travel is that, even though Jack repeatedly traveled to the future, the future didn’t change based on his actions in the present.  And I was really excited about it . . . until the end when they decided to abandon the idea and it all came crashing down.
    Unfortunately, in order for the proper ending to replace the current one, the love story would have had to be real as opposed to a box on the checklist of scriptwriting.  Aside from the ridiculous and completely avoidable similarity in their names, I love the idea that Jack helps little Jackie and her mother in 1993 and then falls in love with Jackie in 2007.  What I don’t love is the way their relationship came about.  One minute she’s merely helping him track down information on his death at Alpine Grove, the next minute he’s leading her through the asylum by the hand as if he’s held her hand ten thousand times before, and the very next he pulls her to him John Wayne style and they have themselves a romp.  Had the writer, director, and/or actors taken care to build the attraction and desire by small glances, gestures, or a careful word from time to time, the John Wayne moment would have won me over and the sex scene would have been far less unecessary than it was.  As it is, my reaction was, “Where did that come from?”
    Had they built the relationship the way they should have, they could have used the appropriate ending where, instead of Jack returning to a changed future, he could return to the same future with the unfortunately named Jackie waiting for him.  As it is, the ending makes zero sense in the context of the film and left me rather dissatisfied.
    All things considered, The Jacket is a decent thriller, though lacking a focus and purposeful direction.  If you have time to kill, I suggest watching it, if only for Adrien Brody’s faultless performance.

08 May, 2006

Let the games begin . . .

    Well, this year's Drama Desk nominations are out and I’m pleased to report that Sutton Foster's latest endeavor, The Drowsy Chaperone, leads the pack with 14 nominations, including Outstanding Actor and Actress in a Musical (Bob Martin and Sutton Foster, respectively) and Outstanding Musical.  Grey Gardens is on its heels with 12 nominations and See What I Wanna See and Sweeney Todd are a close third with 9 nominations each.  Michael John LaChiusa (composer/lyricist, See What I Wanna See) is also nominated for both Outstanding Music and Outstanding Lyrics -- if he doesn't win, there is something dreadfully wrong with this world.  Likewise, Outstanding Book of a Musical better go to Bob Martin & Don McKeller's Drowsy Chaperone lest the voters be struck down by lightning from heaven.  Unfortunately, Drowsy is pitted against both See What I Wanna See and Sweeney Todd for Outstanding Musical and Sutton is pitted against both Patti Lu-Freaking-Pone (Sweeney Todd) and Idina Menzel (See What I Wanna See) for Outstanding Actress.  Patti is . . . well, Patti, Idina gave a performance for the ages in See What I Wanna See, and Sutton Foster is positively electric in her newest role, so this category is going to be a close call.
    Thankfully, come Tony Time, I won't have to be torn between Sutton and Idina or Drowsy and See What I Wanna See, since Off-Broadway shows are not eligible for Tony Awards.  It's interesting to note that Sutton is considered a leading actress by the Drama Desk folks when Drowsy is such an ensemble show.  If the American Theatre Wing calls her a lead, it may hurt her chances for a Tony (I mean, come on!  Patti LuPone?!?  She's pretty much a theatre-queen goddess the world over!).  Hopefully ATW will classify her role as a featured one so that she might grab herself another Tony.
    The Drama Desk Awards are given out on Sunday, May 21st -- five days after the Tony Award Nominations on May 16th -- and the Broadway winners of Drama Desk Awards are quite solid indicators of who will win the year’s Tony Awards.
    Let Tony season begin!