Archive for the ‘Movies’ Category

The Race for Smarter Kids, Classic Literature at Age 12

September 1, 2008

Nothing impressed me in this week’s Sunday Washington Post.  Last week, and forgive me for no link, I’m tired and cranky, there was a good essay by a high school literature teacher who noticed the curricular demand for earlier reading of classics, say middle school.  These changes often mitigate against the value of reading literature in the first place.

Summer reading books, for example, are an increasing demand for most schools.  Student reading for joy or to be transported into that world for a while is taking a backseat to memorization of names, actions, motiefs and symbolism. The stuff of tests.  Is the practice of finding beauty killed through the race to study for a 100 question test on the first day of school?

I’m all for learning how to read a story.  In fact, I think I began to do so in my 20s.  (more…)


The Wire Series Ended Last Night

March 10, 2008

I was worried all season how the 5 year, 60 episode series could end its gripping, complex tale of urban street life and dysfunctional bureaucracies (police, unions, schools, city hall, media) without offering either simplistic catharsis which the show vigilantly fought against or annoying vagueness a la Sopranos.The final episode crackled with high-level revelations and difficult bargaining for lives and careers. The final justice against those who crafted the “big lie”about a serial killer that defined Season 5 remained obscured beneath the demands of political and professional aspirations. This mirrors the lack of accountability for either the main drug dealers or the lawyers, developers and politicians who work with them. Left unphased, too, are the the political and bureaucratic hacks who create the conditions that destroys people of principle who seek to reform the system.

It’s still my hope to show The Wire at the men’s shelter and lead discussion. I can’t wait to hear the debates with these men. Yet more importantly I think The Wire should be essential viewing for 20-something idealist, Obama-loving types. The Wire is ultimately a portrait of the devil within and the corrupt system. Most liberal idealists dismiss the intractability of BOTH and believe “we can recreate the world as it should be.”

Great pieces from The New York Times and Slate.

The Wire is Coming…

December 21, 2007

If you haven’t followed it yet, don’t let that stop you from making plans to watch. Media will be the theme of the year. No other show tackles social ills and the struggles of living and working.

To what does the show’s title refer?

  • Walk on a wire — dangerously difficult task
  • Listen to the wire — identify secrets to use against
  • Down to the wire — a race with an end
  • Fasten the wire — fix the fence
  • A real live wire — ADHD? or electricly conductive

Balance, investigate, compete, contain, energize — which do you prefer?

We Own the Night: Honorable Fights for Personal and Global Futures

October 24, 2007

During the cocaine influx of the 1980s, a beleaguered police force develops a motto that serves as the film’s title. In addition to featuring my star crush, Eva Mendes, in a flattering role, We Own the Night offers a study in the transition from self-indulgence to service. The shooting of a family member transforms one character and forces the audience to reevaluate comfortable, early judgments. Similar to the exciting finale of the recently remade 3:10 to Yuma, such changes thrill the spectator and reveal possibilities within each soul, dormant but not lost. While the film drags a tad in the last third, I recommend this film for those seeking the aforementioned arc. Other enjoyable elements: familiar tunes from the 80s and an anachronistic cameo by Ed Koch.

On a deeper level, Rovert Duvall’s character hints at current geo-politics saying, “You’ll have to choose one day whether you’re with us or with the drug dealers.” This echoes the Bush-David Frum world view, a formulation repugnant to liberals who prefer that our age requires of them nothing more than a redoubling of their efforts of tolerance and generosity.