It is hard to be moved anymore by films about concentration camps. The grainy images of scarecrow figures; maniacal guards firing pistols on a whim; parents dragged away while children stare—Hollywood has managed to turn such horrors into stock visuals. It has made the unspeakable not only speakable, but almost rote.
Purporting to deliver the straight goods on modern sexual interactions, Closer is glossier than last summer’s similarly themed We Don’t Live Here Anymore, and it has a more impressive pedigree—an award-winning director (Mike Nichols), a highly acclaimed British stage play (by Patrick Marber) for its source, and a glamorous cast: Julia Roberts, Clive Owen, Jude Law and Natalie Portman
When Alfred Charles Kinsey was hired as an assistant professor of zoology at Indiana University in 1920, he began a two-decade study of the gall wasp, collecting over 1 million samples. He loved the gall wasp, he said, because each one was totally different from the others.
In Friday Night Lights, which features a legendary high school football program in West Texas, Coach Gary Gaines explains to his team the situation: “Gentlemen, the hopes and dreams of an entire town are riding on your shoulders. You may never matter more than you do right now. It’s time.”
It’s by chance that Ray appears mere months after the death of its hero, Ray Charles, but it offers a needed lift for many of us laid low by the passing of the rhythm-and-blues genius. Director Taylor Hackford has made a bristling, dynamic mélange of entertainment whipped up around the inspired music and gargantuan persona of its subject.
Here’s your Ash Wednesday story. A mother carries her tiny daughter With her as she gets ashed and the Girl, curious and wriggly, squirms Into the path of the priest’s thumb Just as the finger is about to arrive On the mother’s forehead, and the Ashes go right in the kid’s left eye. She starts to cry, and there’s a split Second as the priest and the mother Gawk, and then they both burst out Laughing. The kid is too little to be Offended, and the line moves along, But this stays with me; not the ashy Eye as much as the instant when all Could have been pain and awkward But instead it led to mutual giggling. We are born of dust and star-scatter And unto this we shall return, this is The Law, but meantime, by God, we Can laugh our asses off. What a gift, You know? Let us snicker while we Can, brothers and sisters. Let us use That which makes dark things quail.