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.
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.
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.
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.”
Scottish writer James Matthew Barrie (1860-1937) was a great success during his lifetime, with 40 plays, six novels and numerous works of nonfiction to his name. But he is remembered today for one play only: Peter Pan, or the Boy Who Wouldn’t Grow Up, first performed 100 years ago this December.
At year’s end, when all is sad and done in, we gasp as clouds of smoke appear. But it’s only the yews spewing pollen, outdoing chimneys as if it were spring. That and speech about Mideast peace as juncos reseed themselves, the Christmas rose flops open to cold, and Barney the cat perfects his new trick—he unbars our door.
He stares. (He prefers indoors.) But right there’s the morning star, just like the chorale’s. And up close, trouble— a pup hunting kibble and warmth. And there’s more. Mt. Rainier shows up in pink and blue bunting. So clear. Such fresh-powder glory. The sleepy volcano seems suddenly haloed, huge, and near. So much for our little stable.