Arts+Culture

Arts+Culture

We Are the Eighth Day, © Melanie Weidner

Film

The Class

A marvelous new film by the French director Laurent Cantet sits on the cusp between fiction and documentary.
Poetry

Grace

He awakens on February first, stunned again by that odd
wonder: how quickly old has come. Of course if his will were done
he’d have risen youthful, but age is here, he’ll own it. He thanks God

for its coming without companion pain, without reliance on medicine.
As he has since he was younger, he puts on snowshoes and clambers
      over
drifts and up a daunting bluff. As much by determination

as muscle he powers on through the powder. The view from here—a
      blessing:
eastward the white White Mountains all seem to be staring placidly
      down on
ice-dams hunched in the river. He kicks his feet out of leather bindings

to climb a tree. West, a neighbor’s strange herd of alpacas mills,
all wool, though mere months back—short-shorn, with feeble reeds for
      necks—
they were fragile creatures, naked, susceptible, silly, same as us all.

He forces air out through his teeth—birdwatcher trick—and imagines a
      lisping
cloud, his sounds small jets of steam. Let kinglets come, he dreams.
Did an eagle shriek? Too far to tell. But golden-crowned kinglets are
      flying

from his south to land all around, on his limb and all the way up to the
      crown,
then are gone so quickly he all but missed the marvel: the kinglets
      come.









Poetry

And afterward, repenting

Wasn’t it Augustine who said, evil is matter
out of place? He kisses his love
as he pivots from the brothel gate,
his ardent heart already gritty
with guilt. I imagine the big A
trying to shake sin from himself
as I haul our red rug out and shake it.
Dear God, what we track in, how sin sifts
like fine silt into our deepest grooves!
And once inside, the dirt forgets
that it’s our backyard. We keep tracking
the outside in, sweeping it out again.

Or that’s what I get from The Confessions.
How love, like soil, is out of place for, maybe,
half its orbit. How sinning and repentance follow
one another like all the circles on this fickle
earth, rain taken up by clouds, then falling
on us again. Maples spinning whiffs
that grow to seedlings. Children begetting
children. And every insult you bestow
whirring like graying underwear
in some dryer of regret.

Way back in Christianity’s kindergarten,
Augustine had it figured out. He guessed
our remorse and longing as he closed
the brothel door, seeing a woman
gaze at the sooty outline on her white sheet
of a tall blacksmith the morning after.




Film

The Wrestler

The story of the proud and vital man who has lost his power and nobility is a recurrent theme, especially at the movies. Films have specialized in showing us the washed-up boxer (The Set-Up, Requiem for a Heavyweight, Fat City) and cowboy (Red River, The Gunfighter, Unforgiven).
Film

Slumdog Millionaire

Danny Boyle’s Slumdog Million aire is an exhilarating, un predictable coming-of-age story that moves with the speed of a freight train and springs as many visual surprises as an Advent calendar.