Bläeckfisk is the Swedish translation for the word octopus. I am not Swedish, but I do own a lot of furniture from Sweden and I like octopuses while admiring their multi-tasking ability. I would like to travel to Sweden at some point, plus I think it is a pretty cool looking word. Anyhow, speaking of words, I guess you could say that is why we are here. Words are the foundation for way we try to wrap our thoughts around everything in the galaxy. The tendrils that lead to emotions and curiosity. I am not here to solve the mysteries of the universe, just to discuss words in general. Specifically words written by other people and have been printed off and slapped between two slices of thin card stock. Many of these sandwiches go on to bigger and better things, some bigger and better than others. So, I guess we will be talking about those as well. If you share an interest in words or enjoi seeing what they can look like in action....välkommen! (Swedish for welcome.)

Friday, December 13, 2013

F29: Philomena-Directed by Stephen Frears

"We shall not cease from exploration, and the end of all our exploring will be to arrive where we started and know the place for the first time." 

I liked this movie despite the absence of mind swirling action. There are no car chases and zero explosions. The ending will not send a jolt of excitement through your veins. In fact this movie is quintessentially the complete opposite of the last movie that was reviewed. What this film lacks in sexiness it makes up in depth of character and plot. It is like having a warm cup of coffee in a rocking chair on the porch of your mountain cabin. There is a sharp chill in the air that is beginning to weave its way through the blanket wrapped around your shoulders.  Quietly rocking, you look out over the tranquil landscape, and realize the allure of being trapped in this paradox. Beauty comes in different shapes and sizes and there are many wonderfully graceful moments to this picture.

On the surface the it seems to be a stuffy little story about a young girl who had a little too much fun at a local carnival in Limerick, Ireland. She goes on the give birth to a baby boy, Anthony, while entrenched in the town's abbey. Her future looks bleak as the nasty nuns who run the convent also just happen to have a small side business selling the children of the poor girls who live there to foreigners. They appallingly get the girls to give up their maternal rights, brainwashing them into believing that it is proper atonement for their carnal explorations. Oh the glory of God. Fast forward to modern times and our thrill seeking protagonist, played marvelously by the iconic Judi Dench, has decided that after 50 years of silence she must know what became of her beloved Anthony. She sets out on a quest with a former controversial news journalist that will ultimately lead her to the capital of the United States and the office of Ronald Reagan. 

This film is quite simple and in that simplicity I found it to be rather enjoyable. With all the bulky budgeted films out there and the anxious directors concocting the next big twist, seeing a movie that essentially plays out from a-z was refreshing. There are a few turns in the story and a couple of bumps in the road, but the real triumph of this film is the acting; specifically the interaction between Sixsmith the journalist and Philomena. Look for Mrs. Dench to garner several best actress award nominations in the coming months as her performance was brilliant. 

Friday, December 6, 2013

F28:Catching Fire-Directed by Francis Lawrence

"Let it fly."

By no means is this a historic achievement in film. It is however damn entertaining and quite thought provoking. The scope of the computer generated affects is imposingly alluring and the world that is created therein swipes your attention from the first majestic sweep of dismal District 12. You immediately get lost in the dystopian world that is Panem. Jennifer Lawerence is back as Katniss Everdeen for the second installment of the ground breaking series of young adult novels, The Hunger Games. Young adult novels. Distrust, revolution, butchery and carnage. What great material for the youth of our world. I know I spoke to these same ideas for part one of the series and yes, children are exposed to violence everyday, but having such an rabidly violent story thrust into the minds of young kids doesn't get any easily to swallow. 

The story has everything that would be captivating for a middle school student and adults alike. Action, adventure, suspense and a zest of romance. Having the privilege of working with this age group of humans, I can ascertain that the undercurrents of defiance and governmental brazenness are not recognized as being the crux of what this story is about. When I asked my classes about it, they mostly mentioned the romance and violent aspects as being what they savored the most. It is not that they are incapable of dredging out to central theme, its just that mechanism used to deliver it it too tantalizing for them to see past it. Much like Animal Farm and 1984, when read at the appropriate age, the kaleidoscope of intention surely will become clearer. I strongly encourage all my students after enjoying them now, to revisit these books later on in their literary careers. 

We all know the story of the Hunger Games and if you don't, shame on you. Take a week and hammer through the series. If not for your own interest then to stay in the loop with what has already become a world wide phenomenum. I would say my favorite facet of these books/films is that is it getting our youth reading and thinking. Yes they are strong in content and revel in themes that may be beyond their reach, but kid's interest in reading them has reached a feverish pitch. Is it better to read violence or to not read at all? Also, I love that the protagonist is a strong willed, obstinate female. It is refreshing to have a heroine that the kids are conversing about in their inner circles. Overall, Catching Fire is a good movie and will jump in rank if you have read the series. I thought the director stayed true to the writing and I fancied the gritty approach to telling the tale of the Quarter Qwell. Philip Seymour Hoffman makes a nifty appearance as Plutarch Heavensbee, while Stanley Tucci's role as Caesar Flickerman is simply awesome. See for your self what everybody is talking about and watch this movie. The revolution will not be televised.

Sunday, December 1, 2013

B19: Seiobo There Below-By Laszlo Krasznahorkai

" this case music-comes into being, is born, unfolds but then it's all over, no more, what must come as has, the realm dies away and yet lived on in this divine form, for all eternity its echo remains, for we may evoke it, as we do evoke it to this very day and hall evoke it for as long as we can, even if as an ever more faint reflection of the original, a tired and ever more uncertain echo..."

This is more than a book. This is not just a collection of stories that seemingly wonder along a worldly landscape, ping ponging from country to country. Or just a shallow breeze that reminds you of an intricate plot twist, crawling with indelible characters. Seiobo There Below is a work of art. It is Picasso. And Dali. And Pollack. It is perfectly random and beautifully carved out of words that will resonate throughout your library for years to come. In fact this might just be the most exquisite book you will ever own. Owning it is a must, as the depths of its contents surely will morph and transform with life's passing moments. Very rarely have I come across a piece of literature that has moved me the way this book has and I highly recommend it. 

Each chapter, numbered in the Finonacci sequence, tells a different story that connects to much bigger supposition. Determining what that abstraction is will vary from reader to reader; much like the interpretation of a fine work of art. Some will see tragedy, others triumph. All will grasp the value of the artist that is the main congruent vehicle throughout the book. In most cases, each of the independent stories are about something or someone that is laboring to create something. A heron struggling to sustain it's place in the food chain, a Japanese mask maker short on inspiration and a tourist blinded by the beauty of his life long dream to experience the Parthenon, to name a few. While each chapter is unique and has its own cultural backdrop, the stories are held together by hope itself. Anticipation of beauty can take many forms and does in this work.

Seiobo There Below is a challenge to read. The author's style uses essentially no periods and has the dream like feel of a single stream of thought. I found that reading a chapter then stopping helped me digest what my eyes were absorbing in the pages and I will be returning to re read certain chapters in the future. This book is packed with both a practical philosophy and a spiritual substance that is decidedly worth the journey. The title itself refers to a Japanese Shinto Goddess and her tree of immortality; appropriately named considering the lasting effect of reading this book. Holidays are right around the corner and this book will make for the perfect gift to anyone who loves erudition or has an infinity for thought provoking literature. Krasznahorkai has penned a true epoch and I feel fortunate that  I was listening to NPR last month when it was mentioned in book releases. Shout out to the Motherland, Hungarians rule.