Browsing articles tagged with " film"

Sweetness and light

Sep 9, 2009   //   by Alida   //   Creative Discontent, Movies, Reviews  //  No Comments

We saw The Ugly Truth last weekend — with friends; it was their choice of movie, not ours — and it was pretty much exactly what I expected it to be. Lots of crude humor, lots of denigration of healthy relationships, and a very dim view of men.

Now, I don’t have a problem with most content in movies. Much to my mother’s consternation, I don’t filter my movie choices based on violence, language, sex, or other “objectionable” content. Those may, in the end, affect my enjoyment of a movie, but I rarely rule out a movie because I think that what I see, I won’t like. I’d rather base my enjoyment of the movie on its story, and those elements can all be used very effectively to tell the story and make a specific point. Often, the movies with the most disturbing content (think Monster’s Ball, Requiem for a Dream, or Pan’s Labyrinth) are the most beautifully crafted, well-told stories with the most to think about and take away.

Read more >>

Weekly (ha!) Round-Up

Sep 2, 2009   //   by Alida   //   Creative Discontent, Weekly Round-up  //  4 Comments

This has been a good week to be working from home.

Calgary Arts Development is moving, so this week, everyone’s working elsewhere, since we have no office for a few days. It just so happens that I’ve been fighting a cold and sinus infection of some sort all week, so it’s been nice to be able to take it a little easier without actually taking time off work — and, more importantly for my co-workers, to not be sneezing and spreading germs all over them!

It’s also been a good week, weather-wise, to be working from home, finding excuses to take my computer outside and work from a park bench somewhere. Seriously, some absolutely gorgeous weather here.

And this is really a “Monthly Round-Up,” not weekly (as usual. When do I ever get this out every week?), but here’s the list of what I’ve been watching, listening to, reading, and doing over the past few weeks.

Read more >>

Catching Up

Aug 7, 2009   //   by Alida   //   Creative Discontent, Weekly Round-up  //  No Comments

And I’m back. Wow. It’s been a crazy couple of weeks, and I’m definitely feeling it. This weekend is the first that we’re in Calgary with almost nothing going on since… oh, Father’s Day, give or take. I’m looking forward to it. Of course, when I say that we’ve got “nothing going on,” I mean that our schedule includes two Fringe shows tonight (both of us), a workshop tomorrow morning (me), an appointment at the bank tomorrow afternoon (both), coffee with a friend sometime this weekend (both), mixing the Passion Play recordings (Colin), and a date night tomorrow night (we still haven’t used a gift card that Colin’s parents gave us for Christmas in 2007, and it’s going to expire soon if we don’t use it!).

I have at least three entries rolling around in my brain, bumping up against each other and refining themselves as I continue trying to get them down on paper. Screen. Whatever. For now, though, I’m going to do a “Weekly” update. In other words, I’m going to try my hardest to remember what I’ve watched, listened to, read, experienced, and been working on in the past few weeks. It may not be the most complete list I’ve ever put together, but I’ll see how I do.

Read more >>

Harry Potter and the Generative Artist’s Intent

Jul 16, 2009   //   by Alida   //   Books, Creative Discontent, Movies, Theatre  //  2 Comments

I’m a reader. Always have been, always will be. I started reading when I was about 3, and I’ve never looked back, and while reading was my first love (okay, second; I’m pretty sure that music was first), I have a distinct love for other, non-literary art forms. Of course I do. My life wouldn’t be what it is if I didn’t have that love. Theatre, music, film, dance, and visual arts are all art forms that I have a great deal of respect and passion for (and in the case of music and theatre, extensive training and a career built around), and they’re not necessarily based on the written word.

Read enough books, and you’ll soon come across movie adaptations of some of them. Take something successful and make it even more successful by making it accessible to a different audience! What could go wrong with that? I think it’s most prevalent in the film/TV adaptations of books and plays; then in plays that are adaptations of books or movies; and then novelizations of existing movies, TV shows, and plays.

(I think that music, dance, and visual arts tend more toward derivative works than toward adaptations; because their storytelling is less narrative and less linear, the relationship between those three and the other three, going both ways, is less of a direct re-telling of a story. That’s another conversation altogether; right now, I’m mostly concerned with the distinctly narrative art forms.)

Now, don’t misunderstand; I’m not trying to argue the superiority of books to their film adaptations. While this may be couched in a conversation that is primarily about books and movies, the scope is far broader than that. I’m talking about understanding the generative artist’s intent. Regardless of form or genre, that’s the most important thing to be aware of. A TV show can be superior to a book; a movie can be superior to a play. It’s not about which forms are more “valid,” because none is more or less valid than the others. They each require a different set of skills, they each have the potential to showcase truly great art and storytelling, and every single one of them is constantly adapted from and by other art forms. Books are not inherently better than television; theatre is not inherently better than film, and great culture and art can be found in all of them.

I think, though, that there are several important questions to consider:

Read more >>

What we do best

Jul 6, 2009   //   by Alida   //   Creative Discontent, Culture, Faith, School  //  3 Comments

Ever feel like there’s a message that keeps hitting you over the head, getting more and more obvious?

John Cosper, a Christian playwright and filmmaker, posted a manifesto about “Christian films,” particularly talking about what needs to change. It’s a great read, and I wholeheartedly agree — and if you’ve ever heard me talking about many, many Christian scripts, you’ll have heard the same concepts as they relate to very specific pieces that I’ve worked on.

However, the broad meaning of his manifesto isn’t what struck me most today. Instead, it was the following paragraph:

Seek out the best teacher or mentor you can. Don’t go to a Christian teacher just because they’re a Christian. Go somewhere that you can learn from a true artist, one who is a master of the craft in their own right. In other words don’t seek to be the best Christian writer/actor/director you can be. Seek to be the best writer/actor/director you can be.

A few hours later, a very different entry popped up on my RSS reader. Cole Matson, a theatre artist and C.S. Lewis scholar, is writing a series of posts on his transition from the Protestant church to the Catholic church, and it’s a fascinating and deeply personal story. Today, part of his entry talked about the decision to go to NYU’s Tisch School of the Arts, rather than Wheaton College, for his undergrad:

I had loved Wheaton, and had been in awe of its existence as an intentional Christian community of scholars “for Christ and His Kingdom,” as Wheaton’s motto goes. However, I also wanted to study to become a professional actor, and Wheaton did not have a theatre major, much less a professional training program. As a matter of fact, there did not seem to exist a Christian college of Wheaton’s faithfulness and academic caliber that also provided professional arts training. (This gap is one I hope the C.S. Lewis Foundation’s C.S. Lewis College can fill.) The other school to which I had been accepted was NYU’s Tisch School of the Arts, which has one of the top undergraduate theatre programs in the country. I asked my dad, who I knew was pleased that I had fallen in love with his alma mater, for his advice. He said:

“What do you want to do?”

“Become an actor.”

“Then go where they do that best. In this case, that’s not Wheaton.”

Twice, in very different contexts, the concept of choosing a school or other training for its quality rather than for its theology.

Two things strike me as I think about that.

Read more >>

Weekly Round-up: June 21

Jun 22, 2009   //   by Alida   //   Books, Creative Discontent, Movies, Reviews, Television, Theatre, Weekly Round-up  //  No Comments

This was supposed to post last week, but with one thing and another (first some internet downtime and then some “me” downtime), I’m just getting to it today. The plan is for this to be a weekly post, but like everything else, it seems that it’s taking a little longer to get started than I’d like it to.

Once I get into the habit and routine, this will be a weekly roundup of what I’m reading, listening to, watching, attending, and doing. This one, however, is not quite a weekly roundup; more like a “last 3 or 4 weeks” listing.
Read more >>

When “good enough” isn’t good enough

May 9, 2009   //   by Alida   //   Books, Creative Discontent, Faith, Reviews  //  4 Comments

One of my primary goals when I was working with the drama ministry at the church was to see it become as professional and high-quality as possible, because what’s the point of putting on shoddy work? Too often, I think that the attitude within the church is, “Whatever we give God, he’ll do something good with, so I don’t have to give my best.” And yes, while it’s true that God makes beauty out of our brokenness, it doesn’t give us the excuse to be lazy or to give less than our best–not only the best of what we currently are, but the best of what we can be, through training, practice, and honing our skills.

(And if I ever end up back in a position of leading the drama ministry at Foothills, one of my goals is to make it a place of training, mentoring, and growth for the team members themselves, as well as a place to use theatre as a ministry to the church and community.)

Mom and Dad gave Colin and I the movie Fireproof for Valentine’s Day. We haven’t watched it yet, but despite not having seen it, I’ve been pretty vocal with my disappointment in it (and maybe I’ll post a review of the movie itself once I’ve seen it, but this isn’t a review of the movie; it’s a discussion of the reactions I’ve heard). I’ve read reviews from sources that I trust, and everything I’ve heard indicates that it’s a pretty formulaic “Christian” movie: overly expository writing, not-so-great acting, less-than-subtle conveyance of its message, and mediocre production value.

Even the opinions of people who liked it have been mixed. They thought it was a good story, but the acting wasn’t the best they’ve ever seen; or they thought the message was good, but it could have been told better.

My argument against it from the beginning has been this: Why put something out there on a stage where it can’t possibly compete with the best that’s it’s up against? Why create something–with a God-honoring message, and with the best intentions in the world–to a standard of mediocrity, where even the people who like it only like it with reservations?

Read more >>

Your argument for Disney’s level of evil leaves something to be desired

Nov 18, 2008   //   by Alida   //   Creative Discontent, Culture, Music  //  2 Comments

I was browsing through some random websites earlier this week, and I came across a site was full of “evidence” of how evil Walt Disney was (and Disney as a corporation is). It had some of the more common stories, but the one I found most amusing is that “Walt Disney was evil because he chose music by dead composers for Fantasia so that he wouldn’t have to pay for the music.”

While it’s true that Disney (as a company) has an incredibly powerful legal team that understands the inner workings of copyright law better than just about anyone else anywhere, it makes me laugh that using public domain music is evidence of evil. How is it not an artist’s prerogative to choose to either have new work commissioned, support currently established composers, or reintroduce the public to classical works? Any of those three options, especially with the scope of Disney’s influence, had the potential for significant ramifications within the artists’ careers (if new work had been commissioned or contemporary work used) and the public consciousness and awareness of the music scene, even though the film was originally not as well-received as hoped.

Read more >>

Blog Categories

Contact Me