Culture care links for September:
"The Class" won the Palme D'Or at Cannes in 2008. It was nominated for an Oscar. How it lost is beyond me. This is hands down one of the most thoughtful cinematic treatments of the art and perils of teaching I have seen. It is based on an autobiography of a middle school teacher in the divided suburbs of Paris who actually plays the male lead in the movie. All of the students are real students using their real names. Read David Edelstein's review in New York Magazine: " I think it’s more important than ever to see—and to brood on—The Class. The threats to liberalism don’t just come from without, from the racists and reactionaries. They’re also from within, when do-gooders’ ideals are tested by the real world, when the underprivileged don’t show gratitude the way they do on TV shows. Cantet’s real-time classroom scenes are revelations: They make you understand that teaching is moment to moment, an endless series of negotiations that hang on intangibles—on imagination and empathy and the struggle to stay centered. This is a remarkable movie." Read his review here.
Brett McCracken on Amazon Prime's "The Rings of Power". "Sure, the battle scenes are cool and the growing sense of peril and cancerous evil will be engrossing to watch. But, for me, the interludes of goodness, truth, and beauty—whether in landscapes and worlds, loving relationships, or poetry and song—are the heart of Middle-earth’s enduring appeal. These are the moments that offer those “piercing glimpses of joy” Tolkien described, and I hope The Rings of Power values them as much as he did." Read his review of the first two episodes here.
I believe one of the most life-giving ways we care for culture is through playfulness. I appreciated this NYT interview with comic artist and writer and teacher of creativity, Lynda Barry on this theme. Read her interview here.
John Donne is regarded by many as one of the greatest poets in the English language. That he was also a popular preacher and theologian is less discussed. In a guest essay for the New York Times, Katherine Rundell offers a taste of the Christian worldview that shaped John Donne's life and art. "Death — the looming fact of it, its finality and clarifying power — calls us to attention and wakes us up to life. Donne spoke it from the pulpit, in a passage from a sermon he gave in his late 40s: 'Now was there ever any man seen to sleep in the cart, between Newgate and Tyburn? Between the prison, and the place of execution, does any man sleep? And we sleep all the way; from the womb to the grave we are never thoroughly awake.' Awake is his Call." Read the essay here.