A former priest, Blase Bonpane was working in Guatemala in the 1960s when he was expelled from the country for subversion. That event presaged a lifetime of activism for the peaceful radical leader, credited as an originator of the Latin American dialogue between Christianity and Marxism. A leading voice in the Latin American conversation for the past half-century, Bonpane is never far from social injustice — his travel itinerary through the years is like a map of human rights hotbeds: Nicaragua, Cuba, Mexico, Panama, Honduras and Peru.
Bonpane will speak about his provocative ideas in a lecture titled “Compassion and Empire” at Watkins. Just prior to that, Harvest of Empire: The Untold Story of Latinos in America, a documentary based on the book by journalist Juan Gonzaléz that won the 2013 Imagen Award, will play at 4:30 p.m. The film will also screen as part of Vanderbilt’s International Lens film series at 7:30 p.m. Wednesday, Oct. 2, at Sarratt Cinema. All the events are free and public, so you have no excuse to miss these important Hispanic Heritage Month activities.
[Editor's Note: This is the latest installment of 'Notes From the 422nd Annual Wraiths for Writing Conference,' a biweekly series of story and art that artist Amelia Garretson-Persans has created for Country Life. Trace its roots by reading the previous entries.]
Night falls faster indoors. The blue and limpid light that quavers against the window might lure a person in a darkening room out for an evening stroll. But that light is fairy light, and fairies have inhuman agendas. Better to stay indoors until one can safely discern between the dog and the wolf.
Ignoring this sound advice, I picked my way through dissolving shadows to keep my mystery date at the well. Daylight reigned in the field for the time being, but night was already roosted in the woods. Two owls were beginning a strange conversation.
When the well was in sight I determined that I was the promptest of its visitors. I had loaded my pockets with the dry grass I found at the morning’s presentation. When I reached the well I pulled some out and made a wish before dropping it in. I watched the grass settle gently before something in the well sucked it out of sight. I’m not sure what all that means for wishes; in any event, I was relieved when I looked up and saw the Professor.
For the past week, we've been telling crime-movie fans to check out Johnnie To's Drug War, one of the best action thrillers we've seen all year. You've got just two chances left to catch it, tonight and tomorrow, before it leaves The Belcourt. From the review in last week's Scene:
From time to time, to varying degrees of tongue in cheek, you see fictional drug dealers and gangsters touted for their CEO skills — witness Forbes last year glibly offering "7 Career Lessons from Breaking Bad's Walter White." (His retirement options have taken a hit since then, of course, as have a few DEA agents — but hey, things are tough all over.) The underlying idea is that running a business can be a lot like managing a criminal empire, but Johnnie To's crime epics eliminate the metaphor: Crime is a business, waged both in boardrooms and with bullets. The Hong Kong director's current U.S. release, Drug War, his most exciting action thriller in years, is something of a primer in the kind of trade negotiations they don't teach in MBA programs — e.g., how many lines of coke you should ingest to sufficiently satisfy your new associate that he shouldn't kill you.
If you accept Godard's adage about the cinema being truth 24 frames a second, The Belcourt stands to show roughly 58 million frames of truth over the next month. Every October, the Hillsboro Village arthouse turns over its first-run programming to its annual "Doctober" survey of nonfiction film. The slate of current documentaries has evolved into a month-long festival that includes reissues as well as new releases.
The 15-film series starts next Friday, Oct. 4, with the Robert Reich economic-divide doc Inequality for All. It concludes Oct. 30 with the restored version of Chris Marker and Pierre Lhomme's epic Parisian essay film Le Joli Mai. In between are music docs, adventures, protest films, real-life thrillers and slices of history, whose subjects range from super sidemen of soul to a deadly standoff between Philadelphia police and urban radicals.
Having made its bank for the summer on the surprise smash 20 Feet From Stardom, the theater hopes lightning will strike twice with the Sundance/NaFF hit Muscle Shoals, which opens Oct. 11. It's joined in the lineup by the gripping K2 disaster-in-real-life account The Summit, the evangelical exposé God Loves Uganda, the restoration of Shirley Clarke's once-scandalous Portrait of Jason, and the self-explanatory The Trials of Muhammad Ali. Of special note are two films by early hip-hop chronicler Charlie Ahearn: his new film Jamel Shabazz Street Photographer and the 30th anniversary restoration of his cinematic time capsule Wild Style.
Below, the entire lineup with dates. Watch for announcements about panels and guest speakers in conjunction with certain films.
Maybe it’s because Michelle Alexander delivered a stirring speech about mass incarceration as part of Vanderbilt's Martin Luther King Day programming. Or maybe it has something to do with professor Lisa Guenther, whose book Solitary Confinement: Social Death and its Afterlives was just released, and who facilitates a weekly discussion group at Nashville's Riverbend Maximum Security Prison. But for whatever reason, the subject of prisons and the lives of prisoners is getting a lot of exposure in Nashville’s art scene.
Earlier this year, Guenther curated an exhibition of art by death row inmates at Vanderbilt’s Sarratt Gallery. Exonerated prisoner Ndume Olatushani is currently exhibiting a collection of paintings he made while on death row. The just-opened More Love exhibit at Cheekwood includes a project by Luis Camnitzer that re-presents the last words of death row inmates. And Coop, the go-to downtown gallery for art lovers who want to sink their teeth into difficult subject matter, has an exhibit of art created by Watkins students, professors, and current death row prisoners.
Alicia Eler — art critic, curator, and contributor to Country Life favorite Hyperallergic — was in Nashville recently, and she wrote about what she found at Coop for the popular online arts magazine. Read excerpts from her article, "Dreaming on Death Row," after the jump.
Living for 32 Screening and Panel Discussion
When: 7:30 p.m. Tuesday, Sept. 24
Where: The Belcourt
Colin Goddard was one of only seven students in his classroom to survive the Virginia Tech massacre. In total, there were 32 fatalities, and 10 of them were in class with Goddard when the gunman burst in. Goddard was shot three times, but still managed to make the 911 call that brought police to the scene. This documentary by director Kevin Breslin tells the story of what happened in the wake of the Virginia Tech shootings.
Wearing a hidden camera and going undercover to gun shows all across America, Goddard investigates how easy it is for anyone to buy a gun, without identification or a background check. Tonight, he’ll be at The Belcourt to speak about the documentary and gun violence, a problem that’s as urgent as ever — so far there have been 14 shooting incidents at schools in 2013.
Last night's Emmy Awards were more contentious than most. Twitter was on fire with pissed-off fans of Bryan Cranston and Peter Dinklage (they were robbed!), but as usual the most dramatic part of the night was the red carpet. Abby White and I have both chosen our favorite dresses, but we need help settling our dispute: Whose dress was better?
I say Michelle Dockery was the clear frontrunner in a gorg red-on-red Prada dress, but Abby is firmly Camp Claire Danes. Danes beat Dockery and took home another Emmy for her performance on Homeland, but I say her dress was totally second place.
Help us decide by voting for your favorite in the comments section, or nominate another best-dressed candidate.
Sex and soup lines: The makings of a great art exhibit! Jen Uman's first-ever Nashville art show opened at Fort Houston this month, and there's still time to pay it a visit — it closes at the end of the month. Check out some pics from the exhibit below, but make sure you see the show in person — you can scope the Fort's killer moped collection and inspiringly weird tree-art installation while you're there.
Want more info on the work? Here's Brent Jackson's interview with Jen from the opening.
Susan Gregg Gilmore
When: 6:30 p.m. Tuesday, Sept. 24
Where: Parnassus Books
Nashville native Susan Gregg Gilmore came out of the gate strong in 2008 with her debut book, the coming-of-age novel Looking for Salvation at the Dairy Queen. Her second novel, The Improper Life of Bezellia Grove, earned rave reviews from Alan Cheuse of NPR’s All Things Considered, who praised her ability to “take the news from the underground life of the modern American South and tell it straight to our face.”
Gregg Gilmore returns to her hometown for the release of her latest work, The Funeral Dress, where she’ll read from and discuss the book — complete with live music and sparkling wine. Read an excerpt from her debut novel Looking for Salvation at the Dairy Queen after the jump.
“Pass the celery” — on its face, an innocuous request; in the context of Woody Allen’s 1973 sci-fi farce Sleeper, screening through Sunday at The Belcourt, the single funniest throwaway line I’ve ever heard in a movie. Allen spent much of the first decade of his career paying homage to other filmmakers — Antonioni (Everything You Always Wanted to Know About Sex …), Bergman (Interiors), Fellini (Stardust Memories), Renoir (and funny Bergman) in A Midsummer Night’s Sex Comedy — as he developed the voice and milieu that arrived in Annie Hall. This is his tip of the hat to Buster Keaton, and the Allen who does rubber-limbed slapstick here is all but unrecognizable as the sober auteur of Manhattan and Crimes and Misdemeanors.
Allen is health-food store owner Miles Monroe, cryogenically frozen and awakened in 2173 to a world of bitter class division, political unrest and goofy fashions — basically, to 1973. (For that last item, thank the costume designer, one Joel Schumacher.) On the lam from fascist technocrats, he meets up with bourgeois ditz Diane Keaton, falls in with robots and revolutionaries, plays a dithery Blanche DuBois to Keaton’s brutish Stanley Kowalski — a warm-up for Blue Jasmine? — and fights a very large, very menacing … pudding.
This is the movie where Allen most successfully translates his absurdist verbal comedy into visual terms; put another way, this is the first time in his movies that a punchline such as a giant banana is funnier to see than to read about. With the Preservation Hall Jazz Band blowing sweet, merry Dixieland on the soundtrack to set the mood, it’s a movie that can leave you laughing helplessly — never more so than when the director-star puts a 22nd century spin on that vaudeville oldie-but-goodie, the slippery banana peel.
Megan Fox and Dave Barry
Walton Goggins for Fox. Claire Danes, if you squint, for Barry.
A beautiful, intimate movie. (Except for the parts with Coe, the least reflective man in…
This is awesome!