Art, Music, & Film: January 2006 Archives


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What a very pleasant surprise is to be found in this unassuming little film. Fine fare for the whole family that is neither cringe-inducing, nor overrun with bodily function humor.

Truthfully, the trailer did not do the film justice. I watched it several times at the theater and generally decided that it was "ho-hum." Well, that's easy to do when they show you bits and pieces of a very cleverly scripted, very nicely crafted little mystery.

Loosely based on the infamous "Red-Riding Hood" case, in which the wolves once again were fiercely and unfairly maligned, this story goes way beyond to expose the multiple layers of the tale--and boy is it a tale--no one is completely innocent--nope, not even Granny!

The story starts where the story you know ended and throughy the aegise and intellect of Mr. Flippers, the frog, we eventually learn the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth, as he strips away the layers of lies and deceptions that form the stories of the four principle participants--Red, the Wolf, Granny, and Mr. Axeman.

Sam enjoyed it, and there were parts that were laugh-out-loud funny for the adults. Cleverly scripted, capably animated, an enjoyable treat for child and adult alike. Don't let the poor showing of the trailers deceive you, Hoodwinked is major family entertainment.

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We all went to see this film yesterday. Samuel and I nearly didn't make it through the very first scene in the film. Linda wasn't far behind. But after that little rough patch everything smoothed out into what was really a very enjoyable film. The acting was decent, the special effects occasionally jarred me out of the story and got me to thinking about the art of film rather than what I was supposed to be focused on. I was also a little surprised by how very little sense the story makes when one sits back and looks at it.

This is where our two great inklings differ so dramatically. I've never been particularly impressed with Lewis's fiction. His forte is that kind of nonfiction story-telling that gets at his more practical points. For example, I think The Screwtape Letters a vastly superior work to most of his fiction (the exception might be That Hideous Strength). Letters to Malcolm:Chiefly on Prayer and The Great Divorce are other examples of using the techniques of fiction to present argument or fact. As I was thinking through the Narnia presentation, I kept finding myself troubled with questions that a person like Tolkien would already have considered in detail. Now, on Tolkien's side, I must say, that I find his non-fiction very donnish and often nearly opaque. His strength was in the full and vivid creation of worlds and races and histories--he truly was a story-teller who had all the strands together because he had spent so much time making the whole.

Lewis and Tolkien have very different purposes, very different means, and very different strengths. But, as much as I liked the film, particularly the icy Queen of Narnia, I found that it made transparent some of the difficulties I always had with Lewis's storytelling.

Be that as it may, I enjoyed the film. Linda was touched by the film. And typical of a seven year-old boy Samuel liked "the fighting." But the point did not completely pass him by and he said that he would much rather be like Peter than like Edmund and, no, mommy wasn't much like the Queen of Narnia. . .

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Museum Review: King Tut

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During a recent trip to Naples, we took the opportunity to take our friend and my son to Fort Lauderdale to view the traveling exhibition of Egyptian materials related to King Tut. Most recently this exhibit was in Los Angeles. It will be here in Florida until April or May.

First the good points: this makes a fine exhibition for either the novice or the expert reviewer of Egyptian artifacts. There is relatively little material associated directly with Tut, neither the mummy, the sarcophagus, nor the death mask is present in the exhibition, despite the misleading advertising that suggests the presence of the latter. What we do see are some of the pectorals and jewelry that were within the wrappings on Tut's mummy, some of the materials from the burial chamber and a few canopic jars. This sounds paltry, but believe me, they are worth seeing for their intrinsic interest and for their great beauty.

The remainder of the exhibition covers the Pharoah before Tut who attempted to impose a monotheistic system on the Egyptian people. Tut's reign was viewed as a restoration of the traditional system of worship.

The final rooms of the exhibit recreate the actual burial chamber both in size and in the diagrammatic layout of the burial arrangements. The last room is dedicated to new research on Tut that suggests that he may not have been murdered by his successor. However, I have been advised by people more attuned to the news in this field that the particular theory espoused is a bugbear of the exhibit coordinator and is not to be taken too seriously as objective research.

Now for the downside--the exhibit is poorly managed and poorly run. While there are a limited number of tickets for viewers during each time period, those limited tickets are still too many. Each gallery is overly crowded and movement between parts of the exhibit space is slow and difficult. Often it was hard to get a good look at some of the piece without waiting for five, ten, or more minutes.

We arrived about a half-hour before our entry time and were ushered to a line where we waited until well past our time. We were shown the way to some stair where we climbed and waited for another fifteen or twenty minutes before we went in to see a short context-setting film. Afterwards we entered the exhibit.

The museum really needed more forethought in preparing the exhibition. In addition, the exhibit materials were written not so much to educate the public as to placate specialists in the field with the net result that many of them were nearly incomprehensible to the audience they should thrill most--school-age children. I'm not suggesting that exhibits be written down to that age, but I am suggesting that there are ways to construct exhibits so that all might benefit from the knowledge being bestowed. However, this complaint is not unique to the Tut exhibit.

None of these criticisms should be viewed as in any way suggesting that one should avoid this rare opportunity. As the Islamic fundamentalist world becomes more vehement about the eradication of the non-Muslim past (view the Taliban's horrendous destruction of the Afghan Buddhas) such relics may become more rare, and certainly our opportunities to view them will be curtailed. I cannot recommend heartily enough the value to be derived from attending and enjoying such a wonderful exhibition. Those who live in Florida should make plans to try to see it.

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About this Archive

This page is a archive of entries in the Art, Music, & Film category from January 2006.

Art, Music, & Film: October 2005 is the previous archive.

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