catapult magazine

catapult magazine

Vol 6, Num 19 :: 2007.10.19 — 2007.11.02


Kirstin’s recommendations 10.19.07

FILM: The Lives of Others

Several people had recommended this film to me—some more than once—before I finally sat down to take it in.  It’s taken me several weeks to realize that my expectations were actually met, which I believe is a good thing fitting of the film.  The Lives of Others tells the story of an artist couple in 1980s East Germany.  While their lives are being destructively manipulated by the state police, they are simultaneously being healed by and healing an agent of that same sinister force.  The film raises questions about the power of art to change the human heart—art in the broad sense, not just the plays we stage, but the songs we play out of quiet desperation when we’re alone and the stories we create as we go about each day of our lives.  There’s been some debate about the historical accuracy of director Florian Henckel von Donnersmarck’s portrayal of East Germany and the Stasi, as well as the believability of one of the main characters’ transformation.  But these quibbles seem beside the point, like the vineyard workers who put in a full day and then decried the owner’s generosity to the part-time laborers.  Overall, the film is a gesture of ridiculous hope, a statement of belief that the good for which we barely dare to dream might actually come to be—in multiplying abundance.


MUSICYear of Meteors by Laura Veirs

Black, night, spider, web, stars, ghosts, tattoos, slaying—Laura Veirs’ “Magnetized” is infused with images that recall the autumn fascination with fear and dark mystery.  But within the same piece, references to olivine, zirconium and pigeons (who navigate the earth’s magnetic field with iron-bearing materials in their heads) threaten to “melt a geology nerd’s heart.”  And on top of it all, it’s lovely to hear the word “brackish” in a song.  “Magnetized” is just one piece off Veirs’ 2005 Year of Meteors, which features her flat, down-to-earth voice and spare instrumentation that spices up the comfort of folk with a smattering of surprising electronic and acoustic details.  This album is perfect background for a mellow autumn day at home, while offering rich rewards for the attentive listener and enthusiast of poetic images, onomatopoeia, and unusual syntax brought home by delightful phrasing.


FILM: The Three Burials of Melquiades Estrada

Thomas Aquinas says that justice is a right relationship among three things: one person, another person and the goods or services that at least one of those people needs.  If The Three Burials of Melquiades Estrada is about justice, it multiplies that equation and offers several levels of meaning.  When the body of illegal migrant worker Melquiades Estrada is found in the desert, the local authorities resist the efforts of cowboy Pete Perkins (played masterfully by Tommy Lee Jones) to prove murder.  But Perkins embarks on his own investigation and a subsequent journey toward redemption that is shocking, devastating and healing, occasionally all at once. The film asks viewers to question our comfort with simplistic legalism in many senses, in order to perceive a more artful justice than that which can be signed, sealed and delivered by “the system.”

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