Saturday, December 15, 2007

Why "Nathan Movies"

I often receive friendly criticism for the type of movies that I collect and enjoy. My friends up here at Hume call them "Nathan movies". I suggest that people come over to watch a movie, and they say, "as long as it's not a Nathan movie." And, I have to admit that I don't often watch movies solely for entertainment value. Sometimes, I do, sure, but sometimes the movies that I watch aren't an enjoyable experience. Sometimes they are, but not always. The movies that I tend to buy, I do so because I want to see them and think that others should see them as well, but they are the kind of movies that I wouldn't be able to borrow from a friend or neighbor. I do enjoy the blockbuster action movies, chic flicks, and romantic comedies, but I could find those in most anybodies' collection. I like movies that move me to care about the world, and to care about the people in the world. I like movies that resonate with who God has made me to be.

So, I've wondered how to describe the movies and stories that I like. I've said that I like movies about reality and truth, even if they are told through fiction, even if the truth is painful. I like movies that move me, that I identify with in some way. I like movies that make me cry, that invoke real emotion. I like documentaries and foreign films. I like artistic movies that see the world and the people in it through a different perspective deeper than the surface. These kind of statements were my best attempts at describing the kind of movies I like.

I just recently watched the French Three Colors trilogy (Trois Couleurs: Bleu, Blanc, Rouge) by the Polish writer/director Krzysztof Kieślowski. I really liked them, and even more, I liked watching all the behind the scenes videos about the director and the film makers. In their words I discovered a good description of why I like the movies that I like. Check out these quotes:

"He [Kieślowski] understands that the Cinema is a great tool to tell the audience about something else. The story is only a pretext."

-Slawomir Idziak


"They're not Genre films. They're not Love stories, as we think of them. They're not even Art movies, as we think of them. You wonder how Kieślowski and Piesiewicz, his co-screen writer, even dreamed up these stories. They're full of odd little details. He was trying to make films about the soul, for want of a better word, or about destiny. And, I think he succeeded more than most people have done with Cinema. And, of course, in doing that, he's actually getting to some very basic questions that we have about our lives: why are we here?, how do we find happiness?, what's going to happen to us when we die?, how do we react to the death of other people?, what's important in life?, is it equality?, is it love? And, he's dealing with these very abstract things, but in a very material and accessible way, and I think that's what made him great, and what made him popular."

-Geoff Andrew

Film Critic and Author

When Krzysztof Kieślowski would select his cast and crew, he would talk to them about philosophy and their lives, asking them questions about life and death. He wanted to get to know the souls of the people that he would be working with. It was those things that were of first importance to him in the making of a film. I suppose his belief was that these things would carry through their acting, their editing, their cinematography into the very soul of the film itself. I believe that in many ways, he was right. This reminds me of David, when he being full of the Holy Spirit played his harp for Saul when he was being tormented. There is something deeper, something spiritual from the soul that is communicated through the artist in his performance.

Saturday, December 8, 2007


oh, how I long for Heaven.

Oh, come
Oh, come Emmanuel
And, Ransom Captive Israel,

that mourns in lonely exile here.

I'm crying right now.

One of my closest friend's dad just passed away from a fight with cancer yesterday.

I wish I could be there, close, to hug you.


I'm crying. I don't know what else to do.


An Italian movie with English subtitles about a Spanish-speaking Chilean poet.

Il Postino feels like one of my favourite movies.
I think it's mostly just that, the feel of it, the music, the awkward main character who reminds me of the genuine, beautiful simplicity and depth of my friend John Coghlan, the poetry of Pablo Neruda, the ocean...
I've fallen asleep listening to the soundtrack before, and woken up in Paris.

Here are a few quotes:

"The whole world is a metaphor for something else."

This reminds me of the shadowlands that George MacDonald wrote about in The Golden Key. C.S. Lewis echoed this same imagery in many of his writings. The movie Shadowlands, the biography of Lewis used this title because it was such a big theme in his life. The idea that the created world that we experience, and all goodness and beauty is just a shadow of what is truly real. The word "poetry" comes from Greek "poema" which means to create. Our longings and desires are just shadows, meant to show us and bring us to to the reality of our God and creator, Jesus Christ. This same theme is described beautifully in chapter 7, Dulce Domum (sweet home) of the Wind in The Willows by Kenneth Graham. If you've got a copy on your shelf or can find it in your neighborhood library, it would be worth it to shake off that childish dust accumulated from years of neglect and rediscover at least this one chapter of a classic tale. And, if you want to travel farther down that same road, find another of my favorites, The Velveteen Rabbit by Margery Williams. If you want some biblical foundation for all these fancies, a good place to start would be Hebrews 11, specifically verses 8-15. Our scriptures are laced with with this ribbon. Jesus Christ is Longing Fulfilled.

Here's another quote from Il Postino, A poem by Pablo Neruda
(Try reading it while listening to the sound of the sea.):

And it was at that age...
Poetry arrived
in search of me.
I don't know how,
I don't know where
it came from, from winter or river,
I don't know how or when,
no, they were not voices, they were not
words, nor silence,
but from a street I was summoned,
from the branches of the night,
abruptly from the others,
among violent fires
or returning alone,
there I was without a face
and it touched me.

-Pablo Neruda

a little inspiration

I was watching the 1988 black and white movie Der Himmel über Berlin (Wings of Desire is the English title) by German director Wim Wenders. It's the original movie that the movie City of Angeles was based upon. It's a beautiful movie, both the photography and the story. It feels like a very old movie, perhaps due to the european style and the old school cinematographer Jürgen Knieper. It stars Bruno Ganz, Solveig Dommartin, Otto Sander, and Peter Faulk. Peter plays himself, an actor filming an episode of Columbo in Berlin.

There were some great lines and a bit of poetic imagery that I wanted to post here. I'm not sure if these were written by some famous german poet,by Wim Wenders, or by the screenwriter Peter Handke. Anyway, I hope you enjoy these two. I know that they resonated with me.

"Longing. Longing for a wave of love that would stir in me. That's what makes me clumsy. The absence of pleasure. Desire for love. Desire to love. "

When the child was a child...
it lived on apples and bread,
that was enough.

and, it is still that way.

When the child was a child...
berries fell only like berries
into its hand...

and, they still do now.

Fresh walnuts made its tongue raw...

and, they still do now.

Atop each mountain,
it was longing...
for a higher mountain.

And, in each city,
it was longing for a bigger city...

and, it still does.

...reached in the treetop for cherries...
as elated as it still is.
...was shy in front of strangers.

and, it still is.

...waited for the first snow...

and, it still waits that way.

When the child was a child...
it threw a stick like a lance into a tree.

and, it is still quivering there today.


Just six before I fall asleep.
Six moments spoken wordlessly.

The Rain on roof and
windows, sigh.
The street by lamplight
soft and harsh.
The breath of ocean
beneath the wind.
The still of time
as winter comes.
The passionate soul;
a song beside me.
The cool of covers
embracing, consoling.

Six moments spoken wordlessly
―not as here
which mar their form and
tear their beauty

at night

before I dream




Small is a word that

I am


at night

in crowds in conversation
in waves that overwhelm
in tides
that sweep and fade

where mountains rise
above the shore

where earth succumbs
beneath the throws of
all the heartache of The Sea


carries out to


what's left of all




from my Journal - Thanksgiving

I do love traveling. I know that I'm only on a train from Fresno to Fullerton, but I still love it. I love watching the land roll away; seeing the backs of the buildings, the goats and sheep wandering in the junk yards of yester-year's Americana. I love all the strange faces; personalities so separate, yet riding together on a shared adventure yet to be realized. The children, the kids, loud and quiet, wild and shy, may annoy some, but I find joy in the privilege of being their traveling companion.
I had thirty minutes to wait for a connection at Union Station in LA. So, I walked around outside on the streets watching the people. I wish I had longer... I would have gotten a hot, french dip sandwich at Philippes across the corner and walked up the Historic Olvera Street where the Hispanic heart of this beautiful city still beats.

I got a thrill as I walked down the tunnel to track 12, platform B with all the people pushing past me just coming off their trains busy to be home. As we rolled out of the station, the setting sun filled the sky with it's golden light while a single building stood silhouetted against the sky, its windows orange against the blue haze of the LA sky. I felt its weight as if a sigh escaped as our departing train slid by.