Just a post here about a few things I’ve seen/heard lately. We shall start with the most recent and work backwards in time, because traveling backward through time is way cooler than forward.
Two days ago I watched The Prestige for the second time. This is one of the better movies I’ve seen in quite awhile, directed by one of my very favorite directors, Christopher Nolan. It’s a wonderfully twisting, turning story that has a ton of "aha!" moments when you watch it the second time. Besides being a well-told story, it’s also a sobering tale of the devastating, dehumanizing effects of revenge. It’s a story about what happens to people when they refuse to forgive, and it’s not a pretty site! Plus David Bowie plays Nikola Tesla in this movie. David Bowie is always a good reason to see a movie.
Three days ago, I bought the new Lucinda Williams album. I was driving back from Grand Rapids at the time, and listened to it three times in a row. Here is a singer and songwriter in her absolute prime. I was blown away by how good this album is. Here are a few lines:
Take away the pain
Wash away the stain
Anoint my head
With your sweet kiss
My joy is dead
I long for bliss
I long for knowledge
Whisper in my ear
Undo my logic, undo my fear
Yeah, she can be intense, but honest and brilliant.
Finally, four days ago, I saw Sufjan Stevens in concert. (To boost your indie-cred, repeat after me: "Soof-yahn". Not "Suff-jan". Practice it one more time to make sure you can say it naturally, like you always knew it was a soft ‘J’. Now you’ve got it.) Someone asked me the other day what kind of music he plays. I was silent for an entire 15 seconds, trying to figure it out. Here’s how I’d describe it. It’s kind of folksy, but edgy. And it’s somewhat quirky and humorous, but very serious in parts. And it’s orchestral and triumphant, but can also be heart-breakingly beautiful. It’s ambitious but not pretentious. It’s optimistic without being sentimental, and it’s realistic without crossing into cynicism."
I guess you have to hear it to figure it out, but I would say it’s the kind of music a Christian would make. That whole "hard-pressed but not crushed/confused but not despairing/persecuted but not abandoned/struck down but not destroyed/being handed over to death but not dying" thing (see 2 Cor 4:7-11).
Seeing the live show was incredible. There was Sufjan (who came out with hawk wings on, and introduced the show by saying "Hello. My name is Sufjan Stevens, performing as Majesty Snowbird, and this is my band, the Magical Butterfly Brigade"), 5 horn players (amazing musicians), a drummer, and 3
other musicians who rotated playing guitar and piano and glockenspiel
(or something) and banjo and bass, all dressed as butterflies. The show was an incredible combination of bombastic celebration and jaw-dropping tenderness (there were several moments where, after a song had finished, the audience just sat in stunned silence for 5-10 seconds before applauding). Highlights included the first song they played (the amazingly beautiful "Majesty Snowbird" – there’s a video of it on Youtube, and the audio quality isn’t bad at all) as well as "Chicago", "John Wayne Gacy, Jr." and "Casimir Pulaski Day". Highly recommended.