V for Vendetta – A Film Review

Back in April, I saw the movie V for Vendetta shortly after its release. I thoroughly enjoyed the film, especially Natalie Portman’s character. Hugo Weaving of The Lord of the Rings (Elrond) and The Matrix (Agent Smith) also stars in the film, though we never actually see his face, as he plays the mysterious and masked V, a man attempting to take revenge upon people who have wronged him in the past. Other stars in the film include Stephen Fry, John Hurt and Rupert Graves.

This last week I watched the film again on DVD, and I was struck by one of the overwhelming themes of the movie. I am not talking about the obvious connections between the world in which V and Evey (Portman) live and the current situation in Great Britain and America. No, I am referring to the issue of overcoming fear that is central to the development of Evey’s character. While I am loath to say much more about this so as not to give away any plot points, I will say that is in enduring torture and solitary confinement that Evey grows into more a fully human person. Portman has been quoted as saying, “Through her imprisonment [Evey] learns to face her fear, and overcoming that fear is important for her own integrity.” Portman, who was required to shave her head on camera, does a fine job throughout the film, even though at times her accent slips a bit. There is also in the film (as there is in The Shawshank Redemption) a scene in which Evey symbolically undergoes a “baptism” of sorts in the falling rain.

The movie is worth watching and I give it 8 out 10 stars.

A Firecracker of an Album – The Wailin Jennys

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I am sitting in my room listening to a great album I would highly recommend to anyone who loves folk/traditional country music with simple, yet beautiful melodies and lush harmonies. I am talking about the latest album by The Wailin Jennys, a Canadian Trio, which recently released a new album entitled Firecracker. I won’t give you a full review of the album, but I will point you to one that seems to sum up my feelings very well.  Written by Ed Huyck, it is  found on the Pop Matters website. Huyck begins his review be saying:

Firecracker indeed. This Canadian trio’s second album couldn’t have come out at a better time for me. After months of hearing artists trying to be rootsy without understanding what it takes (and even worse, artists with the pedigree who have lost their way), here is a group that finds the right mix of understanding and reverence, but who know-seemingly by instinct-when to add in the right outside touches.

He goes on to add later:

Despite its sometimes dark nature, Firecracker affirms that there are few things as beautiful as the bare human voice, except for a chorus of voices singing in harmony. Add in quality tunes and compelling lyrics, and you have an album perfect for nearly any mood.

I would add that several tracks stand out for me. These include: The Devil’s Paintbrush Song, Glorybound, and Prairie Town (the lyrics of which are below). Even the only song that this talented trio did not write showcases their beautiful harmonies in a cappella fashion. It is the traditional tune Long Time Traveller. To listen to some of the songs, read the lyrics and buy an album direct, go to the Wailin Jenny’s website here. I can’t recommend this CD too highly (9 out 10 dancing fish). BTW, if you didn’t know, the Jennys are often featured performers on A Prairie Home Companion, which is where I was first exposed to their music.

Prairie Town (Ruth Moody)

When it rains it snows in this prairie town
There’s a good three inches on the ground
It seems I’ll be losing any peace I’ve found

I see your face all over this town
But I know you’re nowhere to be found
You’re far away, you’re safe and sound

Far from this prairie town
Far from this prairie town

So leaving seems the thing to do
When I’m here I’m lost in thoughts of you
And in my dreams I’m city bound

But if you ask me to come to you
To leave these fields and these skies of blue
You know I’d be leaving my sacred ground

Leaving this prairie town
Leaving this prairie town

No one’s love comes close to yours
Nothing’s what it was before
My eyes are heavy and my heart is sore

Leaving this prairie town
Leaving this prairie town

When it rains it snows in this prairie town
And we just watch it fall to the ground
And wait for love to come around

So ask me in that way you do
And I’ll leave these fields and I’ll come to you
And watch my heart as it breaks in two

I’m leaving this prairie town
I’m leaving this prairie town

Thomas Merton on Mercy

I grew up in a little town called Bloomfield, nestled in the rolling hills of the outer bluegrass in central Kentucky. Population 1100, Bloomfield was known for only two things – it’s annual Tobacco Festival and the fact that it was home to the company that made Kentucky Kolonel Flour and Cornmeal. Little did I know that while growing up, I was merely 20 miles away from one of the most renowned monks of all time – Thomas Merton, who lived at Gethsemane, a Trappist monastary about 10 miles south of Bardstown, KY. Here is a quote from Merton:

Mercy breaks into the world of justice and magic and overturns its apparent consistency. Mercy is inconsistent; it is therefore comic. It liberates us from the tragic seriousness of the obsessive world which we have made up for ourselves by yielding to our obsessions. Only mercy can liberate us from the madness of our determination to be consistent; from the awful pattern of lusts, greeds, angers and hatreds which mixes up together like a mass of dough and thrusts us all together in the oven. And mercy can not be obtained in the web of obsessions.

To say that Christ has locked all the doors, has given one answer, settled everything and departed, leaving all life enclosed in the frightful consistency of a system outside of which there is an intolerable flippancy of the saved, then nowhere is there anyplace left for the mystery of the freedom of divine mercy, which alone is truly serious and worthy of being taken seriously.

— from Raids on the Unspeakable by Thomas Merton (New Directions Publishing, copyright 1970)

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