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Tuesday, February 28, 2017

Jackie (2016)

This movie was nominated for three Academy Awards, including Natalie Portman for Best Actress.  It chronicles the days immediately after the assassination of JFK.  Portman plays Jackie and as you might imagine, one is not at one's best in that circumstance.  I just felt it was like hitting below the belt to make an entire movie which is 100 minutes and feels longer even than that, about a grieving woman vacillating greatly about what to do with the funeral of her dead husband, all the while having to pack up and move out of her house, and deal with her two young kids who have absolutely no idea what is happening to them.  Portman renders the quaking woman well, and the music and dresses are exceptionally spot on (all three were nominated for Oscars.  None won, but the nominations were well deserved).  The movie, however, is painful to watch, and not in a way that makes you think or that you learn something from.

Monday, February 27, 2017

Florence Foster Jenkins (2016)

Wow, it is so weird to see Meryl Streep sing badly!  She plays a woman who was a patron of the arts but who was exceptionally untalented herself.  She was surrounded by people who worked very hard to protect her from figuring that out, and that is the essence of the movie.  It was nominated for two Oscars.  First, Meryl Streep in the role of Florence Foster Jenkins, a woman who contracted syphilis on her wedding night at age 18 from her first husband, who then led an unconsummated married life with her devoted husband, played quite competently by Hugh Grant.  He loves her but he is not sexually faithful to her.   He makes her feel adored.  The other arena that the movie was nominated in is costume design, which is the real start of the show, along with the period music.  The detailed dress of the period is lovingly recreated, so detailed and lovely.  If neither of these things appeal to you, skip this nominee.

Sunday, February 26, 2017

Captain Fantastic (2016)

This movie is carried by Viggo Mortensen, who was nominated for an Academy Award as Best Actor.  The story is that he and his wife and their six children live completely and totally off the grid.  He is very capable, and their lives are certainly more luxurious than if I were to try the same thing.  They hunt and build and fix things and climb things.  All of the kids are physically active, they speak multiple languages, they read literature and have high level discussions about it.  They are impeccably home schooled, but they lack one thing.  They cannot function in the world as we know it at all.  We never meet the wife.  She is hospitalized psychiatrically when the movie begins and not long into it she kills herself.  The father and kids make contact with her parents and it is very clear that they hold him responsible for her death.  The movie is a road trip to her funeral, and how they struggle to manage, hold true to what is good about their lifestyle without being completely consumed by it, and how they eventually make peace with it.  Mortensen is outstandingly believable in his role, and the script is outstanding, as are the actors who play the children.

Saturday, February 25, 2017

The Red Turtle (2016)

This is one of the nominees for Best Animated films this year, and it is remarkable in two ways.  First, the animation is breathtaking.  This comes out of Ghibli Studios and they continue to amaze, with details of nature, and in this one, the ocean and sea life as well as landscapes.  The second is that the movie has absolutely no words.  It is a silent film whose story is told only with images, and a sound track that the understated most of the movie.
The story is of a castaway, a man thrown up on the shore of a deserted island.  He is able to find food and once he has revived himself a bit, he builds a raft to leave the island.  It is destroyed within a few feet of shore, broken up into a thousand pieces.  He rebuilds it, it happens again, and again, and while he looks under the raft when he leaves the shore, he never sees anything.  Then a red turtle starts to pay him a visit.  The turtle plays a very significant role in the rest of the story, but I don't want to spoil it.  Suffice it to say that this year's nominees in this category are outstanding, and this is not to be missed.

Friday, February 24, 2017

Kubo and the Two Strings (2016)

This is it, my selection for Best Animated movie this year.  I am pretty sure that Zootopia (or possibly Moana) will beat it out and I have yet to see My Life as a Zucchini, which looks excellent but adult, but I am pretty sure this is it.  I loved every character, the stop motion animation is simply gorgeous, and the story is wonderful.  I didn't;t think about it when I was watching the movie, but it is a story that gives the audience a lot of credit as well.
Kubo is a young boy who takes on the very large task of fighting a magical evil force.  He gets some help from a very charming monkey and a laugh out loud funny beetle, who guide him, rescue him, believe in him and help him to accomplish his goals and saving his small village.  There are a lot of powerful messages in the movie, but it is also a beautifully told story with impactful images and memorable characters.

Thursday, February 23, 2017

Hell or High Water (2016)

This is a crime drama, which is not my favorite brand of movie by any means, but this is a very good version of one.  As one of my kids aptly pointed out, Chris Pine, Ben Foster, Jeff Bridges, and West Texas all turned in top notch performances.  It is the very best that this genre can put together, including an ending that is ambiguous. 
The story is that after their mother dies, two brothers need a modest amount of cash to pay off a loan to the bank that the mother took out.  The loan is all or nothing, with the property itself as the collateral.  The rub is that not only do they not have the money, but that oil has been found on their property and so if they lose the land, they loose about $300,000 a year in oil income, all for not having $40,000 at the moment.  So who do they steal the money from?  The very bank with the predatory lending practices.  And who stands to gain?  Not the brothers themselves but the offspring.  The motives of the bank robbing brothers is understandable, but the story becomes morally complicated for everyone involved by the end, which is the makings of a great story.  One of the very best of this year's best picture nominees.

Wednesday, February 22, 2017

20th Century Women (2016)

I cannot figure out why the only thing this movie was nominated for was Best Screenplay, because I loved it.
  And the writing is excellent to boot, but so are the performances, both individually and as a group.  Billy Crudup, who was underwhelming in Jackie, is outstanding here as a man who successfully seduces women but then doesn't know what to do with them.  Annette Benning is outstanding as Dorothea, a 50 something year old mother set into the 1960s. She presides over a rambling household with an open-door policy and two lodgers. Dorothea senses that a single mother might not be "enough" to usher Jamie into this new phase in his life. She asks her lodgers to help Jamie by sharing their lives with him. How this will help is not exactly clear, but it drives the story in a positive direction forward.
Dorothea is terrific (despite the above described momentary lack of judgement).  She has a way of squinting tightly when she listens to people talk: she tries to figure out what's really going on beneath the surface. Her son wriggles away from that piercing gaze. She throws makeshift dinner parties for friends (and anyone else she happens to meet over the course of her day). She's a homebody, but not a recluse.

Tuesday, February 21, 2017

Fences (2016)

Wow.  First of all, I have loved August Wilson for a very long time, and the opportunity to watch yet another of his plays about the African American experience in the 20th century with such incredible acting is something not to pass up. The fact that Tony Kushner, one of my favorite living American playwrights, helped bring it to the screen only adds to it's allure.  For me.  Let me clarify that my second said that this movie should be called "Denzel Washington and Viola Davis put on an acting clinic in an otherwise boring movie".  I am giving her my vote for best supporting actress, that is for sure, and Denzel Washington's performance is brilliant, but he has the bad luck to be up the same year that Casey Affleck completely nailed an impossible role.
Why do I love this so much?  August Wilson’s plays are rich, poetic, wordy affairs tinged with music, the magical nature of myth, and symbolic elements that work extremely well as live theater. Since theater is an intimate medium, the general consensus on translating plays to screen is to “open up” the play, which quite often destroys the natural fabric of the work. The masterful thing about Denzel Washington’s direction here is that he doesn’t exactly open up the play. Instead, he opens up the visual frame around the players.  Still, the play like quality predominates, and there are ALOT of words, that is for sure.  Washington's character, the age of my grandparents,  is unlikable for very real reasons that help frame modern day life for African Americans.

Monday, February 20, 2017

Hidden Figures (2016)

This is a great story and a good movie.  I wish it were a great movie, because a movie about African American women who are math geeks winning an Academy Award would definitely help offset some of the bitterness that I have related to the treatment of Hilary Clinton in the last election.  Not enough, but a little.
The story is about the black women who worked at NASA and helped to put a man in space.  The three actresses who are in this are all terrific, and combined with other black actresses in films this year they demonstrate the depth of talent available.  So let's see some more of them in films int he future.  The story is essentially about how they are hampered by prejudice and color barriers in every way (including segregated bathrooms) but manage to succeed despite that.  All in all they could have gone further, but they did impressive things with all sorts of strings attached that held them back.  Well done, and well worth watching.

Sunday, February 19, 2017

Moonlight (2016)

This is the movie I like the best that is nominated for best picture.  I still have three more to watch, but this is the one, I think.  Here is what I love about it.  It is gritty and real and tells of several struggles all at once and does so eloquent;y and without the tension that I felt throughout Lion and without the long drawn out periods that were emotional angst overload that happened in Manchester by the Sea.  I know, that one or La La Land, which is lushly beautiful, are more likely winners, but this is my choice.
What is the movie about?  It is summed up in the question posed by Mahershali Ali's character: “Who is you, man?” In particular, it is African American culture and people living in poverty.  It is gritty and clear eyed and surprisingly wonderful to watch. 
I have long been fascinated with issues of identity as a subject matter for films, but they’ve rarely been explored with the degree of eloquence and heartbreaking beauty as in this masterful film. “Moonlight” is a film that is both lyrical and deeply grounded in its character work, a balancing act that’s breathtaking to behold. It is one of those rare pieces of filmmaking that stays completely focused on its characters while also feeling like it’s dealing with universal themes about identity, sexuality, family, and, most of all, masculinity. And yet it's never preachy or moralizing. It is a movie in which deep, complex themes are reflected through character first and foremost.

Saturday, February 18, 2017

Loving (2016)

Do not miss this beautifully crafted movie about the case that led to the Supreme Court ruling that it was unequal protection under the law to prevent people of different skin colors from marrying.  It got only one Academy Award nomination, for Best Actress, but it is exceptional in a quiet way.  It reiterates the fact that at the time people believed it was against the will of god to allow such marriages.  Although we all know that a careful reading of the Bible will not find god weigh in in on this, or gay marriage either.  Just something people wanted to be true so they said it was so. 
The film is a rare mainstream film that provokes frustration and rage without resorting to monologues or melodrama. Which is something to see in and of itself.  The two people at the center of this period drama aren’t prone to long speeches. They’re quiet, conservative, almost shy folk who ended up at the center of one of the most important Supreme Court cases of the ‘60s by virtue of falling in love, getting married and having children. Nichols’ approach is careful, reserved and deeply considerate of the human story he’s trying to tell.  Simply gorgeous.

Friday, February 17, 2017

Elle (2016)

This is a very disturbing movie, which I am surprised wasn't among the Best Foreign Language film nominees.  I watched it because Isabelle Huppert is nominated for best actress, and having seen all the nominees, this is my pick to win that category.  She is astounding as a woman who is raped in her home, and then goes on to have a relationship of sorts with her rapist.  It is very difficult to watch and I am not sure I fully understand either.  She had a traumatic childhood, with a father who was notorious because he suddenly snapped one day and killed everyone in their neighborhood, then came home and had her help him start a fire with all their furniture.  Ok, that will mark you for life, and people were not sure that she herself wasn't involved in the killings.  She has a bitter relationship with her mother, who is no prize either, and problematic ties with her son and her ex-husband.  She is a successful video game maker, which makes her reaction to her own violence hard to untangle from her playing off the fantasies of young men, and so there is that angle as well.  Sexually very complex, and well depicts the unsettling relationship between sex and violence for some.  Well worth a watch, but be prepared.  Not easy going.

Thursday, February 16, 2017

Lion (2016)

This is really a harrowing story about a young boy who gets lost in India as a five year old.  He comes from an uneducated day laborer family who have no resources at all, they live day by day.  He accidentally gets locked on a train, and travels far from home--from Hindi speaking India to Bengali speaking India.  He is lucky enough to be adopted by an Australian couple and it is not until he is having dinner at a friend of a friend's house that he has a flashback memory from his childhood.  He then becomes haunted by the question of who he is, what happened to his older brother, and where he is from.  He remembers more and more, but has a fruitless search for a long time.  Too long, really, from a cinematic point of view, but he eventually has some success.   It is surprisingly tense and difficult to watch because while it has a happy ending, it really does touch on some delicate issues that were hard to watch.  Dev Patel as the boy grown up is excellent.

Wednesday, February 15, 2017

13th (2016)

This documentary, nominated for the Best Documentary at this year's Academy Award, takes on the always controversial topic of race in America.  The film opens with former President Obama stating that while America has only 5% of the world's population, it has 25% of the world's incarcerated population.  One of every four people behind bars is an American.  That is a staggering fact, and the movie postulates that the situation was created with the end of slavery and the 13th Amendment.  The South was powered on slave labor and when slavery ended, the need for labor was high.  Black men went from being enslaved to being imprisoned, where they were literally sentenced to hard labor.  The documentary brings us through the additional reasons that kept African American men behind bars in ever increasing numbers up to the present day.  It is both painful and persuasive, and not in a good way.

Tuesday, February 14, 2017

Joe's Violin (2016)

This is the feel good entry into the short documentary film finals.  It is my Valentine's Day choice.  The feel good movie for this category, which is otherwise populated with stories of Syria.  Really good stories about Syria, mind you, and important things to think about but not the stuff of romance. 
Joe was born in Western Poland in 1923.  He played the violin and his mother sang along with him as a boy.  He loved music, but when the Nazi's invaded Poland when he was 16 years old, he left the violin behind and moved to Western Poland, and was exiled to a work camp in Siberia for the rest of the war.  Luckily he survived, and while he was in a relocation camp in Germany after the war, he bought the violin he would have for the rest of his life.  He played it often after that, but as he crept up into his 90's, the violin laid idle.  So when the New York City schools asked for people to donate their unused instruments so that students who could not afford them could use them, he gave up his violin.  He also gave up it's story with it, and the movie is about the girl who gets his violin.  Bring a tissue, it is heartwarming.  So try to see a little good in the world today and enjoy your loved ones.

Monday, February 13, 2017

Manchester By The Sea (2016)

This is definitely a sad movie, but it doesn't feel as sad as the things it describes.  I have four more best picture nominees to watch, but this is the best so far.  And I am early in the viewing for Best Actor movies, but Casey Affleck absolutely nails this role.  It is a must see movie about the wear and tear of trauma and grief.  Affleck plays Lee Chandler, a man haunted by a tragedy from his past that he feels morally responsible for.  He leaves his home town and becomes largely absent in his own life as a result.  That is until his older brother dies young and leaves Lee as his guardian.  That pulls Lee back to the scene of his crime and he is not the only one who holds himself responsible for his actions.  As he says, he just can't shake it, he can't move beyond it, not even for his nephew.  It is sad and gritty and real, and very good.

Sunday, February 12, 2017

La La Land (2016)

This is the one that drew all the nominations this year.  It helps that it has a two star cast, and that it is a musical, but it is also beautiful cinematically as well.  I did not know this when I saw it but the director, Stephan Elliott,  reportedly once told the Observer film critic Mark Kermode that that he’d made The Adventures of Priscilla, Queen of the Desert to bring screen musicals back from the grave into which Xanadu had put them.  Those are old references, but if I had known he did Priscilla, I would have been more eager to see this film, which is truly an ode to old style Hollywood musicals.  In that vein it is impeccable.  The story is secondary to the staging, and the script is secondary to the performance, and with those priorities this is perfection.  The poster photo does an excellent job of conveying these pluses.  The positioning of Emma Stone and Ryan Gosling is absolutely seductive, as is the coloring of the clothes and scene and the way the photo conveys movement and excitement.  I was a little surprised to see this range in Gosling, but I have always thought he was terrific and this movie solidifies that opinion.  It is not my choice to win best picture, but it might be mine for best director.

Saturday, February 11, 2017

4.1 Miles (2016)

This short documentary, which is on the short list for the Academy Award was powerful and moving.  It is my second choice for the win.  It chronicles the final leg of the voyage from Syria to Europe for refugees who take the Mediterranean Sea route, and the experience of this for the Greek island that is the closest.
It is absolutely heart stopping to watch the rescue unfold.  There is a rubber raft in the water, with so many people squeezed into it that there is no air at all between them, they are just one big mass.  The raft is taking on water, sinking, and the wind is bracing.  The ship is concerned by the wind, and their own safety but they can see that the raft won't make it without them rescuing it.  There are people in the water already.  The men pull each and every person out of the sea and into their boat, wrap them in a blanket, place them around the boat which is also not meant to hold so many, and in the end, they take them to Europe, in the form of their tiny island that has been overwhelmed with refugees day in and day out.  "You can see the war in their eyes" one rescuer says.  It is traumatic for all, including the viewer.

Friday, February 10, 2017

Moana (2016)

Here is another Disney movie with a strong character with brown skin, this time from Hawaii.  Moana  draws on themes that are familiar from films like Mulan and Pocahontas: The heroine isn’t just buoyed by her own inner strength, she’s drawing on the teachings and traditions of her culture as well. Moana is the daughter of a Polynesian chief, being groomed to succeed her father and advise her people, but she’s as much the recipient of received wisdom as she is blazing her own path.  She is guided by her grandmother, the tales of her people, and the desire to fix things that have happened in the past to make the future bright for her people.  She is brave, resourceful, and independent.  But she also gets a little help from Maui, the god who tilted the world off it's axis when he stole the heart of Te Fiti, and Moana aims to have him help her restore it.  The music is a winning combination of a collaboration between Samoan musician Opetaia Foa’i, composer Mark Mancina, and Hamilton composer/star Lin-Manuel Miranda, and it draws on Polynesian drumming and choral vocals for a rich, hypnotic sound.  All in all a great option in the Best Animated Film category, and a step above Zootopia, the only other that I have seen to date.

Thursday, February 9, 2017

Here's To The Life We Have Built

Happy Anniversary to my partner of thirty six years.  This is a our six squared anniversary.  It is pretty amazing, and also quite unbelievable to me to realize that it has been almost four decades since we met, and that all of our children are older than we were when we first started keeping company.
Ok, this isn't going to sound that romantic, but two things on that.  I am a very poor Romanticist, and the fact of the matter is that long term relationships are much more about grit than they are about romance.  I really appreciate the way my spouse reacts to adversity.  In addition to cancer, this past year also included a very very large tree falling on our house.
We were lying in bed when it happened, and it was just massive.  We were both filled with the dread of what it could have been, but then quickly got about the business of figuring it out.  It was bad, not nearly as bad as it could have been, and much better than almost any other scenario that involved this massive a tree falling, and we were able to make it okay.  Quickly.  Now the roof is still not fixed, but everything else is.  To me that is what a long term relationship is all about.  Being able to make the disasters bearable and living life to the fullest that is possible given the circumstances.  Don't think about what you might have had.  Revel in what you do.  And work for justice and peace, and healthcare for all.  That goes without saying, except that obviously lots of people that I share citizenship with disagree on that count.  Happy Anniversary my dear.

Wednesday, February 8, 2017

A Man Called Ove (2015)

The Swedish submission for the 2017 Oscars, is is in the final five.  It is a Scandinavian comedy, which means that it is a bit dark, but not Danish dark. The story is told in the present and in the past in a very effective way.  We see the cranky Ove in the present day, where he does little beyond yell at everyone to follow the persnickety rules that he has devised for his small self-gated community and he puts flowers on his recently passed wife's grave.  Then he adds attempting suicide to his daily ritual and he is exceedingly bad at that.  In fact, each attempt puts him into contact with other humans, people who can help to give his life meaning, and while he resists their attempts to bring him out, to make him a part of the community, to use his considerable skills with his hands, and yet they are persistent and ultimately they succeed.  It is a bittersweet tale very kindly and beautifully told.  It is my first film to watch in this category, so I can't yet comment on what I think its chances of winning are, but it is a really excellent film.

Tuesday, February 7, 2017

The White Helmets (2016)

Day two included this movie, which while short, really packs a punch.  It is about a group of volunteers in Syria who actively seek out places that have been bombed, and help to dig people who are trapped or dead within the building to get out.  They take them to their families, to places for the dead, and to what little medical help there is still available in Aleppo.  The White Helmets are found throughout Syria, but the documentary focuses on the team in Aleppo.  The thing that I love about this movie is the way these men are trying to make something good out of a really terrible situation.  They are men of God, they are family men, they care for their people, and the world is collapsing all around them.  So what do they do?  They scan the skies for Russian planes, track the bombs as they fall out of the sky and they run TO the bombs, not away.  They get there as soon as they can (they use scanners as well), and they attempt to save those who can be saved.  It is tragic and sad too, but this is a glimpse into how people try to stay sane and human amidst an unbearable assault on civilians.
I have one more documentary nominee in the short category to watch, but this is my choice for the winner.

Monday, February 6, 2017

Arrival (2016)

It is time.  This month the Kline-Woodman's are doing what most movie aficionados do throughout the year passively, but we find ourselves in the position of having to do it all at once, and that is watch as many of the Oscar nominated movies as we can manage.  So many movie reviews this month, I am afraid.   To complicate things more, I was in China for the first two weeks of the season, so it is short short short.
This is the first (well, we had managed to watch something ahead of time, but not much, so this feels like the start.   It is a non-linear movie that is the opposite of fast faced.  It is almost in an alternative time lapse place.  Aliens land on earth in 12 separate places and they communicate in a language that no one can understand.  Louise Banks (Amy Adams) is a linguist who convinces the military that she is the one to crack the code, and she does so with the help of a physicist, Ian Donelly (Jeremy Renner).  They work diligently and respectfully with the aliens, in contrast to the military response, and when international communication breaks down and the widespread feeling is that they should be obliterated, Louise works with the alien and his knowledge of her gift for future seeing to come up with a viable strategy for the win.  Well conceived story and enjoyable if somewhat unconventional movie.

Sunday, February 5, 2017

Squash, Paprika, and Chickpea Bake

In an act of complete self interest, I gave my husband several cookbooks that were well reviewed in 2016.  This recipe comes from the magnificent Anna Jones cookbook, A Modern Way to Cook.  it is one of several one pan meals that she describes, and the recipes leave a lot of room for the individual cook to make them their own.  This was absolutely delicious and a little unexpected.

1 chopped winter squash (she says coarsely chopped, but I like it smaller and more uniform than that, to the degree possible).
14 oz. of chickpeas (or 1/2 c. dried that have been rehydreated)
pinch of smoked paprika
3/4 c. chopped roasted red pepper (jarred is fine, like th kind that you can find at Costco)
1/2 cup stock
1 chopped chili pepper

But in a dish that holds it, salt and pepper to taste, and bake for 50 minutes at 425 degrees.  It was delicious for dinner, and I used some of the leftovers cold in a green salad the following day.

Saturday, February 4, 2017

Blackbelly, Boulder, Colorado

This is a locally sourced snout to tail sort of restaurant.  They have daily specials for beef, pork, and lamb that are cuts of meat that are butchered from the whole animal, and are prepared in different ways.  It is a restaurant that places a lot of emphasis on the ingredient, and while they are no inexpensive, the quality if really quite good.
In addition to the butcher, they do a nice job of making vegetable side dishes and the small plates are good as well.  I had an excellent salad, with a light and flavorful dressing tossed with excellent lettuce.  The octopus was also an exceptionally good dish.
The kitchen is fun because a lot of the work is done out in front of the house, so many tables look onto it, and you can watch your food being prepared, something I always enjoy.

Friday, February 3, 2017

Last Tango in Halifax

I watched all three seasons that are available of this show on Netflix in under a week.  So you have been warned, this could get addictive.  The basic story is that Alan and Celia's grandsons decide to make them a social media profile, and through it they discover each other 60 years after they last saw each other.  Alan is trepidatious about meeting up again because he really liked Celia as a teen and she broke his heart when she never showed up for their date.  Celia on the other hand, thinks that Alan chose not to contact her.  She moved the day before their date, and she left a letter to him with a mutual friend of theirs that contained both her explanation and her new address.  It turns out that the friend became Alan's future wife and it probably wasn't an accident that she kept the note--and the boy--to herself.  So this is an excellent depiction of how those youthful intense emotions can remain strong years later, and then there is the blending of their families to contend with as well.  It is funny and smart, if occasionally a bit too soap opera-ish.

Thursday, February 2, 2017

Writing Letters to Congress

This is one of the most important resolutions that I have made in the weeks since Trump won the Electoral College vote.  I already have two things that I want to address, and I will do them in separate letters.  The first is my support for abstaining from the U.N. condemnation of Israel for their continued settlement in the West Bank.  I agree with what Kerry said, that they are abandoning a two state solution by doing so, and that one state will either be a Jewish state or a democracy, but not both.  The other is the sanctioning of Russia for interference in the election.

Here is the blueprint for an effective letter that I found that makes sense to me:
  1. Say why you are writing and who you are. List your credentials so the Congressperson knows he is dealing with a constituent, what your angle is. (If you want a response, you must include your name and address, even when using email.)
  2. Provide more detail about why you are writing. Be factual not emotional. Provide specific rather than general information about how the topic affects you and others. If a certain bill is involved, cite it whenever possible.
  3. Close by requesting the action you want taken: a vote for or against a bill, or change in general policy.
 I know that it sounds a bit paranoid and histrionic to say this, but I feel like our way of democracy is at stake. 

Wednesday, February 1, 2017

Marcus Aurelius on his Horse (175 C.E.)

I think that as the new year opens that one thing I want to focus at least a little bit on is what is good in the world.  There is a lot wrong, but especially when the going gets tough, it is important to admit that there is a lot to be thankful for and to appreciate.  I have been doing that at least once a week, and hope to keep it up as the year progresses.  SOme of the art may be more what others would call crafts, as I do a bit of crafting myself, and my youngest son is taking a class in Native North American Art, and I have always loved that and will not be able to resist showing some off.
In any case, I have been mostly showing off ancient art, and this is one of my favorite pieces from a recent trip to Rome.  It is in the Capitoline Museum, right off the Roman Forum, and it is magnificent.  Marcus Aurelius, the philosopher emperor, is depicted upon his horse in a larger than life piece, one of a handful of bronze pieces from the ancient world to survive (many of them were retrieved from the Mediterranean, as sinking them saved them from being melted down).  Both man and horse look so real, so alive that it is breathtaking to behold.  Nothing about my photo really captures that, so you really must see it.