Art for art’s sake
The power of art to provoke, transform and redeem is a story that never gets old. Occasionally, however, it can get a little creaky.
“Words and Pictures” is a well-intentioned but clunky film about the eternal conflict between written and visual arts. Directed by Fred Schepisi, it pits the two disciplines–personnified by teachers Jack Marcus (Clive Owen, “words”) and Dina Delsanto (Juliette Binoche, “pictures”)—against each other and their Beatrice-Benedict-like sparring engages their students and inspires anew each other’s artistic passions. While Marcus spouts John Updike, William Shakespeare, Martin Luther King and the etymology of obscure words, Delsanto paints huge canvasses (Binoche’s own real-life work) whose style is reminiscent of the New York School and German Expressionists. Ultimately, secrets are revealed. Vulnerabilities are breached. A job is saved. And, wouldn’t you know it, opposites attract.
In the beginning, there may have been the word. But at the end, it’s not the medium that matters. It’s the message–the big transformative idea that all art brings to messy, creative and enthralling life.
If you are what you eat, then the characters in Jon Favreau’s “Chef” are truly the luckiest people in the world. Nominally, a workplace drama about a frustrated restauranter-turned-successful-food-truck operator, it is also a story of fathers and sons, devoted friends and the importance of holding fast to your creative vision even when less, um, pure interests seek to undermine it. (Raise your hand if you’ve ever been there!)
It starts in Venice, CA, where Chef Carl Casper is called out by a famous food critic for having lost his soul (but gained a lot of weight eating the food the diners allegedly send back.) After an epic retort that goes viral on Twitter (social media play a huge role in the film), he flees to Miami with his ex-wife and son and obtains, through an improbable series of events and encounters, a food truck. Before you can say “vamanos,” el jefe has cleaned up his act, drawn thousands of fans (real and virtual) and taken it and his award-winning Cuban sandwiches on the road through New Orleans, Austin and points west.
“Chef” is a sweet film (without being saccharine), borne along by a propulsive score, energetic pacing and vanity-free acting. The food shots (and making-of outtakes at the end) are fabulous. But what’s truly satisfying here is the realization that the pursuit of creativity—what we should all do every day—is every bit as nourishing as an artfully prepared meal. It is the very thing that gives life its savor.
“Trying To Remember the Color of the Sky on That September Morning”
Of all the memories from that unforgettable September day, it is the color of the sky that people talk most about. “So blue,” they say. “So crystalline.” It makes sense, after all. The sky was the World Trade Center’s habitat, the ever-changing backdrop to its beauty. And the source of its destruction.
That sky is given pride of place among the many artifacts now exhibited in the newly opened Sept. 11 Memorial Museum. Created by artist Spencer Finch,“Trying To Remember the Color of the Sky on That September Morning” features thousands of hand-painted blue squares, each a different hue and dedicated to each of the 2983 individuals who lost their lives when the towers fell.
Adding yet another shade to the memory of the day and the innocence that disappeared into the clear blue sky.