Kris Saknussemm’s new novel of the road and redemption, Reverend America, is centered on the travels and travails of a retired child evangelist albino orphan named Casper (known in his healing days as Reverend America) and his wanderings as guardian angel and inadvertent and occasional avenger. I’d become aware of Kris’ work via his first novel, Zanesville, his subsequent bizarre-noir novel Private Midnight, and his exuberant alt-historical Enigmatic Pilot. We’d become Facebook friends where I found him to be equally knowledgeable and perhaps even more impassioned about things musical more than literary. So when he asked if I would contribute some original work to fill out a CD to accompany the release of Reverend America (I’d not written anything original since high school, being presently and for decades consumed either by interpretations classical or reimaginings on the non-classical side), and with his own keen idea of how music might intersect his prose, I told him I’d have to be an idiot to NOT know how to write something for him.
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David “Davy” Jones passed away this week, shocking fans of the multi-talented singer. As a member of the Monkees, he was one of pop culture’s biggest teen idols, but his career consisted of so much more. So let’s take a look at his body of work through video highlights.
David got his big break in the role of the Artful Dodger in the successful Broadway play, Oliver!. As a part of the cast, he appeared on the same episode of The Ed Sullivan Show as the Beatles in their American television debut.
“There’s nothing about that day that was real,” begins Chico Colvard. He means the day that he shot his older sister Paula in the leg. “I do remember distinctly pulling the rifle up and pointing it at her head,” he adds, over photos of the family’s kitchen in Radcliff, Kentucky, circa 1978 as well as footage from The Rifleman a favorite TV show then. He remembers thinking, too, “The rifleman wouldn’t do that.” If Colvard doesn’t remember pulling the trigger, he does remember the sound: “It was just really deafening. I was a kid. I mean up until that moment anyway. I was just a kid.”
Colvard’s documentary, Family Affair, goes on to consider how kids are kids—and specifically, how kids survive terrible situations, here, Colvard’s father’s longtime sexual abuse of all three of his daughters. Premiering 1 March on Oprah Winfrey’s Network, the film is profound, subtle, and relentless as it looks back on his own and his sisters’ childhoods. In interviews with Paula, Angie, and Chiquita, he asks how they’ve come to forgive their abuser, even as you see Chici downing her meds (she’s diagnosed schizophrenic, worries that her rages might affect her own children) or close shots of Paula’s scarred leg, still debilitating even after 22 surgeries and two bone grafts. Colvard doesn’t have to say that he feels guilty over her ongoing pain, or his ignorance as a boy: his sisters kept their horrors from him, hoping to protect him. As Colvard seeks to understand his sisters’ experiences, they can only begin to explain. “All of us had to go in our own directions and we had to go there by ourselves,” one narrates over a series of literalizing images—roads and houses shot from a car. “We’ve all taken our own roads and now these roads are leading back to each other.” Angie adds, “When we all got separated, we lost our lifelines. As dysfunctional as it was. we needed each other.” As they come to see this, they come to see one another differently, their stories coming together and apart at the same time. As much as Family Affair seems poised for revelation, it is at last focused on the sisters’ survival and generosity.
See PopMatters’ review.
The biggest news to emerge from a recent Empire web chat with Nicolas Cage is that Cage has not given up on The Wicker Man. The actor starred in Neil LaBute’s 2006 remake of Robin Hardy’s classic 1973 horror film, and the result was an endlessly rewarding misfire, earning the film cult status and generating wildly popular Internet memes.
The Wicker Man (2006) Trailer:
Kenneth Lonergan’s Margaret has lived in purgatory for six years. The film, which is written and directed by Lonergan, who’s past writing credits include Analyze This and Gangs of New York, and who’s last directing foray was 2000’s intimate and critically praised You Can Count on Me, a film that was nominated for an Oscar and won the Sundance Grand Jury Prize. After such an acclaimed directorial debut, hopes were high for Margaret, which was shot in 2005. The film stars a pre-Trueblood Anna Paquin, Mark Ruffalo, Matt Damon, and Matthew Broderick, and includes a brief, but scene-stealing appearance by Allison Janney. Even though filming took place six years ago, the film, produced by Fox Searchlight, has experienced massive delays in terms of actual release, and only hit screens in December of 2011 (the time lapse is most obvious in Matt Damon, who’s skinny appearance is more reminiscent of his Good Will Hunting days than his macho turn in the Bourne series). It seems that the delays were due largely to Lonergan’s insistence that the film be screened at a run time lasting about three hours. Fox Searchlight countered by stipulating that it clock in at no more than 150 minutes, which is the current timing for the movie. Lonergan maintained that the extended edition of the film, which was edited by film legend Martin Scorsese himself, who reportedly referred to the extended film as “a masterpiece”, was the superlative version, and should therefore be shown to audiences.