This Week

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Woolman Hill

Had an amazing experience of getting lost at the weekend – wandering away for half an hour’s solitude at the Woolman Hill Retreat Center – a gorgeous collection of old buildings, no artificial light around, banks of sky shrouding the place to make it one of the quietest places I’ve ever been.  I missed a turn on one of the trails, and ended up walking for about eight miles in rural Massachussetts, with no phone to complain to people with, or to ask for rescue.  The sense of powerlessness gave way to a kind of nuanced epiphany – a lot of things that have seemed unfixable suddenly became clear as all I had to do was to keep walking.  It left me in no doubt: getting lost is the best way to find yourself.

This week is a combination of seeing friends, watching some films for review, and helping with another retreat.  I’m in Nashville til Thursday, but will be with Ian Cron leading a contemplative couple of days from tomorrow afternoon.

Today I’m interviewing Glenn Kenny for The Film Talk with Jett; we’ll talk about the state of film criticism and his role in Steven Soderbergh’s new film ‘The Girlfriend Experience’; which suggests that this period of capitalism has turned us all into salesmachines.  Later, I’m watching  ‘Meeting Andrei Tarkovsky’ – a documentary about everyone’s favourite Russian mystic film-maker (if you’re in New York, Lincoln Center are showing all of his films in July: don’t miss them if you can).  Later I’m seeing ‘Il Divo’ – the new film from the Italian film-maker Paolo Sorrentino, responsible for ‘The Consequences of Love’, one of the most striking films of recen years: a melancolic film whose philosophy I couldn’t disagree with more, but the experience of watching is astonishing.  For such a sad story, it’s an almost ecstatic inspiration to love.

Later in the week I’ve a preview of ‘Public Enemies’, Michael Mann’s Dilligner/gangster/FBI piece with Johnny Depp and Christian Bale – I like Mann’s surfaces, but tend to think he’s in love with making violence look elegant; will be interesting to see what happens with this one.  I want filmed violence to be apocalyptic in the truest sense: i.e. to reveal what it is really like; and although there is a certain sense of ‘justice’ in his movies (the bad guy rarely gets away with it), he can’t resist making force look sexy.  (Though his visuals are pretty irresistible.)

Hope everyone has a good week.

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