Not related to Christmas in any way, but I read and loved this quote from Peggy Noonan. I don't always agree with Ms. Noonan, but find her always worth reading. She writes with such grace and clarity, and has such an interesting point-of-view. At any rate, she concludes her column with this:
"We are at a point in our culture when we actually have to pull for grown-up movies, when we must try to encourage them and laud them when they come by. David Lean wouldn't be allowed to make movies today. John Ford would be forced to turn John Wayne into a 30-something failure-to-launch hipster whose big moment is missing the toilet in the vomit scene in Hangover Ten. Our movie culture has descended into immaturity, deep and inhuman violence, a pervasive and flattened sexuality. It is an embarrassment "In Iraq this year I asked and Iraqi military officer doing joint training at an American base what was the big thing he'd come to believe about Americans in the years they'd been there. He thought. "You are a better people than your movies say." He had judged us by our exports. He had seen the low slag heap of our culture and assumed it was a true expression of who we are." Link here.
Well said. It seems to me that this is hard to argue with when you look at the lion's share of what is produced. It further seems that it's difficult to make a compelling argument that this is a good thing. One might say, "Well, I like it." But that doesn't mean it's good or right or desirable. The quote from the Iraqi officer is interesting to me. Noonan says he had assumed our movies accurately expressed who we are. How long can we produce and consume that kind of thing before it becomes who we are?
We interrupt the ongoing celebration of Christmas, hard-hitting social commentary, keen insights into adolescents, and shameless self-promotion that form the normal work of this blog to post something that we just really like a lot.
We here at bradenbell.com are inveterate, confirmed Anglophiles. We love all things English--everything from country lanes to St. George, Shakespeare, and Queen Elizabeth. We are quite sure, that in some former life, we were best friends with Winston Churchill and Sherlock Holmes.
This, of course, makes us look on all things French with a certain amount of suspicion. Still, when it comes to a dispute between the Nazi Jerrys and the Frogs, we will quickly don our beret and shout, "Vive La France!"
To be fair, the French have probably the coolest national anthem in the world (although we choke up every time we hear "The Star-Spangled Banner." We find that if we are ever afraid or need to muster up fighting spirit, singing "La Marseillaise" is a supreme tonic.
This film clip is one of our favorite scenes from one of our favorite movies--Casablanca. The Nazis are insinuating themselves into French Morocco and come to Rick's nightclub where they disturb the peace by singing their noxious German anthems. Not to fear! A Resistance leader is on hand and he leads the patrons in a wonderful musical smackdown. This gives me chills every time.
I know what you are thinking. You are thinking "Wow! Braden is such a great guy. He keeps giving us these amazing recommendations in order to make our Christmas brighter." Yes, you are right. That's because I care deeply about you, my blogging friends.
(By the way, if my student who plays Glinda, the Good Witch is reading this, hello!)
My fourth gift to you is another movie recommendation. It is a delightfully unusual movie that defies easy categorization. In my mind, it's more of a movie that happens to take place at Christmas than it is a Christmas movie, but it is interesting and compelling. Cary Grant and Loretta Young and David Niven star in "The Bishop's Wife", available on Netflix here. Yes, this was the original on which they based the newer "The Preacher's Wife" (Why must they do that! One of my biggest pet peeves). The supporting cast is fantastic as well.
Here's a question to which no one has yet provided a satisfactory answer: why did my grandparents's generation get Cary Grant and we're stuck with Leonardo Di Caprio? Seriously, that is so unfair and really points to our cultural poverty today.
P.S. Please remember to vote for Debbie here! This is the last week of voting.
I am convinced that our generation lives in a culturally deprived era and it makes me sad. American pop culture used to be a treasure trove of incredible riches. I'll not say more because I inevitably sound like a curmudgeonly crank when I go too far down this road.
Here at bradenbell.com, we are getting incredibly excited for the Christmas season because, to someone interested in the arts, Christmas offers a wealth of delights and joys. So, in our effort to fight cultural mediocrity and lameness, and, because it is the season of giving and sharing, we at bradenbell.com are going to be highlighting some of our favorite Christmas cultural treasures. Recommendations on books and movies and music that have become part of our traditions over the years. This is our gift to you.
First recommendation: get the old version of Miracle on 34th Street, the black and white one with Maureen O'Hara. The newer version is ok, but it's sort of a sanitized, fairly vanilla remake. No, go to the original article. In my opinion, it has a lot more heart and it as an interesting look into a fascinating world that is long gone. It's available on Netflix here.
This is the perfect film for this part of the year because it opens with the Macy's Thanksgiving Day parade, so it's the perfect transition piece between holidays.
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