Last year Sister Rose Pacatte, FSP, interviewed me at the intersection of Florence and Normandie, the flash point for the civil unrest following the acquittal of Los Angeles police officers in the beating of Rodney King. The story of my annual pilgrimage to this place was published in the National Catholic Reporter: Urban Mystic at the Crossroads.
This seven-minute video, edited by Chris Gipson, is an outtake from the interview. Many thanks to Chris, Srs. Rose and Tracey, and the board of Culture Connection that made this possible as we approach the 19th anniversary of this pivotal event in the life of Los Angeles.
Here is a description of the panel session that I will moderate at this upcoming conference:
“Who needs critics?” What use are film critics?” asks Nick James, film critic and editor of Sight and Sound. What is the difference between reviews, commentary, and criticism? Are there any distinctions to be made? Where can you discover great writing on film? Who are the really good critics and why? Is there a connection between cultural critique and movie criticism? Is there inherent conflict between amateur and professional critics? Is it inevitable that electronic communication will hasten the demise of print culture? Why is film criticism important for cinematic art and technological delivery mechanisms? Is there any space for the Religious Critic in a world preoccupied with the extinction of the movie critic? What do Godard and Schrader possess that the mass of blogger critics do not? Who is going to write the obituary and officiate at the critics’ memorial? Questions galore and conversations aplenty on this theme of the “critic in dire straits.”
I hope you to see you at the conference.
Click HERE for the Reel Spirituality website to register.
The worst riots in urban U.S. history, or civil unrest as some prefer to call them, erupted on April 29, 1992, a reaction to the acquittal of four white Los Angeles policemen for using excessive force in apprehending a black motorist, Rodney King.
Racism and brutality, the lack of opportunities, poverty, historical and current official negligence on the part of the city governance and police, and reverse racism, all these socially flammable realities contributed to the 1992 Los Angeles riots.
Most years on April 29, Scott D. Young, an ordained Baptist minister, campus minister, and film lover, makes a pilgrimage to the intersection of Normandie and Florence in Los Angeles’ South Central district, the flash point of the 1992 riots. City officials don’t say “South Central” anymore. They know language and geography are important and by broadening the vast and racially diverse conceptual plain of urban life, perhaps some of the stigma will be dispersed and unrest forgotten. Scott is committed both to eliminating the stigma and remembering an event that cannot be erased.
For the rest of the article, click here
The City of Angels Film Festival is arriving this weekend (March 12 – 14, 2010) at the Directors Guild in West Hollywood. I had the great fortune of being a co-founder, festival director for several years, and now one of the programmers. The theme this year is “Hidden Gems, Buried Treasures” and information can be found at City of Angels Film Festival 2010
I am directing a sidebar to the festival on Saturday, March 13, also at the DGA, called “Cinefiles: Revivals & Retrospectives”.
1 pm FOR THE LOVE OF MOVIES Director, Gerald Peary
Documentary on the (melo)dramatic story of film criticism
“a fascinating look at the vibrant personalities who changed the way we look at film” Chris Gore
Screening followed by panel discussion: “Writing On Film”
Panel Moderator: Scott Young
Panelists: Claudia Puig, USA Today film critic, Scott D. Young, and Sr Rose Pacatte, FSP, film journalist and author
3:30 pm BEST FILM RESTORATION OF DECADE
KILLER OF SHEEP Director, Charles Burnett
Considered one of the finest student films ever produced. Selected as one of the 100 Essential Films by the National Society of Film Critics.
“an American masterpiece,independent to the bone” Manohla Dargis, New York Times
Post-screening discussion: Scott Young
7:00 pm BEST FILM OF THE DECADE
MULHOLLAND DRIVE Director, David Lynch
Voted Best Film of the Decade by Film Comment (survey of 100 international moviemakers/critics/academics)
“Hypnotic” Roger Ebert “A Maniacal Thrill” New York Times
Post-screening discussion: Scott Young
The 2009 Academy Awards were a vibrant celebration of the awesome influence of visual stories and a potent reminder that movies matter. The “spreading of the wealth” of rewards among many deserving filmmakers was inspiring and an affirmation that studio genre movies, small independent films, and world cinema still have the robust energy to move audiences emotionally, intellectually, and spiritually. The new media are generating exciting new art forms and technological delivery systems. This current burst of creativity is also reigniting the passion for the movie-going experience. The cineplex, art house theater, alternative screening venues are alive with the pulsating thrill of big screen cinematic art
Cinematic art provides us with provocative images and stimulating ideas. Moving images and visual stories trigger questions and supply guidance in our quest to interpret our private and public lives. Cinema is becoming the primary cultural process for finding meaning in our individual and social existence. Movies are still largely perceived and experienced as escapist entertainment; a parenthetical fantasy zone where we hide for a couple of hours to avoid laborious work, stress-filled relationships, boring religion and fear-inducing world events. Escapist entertainment in the Cineplex is a useful and even necessary function of movies.
Films, however, have evolved to be much more. They assist us in negotiating who we are, where we are going, and why it matters. Films such as “Babel,” “Children of Men,” “Pan’s Labyrinth,” and “3 Burials of Melquiades Estrada” from four Mexican directors in 2006 treat us to a feast of beautiful images and disturbing stories that generate enduring questions about human life.
Recent Academy Award-winning films such as “Slumdog Millionaire” (2008),” “No Country for Old Men (2007),” “Babel (2006),” “Crash (2005),” “Million Dollar Baby (2004),” “Lord of the Rings: Return of the King (2003),” “Chicago (2002),” “A Beautiful Mind (2001),” “Gladiator (2000),” and “American Beauty (1999)” deliver enduring images that both entertain and enrich.
2007 releases were especially potent: “There Will Be Blood,” “Diving Bell and the Butterfly,” “The Savages,” “Sicko,” “Walk Hard: The Dewey Cox Story,” “Starting Out in the Evening,” “Michael Clayton,” “American Gangster,” “4 Months, 3 Weeks and 2 Days,””Mary,” and “I Am Not There,” among many others, stir our emotions and enlighten our intellects. Going to the movies can be a life-enhancing experience.
“Citizen Kane,” “The Wizard of Oz,””It’s a Wonderful Life”: Why are these movies still popular? What is their perennial appeal? These films offered previous generations a framework of images/visual narratives to live by.
“Taxi Driver,” “Apocalypse Now,” “The Decalogue,” “Chinatown,” “Blue Velvet,” “Crimes and Misdemeanors,” “Paris, Texas,” “Blade Runner,” are a few of the films that inspire and inform me. These films are my companions in the adventure to discover and discern the mysteries and puzzles of existence.
More recently, “Reservoir Dogs,” “Pulp Fiction,” “Fight Club,” “Moulin Rouge,” “Magnolia,” “Donnie Darko,” “Napoleon Dynamite” and “Superbad” have ignited the spirits of a younger generation.
All of the cinematic treasures I have mentioned are merely a sampling – a selective, not nearly a comprehensive, itemizing of films people live by. Notorious omissions have undoubtedly occurred. Many of you could add important movies to this litany I have proffered.
Sights and sounds, moving images and contemporary music are the lingua franca for our life and times. Big screen / Small screen / Micro screen delivery systems are changing the scale and scope of our relationship to visual stories and knowledge. The future will be showcased on screens more potently than read on a page.
We are in the middle of award season for 2009. This reflection on the significance and undeniable importance of movies is prompted by this annual ritual of selecting movies that matter for commercial and cultural reasons. It seems appropriate to summon larger horizons as we deliberate on last year’s movie theater offerings.