Saturday, March 27, 2010

Bright Star

Though definitely worth watching, this biographical sketch of the great Romantic poet John Keats’ final years proves rather disappointing overall. The film follows the relationship of Keats and his fiancé Fanny Brawne, which ends in tragic and unconsummated separation due to Keats’ poverty, failing health and untimely death from tuberculosis in Rome at the age of twenty-five. Despite some excellent casting choices, admirable performances and beautiful camera work, the overall result still somehow manages to engender a tedium which seems to overflow the otherwise reasonable limitations of the hour-and-fifty-nine-minute time-frame. Quite unlike Keats’ poetry, there is simply little here to arouse the imagination or draw the audience in so that they may themselves experience and become participants of both the elation and the pathos of the work that is set before them. For this failure, I think the screenplay itself is mostly at fault.

More specifically, I think this is a case where a too conservative approach—one that resolves, on the whole, to stick safely to the known biographical facts—ultimately fails to satisfactorily meet the demands of the chosen medium. A narrative film needs to accept and embrace the fact that it is not a documentary. By contrast, an approach which is willing to introduce some creative and well-considered, but not cheap or gimmicky, dramatical devices in order to better serve the narrative is much more successful. In addition to the other necessary qualities, this is what makes Amadeus, for instance, not a great biography (it reduces Mozart to something of a caricature and substitutes wild conjecture for historical fact), but a truly great film, while Bright Star remains simply a mediocre one. Both biopics begin with the considerable challenge of presenting an artist who was the consummate practitioner of his craft, and whose premature demise is well known and anticipated by the audience beforehand. But through creative daring, Amadeus attains the cinematic status of a Mozart, while Bright Star remains just another Salieri.

NOTE: Be sure to read my follow-up to this review here.

Thursday, March 25, 2010


No, it’s not Credenda Agenda, but, after perusing my first edition of Salvo, I find that it goes a fair distance, at least, toward filling that gaping hole in my life (or at least my hands) that the former publication’s transition to an online-only format has left. Satire, refutation, thoughtful cultural analysis, film and book reviews, and more—all from a robust Christian perspective. Subscribe to the print edition and get it all, or digest what’s available for consumption online. Either way, you should check it out.

Wednesday, March 24, 2010

Enrique Granados

On this day ninety-four years ago (March 24, 1916), the composer Enrique Granados met an untimely, tragic and ironic end when the passenger ferry Sussex, on which he and his wife were traveling, was torpedoed by a German U-boat in the English Channel.

Granados was a virtuoso pianist and composed primarily for that instrument, though a number of his works have been transcribed for the guitar, for which they seem exceptionally well-suited. His Twelve Spanish Dances are particularly delightful, and I especially recommend the 2003 recordings by father and son Celadonio and Angel Romero. The most famous of the twelve is No. 5, Andaluza, though I am rather fond of No. 12, Danza Triste (aka Melancholia) and No. 4, Villanesca.

At forty-eight years old, his career was just beginning to blossom and his mind brimming over with unrealized musical ideas. In January of 1916, he reluctantly agreed to make a first-ever trans-Atlantic voyage (he was terrified of water) in support of his opera Goyescas, which premiered in New York. It was on the final leg of the return journey back to his beloved Spain that tragedy overtook him. Following the torpedo strike, Granados made his way to a lifeboat, and from there he caught sight of his wife struggling in the water. Despite his acute aquaphobia, he jumped in to try and rescue her. Both drowned, and his body was never recovered. They left behind six children. (To further underscore the irony, the ship had broken in two, and the portion which remained afloat, which included Granados’ own cabin, was later towed to port with the greater number of its passengers still safely aboard.)

Granados was apparently also a painter of some repute, after the fashion of his countryman Francisco Goya, whom he much admired. I have not, however, been able to find any examples of his work as a visual artist.

Thursday, March 18, 2010

52 Reasons…

Here are some snippets from the current advertising and promotional campaign for which I’ve helped develop:

Promotional logo element

Print ad, 2-page spread

Online banner ad

Friday, March 12, 2010

A Day in the Life

So what does a day in the life of a graphic designer look like? This gives you a pretty good idea. I just have to say though, that the only way this book cover design was pulled off in just 6 hours was that it was #3 in a series—the basic look was already established, so no need for showing multiple comps and all that goes along with that. All you clients out there, just keep that in mind! :)

(HT to my friend and much-more-prolific-fellow-blogger Kristi for this.)

Thursday, March 11, 2010

I Love Typography

I just stumbled across this delightful typographical blog (also now included in the links over at the left). Enjoy!

Wednesday, March 3, 2010

HOW Design Annual 2010

I just picked up a copy of HOW Magazine’s Design Annual a couple of days ago and am still salivating over so many of the inspiring examples of creativity displayed between its covers. Here is just one of them—a definite must-have item.