Magical realism or memoir?

Colombian author Ingrid Rojas Contreras recently released a new memoir, “The Man Who Could Move Clouds.” In an interview with NPR, she discusses the fine line between fact and fiction.

Ingrid Rojas Contreras’s new memoir, The Man Who Could Move Clouds, is named for her grandfather, a curandero in her northern Colombian hometown who people would hire “to ward off rain ahead of soccer matches or to banish ghosts” (read more from WJCT News here). However, since immigrating to the United States, Contreras found that “sometimes when I would share stories of my family, I would be corrected or I would be investigated,” with others calling her lived experience “magical realism.” Contreras interprets this pushback as “a version of just trying to erase different worldviews.”

According to Contreras, “Once I realized that, I had so much energy and so much love for this story and just really wanted to do it justice.” Her book describes “that experience of living in a context where the magical feels routine and people tell you that your real life is fiction.” I can’t judge Contreras as a memoirist without reading her work first, but, The Man Who Could Move Clouds sounds like quite the conversation-starter in the realm of creative nonfiction.

“The Philadelphia Inquirer” calls for us to use a different word than “manifesto” to describe the Buffalo shooter’s writing

“The Grammarian” is a columnist with the “Inquirer.” He argues the dictionary definitions of “manifesto” elevate the Buffalo shooter’s rantings.

The eighteen-year-old accused of killing ten people at a grocery store last week in Buffalo wrote a hundred-eighty pages of racist and deplorable literature leading up to the crime. The Philadelphia Inquirer, though, says it is unethical to refer to this diatribe as a “manifesto,” like so many mass media outlets have done (including the Inquirer itself). NPR is quoted in this column as saying, “‘Not using the word ‘Manifesto’ in no way deprives our audience of information, it helps deprive the shooter of the platform he was looking for.'”

The shooter “seeks to be an ‘individual … of public relevance’ — a status we’d rather not grant him,” writes “The Grammarian” about the first dictionary definition of the word “manifesto” he discusses here. “If it’s the second, then his screed’s propoundment of the ‘great replacement’ theory — a racist assertion that white people are being ‘replaced’ in America and Europe by nonwhites — suddenly becomes a ’cause,’ and we also shouldn’t grant him that.” The news has come a long way since the Columbine High School massacre in 1999, when shock rocker Marilyn Manson castigated them in Rolling Stone for making “folk heroes” out of those two murderers, but until violence in America becomes a thing of the past, we must always critically deconstruct these stories at the word level.

Maine poet writes through terminal cancer diagnosis

Nick Stone is a former corporate lawyer who started writing poetry in his retirement. In August, when he was diagnosed with stage four metastatic prostate cancer and given twenty months to live, he decided to keep writing.

Eighty-nine-year-old Nick Stone has written dozens of pages of “left-brain” work, such as legal briefs and filings, for decades. However, the Portland Press Herald reports that he started engaging the right side of his brain when he composed poetry for the first time after retiring to Maine from his career as a corporate lawyer in Boston. Now that he’s diagnosed with metastatic prostate cancer and has just months left to live, “Stone only wants to keep writing.”

It is almost otherworldly, what comfort writing can bring – even to the dying. Stone’s poetry gives him something to come alive for. No matter how late in life it is – even near the end – a writer’s time can come.

“The Los Angeles Times” ranks Ennio Morricone’s ten greatest film scores

Randall Roberts of The Los Angeles Times writes, “Serving as sort of whimsical, opinionated Greek chorus — one that could turn dark and sinister in a flash — his work played a co-starring role.” (Image Courtesy: The Los Angeles Times).

Ennio Morricone died yesterday in Rome at ninety-one years old, according to The Los Angeles Times. Staff writer Randall Roberts describes him as not only “the most important film composer of the twentieth century,” but “also the busiest.” Roberts lists his top ten scores as: Sergio Leone’s Trilogia del dollaro; Gillo Pontecorvo’s La battaglia di Algeri (1966); Sergio Sollima’s La resa dei conti (1968); Dario Argento’s Il gatto a nove code (1971); Bernardo Bertolucci’s Novecento (1976); Terrence Malick’s Days of Heaven (1978); John Carpenter’s The Thing (1982); Roland Joffé’s The Mission (1986); Brian De Palma’s The Untouchables (1987); and Quentin Tarantino’s The H8teful Eight (2015).

The cast of “Ferris Bueller’s Day Off” reunites

In the season finale of the YouTube series Reunited Apart with Josh Gad, the core cast of John Hughes’s Ferris Bueller’s Day Off (1986) joined together for the first time in thirty-four years, according to NBC Chicago. Matthew Broderick, Jennifer Grey, Alan Ruck, Mia Sara, Cindy Pickett, Lyman Ward, as well as Ben Stein all hopped onto a Zoom call with Gad. Broderick, who hadn’t seen Ruck in at least fifteen years, told Gad about how he hurt his knee before shooting the parade scene, before the cast went on to act out iconic scenes from the cult classic.

LeBron James film company to produce a documentary about Black Wall Street and the Tulsa Race Massacre

SpringHill Entertainment, a film company co-founded by Maverick Carter and his business partner, NBA megastar LeBron James, will produce a documentary about Black Wall Street and the Tulsa Race Massacre (with no release date as of yet announced), according to KTUL. Salima Koroma, who pitched the project back in April, will direct the picture, tweeting that, “The Tulsa Race Massacre is not just a black story but American history. The fabric of this country is soaked in racism and today 99 years later, we’re still fighting for change.” This week marks the ninety-ninth anniversary of white rioters destroying the prosperous black community in Oklahoma.

Women In Film Los Angeles responds to violence against Black Americans

Women In Film Los Angeles released a response to the ongoing protests in LA and around the world against the racist murders of George Floyd, Breonna Taylor, and Ahmaud Arbery, according to Deadline. Calling for an end to anti-Black violence on their official Twitter account, Women In Film went on to encourage “real, systemic change,” while, at the same time, declaring their support for those among their members (as well as the LA community at large) who fight for racial justice. With this statement, Women In Film joins the many media organizations, agencies, and networks in the industry endorsing sociocultural change.

“The Guardian” ranks the “Alien” films

In celebration of Alien Day in April, The Guardian critic Ben Child ranked the eight films in the classic science fiction series from worst to best. Beginning with Paul W. S. Anderson’s Alien vs. Predator (2004) as well as Colin and Greg Strause’s Alien vs. Predator: Requiem (2007) tied for last, Child argues James Cameron’s Aliens (1986) surpasses Ridley Scott’s Alien (1979) as the greatest installment in the saga. Child writes, “Final mention, however, goes to Scott’s original Alien… At the time, there had simply been no more terrifying movie ever made by Hollywood, while [Sigourney] Weaver delivered a career-making performance.”

Tom Cruise to make the world’s first narrative feature film in space

NASA administrator Jim Bridenstine took to Twitter on Tuesday to confirm that Tom Cruise will shoot his next action blockbuster on the International Space Station, according to Business Insider. Elon Musk’s SpaceX, which has been making strides toward sending private citizens to space (including the launch date for its first crewed mission to the station on May 27), will provide the flight, while NASA will charge a fee for independent astronauts to come aboard; Russia is the only country that can ship people to and from the station, where private citizen access will be granted to its facilities. No studio has officially greenlit the project as of yet.

BBC critic calls “The Empire Strikes Back” overrated

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Nicholas Barber writes, “You can sense that Lucas and his team aren’t focusing on the current film anymore – they’re setting up the third part in what would now be a trilogy – and they are no longer interested in wars in the stars. Despite its title, The Empire Strikes Back is rarely about the Alliance v the Empire, it’s about who is related to whom and who is in love with whom (the two sometimes overlap). It twists the saga from the political to the personal, from space opera to soap opera.” (Image Courtesy: BBC).

With Irvin Kershner’s Star Wars: Episode V – The Empire Strikes Back (1980) released forty years ago this month, BBC critic Nicholas Barber writes that he finds the Star Wars film considered as the best to be “slower, stodgier, more contrived, convoluted, and repetitive.” Indeed, Barber is not alone in his opinion – notable reviewers such as Vincent Canby at The New York Times were also underwhelmed with the first sequel to George Lucas’s Star Wars: Episode IV – A New Hope (1977). Instead, Barber argues that the original is the greatest entry in the franchise, “with its wealth of history, mythology, politics, and technology.”