Posts tagged ‘Articles’

September 7, 2012

Hugo: A Comment On Purpose

***SPOILER ALERT***: My reviews are intended to get art-observers to engage with what they have already seen and heard and may include some spoilers.  So if you haven’t seen Hugo yet, and don’t want to know what happens, you probably don’t want to read this post.

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I enjoyed every minute of Hugo. At the risk of sounding like Donald Trump, I have to say that the art direction was beautiful, the cinematography was excellent, the characters were well-developed, and the narrative interwove traditional themes and complex plotlines. It might have run a bit long in places, but by the time the end credits rolled, director Martin Scorsese had earned my respect. (Not that a director with his reputation needs my respect, but hey).

The settings in which the film took place were urban and chaotic, but somehow beautiful. I loved the spectrum of tones used throughout the film: warm and soft tones dominated train station scenes, fuzzy tones dominated memory scenes, and dark and hard tones dominate scenes of isolation. I mean this is how color should be used in a film! Scorsese utilized a variety of shots throughout the film, but I really liked the shots through the number four. It was kind of a “this is how Hugo sees the world” moment.

In addition to breath-taking art direction and cinematography, the characters and story (based on a children’s book) blew my mind. The entire film is about restoration to purpose. Hugo is driven to fix an automoton that his now-deceased father brought home as a project for the both of them. He hopes that the automoton will have a message from his father. He spends the beginning of the film collecting bits and pieces to fix it, while believing his purpose is to keep the station clocks operational. In fixing the automoton, however, he crosses paths with a once-famous, now-embittered artist who has lost his sense of purpose. And this little boy named Hugo restores this artist to his purpose, while dodging an overzealous station inspector who would like nothing better than to put Hugo into an orphanage. Through his experiences, Hugo learns that his real purpose is not just maintaining the station clocks, but fixing things in general.

Anyone who knows me knows I’m a sucker for a good restoration story. I think anyone who has been through a restorative process is. Sometimes in this crazy journey, we lose sight of why we’re here or we let other people dictate our purpose. Hugo really is about finding or simply rediscovering that purpose, and more than the beauty of the film itself, that is why I liked it.

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Lydia Thomas holds a Bachelor of Arts in Radio, Television and Film.  She likes reading, writing, watching movies, and making movies, but she is most passionate about reaching, challenging and equipping artists for Jesus Christ.

September 6, 2012

The Identity of the Artist, Part Two

… Continued.

I think God wants believing artists to abandon the self-preoccupied persona of an artist and to adopt a God-centered artist identity. When I talk about a God-centered artist identity, I am not suggesting that this is all there is to our identities as artists or as human beings. I just wanted to talk about some of the common points artists share.

Artists have vision, not only for the tangible, but also for the intangible. In school, I used a resort when I had procrastinated a creative project until the last minute: a pencil. A pencil is just a pencil, but in my head I have this imagery of a lonely pencil, a pencil that wants to be worth something.

I could have just left the lonely pencil in my imagination, but I am an artist, and artists also have the creativity to bring the intangible alive in their craft – in a sense, they make it tangible. Storytelling is my craft, both written and visual, and so it is how I express concepts like loneliness and worthlessness. I am slightly embarrassed to say that during my college experience, two separate pencils became protagonists in two different stories, one written and one visual. But it really wasn’t ever about the pencils. It was about the concepts of loneliness and worthlessness.

Artists are sensitive, in that we deeply feel our environs, the people we interact with, and ourselves. We are tuned in to the intangible, good or bad. Sometimes this sensitivity is completely introverted, and self-awareness dominates. In a God-centered artist identity, the artist’s awareness and empathy are directed toward others. These qualities make artists a safe haven for others.

Artists are passionate. We develop passion about our art, passion about our beliefs, passion about our relationships. Like our sensitivity, passion can become twisted into pursuit of self. When we are passionate about God first, and are pursuing His plan for our lives, all other passions fall into place.

I look at these aspects of the artist identity as positive when centered on God. I believe God is the Supreme Artist, and that He delights in artists. In the hands of our Creator, artists can be used to reach other artists and art-observers for Jesus Christ. However, we have an Enemy whose goal is to pervert and destroy the beauty God intends. In view of this, I think it is wise to watch our artist identity to evaluate its God-centeredness on a regular basis.

Fellow, believing artists, are we ready to do things differently? Are we prepared to put aside self-preoccupation in order to pursue God’s idea of what our identities of artists should look like? Are we read to bring our diverse talents together to reach the world with good news of Jesus Christ? The time is now…

“And He has made from one blood every nation of men to dwell on all the face of the earth and has determined their appointed times and the boundaries of their dwellings. This is so that they will seek the LORD, in the hope that they might grope for Him and find Him, though He is not far from each one of us.” (Acts 17:26-27).

September 4, 2012

JEHOVAH

The past month has been a silent month for me. This blog has been silent, my Facebook account has been silent, I’ve been silent at church, and I’ve been silent at work. It has been incredibly liberating. I haven’t had the strain of article deadlines, haven’t had to deliberate whether or  not a status is productive, haven’t immersed myself in busy-ness that I’d falsely convinced myself was for God, haven’t striven for the spotlight at work. I have kind of just been … existing.
At first, scaling back was a real struggle. I wanted to be doing. As I settled down, thought, I began to realize how necessary this time was. Just my Maker and me.

The verse that I have been meditating on during this time is, “Be still and know that I am God” (Psalm 46:10). Have you ever really thought about that?

God is.

I love this definition: “God can be defined only by being, pure and simple … By concrete being, by absolute being, the ocean of all substantial being, independent of any cause, incapable of change, exceeding all duration, because He is infinite” (Catholic Encyclopedia).
JEHOVAH is God’s highest and holiest name, and it simply means, “I Am.” Often, we attach other titles to it. Titles like Jireh (“Provider”), Rapha (“Healer”), Rohi (“Shepherd”), Elohim (“Mighty One”), and Sabaoth (“Hosts”). In adding these things, important though they may be, we lose sight of the fact that before He is any of these things, God is just is.

A few years ago, I was reading through Ezekiel in my personal devotions and noted 43 variants of the following phrase: “Then they shall know that I am the LORD [JEHOVAH].” It’s a 48 chapter book. In Isaiah chapters 43-45 the name JEHOVAH appears 27 times. I think it must be important.

Think About It:

“You are My witnesses, says the LORD, and My servant whom I have chosen, that you may know and believe Me, and understand that I am He. Before Me there was no God formed, nor shall there be after Me. I, even I, am the LORD, and beside me there is no savior” (Isaiah 43:10-11 NKJV).

July 12, 2012

Everyone’s A Critic

“It is not the critic who counts; not the man who points out how the strong man stumbles, or where the doer of deeds could have done them better. The credit belongs to the man who is actually in the arena, whose face is marred by dust and sweat and blood; who strives valiantly; who errs, who comes short again and again, because there is no effort without error and shortcoming; but who does actually strive to do the deeds; who knows great enthusiasms, the great devotions; who spends himself in a worthy cause; who at the best knows in the end the triumph of high achievement, and who at the worst, if he fails, at least fails while daring greatly, so that his place shall never be with those cold and timid souls who neither know victory nor defeat.”

~Theodore Roosevelt

 

I honestly don’t care about Miley Cyrus’ newest tattoo, but it did get me thinking about Theodore Roosevelt’s The Man in the Arena speech and how incredibly easy it is to criticize.  Pointing out others’ flaws and shortcomings – in their personal lives, in their ministries, in their art. With online social media expanding, anybody can be a critic. In fact, most people are. Including me.

The problem with criticism is exactly as Mr. Roosevelt says: many critics aren’t actually out there making their own mistakes … just criticizing the people who are brave enough to go out and try, come what may.

With almost every film I analyze, I analyze in terms of how it deals with gender. (Just go look at our Artist’s Picks and you’ll see what I’m talking about).  Most of the film theory classes  I took in college dealt with gender on some level, but it was always from a humanist perspective. At the same time, God was dealing with me personally on His ideas about gender, and I became extremely dissatisfied with how men and women are portrayed in movies. I genuinely believe there is reason to be concerned with these portrayals.

However, if you watch the movies I’ve made, none of them address gender issues. I have a lot of thoughts on how I would approach gender in my movies, but I haven’t actually put them into practice yet. That has to change.

I’m really excited about the launch of FortyOne20 Ministries’ Video Production division because I’m really hoping to change not just the way we analyze movies, but how movies are made. After our introductory project we have plans to produce a fiction miniseries for the Internet that will address some of these gender issues. Maybe once I’m in the trenches I’ll have a different perspective, not to mention critics of my own.

Now I’m not suggesting we don’t need to be analytical of the art we’re observing, because we should be. We should consider it through the lens of God’s Word and be discerning about the art we’re consuming. Additionally, God tells us to “think about how we can spur each other on to love and good works” (Heb. 10:24), and I believe this includes art consumption.

We also need to be practicing the standards we apply to others’ art when creating our own art. We need to have grace with other artists who maybe do things a little bit differently than we think we would in their situations. And as artists, we should put ourselves out there, even when it means opening ourselves up to the critics.

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Lydia holds a Bachelor of Arts from the University of North Texas where she studied film theory and video production. She is passionate about reaching and equipping artists for Jesus Christ.