In no particular order, and for no particular reason, here are a few of my favorite things from the world of culture in 2011. (Caveat: not a “best of,” mind you, just some stuff I liked.)
(Book) The Illumination by Kevin Brockmeier- Imagine our pain, physical, psychological and emotional, illuminating from our bodies. If we saw each others pain, would we become more empathetic human beings? Or take it all in stride? That, to me, is the central question raised in Brockheimer’s (dystopian?) novel. And amid all that pain, there is love, represented by a book of declarations that no one seems to want to let go of. Love, somehow, can be more important to hold on to than pain, it seems. Yet we often choose the opposite.
(Film/Film Review) Poetry / Review of Poetry in the New York Times- There are several things that can draw you to a film: word-of-mouth recommendations, favorite directors or actors, enticing trailers or great reviews, et al. Earlier in the year, it was a single review of Poetry by Manohla Dargis in the New York Times that made me want to see it. It was one of the most beautiful and well written reviews I could recall. When Poetry finally arrived at The Belcourt some months later, it was for me one of the most highly anticipated films of the year (take that, War Horse). It was heartbreakingly beautiful. Thank you, Manohla.
(Film) The Artist – So entertaining I saw it twice, and brought my sister along the second time. She, for whom “black-and-white silent film” does not scream “must-see,” loved it.
(Concert) U2 360 Tour at Vanderbilt Stadium – It was everything I wanted it to be, and saved me from having to admit I had only seen U2 on the awful PopMart Tour. They brought the stadium rock show, and I was redeemed. Hell, I even enjoyed “Even Better Than The Real Thing,” a song I always skipped on Achtung Baby. And classic U2 songs aside, I forgot how much I like that song “Stay (Faraway So Close).”
(Band/Show) The David Wax Museum at the Americana Music Association Festival – The best part of attending a festival of any sort is discovery. I might be late to the game, but The David Wax Museum’s gig at the Station Inn was the find, and highlight, of the Festival for me. Thoroughly unique and highly entertaining. This year, I seemed to be really interested in things that made me happy. They made me happy. As does the video for “Born with a Broken Heart.”