I finally watched Freida Lee Mock's 1995 documentary Maya Lin: A Strong Clear Vision - and highly recommend it. It's a very simple, old school portrait documentary of the Vietnam Memorial architect Maya Lin. What moved me so much was first of all Maya Lin's singular "strong clear vision" of creating work that inspires people to feel and think, and then secondly seeing exactly that effect on the people viewing the memorials designed by her. It's touching to see a life lived with such purpose and true achievement.
Julian Schnabel's The Diving Bell and The Butterfly (Le Scaphandre et le papillon) is simply beautiful. Yes, I had tears running down my face many times, but it's not a prime time soft filtered slow-motion made for TV tear-jerker. What makes a difference, if nothing else, is the strong sense of aesthetics: the entire film seems to be one weightless floating series of images, coming in and out of focus, over-layed and often just outside of grasp; beautiful landscapes of nature and of the faces of women leaning in close. All that in contrast with the ugliness of former Elle editor Jean-Dominque Bauby's situation: he is almost completely paralyzed except for the use of his left eye. Inspiring production design, refreshing music choices, excellent performances. The first act solely from Bauby's perspective is astonishing - but I'm glad that they smoothly moved out of that perspective and mixed in the outside perspective and flashbacks. It's a celebration of life and a contemplation of sin and punishment - without ever being preachy or going too deep. Weightless in its style, heavy on emotion.
Last, but not least, I can't let January pass by without noting with excitement: The Wire is back!!! The last season of this fabulous TV series about the cops, drug dealers, politicians, educators, laborers and now also journalists of Baltimore has started. And it's not disappointing. Especially now that Omar Little is back...
While you're waiting for next Sunday, here's a classic moment from a previous season: The Omar Little - Brother Mouzone Confrontation: