catapult magazine

catapult magazine

Vol 6, Num 18 :: 2007.10.05 — 2007.10.19



FILM: God Grew Tired of Us

This 2006 documentary film raises awareness about the struggles of Sudan’s “Lost Boys” by following three young men from a refugee camp in Africa to the United States.  The boys’ flight from a Sudanese government bent on killing and sterilizing Christian boys and their dangerous journey out of Sudan is only the beginning of a life-long struggle.  When Panther Bior, John Bul Dau and Daniel Abol Pach reach America, they are overwhelmed by escalators, electric lights and packaged food.  And they are faced with the challenge of how to help those they left behind while living in an American culture that puts pressure on them to give up their cultural traditions.  The film offers American viewers an opportunity to see themselves through the boys’ eyes and puts a human face on the problems in Africa.  The main characters’ resourcefulness in using their American freedoms to help their brothers in Sudan will also challenge viewers to make use of their own political freedoms and responsibilities.


MUSIC: Common and Kanye West

The conscience of hip hop is back.  It is arguable that the popularity of these two Chicago artists represents a growing middle class African-American culture, but it is not easy to contest the fact that Common is one of the best rappers in hip hop…and though Kanye might be one of the worst, his beats, diverse use of samples and synthesized instrumentation combined with the soul of gospel music are sincere hits in the club while his goofy lyrics keep you wondering what awkward rhyme will bust you up with laughter next.  We’re witnessing the making of hip hop history as the steely coldness of guns, jewelry and gangsta rap is melting into the soft huggable teddy bear of Mr. West and the intellectual dignity and measured tones of Common.  Common breaks the times down for you on his July, ’07 release Finding Forever and Kanye West looks back on his rise to the flashing lights of fame, firmly planting his flag on the present and future of hip hop with Graduation.


LITERATURE: Last Train to Memphis: The Rise of Elvis Presley

The most accurate biography of Elvis Presley, whose beginnings as a shy only child gave no indication of the teen heart-throb that was to come.  Peter Guralnick retrieves the real Elvis from the hip-shaking cartoon character manufactured by the singer’s former “Carnie” manager Colonel Tom Parker and the media explosion fueled by moralistic criticism.  The narrative somehow transports the reader to how it felt before rock’n’roll was a given in American culture, before Sun Studio record producer Sam Phillips’ dream of racial desegregation through music became a reality, before “the blues” became an internationally accepted musical form, before Elvis Presley was “Elvis the Pelvis”.  Last Train to Memphis offers insights on Elvis’ early influences in race music and the singer’s own views on how his Pentecostal upbringing related to the music throughout his career.  If you’re looking for the man behind the sunglasses, cape and sideburns, Peter Guralnick’s 1994 book is the place to start.


FILM: Into Great Silence

This 2006 film does more than document the lives of Carthusian monks in the French Alps.  It is an attempt to give filmgoers a portion of the spiritual experience these monks gain from an ascetic lifestyle of silent meditation and rigorous discipline.  When I stepped back onto the busy streets of Chicago after seeing this movie, the El Train clanging above my head and the bleating horns of taxicabs seemed hollow and distant.  You will have to work to achieve such inner peace, however.  With a running time of 162 minutes, you’ll wish the director had been less principled and made a few jump cuts just to make it interesting, but he remains true to the monks’ experience by presenting the monotony monotonously.  If you need a break from the noise of contemporary society but you don’t want to join a monastery, this may be the next best way to enter into that profound silent space where God’s whispers are heard.       

your comments

comments powered by Disqus