Our executive editor Trent Gilliss brings you his weekly column on articles worth reading, visuals worth seeing, music worth hearing. Including a remarkable story of curiosity and persistence, a mesmerizing rumination on Dante's Purgatorio, lessons to live by from Bertrand Russell, and some poetic twitterings with artist Dario Robleto.
Alfonso Cuarón's sci-fi thriller Gravity is more than just a vehicle for snazzy special effects. It's also a love letter to life.
The film Life of Pi is not just a "parable of the postmodern quest for 'spiritual fulfillment'" but a meditation on beauty and our own finitude.
Greenstreet's 2010 film 8: The Mormon Proposition takes a closer look at the LDS church's stance on gay marriage.
A smart film about the NYT photographer and seeing beauty in our everyday encounters.
“It’s not really about running away. It’s about the desire to run away.”
Growing up in Minnesota, photographer Alec Soth fantasized about having a secret cave-like hideout where he could escape from the world. Now in his early 40s, Soth’s captivation with retreat and solitary adventure is revealed in a new documentary, Somewhere to Disappear, which screened Monday night at the Minneapolis-St. Paul International Film Festival.
Filmmakers Laure Flammarion and Arnaud Uyttenhove drove over 20,000 miles with Soth in 2008 and 2009, capturing his quixotic search across America for monks, hermits, survivalists, and others living a mostly solitary off-the-grid existence. One of the film’s most endearing subjects is a middle-aged man named Clyde Garth Bowles. He lives on a self-created compound in the California desert where he cares with great tenderness for horses, birds, and other animals. “My spiritual theory is my life,” he says.
What four films come to mind that have provided you with some teaching moment in the shape of a moral compass?
A series of portraits of Buddhist monks in silence from a 1966 doc by Arnaud Desjardins.
The topic of gender and sexuality is on our long list of shows we want to produce in the coming year — in particular, a show on transgender people. The videos above and below are excerpts from Be Like Others, a documentary about a number of young men who are transsexuals living in Iran and pursuing surgical changes.
In these two clips, Iranian-American director Tanaz Eshaghian shows the complex, multi-layered conversations and struggles for transgender people living in an Islamic state — from conversations about proper attire and wearing of the hijab to familial struggles about cultural norms.