The Limitations of Mockery and the Adventure of Authenticity

Tim Heidecker in ‘The Comedy.’ 

“Somehow, directness has become unbearable to us.” These chilling words are part of a valuable exposé written in the New York Times by Christy Wampole. Her piece ‘How to Live Without Irony‘ bears witness to a generational descent into routine insincerity.

Mockery on the other hand can be direct at times- a dagger shoved into one person by another- but at its core, it is not so different from insincerity. Both are often a piece of armor used for self-preservation, a way to flee human connection by focusing on the other as a caricature while exempting one’s self from the same level of scrutiny. I look around and am encouraged, because it seems even secular culture is growing weary of mockery taken to the extreme.

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Interview with Author Donald Miller and Director Steve Taylor: On the ‘Blue Like Jazz’ Production Process, On-Set Surprises, and Misunderstanding God

Donald Miller (left) and Steve Taylor. Photo credit: 2012 Ian Ebright | The Broken Telegraph

My conversation continues and concludes with screenwriter Donald Miller and director Steve Taylor about their new film adaptation of Miller’s New York Times bestselling book ‘Blue Like Jazz.’ The film opens in theaters April 13th. If you missed it, click here for the first part of this interview.

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Interview with Author Donald Miller and Director Steve Taylor: On ‘Blue Like Jazz,’ Christian Movies, and This Film’s Controversy

Donald Miller (left) and Steve Taylor. Photo credit: 2012 Ian Ebright | The Broken Telegraph

I get a call from Donald Miller’s tour manager Jim Chaffee as I’m turning into the parking lot at the Southcenter Mall, a complex located about 10 minutes south of Seattle if you take the interstate, hence the name Southcenter. The theater won’t let us in ahead of the screening so we’ll have to do the interview somewhere else. Chaffee thinks Starbucks, maybe. “I’ll go get Don, he’s in the car,” Chaffee says as I close my outdated flip phone. Why is Miller, a New York Times Bestselling author on tour to begin with, and at a theater of all places?

His second book ‘Blue Like Jazz,’ a collection of essays on faith and doubt published in 2003, went on to sell over a million copies, propelling the author into the national spotlight. Miller’s ‘A Million Miles in a Thousand Years’ arrived in 2009 and documented the unlikely journey of adapting ‘Jazz’ into a film, with musician-turned-director Steve Taylor and Ben Pearson pursuing the author to write the screenplay as a threesome. As for ‘Blue Like Jazz,’ it’s one of those works so often mentioned by young evangelicals as the spark that re-ignited their faith after years of dismay and an upbringing in religious fundamentalism. Miller and Taylor have been on a tour bus for weeks, taking the film around the country to screen ‘Blue Like Jazz’ before it opens April 13, and tonight their stop is Seattle.

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‘Moneyball’ and the Risks and Rewards of Doing Things Differently

Brad Pitt as Oakland A’s General Manager Billy Beane. Photo Credit: Sony Pictures

There’s a moment early on in Bennett Miller’s impeccably made new film ‘Moneyball,’ in which Oakland A’s General Manager Billy Beane (played by Brad Pitt) realizes that everything must change. His team is losing three major stars to free agency, and he doesn’t have the purchasing power to keep them around or to buy replacements of similar caliber. In a league with no salary cap, Oakland is like David up against The Yankees’ Goliath. Wealthier teams comfortably drop $110 million on players each year while Oakland can only manage to pay less than half of that. Or as Beane explains to the team’s inner circle “there are rich teams, and there are poor teams. Then there’s 50 feet of crap. And then there’s us.”

Beane knows that the game is geared to favor the rich, and he’s either going to have to get creative, or else watch next year’s team chase the ball around the field. Beane decides that he will assemble a team based on statistical goals rather than star power. He will fill his roster with a bunch of no name players, grabbed at a bargain.  The problem is, the scouts and team manager aren’t seeing his revolutionary new vision. They insist on what has always been done. Surely their skill, intuition and coaching are better than a computer filled with metrics and data. A protest spreads through the head offices of the Oakland A’s, and consequences aren’t far behind.

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The Best Movies of 2010

Ewan McGregor in The Ghost Writer

Part of the problem with a definitive headline like “the best movies of 2010″ is that it implies I have managed to see all of the contenders. That didn’t exactly happen, for reasons married people with children understand. But let’s say I got close. Having acknowledged that, here are my favorites from the past year:

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Palin vs. Letterman: Righteous Outrage or just Outrageous?

It is not often that I comment about the personal characteristics of public figures on this blog because I acknowledge that I don’t know these people personally. So we try here to keep things focused on the issues and the policies, leaving the partisan nonsense behind, and attempt to walk a tightrope with0ut falling into personal commentary. I’m probably going to violate my rule in this post, because this feud between Sarah Palin and David Letterman is nonsensical, and part of a larger problem.

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Best.Shows.Ever

McNulty and Bunk, from ‘The Wire.’ Photo Credit: HBO

by Guest Contributor Brian Robinson

Last night I was taking in another season of the brilliant British series  “Prime Suspect”, starring Helen ( “The Queen”) Mirren. Its one of those series that is kind of precursor to American series like  “The Closer” or  “Saving Grace” that have strong, but troubled women at the heart of the show. In the case of Mirren’s crime-fighting character, Supr Tennyson (for the moment, but she’s definitely headed for a demotion), is as flawed as any real human being which certainly adds to the fullness of character and makes her decisions seem as 50/50 as they might in real life — you don’t get the sense she can never go wrong. And that makes for some great drama.

It got me thinking, what are some of the best TV series/mini-series of the past decade or so? Yeah, we can always go back to  “MASH” or  “Roots” to name some well made shows, but I think in the past decade or so, with the rise of Pay Cable TV networks like Showtime and HBO, shows have the opportunity to go to another level of entertainment and craft. Its hard to compare shows like  “Dexter” or  “Damages”  to  “Hunter” or  “Hart to Hart” when trying to think of which shows are more entertaining/meaningful than others; with the freedom of language and theme that the pay channels allow, its a tough comparison to make.

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