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November 2023 logbook

Nov 30, 2023

In which I watched Killers of the Flower Moon, The Blair Witch Project, & The Killing of a Sacred Deer; & read Questioning God, Ways of Seeing, Revelations of Divine Love, & Julian of Norwich, Theologian.

Killers of the Flower Moon (Martin Scorsese, 2023). What an amazing film. I don’t even want to say much about it here, because I know I can’t do it justice in the space of a short paragraph. Each performance—especially Lily Gladstone’s & Leonardo DiCaprio’s—is exactly what it should be. If you haven’t seen it, go see it.

The Blair Witch Project (Daniel Myrick and Eduardo Sánchez, 1999). I remember Paranormal Activity being huge when I was in high school; I was at the time too scared of scary movies, but I remember being intrigued by the “found footage” conceit. (I guess that style of horror was a little overdone, even by 2007.) Blair Witch Project is the film that mainstreamed found footage. What an incredible film! I thought Heather Donahue was so good, & the night scenes were so spooky & effective. & that last shot! Learning more about its production from the Unspooled podcast really deepened my appreciation for it, too.

The Killing of a Sacred Deer (Yorgos Lanthimos, 2017). I decided to watch this more or less at random one night while Jacqueline was out of town—Netflix recommended it to me, & it seemed like a film that I would enjoy and Jac would not. I was certainly right about that. It made me want to see more of Lanthimos’s work (& as it happens I was already looking forward to his Poor Things, even before watching this film).

Questioning God (Timothy Radcliffe & Łukasz Popko, 2023). One of my professors in undergrad said Timothy Radcliffe & I had a “similar style,” & ever since then I’ve been trying to figure out what he means. (I took it, and still take it, as a compliment, though I’m still not quite sure what my professor saw in me.) I found this book a little disappointing. It’s written as a dialogue between the coauthors, but I’m not sure that format was particularly effective. My favorite part of the book was the epilogue, which was not formatted as a dialogue (& so, I assume, was more properly “cowritten”). I understand why they wrote the book as a dialogue—the book is about dialogue between God & humans—but it didn’t totally work for me.

Ways of Seeing (John Berger, 1972). Every piece of art has an ideology encoded into it. You’ve heard of the male gaze; Berger’s analysis of the history of the female nude shows what that means. I have to think that Matt Weiner had the last chapter in mind when he created Mad Men: “What you call love was invented by guys like me to sell nylons.”

Revelations of Divine Love (Julian of Norwich, ca. late 14th century). I’ve read Julian’s Shewings a number of times before, but this time I was reading it for a chapter I’m writing. I was especially struck at Julian’s insistence on the goodness & mercy of God, which makes for a fruitful contrast with her sustained reflections on suffering & Christ’s passion.

Julian of Norwich, Theologian (Denys Turner, 2011). Wow, what a work. Turner’s account of Julian’s “two stories”—the story sin tells about itself, & the story that God tells about sin—is so illuminating. This book makes me want to design my entire Catholic Theology course around Julian’s Shewings. (I won’t because I don’t have time … but maybe someday.)

I also kept a log in October 2023.