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SPECIAL CULTURAL UPLIFT EDITION! A tree house grows in Baltimore. Plus, an uplifting pre-Oscar tribute: // link // print // previous // next //
SATURDAY, MARCH 6, 2010

From the land of striking statistics: Sometimes, striking statistics get passed right over; here’s one from Thursday’s New York Times. James McKinley reported the Texas gubernatorial primary, on the Republican side:

MCKINLEY (3/4/10): Mr. Perry's campaign was buoyed Tuesday by a strong victory over his chief Republican rival, Senator Kay Bailey Hutchison. He won 51 percent of the vote to the senator's 30 percent, in a race where turnout was 11 percent—more than twice as high as usual.

That highlighted figure strikes us as remarkable. That said, let’s move on to our special uplift edition!

Special cultural uplift edition!

Best edifice ever: At the local bagel joint, we were all mighty proud when Berkley Reddick, age 9 but a regular, made it big in Urbanite magazine. You see, Berkley’s father built her a treehouse. Just click here. Scroll down for second photo.

For further uplift, why not recall Frost’s description of his own companion tree:

Vague dream-head lifted out of the ground,
And thing next most diffuse to cloud....

Good god almighty. For the full rumination on that nearby tree, you know what to do: Just click here.

GREATEST FILMS OF ALL TIME EVER (permalink): Well, not the greatest, but those we like most, sometimes for uplifting subject matter. For pure film art, has anybody ever topped The Umbrellas of Cherbourg?

Of course not.

The first three are basically tied for first, with Notorious weirdly alone at the top. We can’t quite get all the way to ten. Unless you count the designated extras, in which case we have a top twelve:

Notorious (1946): In superlative thriller, Hitch pops the question: Why do men hate women so?

My Brilliant Career (1979): Their glorious pillow-fight scene! We recall the night the audience gasped when Judy told Sam: Sadly, no.

Casablanca (1942): Most grown-up (and comical) film ever made. We human beings will do the right thing—but not till the end, when we’re forced.

Stagecoach (1939): The Duke stands up for the lady. (Also: Marty)

The Grapes of Wrath (1940): Ma Joad has to let her Tommy go. “Do not hasten to bid me adieu.” (Also: In America, A Tree Grows in Brooklyn)

Blue Crush (2002): “That's my sister! That’s my sister!” This time, the girls get to win. (We like this one more every time.)

The Horse Whisperer (1998), with Ordinary People: Same story, twice-told. Our biggest star was decent enough to care about tormented children.

Pretty Baby (1978): Louis Malle imagines a world built around women's preferences.

We haven’t seen Pretty Baby in several years; for that reason, it’s our most tentative pick. But the last time we watched it, we were surprised to recall how good (and how intriguing) it is.

We think Notorious is sensational; it’s too bad you can’t see it in theaters any more, if only for its suspense elements. That said, we’ve been intrigued by The Horse Whisperer since we started watching it on cable, maybe five years ago. Its structural similarities to Ordinary People actually run far and deep. A winning improvement: In the earlier film, the intercession comes from a man of science (a psychiatrist). In the tale’s second telling, intercession comes from a person who’s wise.

(Elizabeth McGovern’s turn as Timothy Hutton’s first girl friend is even re-imagined in the form of the little Montana kid in the ten-gallon hat. Sometimes stories get better when their elements become less literal, less clear.)

We greatly admire Robert Redford because he told that tale two times. Great big massive gigantic stars really don’t have to be bothered.

That said, here are a few others which lurk. A few years ago, we would have top-tenned The Parent Trap without thinking twice about it:

The Last of the Mohicans (1992): Prettiest lady we ever saw in a film. Plus, the best ride back in time.

The Parent Trap (1998): Weirdly deepened remake. Cutest kid in history asks, “Will my mother love me?”

Eyes Wide Shut (1999): The longings of broken modern elites. Elite critics just couldn’t see it.

Meet Me in St. Louis (1944): We love the portrait of a time when people sang in the home.

Did you know that The Dead is finally on DVD? We didn’t know that either. Of course, we’re still waiting for the chance to rent The Emigrants. Was it really as good as we seem to recall?

We wanted to include Jeremiah Johnson on our lists. You see, we enjoy our capsule review: Feller sure did love his wife.