The youngest of them stood before his brothers,
and under Wyatt’s stare he spoke his mind.
“How long can we subsist on infamy,
and smile at outlaws over decks of cards?
Women and their children live here, too.
We could stand between them and these gunmen,
we are all they need for safety’s sake.
They don’t know where to turn when we hang back,
their desperation blinds them now to hope.
Everything we’ve built here is a sham.
When I was younger, I looked up to you,
I thought you stood for something more than this.
But in the end, you’ll let them slit our throats,
for we’re as mortal as the ones they’ve killed.”
They mayor slapped his back and thanked the Earps,
for making good the writ of Tombstone’s laws.
Category Archives: Roll Credits
The youngest of them stood before his brothers,
Tonight we shall sing and give thanks,
to salute the strength of our realm.
Lift your spirits and move with the drum,
the tambour and pipe call the tune.
Bring forth the trumpets – the moon is new,
and our fortunes can only grow.
For it is the custom in Denmark,
to toast royal alliances well.
The manners are sensible here,
and this is no novel fashion,
none can remember another.
“A son need not mourn forever,
nor shroud himself in strange despair.
Your grief calls out – I would set you free.
I speak with a king’s magnanimity.
I admit, there is a test in this.
My court is your audience, prince.
I would have you soften your grief.
For how can a king command mourning,
when the queen’s new consort reigns?
I am the head of your royal house,
who names you the throne’s only heir.
Show me your needs and I’ll meet them.
Now you say not one word to us,
and ask no blessing, discontent.
I would give my wife’s son good leave
to take his own counsel, dear prince.
If our people are well moved
to settle on me a king’s cares,
with what alacrity I’d strike
to show our rivals our full strength!
Our enemies would be dismayed,
and back to hell their ghosts would slink.
Acknowledge, prince, my regency,
stay here, drink up the honeyed wine.”
The Missing showcases a side of Ron Howard I never expected to see, and brings a wealth of stunning performance moments from an all-star cast in an epic adventure about family, race, and survivorship. Starring Cate Blanchett, Tommy Lee Jones, Evan Rachel Wood, Eric Schweig, Val Kilmer, Aaron Eckhart, and Jenna Boyd, the story follows the long journey home of a homesteading family in New Mexico after a renegade Apache brujo and his men attack in search of girls to sell in Mexico. Along the way, the white women of this family learn the hard way that their ignorance of Apache values and Apache claims to the land where they live cannot continue to go unchallenged.
My favorite scene in this movie is still the very first one, but I won’t give that away if you haven’t seen it yet. This poem, based on the 79th Psalm, is in Lilly’s voice (Evan Rachel Wood), ruminating in captivity about her odds of being rescued by white soldiers.
What has become of my mother? Strangers
have fouled our ranch with monstrosities,
nothing is sacred to these traffickers.
Our homestead reeks of violation.
the men of our household are carrion,
unburied and impossible to mourn;
their witch cooked Brake alive to feed wild crows.
The land we called our own soaked up their blood
through leaves and snow, as naturally as rain,
and no one left behind to dig their graves.
Before we were the butt of townsfolks’ jokes,
but what we’ve been reduced to – I’ve no words.
How can this have happened to me? How long
will my life be dragged through the mud, how long?
Why don’t these catastrophes strike people
more deserving of contempt, know-nothings,
people with no curiosity,
those who would’ve amounted to less?
Are there not enough fools and laggards
to surfeit their dens of iniquity?
Am I to suffer for my father’s crime?
surely the army will come for us,
for without their help, we are done for.
Someone is bound to attempt to save us,
for we have been stolen from Christian homes,
and no one dare blame us for going along,
so long as we fight in our hearts for grace.
These outlaws and drunks mock our hopes and prayers.
But when cavalry troops come, they’ll turn tail,
eager to outrun avenging lawmen.
When the officers see us bound and gagged,
they’ll be quick to cut our ropes and help us.
They’ll show these shameless bottom-feeders scorn,
and drive home their regard with bayonets.
We here are all that remains of our homesteads.
what we pray for is the barest minimum.
In our mothers’ names we cry for revenge.
The adventurers in Master and Commander: The Far Side of the World aren’t an overly churchy lot, so this version of the 66th Psalm is admittedly a stretch, but the Psalm had some nautical features that seemed to make it amenable to adaptation. I finally bought the books this movie is based on, but I can’t stand to read them – they’re too good! Reading one makes me feel as guilty as if I just wolfed down a pint of double chocolate ice cream….
Shout out huzzah, to all the world!
Sing out the glory of England’s pride.
Praise be to God for victory.
Say at prayers, “How fierce in battle.
Ships scatter before the Lord’s might.”
Though we sail the far side of the world,
with God’s help all we meet is subdued.
Witness the acts of our Lord,
awesome in catalogued wonders.
Out of the sea he raised fresh water,
and finches on bare cindercones.
He alone can crown England’s might.
For the Lord’s tests probe all nations.
Pity those who rise against him.
May all our people bless our God,
and all aloud give him praise,
who has kept us from harm at sea,
and permitted no fool to stumble.
Our duty to England tried us,
our baser needs were swept aside.
Like swimmers trawled in a net,
ship’s discipline bound us, group and heel.
The officer class rode over us.
And we strove through dead calms and storms –
but our captain brought us through with ease.
We gave him our all, unflinching,
and made good our oaths to the crown,
oaths renewed in the teeth of disaster,
when all one could say was, “Hold fast.”
Our bodies consigned to the surgeon,
we sweat out the pain without cries.
The butcher’s bill takes without leave.
Come close lads, we’ll tell you a tale,
one all God-fearing seamen should hear,
of miracles and of reprieves.
Three cheers for the captain of the Surprise,
huzzah from the bows and the rigging, boys!
When we languished in horse latitudes,
the captain looked calmly ahead to the prize.
God must have kept us in mind, I say,
for someone has answered our reckless prayers.
God bless our captain, our ship and the crown,
for God has looked kindly on you and me.
P.S. Most of the lesser-known chamber music referenced in the books is on YouTube, and it’s amazing…
In the movie A Beautiful Mind, the later years of John’s battle with schizophrenia are glossed over into a sort of happy ending, in which he takes the newer meds, and through sheer willpower (a “diet of the mind”), resists the temptation to slip back into delusional ideation.
The real John Nash had been so traumatized by his early experiences with psychiatric care, that he didn’t trust the new meds, and continued to battle psychotic symptoms for the rest of his life. But Alicia really did stay by his side, no matter what. Jennifer Connelly won a well-deserved Oscar for her performance in this role, opposite Russell Crowe.
This poem, based on the 62nd Psalm, recognizes the role she played in helping him keep his soul alive, even when his mind was unrecognizably sunk in the torturous labyrinths of paranoia.
Only my wife can quiet my soul.
From her love comes the only respite.
Alicia holds fast – my anchor at sea,
my shelter – by her side, I stand tall.
These assaults on my mind are relentless –
a murderous effort to break my will –
just as one tears down a leaning wall,
or rips out an unsteady fence.
My achievements threatened their spy games.
With relish they snared me in their lies.
Using terms of compassion and help
they undid me and locked me away.
Only our love can quiet my fears,
for Alicia alone holds out hope.
Only she stands between me and ruin,
holding them back – I won’t be fooled again.
Alicia redeemed me, unswerving,
my constant guide in the labyrinth.
Always remember the strength of love.
Open your heart and for once, have faith.
Love is the wellspring of timeless truths.
All our other convictions – mere breath,
the teachings of scholars stand empty.
When weighed against all our fine theorems,
a passing breath is more substantial.
Place no trust in state secrets and lies,
don’t imagine these spooks have your back.
Code-breaking may be your living,
but it cannot become your life.
When my wife tells me one thing,
it’s two things I hear:
that strength resides only in love,
and that her strength has always been kindness.
For she weighs my worth by my courage.
I finally finished David Lean’s A Passage to India today, and I can say now with conviction, they don’t make movies like this one any more. The subtlety of the performances from Judy Davis and Victor Banerjee in the last act of the film really took my breath away.
And David Lean creates space for their quieter artistic choices rather than boxing them into a crescendo-series the way so many directors do in contemporary film. You don’t come to epic set pieces expecting something like this nowadays. You look back on the first two acts of the film as you watch their character arcs come to a fitting conclusion, and you can see how every little detail in their artistic choices realizing these roles sets up the climax and denouement flawlessly.
Now I can really see why Russell Crowe tells people he wants to be the next Judy Davis.
This sonnet is in Adela Quested’s voice, trying to make sense of her own actions in hindsight, after the conclusion of the rape trial.
While she is on the stand, we are given a momentary flash-back to a moment on the slope, approaching the Marabar caves, when she clasped Dr. Aziz by the hand for support as she struggled against heat exhaustion and pressed on with him alone. And when giving testimony, she takes us back to a conversation the two of them had during a short rest in their climb. Mr. Fielding, trying to help her make excuses after the trial, suggests that it was suggestion alone that drove her to make the accusation – all along, he suspected she was surrounded by people who mistrusted Indians wholesale, and that this was the whole trouble.
In the end, we are left with the impression of a sensitive young woman who does not quite fit in anywhere, too alert to the contradictions that surround her station in the British Empire to make herself at home in the world.
The sense of touch, the recognition there
of conversations huddled on the brink
of truths we would not speak, but sought to share,
brings waves of vertigo each time I blink.
So many featherweight assumptions press
upon me from well-wishers – when I stayed
the course, I muddled through under duress,
unwilling to disown the scene I’d made.
The horror of the self alone pursued
me down the slope from those unblinking caves,
and how could I explain? Our friends seclude
themselves away from mirrors and close shaves
with self-reflection – they abhor self-doubt,
and cannot feel the fears I dream about.
While watching A Passage to India, David Lean’s adaptation of E. M. Forster’s novel, I’ve begun reading Jawaharlal Nehru’s prison letters to his 10-year-old daughter, Indira Gandhi, who went on to become the Prime Minister of India (twice), like her father before her.
I discovered this little gem of a children’s book through a sweeping history of one of the world’s most vibrant new democracies, India After Gandhi, by Ramachandra Guha, who is now my favorite history writer of all time. Guha’s history of India is rich in personal detail, while still remaining epic in scope and searchingly powerful in the variety of perspectives it brings to bear on each chapter in India’s eventful recent history.
Reading these letters (from 1931) today, while watching the third act of the movie, gave a special poignancy to the story. This sonnet is about Peggy Ashcroft’s Academy Award-winning performance as the Englishwoman Mrs. Moore.
Here, Mrs. Moore looks out on the moon’s reflection in the Indian ocean from a steamer on which she has left India alone, spurned by her son, the colonial magistrate, who has just refused bail to her friend, Dr. Aziz, on the grounds that his fiance (her friend Miss Quested) accuses Dr. Aziz of attempted rape, during an expedition to the eerie and remote Marabar caves.
To look upon the moonlight on the deep,
I cannot help remembering Aziz,
not as he is, but as we met – I keep
returning to that scene, the great Ganges,
the modesty with which this doctor smiled
to share the view with me, as if he knew
my heart the way an unassuming child
can read our minds at once – and as I do,
my very being stutters at the thought
that our encounter led him on to this
appalling consequence. Those empty caves,
so full of what we bring to them, and not
what we would take again – all that’s amiss
re-echoes in distorted, ceaseless waves.
The critically-acclaimed L.A. Confidential was a milestone in Russell Crowe’s career, marking his first Best Picture nod at the Academy Awards, of 6 and counting. (He likes to tell people he’d rather be congratulated on playing Bud White in a movie the cool kids dig, than hear fans shout “Are you entertained?!” at him across the street in public.)
It’s a film you can go back to on its 20th anniversary and still feel carried away by. His brief cameo in War Games as ‘Bob White’ feels like a tongue-in-cheek fan reference, and his slapstick hit The Nice Guys (also starring Kim Bassinger!) sometimes feels like a spoof of this Hollywood classic. (It’s hard to describe any film starring Kim Bassinger without using the word ‘classic,’ isn’t it?)
This poem, based on the 52nd Psalm, is in Jack’s voice (played by the inimitable Kevin Spacey) and addressed to newly-minted detective Ed Exley (admirably played by Guy Pearce), warning him that the finesse with which he’d snagged a big promotion would rub a lot of other police officers – and significantly, Russell Crowe’s Bud White – the wrong way.
If you haven’t seen the movie yet and are thinking about it now, be warned, it should come with trigger warnings for police violence, racially motivated police violence, and police-involved murder. This is a film that doesn’t pull any punches, and it lays the hidden curriculum in police work out on the table in plain view. I can see experts on police reform screening this film at a seminar to just talk about the implications for reformers – what sort of cultural landscape they’re up against, both in police lore and in pop culture’s reflection of it.
Sure, you can boast of the Night Owl.
But no one forgets what you’ve done.
Politics may be your forte,
but to them, you’re a back-stabbing fraud.
You want laurels, and at any price;
street justice means nothing to you.
You mince out your ten-dollar words,
and make scapegoats of men who bleed blue.
Bud White won’t rest til he’s stopped you;
he’ll beat the bushes for cause,
and he’ll root you out, badge and all.
The righteous will marvel to see it,
the rank and file cops will laugh last.
A man who forgets the blue line
cannot count on his badge in the end;
perhaps you believe in your wits,
but mere cleverness won’t save you then.
Our brotherhood shelters the bitter,
as trees shelter snakes in the grass.
One trusts in no power beyond us.
Today, we acclaim your good name:
early promise, a fine legacy.
Tomorrow, though, Bud White will see.
The Insider, easily one of the best films of the 1990s, tells the story of a 60 Minutes interview with tobacco industry whistleblower Jeffrey Wigand that blew the lid off the industry’s secret to success – nicotine addiction. This stylish film directed by Michael Mann stars Al Pacino, Russell Crowe and Christopher Plummer, and picked up 7 Oscar nods, including Best Picture.
Before Wigand’s court testimony and 60 Minutes interview, most people knew smoking was a tough habit to kick, but after, it was public knowledge that the tobacco industry banked on the addictiveness of nicotine, that indispensable ingredient that made all the difference in determining whether smokers would come back for more, even if they knew that smoking was killing them.
That this was common knowledge more than 20 years ago is kind of appalling, when you consider how passive the FDA has been about the rise of nicotine addiction in minors since the introduction of new “nicotine delivery devices” in the form of vapes.
Vapes aren’t required to be labeled for their nicotine content, and the accuracy of their labeling leaves a lot to be desired – nearly half of sampled flavored vapes that claimed to have 0 mg/L of nicotine actually did contain a small dose of nicotine per puff. Although nicotine addictiveness varies with dosing, the correlation is non-linear (an inverted U-shaped curve), meaning even small doses have the potential to get kids hooked on the drug.
Nicotine is now known to be more addictive than heroin, but is still not regulated by the FDA.
This poem, based on the 49th Psalm, is about a standoff backstage at 60 Minutes over whether the footage from Wigand’s interview should be cut to avoid litigation from the tobacco industry over the violation of Wigand’s confidentiality agreement.
Tell your audience to hear him out in full,
tell them we’ll broadcast his entire statement.
Everyone needs to hear this, piped to their homes,
this story touches the rich and poor alike.
You’ve known me how long? I know what I’m doing,
and this is where I stake my reputation.
When I ask someone to tell the world the truth,
I put my tradecraft and my clout behind him.
Why should I balk at these cowardly warnings,
with the public interest hanging by a thread?
These executives trust in vague corporate worth
and boast of their six-figure salary checks –
but what do they have to show for their careers,
except a soulless ransom for their bare skins?
To redeem such cheaply sold lives at this price,
it’s too much – one comes to an end forever.
Do these lawyers expect to live forever?
Will this well-paid lackey see where she’s headed?
For she sees that the wisest among us die,
no less than the rich fool and the unschooled lout,
and the dead can take none of their wealth with them.
Their graves will be their homes when all is settled,
to moulder there alone for generations,
no matter how much influence they have now.
No man rests in splendor for eternity.
We are born to die, as surely as the flies.
These excuses they offer areshallow lies,
and to make amends after – more empty words.
They are paving the way to irrelevance –
cheap monied interests have shown them the way down –
and those who refuse to back down will not fail.
These corporate tools will fritter away our name,
and make us bed down with the merchants of death.
But I will stake my career on this story,
and on the weight of Wigand’s testimony.
These broadcast executives in fancy suits,
they don’t intimidate an old hand like me.
For when this program goes to air, lives will change,
but those fools will leave no mark on history.
They spend their whole lives on self-serving projects,
and thank me only when I make them richers.
But they will join their ancestors in the grave –
without a thought for their own posterity.
We do not have the luxury to live so.
Our days are numbered – only our work lives on.