Archive for September 28th, 2015

13. Kes (1969)


by Jon Warner

Billy Casper lives with his elder brother Jud and his mother. They live in a small flat in a factory/mining town in Northern England. Both brothers share the same bed. Billy goes about each day to school wearing the same outfit, always looking rather worn and dirty. He cares not. When he’s not at school, Billy can be seen wandering around town on his paper route, stealing milk or meandering around the countryside with a stick, whacking away at brush and weeds or doing a bit of birdwatching, or getting into a fight with his brother. Though Billy seems to have a great deal of freedom to spend his time as he pleases, his existence has a predestined endpoint based upon where he lives and the family he has born into. In his world in Northern England, there is little hope for a future full of possibilities. He’s expected to learn little in school and indeed, nearly all of the adult figures in the film seem to have it in for Billy. Without fighting against the grain, Billy is likely to take a low paying job in the mines, just like his elder brother does or his father may have done. We would know more about his father if he hadn’t left the family. Billy lives in a world where nearly everyone expects the worst in him, or even goes so far as to antagonize him to keep him down, especially the school superintendent who seems determined to crush everyone’s spirits.

In the same way that some parents may try to steer their children to more practical choices when they hear that they want to pursue a career as a painter or English major instead of a lawyer or doctor. Billy also finds a most ‘impractical’ object of interest instead of prepping to pursue a more appropriate career in a factory or mine: Training a kestrel. After seeing some kestrels flying in a field, Billy pilfers a book on the subject of Falconry from a local bookshop. Determined to pursue this quest, he rather quickly becomes a master on the subject. Not only does Billy catch a kestrel, but he houses, feeds, and trains it with such a respect for craft and expertise that he begins to take on a sort of maturity of spirit through his relationship with the bird he calls Kes. As time marches on, Billy splits his time between school and his bird, with Kes being his clear favorite thing in the world. Billy finds a certain peace and power shifted to him through his passion, ingenuity, and initiative to train his bird, which in its own way is his act of social defiance as he refuses to conform to the expectations of mediocrity and humiliation set before him by parents, school principles (“Your’s is the generation that never listens!” ), coaches and employment agencies. (more…)

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by Sam Juliano

It would be hard for me to imagine a richer or more active week than the one my family and I enjoyed this past week.  We only saw a single film in theaters, but movies were only a blip on the itinerary of this most memorable of seven day periods.  Lucille and I got the once-in-a-lifetime chance to see Pope Francis, who made a whirlwind visit through Central Park late Friday afternoon during his hectic Big Apple sojourn.  We paid our penance to realize this opportunity, made possible by a friend of many years, and stayed the course with a line of people that snaked up and around the 59th Street entrance of the park.  It took a little over five (5) hours on the line before we finally made our way through the checkpoint to join the massive crowd of over 80,000 waiting to catch a fleeting glimpse of His Holiness as his Popemobile rolled down the road  that split the crowd in half.  We parked near the corner of 18th Street and Seventh Avenue, and took a subway up to Columbus Circle, arriving at our destination at around 11:00 A.M.  Our legs took a serious hit with all that standing, but the exhilaration and goosebumps we absorbed during this Pope’s electrifying arrival will be something we’ll remember for the rest of our lives.  This rock superstar of a Pope has not only moved mountains within the church, but has climbed Mount Everest for people of all faiths around the world.

Lucille, Sammy, Jeremy and I also attended the annual Warwick, New York Children’s Book Festival in the rustic town in Orange Countyon Saturday afternoon.  Renowned author illustrators like Wendell and Florence Minor, Frane Lessac, Mark Greenwood, James and Lesa Ransome, Ame Dyckman and numerous others exhibited their work on tables, where book fans visited and made purchases.  A real celebratory event!

Our entire family of seven attended the Renaissance Faire in Tuxedo Park, New York on Sunday afternoon on the final day of the two month festival that ran for the 38th consecutive years.  Jousting matches, Shakespearean shows, castles, and medieval themes games, activities and traditions were highlighted in this most sublime of rural locations, and some remarkable talented people brought a measure of authenticity to the proceedings.  We were particularly thrilled that our son Danny was called on from the audience to play Horatio in a comedic rendition of HAMLET. (more…)

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