Mindful Metropolis April 2011 : Page 37

art & soul | reviews BOOKS Between Light and Shadow: A Guatemalan Girl’s Journey Through Adoption Jacob Wheeler (University of Nebraska Press) In Between Light and Shadow, veteran jour-nalist and Mindful Metropolis contribu-tor Jacob Wheeler puts a human face on the Guatemalan adoption industry, which has exploited, embraced, and sincerely sought to improve the lives of the Central American nation’s poorest children. Fourteen-year-old Ellie, abandoned at age seven and adopted by a middle-class family from Michigan, is at the center of the story. Wheeler re-creates the painful circumstances of Ellie’s aban-donment, her adoption and Americaniza-tion, her search for her birth mother and her joyous and haunting return to Guatemala. Following Ellie’s journey, Wheeler peels back the layers of an adoption economy that some view as an unscrupulous baby-selling industry that manipulates impoverished, indigenous, Guatemalan women and others herald as the only chance for poor children to have a better life. Through Ellie, Wheeler allows us to see what all this means in per-sonal and practical terms—and to under-stand how well-intentioned and sometimes humanitarian first-world wealth can collide with the extreme poverty, despair, misogyny, racism and violent history of Guatemala. Join Jacob at a reading and signing of his book on April 29, at 7:30pm at Women & Children First, 5233 N. Clark St., Chicago. comes clear that they have a shared and volatile history, the nature of which Kiarostami leaves vague while they debate the events that led to their parting. Were they married? Do they share a child? Why didn’t things work out? There is much suggestion and subtext here and some good acting (even if opera singer William Shimell doesn’t quite match his co-star), but despite a carefully composed and lit frame (happy couples often surround the pair, penetrating close-ups, effective use of light and darkness), and a welcome serious-ness about the nature of adult relationships, the film is too talky, more experimental than engrossing, and more cryptic than compelling. —lee ShOquiSt Vidal Sassoon: The Movie Phase 4 Films (Director: Craig Teper) An intriguing dichot-omy in Craig Teper’s new documentary Vidal Sassoon: The Movie, is the deter-mination to both de-construct one of the 20th century’s most influential icons while simultaneously rever-ing the mystique of a singular, indisputable artist. In a remarkably concentrated hour and a half, Sassoon himself tells a classic rags-to-riches story, beginning with a Dickensian childhood (complete with London orphanage) before taking us on a cul-tural fantasia of sorts, where a penniless, young boy walked into a shop one day only to become a reluctant shampoo boy. As they say, the rest was history. Weaving in the Depression, World War II, The Blitz, Swinging London, ’70s Amer-icana, marriages, children and even What’s My Line?, Teper paints a vivid portrait of Sassoon’s drive and need for artistic expression, his style informed by his adoration of architectural ge-ometry and the principles of its application to the human face. Particularly memorable are Sassoon’s accounts, enhanced by found foot-age, of his early days in London circa the ’60s period of cultural renaissance, and his obser-vations on the relationship between looking —lS good, and feeling good. There has never been a time when I received a Susana Baca album without rushing to my stereo. The near-legendary Afro-Peruvian singer has yet to disappoint me. Sixteen years ago she broke through to American audiences thanks to David Byrne’s Luaka Bop, a record label I keep considering defunct until I mysteriously receive another Baca record. Ambassadorial regarding cultural issues (she co-founded the Black Continuum Institute in Chorrillos), technically brilliant in execution, Baca’s passion for sonic preservation leads her to explore the African folk influences in Puerto Rico, Colombia, Argentina, Ecaudor and, of course, Peru. Stylistically, Afrodiaspora is her most wide-reaching and forward-thinking outing yet: Calle 13’s adventurous frontman Residente Perez drops a quick rhyme on “Plena y Bomba,” while Los Angeles-based Quetzal Flores and Martha Gonzalez (of Quetzal) join her on the Mexican-styled “Que Bonito Tu Vestido.” Always boundary jumping—Baca has previously covered Bjork—she offers a funky, harmonica-driven take on The Meters’ “Hey Pocky Way,” hitting the mark once more. —DereK BereS Mehraab Roya (The Dream) (Electrofone) Since his days in Axiom of Choice, Loga Ra-min Torkian has made a huge impact in Per-sian music. Axiom’s gorgeous harmonies and exquisite musicianship evolved into Niyaz, a trio featuring vocalist Azam Ali and producer/ Elecrofone owner Carmen Rizzo, which took Iranian music into the 21st century with bot-tom-heavy, tasteful beat making. His latest al-bum, completely played by Torkian himself, is a meshing of those two worlds: the breathtaking strings and sweeping melodies of Persia rooted in solid, punchy rhythms. The only other ap-pearance is by vocalist Khosro Ansari. Having listened to the album before reading the liner notes, I was certain Torkian had recorded with Mohammad Reza Shajarian, a very high com-pliment. Not to say that Ansari hasn’t devel-oped a sound of his own—the man’s voice has been featured on ER and Third Watch, among others. But his vocalizing over Torkian’s mas-terful palate of sounds is certain to send both these men into dreams unimagined. Rarely are —DB albums as beautiful as this. MiNDFUlMETrOpOliS.COM film Certified Copy IFC Films (Director: Abbas Kiarostami ) A British author lecturing in Tuscany and an expat, French gallery owner spend a mysteri-ous day together in Abbas Kiarostami’s Certi-fied Copy, featuring a beauty of a performance by Juliette Binoche as half of the opaque couple. He’s written a book on art and reproductions, and the pair question the nature of authentic-ity while roaming museums and coffee shops, musing on personal responsibility, commit-ment and the meaning of life. Gradually it be-muSiC Susana Baca Afrodiaspora (Luaka Bop) 37

Reviews

BOOKS<br /> <br /> Between Light and Shadow: A Guatemalan Girl’s Journey Through Adoption <br /> <br /> Jacob Wheeler (University of Nebraska Press)<br /> <br /> In Between Light and Shadow, veteran journalist and Mindful Metropolis contributor Jacob Wheeler puts a human face on the Guatemalan adoption industry, which has exploited, embraced, and sincerely sought to improve the lives of the Central American nation’s poorest children. Fourteen-year-old Ellie, abandoned at age seven and adopted by a middle-class family from Michigan, is at the center of the story. Wheeler re-creates the painful circumstances of Ellie’s abandonment, her adoption and Americanization, her search for her birth mother and her joyous and haunting return to Guatemala.<br /> <br /> Following Ellie’s journey, Wheeler peels back the layers of an adoption economy that some view as an unscrupulous baby-selling industry that manipulates impoverished, indigenous, Guatemalan women and others herald as the only chance for poor children to have a better life. Through Ellie, Wheeler allows us to see what all this means in personal and practical terms—and to understand how well-intentioned and sometimes humanitarian first-world wealth can collide with the extreme poverty, despair, misogyny, racism and violent history of Guatemala.<br /> <br /> Join Jacob at a reading and signing of his book on April 29, at 7:30pm at Women & Children First, 5233 N. Clark St., Chicago.<br /> <br /> Film <br /> <br /> Certified Copy<br /> <br /> IFC Films (Director: Abbas Kiarostami )<br /> <br /> A British author lecturing in Tuscany and an expat, French gallery owner spend a mysterious day together in Abbas Kiarostami’s Certified Copy, featuring a beauty of a performance by Juliette Binoche as half of the opaque couple. He’s written a book on art and reproductions, and the pair question the nature of authenticity while roaming museums and coffee shops, musing on personal responsibility, commitment and the meaning of life. Gradually it becomes clear that they have a shared and volatile history, the nature of which Kiarostami leaves vague while they debate the events that led to their parting. Were they married? Do they share a child? Why didn’t things work out?<br /> <br /> There is much suggestion and subtext here and some good acting (even if opera singer William Shimell doesn’t quite match his costar), but despite a carefully composed and lit frame (happy couples often surround the pair, penetrating close-ups, effective use of light and darkness), and a welcome seriousness about the nature of adult relationships, the film is too talky, more experimental than engrossing, and more cryptic than compelling.<br /> <br /> Vidal Sassoon: The Movie <br /> <br /> Phase 4 Films (Director: Craig Teper)<br /> <br /> An intriguing dichotomy in Craig Teper’s new documentary Vidal Sassoon: The Movie, is the determination to both deconstruct one of the 20th century’s most influential icons while simultaneously revering the mystique of a singular, indisputable artist. In a remarkably concentrated hour and a half, Sassoon himself tells a classic rags-to-riches story, beginning with a Dickensian childhood (complete with London orphanage) before taking us on a cultural fantasia of sorts, where a penniless, young boy walked into a shop one day only to become a reluctant shampoo boy. As they say, the rest was history. Weaving in the Depression, World War II, The Blitz, Swinging London, ’70s Americana, marriages, children and even What’s My Line?, Teper paints a vivid portrait of Sassoon’s drive and need for artistic expression, his style informed by his adoration of architectural geometry and the principles of its application to the human face. Particularly memorable are Sassoon’s accounts, enhanced by found footage, of his early days in London circa the ’60s period of cultural renaissance, and his observations on the relationship between looking good, and feeling good.<br /> <br /> MUSIC<br /> <br /> Susana Baca <br /> <br /> Afrodiaspora (Luaka Bop)<br /> <br /> There has never been a time when I received a Susana Baca album without rushing to my stereo. The nearlegendary Afro- Peruvian singer has yet to disappoint me. Sixteen years ago she broke through to American audiences thanks to David Byrne’s Luaka Bop, a record label I keep considering defunct until I mysteriously receive another Baca record. Ambassadorial regarding cultural issues (she co-founded the Black Continuum Institute in Chorrillos), technically brilliant in execution, Baca’s passion for sonic preservation leads her to explore the African folk influences in Puerto Rico, Colombia, Argentina, Ecaudor and, of course, Peru. Stylistically, Afrodiaspora is her most wide-reaching and forward-thinking outing yet: Calle 13’s adventurous frontman Residente Perez drops a quick rhyme on “Plena y Bomba,” while Los Angeles-based Quetzal Flores and Martha Gonzalez (of Quetzal) join her on the Mexican-styled “Que Bonito Tu Vestido.” Always boundary jumping—Baca has previously covered Bjork—she offers a funky, harmonica-driven take on The Meters’ “Hey Pocky Way,” hitting the mark once more.<br /> <br /> Mehraab <br /> <br /> Roya (The Dream) (Electrofone) <br /> <br /> Since his days in Axiom of Choice, Loga Ramin Torkian has made a huge impact in Persian music. Axiom’s gorgeous harmonies and exquisite musicianship evolved into Niyaz, a trio featuring vocalist Azam Ali and producer/ Elecrofone owner Carmen Rizzo, which took Iranian music into the 21st century with bottom- heavy, tasteful beat making. His latest album, completely played by Torkian himself, is a meshing of those two worlds: the breathtaking strings and sweeping melodies of Persia rooted in solid, punchy rhythms. The only other appearance is by vocalist Khosro Ansari. Having listened to the album before reading the liner notes, I was certain Torkian had recorded with Mohammad Reza Shajarian, a very high compliment. Not to say that Ansari hasn’t developed a sound of his own—the man’s voice has been featured on ER and Third Watch, among others. But his vocalizing over Torkian’s masterful palate of sounds is certain to send both these men into dreams unimagined. Rarely are albums as beautiful as this.<br /> <br />

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