- The Washington Times - Friday, December 22, 2000

Mr. Madonna

"What kind of man does it take to marry the world's most famous pop music diva?

"One who's cool, confident and quick with a movie camera and a right hook.

"Guy Ritchie, Madonna's 32-year-old husband-to-be, is an edgy young film director with a scar on his cheek, a hit under his belt and big plans for his future… .

"Dubbed the Cockney Tarantino … the newly minted bad boy auteur has gone from pub crawls and sleeping on his friends' floors to sporting designer suits at A-list parties… .

" 'I've been poor all my life,' he said in an interview, yet his dad was reportedly a TV advertising executive and his 'working class' mum a model. Like Madonna, a middle-class girl from Michigan who claimed she ate from garbage cans to survive during her early days in New York, Ritchie has caught flak for downgrading his privileged past a few notches to earn more street credibility.

"From Sean Penn to Dennis Rodman, Madonna has always loved men with an edge, and Ritchie certainly has one, whether by circumstance or design."

Faye Penn, writing on "Her Kind of Guy," in Monday's New York Post

Holiday gift

"The Beatles' first feature, 'A Hard Day's Night' … made in 1964, has just been re-released in a crisp new print with the soundtrack refurbished. What a holiday gift a film in which life itself is a holiday.

"How many films are there that exist through and in high spirits? … Oh, of course there are more, but sheer zaniness as distinct from comedy, even from slapstick is rare. None of this kind that I can remember surpasses 'A Hard Day's Night.' …

"The Beatles were and remain endearingly brash, four Pucks with irresistible songs.

"The story … is simple, so the film doesn't have to creep into crannies of plot, it can just let the Beatles misbehave and sing. They take a train to London to do a TV show, cavort on the train, in and out of the TV studio, drive practically everyone mad except girls who are otherwise maddened do their show, then move airily on. The dialogue is sassy. On the train they tease and irritate a stuffy middle-aged gent who bursts out, 'I fought the war for you lot.' A Beatle responds: 'I bet you're sorry you won.' "

Stanley Kauffmann, writing on "Flying, East and West," in the Dec. 25 issue of the New Republic

Hot button art

"My wife and I have happened upon Collector's Corner Gallery on the village square in Pella, Iowa. Collector's Corner, it turns out, is a furniture store that also sells lithographs and paintings, many of them by Thomas Kinkade, a kind of neo-Impressionist artist who bills himself as the 'Painter of Light' …

"Kinkade's portrayals of sylvan cottages and cobblestone pathways and garden gazebos are much more, in the artist's judgment, than pretty pictures. They are powerful weapons in the war against unbelief and, more particularly, against the corrosive effects of Modernism.

" 'I see a campaign for culture shaping up around me,' he says. 'Art is the hot button in the cultural battle at play right now.' Kinkade leans forward, his voice rising in intensity. 'The disintegration of the culture starts with the artist,' he says. 'In a way, Modernism in painting is responsible for "South Park" and gangsta rap. I'm on a crusade to turn the tide in the arts, to restore dignity to the arts and, by extension, to the culture.' "

Randall Balmer in "Kinkade Crusade" in the Dec. 4 Christianity Today

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