May 2013

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Screen Shot 2013-05-31 at 8.34.39 AMB.A. Nilsson wrote a review of Updike’s Always Looking that was published on May 29, 2013. In it, he concludes, “The heightened language . . . reminds us that paintings, like novels, best reward those inclined to linger with them the longest.

“Updike’s success as a critic and social observer, which he pursued as ardently as he did his fiction, came from his ability to convey intelligent insight with a compellingly accessible voice,” Nilsson writes.

Screen Shot 2013-05-27 at 9.56.34 PMThe Tennessean reported on May 24 that with the blessing of the Updike Estate, Blackbird Theater, of Nashville, Tennessee, will perform a staged adaptation of Roger’s Version in June 2014.

The play will be presented in collaboration with the Lipscomb University Department of Theatre and performed in Shamblin Theater (below) in Bennett Campus Center on the Lipscomb campus. That’s fitting, given the theological content of Updike’s 1986 novel, since Lipscomb is a small private university affiliated with the Churches of Christ . . . with graduate students, as well as undergrads.

In Roger’s Version, theology professor Roger Lambert is challenged by an evangelical grad student who thinks he can prove the existence of God using computer science.

Blackbird artistic director Wes Driver (pictured) will write and direct the play.

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Screen Shot 2013-05-21 at 8.39.23 AMMore proof that fruit doesn’t fall far from the tree, even when that tree is second generation.

John Updike’s fifth grandchild, Kai Daniels Freyleue (Miranda Updike’s son), is making a film this summer aimed at putting “a different perspective on the anti-bullying movement,” the 19 year old writes. “It’s less about the horrible effects bullying has on the psychology of teens and more about self-defense and building strength, despite bullying.”

The film, Night Shadow, is “about a vigilante named Night Shadow who, much like other masked vigilantes, enacts justice upon people who do wrong. In this case, the target is bullies. Night Shadow defends his weaker peers and is feared by all who pick on others, but do his tactics go too far? Or is he truly a hero?

“The film features Christina Kirkman, a young actress who was voted the Funniest Kid in America back in 2003 and starred in the cast of Nickelodeon’s All That for two years afterwards.” Kai’s band, Out of Focus, will be featured on the soundtrack.

For the curious, you can read more about the project at Indiegogo, a site where indie filmmakers try to raise cash for projects . . . and contributors get something in return, like a signed script ($49+) or their name in the credits ($199+).

Screen Shot 2013-05-21 at 7.59.27 AMThe May 27, 2013 issue of The NewRepublic spotlights “John Updike: On Knocking Miss Novak” in “From the Stacks.”

The feature details a verbal scuffle Updike had with New Republic film critic Stanley Kauffmann and includes a letter from Updike that was published in the July 25, 1960 issue, following Kauffmann’s review of Strangers when We Meet.

“I am so sick and tired of Stanley Kauffmann knocking Kim Novak. She is a terrific-looking woman,” Updike writes.

“Motion pictures are not, as Mr. Kauffmann seems to believe, transmogrified novels or adjusted plays; these two art-forms have as little to do with motion pictures as they do with each other.”

Updike ends his letter with a pretty good slap at Kauffmann: “He is not a bad critic, he is an inverted one; the opposite of everything he says is true.”

The New Republic on John Updike:
“Updike Remembered” (January 30, 2009)
“The READ: Ephemera, Run” (June 30, 2010)