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Happy Poetry Month!
The wonderful “pÕÎ-trÉ” blog has a terrific selection of poems about movies. And there have been great movies about poets like “The Barretts of Wimpole Street” (about the courtship of Elizabeth Barrett and Robert Browning), An Angel at My Table (about Janet Frame) and the documentaries about Rumi, Billy Collins, and Charles Bukowski. And the movie Deliverance was based on a novel by the poet James Dickey.
Many movies take their titles from poems, like A Raisin in the Sun, which comes from a poem by Langston Hughes and Invictus.
Characters in movies often recite poetry. Movies are written by writers, after all, and writers love words. In “Awakenings,” “The Panther” by Rilke illustrates the isolation and bleakness of a patient’s inner life:

His vision, from the constantly passing bars,
has grown so weary that it cannot hold
anything else. It seems to him there are
a thousand bars; and behind the bars, no world.

As he paces in cramped circles, over and over,
the movement of his powerful soft strides
is like a ritual dance around a center
in which a mighty will stands paralyzed.

Only at times, the curtain of the pupils
lifts, quietly–. An image enters in,
rushes down through the tensed, arrested muscles,
plunges into the heart and is gone.

One of the most memorable scenes in “Four Weddings and a Funeral” is the heart-breaking funeral service with W.H. Auden’s Funeral Blues:

Stop all the clocks, cut off the telephone,
Prevent the dog from barking with a juicy bone,
Silence the pianos and with muffled drum
Bring out the coffin, let the mourners come.

Let aeroplanes circle moaning overhead
Scribbling on the sky the message He is Dead.
Put crepe bows round the white necks of the public doves,
Let the traffic policemen wear black cotton gloves.

He was my North, my South, my East and West,
My working week and my Sunday rest,
My noon, my midnight, my talk, my song;
I thought that love would last forever: I was wrong.

The stars are not wanted now; put out every one,
Pack up the moon and dismantle the sun,
Pour away the ocean and sweep up the woods;
For nothing now can ever come to any good.

I’ll be posting an interview with Morgan Spurlock (“Super Size Me”) about his new movie on product placement soon. Here’s the talk he gave at TED about making a movie about product placement that was entirely funded by product placement. This is why the official name of the film is “POM Wonderful Presents The Greatest Story Ever Sold.” And yes, onstage naming rights for this talk were sponsored too. Watch to find out from who and how much.

As Katie Couric leaves her pioneering role as the first women anchor of a nightly network news broadcast, it appears that she arrived just as what was once the flagship of end-of-the-day journalism was shrinking to not much more than a rowboat, and a sinking one at that. Where once Walter Cronkite united audiences and was seen as the most trusted man in the country, most people under age 30 cannot even name the network anchors — they get their news from “The Daily Show.” Is it a coincidence that John Stewart’s show has been sharply criticized for its overwhelmingly male staff? Or that Couric now reportedly will leave news for a talk show?

Perhaps I am especially concerned with these issues because of my recent participation in the International Women’s Media Foundation conference at George Washington University. The event opened with a Kalb Report interview of Diane Sawyer, who spoke about the impact of budget cuts and new media on the nightly news broadcast.

Women from all over the world shared their stories about the way women were treated as reporters, editors, and managers and as sources and subjects of news stories as well. Domestic violence stories at one paper were characterized as “a family tragedy,” until women in the newsroom insisted that they be described like any other homicide: murder.  A paper in Norway made a commitment to have at least one photo of a woman on the front page every day — and not an actress.   A German newspaper requires that one-half of its staff be female and makes an effort at parity in sources and stories as well.

The IWMF released a major new report, the first comprehensive global study of women in media, covering not just the roles and ranks of women working in the media but the way stories are selected and covered.  Conducted over a two-year period, the report is based on data gathered by more than 150 researchers through interviews with executives at more than500 companies in 59 countries based on a 12-page questionnaire.  The report found:

In the Asia and Oceana region, women are barely 13 percent of those in senior management, but in some individual nations women exceed men at that level, e.g., in South Africa women are 79.5 percent of those in senior management. In Lithuania women dominate the reporting ranks of junior and senior professional levels (78.5 percent and 70.6 percent, respectively), and their representation is nearing parity in the middle and top management ranks.

The global study identified glass ceilings for women in 20 of 59 nations studied. Most commonly these invisible barriers were found in middle and senior management levels. Slightly more than half of the companies surveyed have an established company-wide policy on gender equity. These ranged from 16 percent of companies surveyed in Eastern Europe to 69 percent in Western Europe and Sub-Saharan Africa.

Only a little more than half of the news organizations have adopted a policy on gender discrimination.

Conference attendees used the report as a baseline to develop goals and strategies for improvement to take back to their publications.  Panel members from around the world talked about the importance of a public commitment to specific benchmarks — without imposing counterproductive quotas — that will cover not just reporters, columnists, editors, and managers but choices of sources and stories.

As with all debates on gender issues, there was a conflict between arguments that women are the same as men and arguments that they are different. A discussion on putting journalists in danger included the “genderized” treatment of the attack on Lara Logan.  Participants complained that Logan’s injuries led to sweeping statements that women should not be sent to cover the Middle East, while attacks on male journalists are seen on a case-by-case basis.

But there were also many discussions of the different perspective that women bring to sources and stories, the importance of making women’s points of view available to both male and female readers, and the impact of women as visible, credible role models for the next generation of journalists.

The limited data available from earlier studies show some progress for women in media, more as reporters than as managers.  This report, while incomplete due to the refusal by some news organizations to cooperate, especially on issues relating to compensation, provides the first meaningful baseline for measuring future progress.

But the measure of success is a moving target.  The conference presentations made it clear that the challenges of strengthening the presence of women in journalism are small in comparison to the transformational changes affecting the industry as a whole. U.S.-based print newspapers, which have relied in the past on advertising and classified ads for the majority of their revenue and are now losing readers to the web, are at a disadvantage over newspapers in other countries with less internet access (so far) and more subscription-based business models.

In a luncheon speech, Ambassador Melanne Verveer, President Obama’s appointee for Global Women’s Issues, spoke about the mobile phone as one of the most powerful factors in providing access to the crucial information that helps women achieve equality. The conference participants recognized that the greatest obstacle to keeping well-researched information available is not sexism but the Gresham’s law-impact of avalanches of free online content.

Here’s all you need to know about the stars: Jeff Bridges and Bruce Boxleitner return as Kevin and Alan and their avatar/doubles, CLU and Tron. They are joined by Garrett Hedlund as Kevin’s son, Sam, and Olivia Wilde as Quorra, a resident of the alternate universe on the other side of a portal called The Grid.

Here’s all you need to know about the plot: Sam goes into The Grid looking for his father, there are some fights and races and chases and discussions of meta-reality and the perfection of imperfection, and some more chases.

Now, let’s get to what we’re really here for — the eye candy.

Twenty-eight years ago Disney released “Tron,” a sci-fi saga about two men sucked into a computer game. The plot was murky but the design was sharp and the computer-generated effects were innovative, and later received an Oscar for technical achievement. It was a modest success on release, inspired future Pixar wizard John Lasseter and led to some popular computer games. Its effects now seem quaintly primitive, but it is still remembered fondly by fanboys, gamers, and Comic-Con attendees.

Time for a sequel, with another great leap forward, technically, at least. Actually, it is many leaps forward, even past “Avatar,” whose envelope-pushing cameras they used — after they tricked them up a little more. And the technical term for what they have produced is: Wowza.

Fasten your seatbelts.

Kevin somehow lives in a preposterously zen apartment with a lot of gleaming surfaces and aerodynamic curves, everything in cool shades of gray, but on his shelves are old, high touch leather-bound books like Jules Verne’s The Mysterious Island with the jewel-like cover illustration by N.C. Wyeth. Then things really go over the top with a rave scene in a dementedly decadent disco, hosted by a flamboyant “Cabaret”-style emcee played by Michael Sheen with hat and cane. His eyes glitter and the curve of his nose is so impossibly perfect it might be another architectural flourish.

In IMAX 3D you will feel like you, too, have entered the grid, as the screen shifts from 2D to 3D when Sam crosses through the portal. And in a way, you have, to a world where the imperfect may not be perfect, but it is fun to watch.