An incredible sequel and hidden artistry

Column by Michael Alcorn
Posted 6/26/18

As a Dad, most of the movies I have gone to see for, oh, the last 20 years or so, have been at the request of someone else. Sometimes, this is a bad thing (see: “Twilight,” and its three …

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An incredible sequel and hidden artistry

Posted

As a Dad, most of the movies I have gone to see for, oh, the last 20 years or so, have been at the request of someone else.

Sometimes, this is a bad thing (see: “Twilight,” and its three sequels), but, largely, this has been a pretty good thing. One of my favorites from all those years is “The Incredibles.” One of Pixar’s first, and one of its best.

So, I had mixed feelings heading into the theater to see the sequel last week. For one thing, sequels have a mixed track record — as good as “Empire Strikes Back” was, you also get dreck like “Grease 2.” Likewise, Disney/Pixar are hit or miss on sequels—“Cars 2” devolved into an environmentalist fable, and you probably never even heard of “Burn-E,” the sequel to “Wall-E,” did you? Plus, as a friend put it, “The Incredibles” was a nearly perfect movie, which makes it very difficult to anticipate a sequel with anything other than a mix of excitement and anxiety.

Well, let me tell you, “ii” was wonderful! The premise was as clever as the first, the animation was great, the voice actors were pitch perfect, and the story moved along at a brisk pace. The villain wasn’t quite up to par with Syndrome, but the soundtrack, by the increasingly brilliant Michael Giacchino ( “Jurassic World”), more than made up for it. And, best of all, there are moments in this movie that had me laughing so hard I was in tears.

It might have been Dad-specific sort of humor, but it was wonderful!

I know this column isn’t supposed to be movie reviews, but, I like letting people know when somebody gets it right. And, with all the ugly, terrible, mean, petty things we see going on all around us, I know we could all use a brief respite to sit back and be entertained.

•••

On the corner of 80th and Simms in northwest Arvada lays a lot that sometimes looks abandoned. In fact, my second daughter is 100 percent convinced that the house on the corner is haunted. But lately, if you drive past that lot, you might notice a lot more activity, as large pieces of wood are being turned into amazing pieces of art.

The owner, a friendly retired sheet metal worker named Don, saw me looking around and came out to meet me. He seemed happy to show me around the lot, from the production room where he is assembling a custom-ordered bench with owl faces at each end, to the yard, where you can see rough pieces of wood just starting to be shaped, to half-finished projects in need of sanding and lacquer.

The most impressive room is the sales studio. In here are dozens of finished projects—eagles, bears, foxes, rabbits, an elephant … there is even an odd goat holding a pole-axe, a remnant from the town of Nederland’s “Dead Guy Days” Festival. I ask Don about the skill and talent it takes to make some of these pieces. He tells me a fully-developed eagle will take about 12 hours of focused work, just to get the details right about the feathering of the wings.

Then, the artist comes in the room, sweaty from working in the hot sun. Don found him at a craft fair, recognized his talent, and hired him on. His name is Dee, and, it turns out, Dee is an immigrant, a man who fled the tribal warfare in South Sudan with his wife in 2006 and made his way to America. He learned to sculpt in Africa with a knife and pieces of chalk, then pieces of wood, then metal, and found he could draw beauty out of nothing.

Now, he does it for us here in suburban Denver.

It is an extraordinary thing, to be able to draw beauty out of nothingness. It is well worth the side trip to this corner of the metro area to see the artisans at work. You might just find yourself inspired!

Michael Alcorn is a teacher and writer who lives in Arvada with his wife and three children. His novels are available at MichaelJAlcorn.com. His opinions are not necessarily those of Colorado Community Media.

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