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Dr. Ming Wang's Unwavering Vision
Photo by Sara / Unsplash

Dr. Ming Wang's Unwavering Vision

👁️ Dr. Ming Wang's new movie · Illegal to break law · Matter of Pride · Weekly film rundown · Much more!

Good afternoon, everyone.

You’ve heard about the Trump conviction by now, no doubt. I scoured the internet for a perspective on this that doesn’t reek of either fanatical MAGA adulation or DNC stasi-style glee and found this piece in New York Magazine from Elie Honig, a CNN legal commentator who formerly worked in the Manhattan DA’s office with Alvin Bragg and has tracked the entire trial.

A choice passage:

“The charges against Trump are obscure, and nearly entirely unprecedented. In fact, no state prosecutor — in New York, or Wyoming, or anywhere — has ever charged federal election laws as a direct or predicate state crime, against anyone, for anything. None. Ever. Even putting aside the specifics of election law, the Manhattan DA itself almost never brings any case in which falsification of business records is the only charge.”

If, at this point, you hold out hope for an uncompromised judicial system, I think it’s time to wake up and smell the rotting corpses. We’re beyond reason; politics has been reduced to friend-enemy.

Fittingly, Jerod's article this morning looks at Dr. Ming Wang's film about his experience in China during the Cultural Revolution, what he found liberating about America, and where he finds similarities between the two.

Onward.

For Nashville natives, Dr. Ming Wang didn’t really need a biopic. He was already famous from the deluge of billboards and daytime TV commercials for the Wang Vision Institute that dominated local media throughout the early 2000s. A pioneer of both bladeless Lasik surgery and a patented contact lens made from placenta that can restore vision and correct eye scarring, Wang seems like the kind of doctor who would be tucked away in a third-floor suite at Vanderbilt Medical Center—respected by his peers and otherwise known only to those who suffer from the afflictions he can cure.

But his medical contemporaries aren’t well known for their flair on the ballroom dance floor or musical collaborations with Dolly Parton. They also didn’t have an $8.5 million film about their lives starring Terry Chen and Greg Kinnear that Sound of Freedom’s Angel Studios opened in 2,000 theaters nationwide during Memorial Day weekend. 

Over the last two decades, Wang’s outsized persona and self-promotion have run afoul of Music City’s usual suspects. The Scene pushed back against his advertising claims in 2003 while the Tennessean has covered Wang’s film, Sight, skeptically—overly focused on its budget and making sure to Monday Morning quarterback its weekend box-office when it didn’t meet the expectations that producer David Fischer shared with the publication last week. 

But Wang is a firm believer in the American Dream. He’s especially attuned to that oft-elided part about the nation’s obsession with eventually toppling its own idols because he witnessed firsthand the same tendencies that eventually devolved into the Cultural Revolution when he was a teenager growing up in China. “Sight is essentially a story of someone who used to not have freedom, coming to America,” Wang said. “We're so blessed to live in a country with freedom, We need to appreciate it.”

Told largely via flashbacks, Sight crosscuts between 2007 when the Wang Vision Institute had become a fixture of Nashville and catapulted its founder into the American upper class and the doctor’s childhood in the early days of the Cultural Revolution. Wang is a brilliant doctor who begins the film restoring the vision of a patient in front of an adoring press. But when a Catholic nun brings an Indian orphan to his clinic who was blinded by her stepmother to increase her value as a child beggar, Wang’s trauma from the past threatens to undo all of his achievements. 

Given Wang’s involvement in financing and promoting Sight, the film could have devolved into self-aggrandizement. However, Wang is a figure that, despite his panache for self-promotion, is willing to grapple with his failures on the big screen. Wang’s greatest adversary in Sight is believing his rags-to-riches story a little too much. The film’s Wang is a pre-armor Tony Stark who refuses to address the traumas of his childhood–most clearly conveyed by the spectre of his teenage girlfriend with whom he lost contact after revolutionaries took her from her family. 

Wang didn’t have to assign himself such a character arc, but it’s what elevates Sight above most other faith-based films. It’s not a movie that overtly focuses on Wang’s conversion, but one that shows the changes through his actions as he comes to terms with his limitations and his role in a bigger picture, a different type of subservience than that he was forced into during his childhood. “I'm a Christian,” Wang said. “My favorite testimony talk for Sunday services at churches is about how I believe God wants science and faith to work together. That's the essence of the film Sight. It’s about seeing beyond and fighting for rights.”



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Nashville

🚓 It’s Illegal to Break the Law Earlier this week,  Governor Lee signed a bill into law allowing courts to sentence illegal immigrants convicted of violent crimes to life in prison without parole. Opponents of the bill have called it “xenophobic,” but in the absence of proper border controls, one way to deter violent offenders who have entered the country illegally is to threaten them with exaggerated sentences. Earlier this month, an illegal immigrant was charged with attempted kidnapping and sexual battery after trying to force a woman into the bathroom at a Gulch-area coffee shop. In another highly publicized incident from last October, a twice deported illegal immigrant shot and killed two people.

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🏳️‍🌈 A Matter of Pride Mayor O’Connell would like you to join him for this year’s Nashville Pride Parade on June 24th. “Bring some water and good shoes and let’s show our LGBTQ friends that we stand with them shoulder to shoulder,” he announced on X.

Nashville’s first pride parade took place in the summer of 1988, when the National Gay and Lesbian Task Force coordinated a march from Fannie Mae Dees Park to Centennial Park. O’Connell is not the only mayor who has participated in the event over the years, which is a draw for musicians, celebrities, and even First Ladies, but he might be the only mayor to align himself with the LGBTQ community on the issue of adoption.

In an article he wrote for Unmarried Equity a number of years ago, the future mayor wrote of his “committed, heterosexual, unmarried relationship,” he mentioned then-state Senator Paul Stanley’s effort to put his ban on gay adoption in a more palatable light. “Exacerbating the offense of a previous incarnation of a bill targeting same-sex couples, state senator Paul Stanley (R-Germantown), in our most recent legislative session, perhaps seeking to blunt criticisms that he was merely anti-gay, embarrassingly included unmarried couples in his list of people unqualified to adopt on moral grounds,” he wrote. 

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🎭 The Jokes On…? Yesterday evening, Donald Trump became the first US president to receive a criminal conviction after being found guilty on 34 counts of falsifying business records. It’s a serious moment in history, but that didn’t stop local media from finding the humor in it all. “I’ll be coming to you live from Aldean’s with live reaction and analysis of the verdict,” quipped Banner reporter Steven Hale on X. “Secure all rooftop chairs, repeat, SECURE ALL ROOFTOP CHAIRS,” replied one commenter. 

Hale’s boss, Banner editor in chief Steve Cavendish, joined in on the joke, retweeting Hale and posting, “I'll be at John Rich's Redneck Riviera for Full Team Coverage™.” But not everyone found it funny. “Nashville. This is what your local press thinks of you,” replied Chris Burger, an alum of Governor Lee’s administration and current CEO of Rotunda Public Affairs. “Wish we had more real journalists and not paid political activists masquerading as journalists.” Cavendish replied, “See, I wish we had more former paid political staffers who appreciated when media made fun of other media for doing stupid things.”

A staunch supporter of the former president, Jason Aldean also took to social media following the verdict. “Scary times in our country right now, man,” he wrote next to an upside-down American flag, a symbol of a nation in distress. “When a former POTUS gets treated like this by our justice system, what does that mean for the rest of us??? If there was ever a time to speak up, ITS NOW! Make no mistake…. We are in trouble.” John Rich, for his part, let loose with a torrent of spirited tweets after the hammer came down. “​​BRING...IT....ON; Only Communists put their political rivals in jail; Can't wait to see the polls in about 48 hours.” “If they jail Trump,” Rich predicted on Tuesday, “he will have the biggest win in the history of US elections.”

DEVELOPMENT

Via Now Next Developer Launches Presale Effort For Estate Townhomes In Nashville (More Info)
  • SomeraRoad progresses on $1B Gulch development, first Wedgewood-Houston project (NBJ)
  • Nation's largest Dairy Queen franchisee opens Franklin restaurant (NBJ)
  • Up-Down basement slated for Iowa dive bar (NBJ)
Entertainment

THINGS TO DO

View our calendar for the week here and our weekly film rundown here.

📅 Visit our On The Radar list to find upcoming events around Nashville.

🎧 On Spotify: Pamphleteer's Picks, a playlist of our favorite bands in town this week.

👨🏻‍🌾 Check out our Nashville farmer's market guide and yearly festival guide.

TONIGHT

🪕 Kristy Cox & Grasstime @ Station Inn, 9p, $25, Info

🎻 Carmina Burana @ Schermerhorn Symphony Center, 7:30p, $29+, Info

🎸 Musicians Corner @ Centenial Park, 5p, Free, Info
+ Peter One, Them Vibes, Ruth Moody + more

🎸 Lainey Wilson @ Ascend Amphitheater, 7p, $119, Info

🪕 The Cowpokes @ Acme Feed & Seed, 12p, Free, Info

🍀 Live Irish Music @ McNamara’s Irish Pub, 6p, Free, Info

🎸 Kelley’s Heroes @ Robert’s Western World, 6:30p, Free, Info

✹ WEEKLY FILM RUNDOWN: May 31-June 6

The latest releases and special screenings hitting Music City this week. For a complete list of upcoming releases, check out our 2024 Film Guide.

1999 @ The Belcourt Throughout June, The Belcourt offers twenty-five titles in celebration of the best movie year ever’s 25th anniversary. Festivities commence tonight at 7:30 p.m. with a screening of Paul Thomas Anderson’s Magnolia in 35mm with an introduction by Mayor Freddie O’Connell. This week’s other titles include Sofia Coppola’s The Virgin Suicides as well as The Matrix, The Talented Mr. Ripley, and Bowfinger. The can’t-miss cinematic event of the summer. 

Man Ray: Return to Reason The Belcourt honors the 100th anniversary of the experimental filmmaker's seminar works with a series of four restored shorts set to a new musical score by Jim Jarmusch and Carter Logan. Wednesday and Thursday at the Belcourt. 

In A Violent Nature A slasher movie influenced by the slow cinema of Béla Tarr and told from the POV of a Gollum just trying to exact revenge on the kids who stole his locket? Sign us up! Now playing in theaters. 

The Dead Don’t Hurt Viggo Mortensen wrote, directs, and stars in this well-received western about a wife (Vicky Krieps) who navigates corrupt smalltown local politics during the Civil War on the way to some frontier justice. Now playing in theaters

Young Woman and the Sea If you want to see Rey from Star Wars play the first woman to swim the English Channel in a crowd-pleasing period piece, this is the weekend to go to the movies. Now playing in theaters.