Monthly Archives: June 2014

The Dust Bowl (2012)

This will be a very short review of a very long documentary. Pare Lorentz in his 1936 classic “The Plow That Broke The Plains” manages to say more in 25 minutes then Ken Burns says in the almost 4 hours of his 2012 documentary “The Dust Bowl.” How can this be? It’s not that Ken […]

The Plow that Broke the Plains (1936) The Wizard of Oz (1939) The Grapes of Wrath (1940)

The Dust Bowl is a well-known, man-made environmental catastrophe. In the 1930s a severe drought struck the Great Plains. Topsoil, which had become more vulnerable to wind erosion by the failure to apply dry land farming methods, was lifted into the air, and scattered for hundreds of miles. The “Black Sunday” dust storm that took […]

The Diary of a Superfluous Man (1850)

If Dostoevsky would later mock Ivan Turgenev as a vain westernizer and sycophant, then part of it might have to do with a feeling of guilt over a literary debt. Take The Diary of a Superfluous Man, a model for Notes From The Underground, which was published 14 years later in 1864. For me, a […]

Updates from the road #10

Originally posted on Buying and Selling Books, Records and Sundries:
Snippets overheard: Asheville: “He introduces himself with ‘They call me dirty’ and I said ‘Well I don’t.’” “Who are ‘they’?” Athens: “So he goes out this farm and it turns out it was a cult.” “Wow.” “Yeah, full blown religious cult.” “Oh nice, Buzzcocks 45s.”…

The Rules Of The Game (1939) The Exterminating Angel (1962)

Even though Jean Renoir’s The Rules Of The Game is thought to be one of the two or three greatest films ever made, I was initially quite underwhelmed, even bored. I recognized that the camera work was masterful, the deep focus a model for Citizen Kane. But what kind of story was Renoir, this Prospero […]

Updates from the road #9

Originally posted on Buying and Selling Books, Records and Sundries:
We stayed in the Sunburst Campground near Waynesville two nights ago; it’s a small one. We were the only campers there and we wondered if we were even supposed to be there because the bathrooms and box to drop the campsite fee were locked. It…

Los Olvidados (1950)

In Los Olvidados, a film about a doomed boy living in a Mexico City slum, Luis Buñuel goes where Charles Dickens won’t. Buñuel, a Spanish exile from Franco Spain who lived in Mexico through the 1940s and 1950s, dispenses with middle-class Victorian sentiment. Like Dickens, he shows us the abyss that lies at the heart […]

Update from the Road #8: High Point, North Carolina and the ATV Beheading Issue

Originally posted on Buying and Selling Books, Records and Sundries:
At a cabin in the Blue Ridge Mountains in North Carolina. The only trace of civilization is a gas station that has a truncated version of a Subway sandwich shop that you’d have to walk for three hours down a steep road made of little…

Patton (1970)

It’s not hard to imagine what the opening of Patton must have looked like in 1970. The war in Vietnam War is lost. The army is falling apart. Officers get “fragged.” Racial tension is at an all time high. Military discipline is at an all time low. Drug use is rampant. You’re sitting in your […]

Mouchette (1967) Pan’s Labyrinth (2006)

Mouchette by French director Robert Bresson and Pan’s Labyrinth by Mexican director Guillermo del Toro are both films about a young girl in early adolescence trying, and failing, to come of age in a hostile environment. Mouchette is a 13-year-old misfit who lives with her dying mother, baby brother, and drunken, abusive father in a […]