The Writer's Life: Film & Book Reviews, Observations, and Stories
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Posts from — September 2010

Save Us from Ourselves

Grace Is Gone, starring John Cusack, is the best American anti-war film I’ve seen to date. It brings the tragedy that Bush, and now Obama, have created with their wars in Iraq and Afghanistan down to a very personal level. Cusack’s performance, as a father trying to find a way to tell his two girls that their mother is dead, is so nuanced and understated we don’t imagine for a moment that he is playing a role, and we cry through the last ten minutes. Perhaps in some not-so-distant future, our leaders will become so paranoid that even such a simple and honest film as Grace Is Gone will be banned or labelled sympathetic to terrorists. God save us from ourselves.

September 29, 2010   Comments Off on Save Us from Ourselves

Rupert Grint aka Ron Weasly aka Bloody Bloke

Cherrybomb is an Irish film starring Rupert Grint about two teenaged friends who fall for a girl who gets them into serious trouble. It’s set in Belfast and has that gritty Irish quality I so much admire of exploring the truth of how things are, rather than sugarcoating them with artificiality as we do in the States. I suppose it could have been called drugs, sex, and rock and roll, Irish style, but that would have been a little too obvious and would mislead potential filmgoers. I found that the film moved well, captured my attention (which is unusual these days), had gorgeous color, and was not at all slanted toward the salacious. Sadly, the film bombed. After its debut in Berlin, it took a write-in campaign on the part of Grint’s fans to get it distributed in the UK. Don’t go looking for this at your local neighborhood theater.

September 27, 2010   Comments Off on Rupert Grint aka Ron Weasly aka Bloody Bloke


We spun out of control
More quickly than we could fathom
Like errant reeds on the wind
Ripped from the earth,
And then we were gone,
A memory lost
Though impossible to forget,
And the sadness was
We didn’t know
It was always like this,
That dreams are consumed
By the machine that creates them,
And though we remained breathless
And full of purpose
There was no scene in which to play our parts
And this was the essence of it
The thing itself
The one without a second
The key to freedom—
Not the thing that came before—
And the tragedy was
So few of us realized it.

September 26, 2010   Comments Off on (Howl)

The art of passing to oneself

September 26, 2010   Comments Off on The art of passing to oneself

Liverpool F.C.

How sad it is that Liverpool F.C. is still in decline and that not even Roy Hodgson can right them. It all goes back to the debt heaped upon the club by its American owners which has now ballooned to the point where payments cannot be met without selling players. In fact, there is a possibility the club will go belly up. As in Manchester, where the Glazers are running Man U into the ground, it is a case of American raiders pinpointing unprotected sources of wealth, obtaining them through levered buyouts, and stealing every last farthing. We’ve seen this all before in takeovers of American corporations. You extract the cash by loading the clubs with debt (including massive loans to yourself), and leave a debt-stuffed carcass behind for someone else to deal with.

The Americans are reviled in England (and rightly so) for their ungentlemanly conduct. Not being respecters of tradition, they don’t subscribe to the notion that football clubs “belong” to the fans and that it is loathsome to destroy them. The real fault, of course, belongs with the FA. You would think there would be enough evidence by now to cause them to restructure the rules under which the clubs can be owned and managed. Something like the German system, for example, where majority control remains with the fans. Or even the rules under which sports teams can be owned in the United States, with salary caps, permissible levels of debt, and the like.

Watching Liverpool implode is a dismal spectacle. As is often the case when Americans with power run amok, no one does a thing to stop them, and the fans’ protests are for naught.

September 23, 2010   Comments Off on Liverpool F.C.


To be there, to exist, whether you find meaning in existence or not, is the normal state of humans, though we often do anything we can to avoid being where we actually are. Naturally, the Germans, with their love of combining simple things to express others more complex, would make a noun of it. “Dasein” was the word I often thought of as I read Bernhard Schlink’s The Reader (Der Vorleser). Literally, “there to be.”

In a way, the novel is better than the film because the first person narrator in the book is a more interesting character than the hapless kid being manipulated by Kate Winslet, or reflected in the ruminations of the older version of the boy played by Ralph Fiennes. It’s quite a story. From this first sexual experience with an older woman, the boy is never the same. Nor is the man. Literally, he is incapable of loving again. Dasein. He can never be totally in the present with any other woman again.

The beauty of the story, of course, is discovering who this woman really is by slowly untangling her past. And what a past it is!

September 20, 2010   Comments Off on Dasein


Fingers slip from rock:
Brief moment of satori
As the girl takes flight.

September 18, 2010   Comments Off on 285

Inherent Vice

Desperate for a book to read while in San Francisco, I picked up a copy of Thomas Pychon’s latest novel, Inherent Vice. Expecting to find something dense and off-putting, I was surprised, instead, to find an old Pychon persona—Smart Sixties Guy—narrating a ridiculously funny tale of a stoner detective involved in solving a crime. There is no substance here—I doubt there is in any of Pychon’s works (his motto seems to be that form is everything)—but the writing itself is, at times, blissfully inspired. My problem is that I sometimes tune out, but—no biggie—Inherent Vice is so simply and joyfully written (there is only one thread to follow rather than dozens), that I easily found my way back home again. I quite like it. There is nostalgia here and more than a little mockery.

September 17, 2010   Comments Off on Inherent Vice


Young gull flying low
Lost in a vortex of pain
With no ship in sight.

September 16, 2010   Comments Off on 284


Scent of rosemary
Adhering to my white shirt
Gave me clean away.

September 14, 2010   Comments Off on 283