The Writer's Life: Film & Book Reviews, Observations, and Stories
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Category — Film Reviews

Knowest Thou This?

These our actors,
As I foretold you, were all spirits and
Are melted into air, into thin air:
And, like the baseless fabric of this vision,
The cloud-capp’d towers, the gorgeous palaces,
The solemn temples, the great globe itself,
Ye all which it inherit, shall dissolve
And, like this insubstantial pageant faded,
Leave not a rack behind. We are such stuff
As dreams are made on, and our little life
Is rounded with a sleep.

June 3, 2012   Comments Off on Knowest Thou This?


A shot from the Welsh film Submarine. Humourous. Almost 60’s like. Like Harold of Harold and Maude transformed into Oliver Tate. The landscape reminds me of Ireland. And the Welsh bring to mind the Irish with their strange passions. I’ve managed 355 haiku. Ten to go. Then I’m through with blogging. Through with writing. The last piece will be entitled “Basta.” Enough. It is my favorite Italian word.

August 3, 2011   Comments Off on Submarine


July 31, 2011   Comments Off on Senna

Nostalgia de la luz

Even though I don’t agree with its premise (that there is no present), this is, quite simply, one of the most moving and beautiful films I have ever seen.

There is one story in the film that is particularly memorable. In Pinochet’s camp in the middle of the Chilean desert, one man, an artist, made meticulous drawings of the compound each night which he ripped into small pieces and destroyed, so that when he was finally released he could redraw and publish them so that the world would never forget what happened there.

July 28, 2011   Comments Off on Nostalgia de la luz


We’ve hidden away
Our most immediate past
To become zombies.

July 27, 2011   Comments Off on 352

Harold Robbins

One of the biggest bullshitters of all time and, like all famous writers, brilliant at inventing a personal history for himself that sold books (but was not true), Harold Robbins was a consummate flim-flam man. He claimed he was raised as a circumscribed Jew in a Roman Catholic orphanage, when, in fact, he was brought up in Brooklyn by immigrant parents.

Alan Whicker in his 1971 documentary (available as part of Whicker’s World), perfectly captures the essence of Robbins, a man without integrity, quintessentially American, a person who would scam anyone naive enough to believe him. What does it means to pull yourself up by your bootstraps? It is summed up in these words: no lie is too big or outrageous if it achieves your ends.

Still, we must honor him. He had balls bigger than anyone. Harold Robbins may not have invented pulp fiction, but he was certainly the master of it.

July 10, 2011   1 Comment

A Somewhat Gentle Man (En ganske snill mann)

Judging by the spate of Norwegian films I’ve seen recently, one could easily imagine that modern Norwegians are basically low-lifes addicted to weed with demented senses of humor. In film they come across as lobotomized rednecks with undecipherable accents. Like characters from a Samual Beckett play. Being descended from Norwegians myself, I have no trouble seeing this, but I somehow doubt it’s true. There must be one sophisticated, educated Norwegian out there. But where?

En ganske snill mann is another example of this meme. It stars Stellan Skarsgård as an ex-con wafting through life doing what comes naturally to him—having sex with any woman who offers, half-heartedly going along with a plan to kill a snitch for his former boss, speaking only when spoken to, eyeing the world as if it were a deformed melon—until he finds his son and love, in that order. In the end our hero rises above it all, but not before we’ve laughed ourselves silly.

May 7, 2011   1 Comment

The Two Escobars

Buried in ESPN’s 30 for 30 series is a gem of a film, The Two Escobars, about Pablo and Andrés, the drug kingpin and the defender, whose lives crisscrossed several times and both ended in violent deaths. The film is notable for its honest portrayal of the events that occurred during the drug wars in Colombia and during and after the 1994 World Cup. It asks the question whether our hegemony is ultimately for the betterment or destruction of mankind and gives no clear answers. This film is necessary viewing for those who want to see how our actions truly affect events.

March 28, 2011   Comments Off on The Two Escobars

Imitators and Imitated

Minnie Driver is alive and well with a very convincing New England accent, playing opposite Hilary Swank in what recently released DVD?

Another question. How is it that English actors and actresses usually get the American accent down so accurately, but we have no clue as to how to replicate British English? Must we always come off as poor imitators?

Don’t answer that last question.

February 11, 2011   Comments Off on Imitators and Imitated

Fair Game

Ever wondered what it would be like to see Sean Penn impersonating Joe Wilson, the suave and wonderfully composed husband of Valerie Plame. It might seem like a stretch for Penn, but it is not. Just pick up a copy of Fair Game and see for yourself. Penn’s performance is a gem, as is that of Naomi Watts, in what is a well researched and essentially accurate portrait of the Plame affair. It’s nice to see the whole thing unfold as a continuous narrative, rather than read it as a series of newspaper articles. The film sticks to the facts, with no extemporizing or explaining, but these are more than adequate to condemn the archdemon of the Bush years, Dick Cheney, all over again. I sometimes wonder whether Cheney was crazy enough at times to believe his own fabrications, as Karl Rove seems to have been. What a dark and dismal period it was. We were truly ruled by mad men.

Thank god we survived them. Or have we?

February 1, 2011   Comments Off on Fair Game