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Herzog’s Bad Lieutenant

I know I’m a sucker for contrast: show me the bleakest depths of the dark night of the soul, and then a glimmer of renewal seems twice as profound. If this is a trick, Port of Call New Orleans does it so well I don’t mind. 

The Real Avatar

The crowning irony of “Avatar”: as lavish a corporate-funded production as you can imagine, it nonetheless has an anti-corporate sentiment.

Imperial – New Book by W.T. Vollmann

At the reading, Vollmann read an excerpt from the book detailing a dangerous rafting trip down a toxic river on the border, one which migrants have used for crossings and one which many have died in.

Day of the Locust

Finished reading “The Day of the Locust” yesterday. This passage stood out to me, the description of a mad crowd at a movie premiere at the novel’s climax: “All their lives they had slaved at some kind of dull, heavy labor, behind desks and counters, in the fields and at tedious machines of all sorts, […]

The Light is Dying

You pursue an ideal and hold on to something which approximates it. Then you lose that thing and pursue an imitation of the thing that approximated the original ideal. Then you lose that, and pursue a poor copy of the imitation of an approximation of an ideal. To dramatize this, the film uses the device of a cinematic “synecdoche”: a part substitutes for the whole, a stage serves to represent a city, and the imitation of life becomes life. Life imitates art which imitates life.

A Tour Underground

As published 8/3/06 in the Sacramento News & Review. The Balkans are a place that defies description, a complex patchwork of ethnic and religious identities with an intricate and violent history. Shon Meckfessel, a young writer born and raised in Sacramento, grew to love Eastern Europe during his travels there. Enough, in fact, to create […]

Secrets and Shame

The only thing that keeps I Cried, You Didn’t Listen from being a mere laundry list of horrors is the humanity of its narrator. Abbot doesn’t attempt to make excuses for the behavior that kept him going back to the California Youth Authority. He doesn’t need to–putting it in context with the way he was treated, it is perfectly logical. Abbott simply had adapted to his environment: one where physical violence is the basic, ordering principle of daily life.