Archive for January, 2010

Recent Readings 1 – David Foster Wallace

David Foster Wallace killed himself in September of 2008. I turned 25 that month. He’d already published a book by that age. When he died, he left an uncompleted manuscript for a novel he’d been working on for years, since his second novel, Infinite Jest came out in 1996. Before he hanged himself, he wrote his wife a note and left the manuscript on his desk, incomplete, but findable. It will be published this fall.

I’ve been reading a lot lately, and somehow between buckling down so I can finish Infinite Jest and thinking about the legacy we leave behind, I’ve been drawn more and more to Wallace. I read a wonderful selection from his unfinished novel, The Pale King, which appeared in The New Yorker as “Wiggle Room” in 2009, in addition to an extensive farewell article, a short biography of his life and work and hopes and fears. It’s called “The Unfinished.”

Page of transcript from “The Pale King” w/ notes and alterations by its author David Foster Wallace

My goal was to give an analysis of both the selection and the article, but jeez, I just think you should read them both right now and then call me and then we can talk about it for hours and hours.

The article about Wallace’s life dealt with his (Wallace’s) belief that in a world of hyperactivity, boredom can lead to amazing breakthroughs in one’s life. Transpose that to food, and it’s the same as fasting. What is strange is that reading, for me, in my current place, is just such a breakthrough. It has served as a reminder of everything I want my life to be, even if that’s not what it is right now. His novel is about an IRS Rote Examiner, saddled with the task of an endless string of reports to calculate, tabulate and validate. That he tries—and fails—to do this mindlessly is the biggest problem in his life. He can’t get over how much his mind won’t just go blank, let time slip away, and let his body do his job. If he could, he knows his days would go by faster. But he can’t and so he is left checking the clock moment to moment to moment.

This is the very same issue I’m dealing with at work: boredom. With nothing to do, the break-through for me has been returning to reading. I’ve noticed if left to my own devices and with everything available to me, I read less than I would like to. I write less than i would like to. At work, all I can think about is how much I want to do these things, because all of the other distractions and activities are removed and I am faced with boredom, with nothing. And when I see that nothing, I can also see what I want it to be filled in with. With writing and reading. With films, absolutely, but I don’t have to push myself to watch movies or TV shows. So at work, I find my appetite for reading is immense. I inhale articles and stories. But how weird to be sitting at work, as all around people are on the phones and talking insurance, and there I am being taken away and deeply moved by writers. There have been moments when I wanted to cry for being moved or laugh out loud for being tickled. I find myself glancing around, sure someone has noticed. My facial expressions aren’t those of an adjuster. They’re of a reader. I love it.

Some of the best things about the article are Wallace’s thoughts on writing:

Fiction’s about what it is to be a fucking human being” and should make one “become less alone inside.”

“It seems like the big distinction between good art and so-so art lies . . . in be[ing] willing to sort of die in order to move the reader, somehow. Even now I’m scared about how sappy this’ll look in print, saying this. And the effort to actually to do it, not just talk about it, requires a kind of courage I don’t seem to have yet… All the attention and engagement and work you need to get from the reader can’t be for your benefit; it’s got to be for hers.”

“Really good fiction could have as dark a worldview as it wished, but it’d find a way both to depict this world and to illuminate the possibilities for being alive and human in it.”

“The idea that something so simple and, really, so aesthetically uninteresting—which for me meant you pass over it for the interesting, complex stuff—can actually be nourishing in a way that arch, meta, ironic, [post-modern] stuff can’t, that seems to me to be important.”

I see these ideas being sorted out in Infinite Jest, particularly the third sentiment. I also love how much he plays with words. “Wallace explained that Broom [of the System] wasn’t “realistic, and it is not metafiction; if it’s anything, it’s meta-the-difference-between-the-two.” ”

And if Wallace felt that way about his first book while writing his second, he seems to have had apprehensions about the second while writing the third. He still felt like he was using too many tricks. He’d been working on the book since 2000, and he couldn’t find his way through it. He wrote to numerous friends and other writers, looking for inspiration, begging, pleading for them to help his breakthrough. He fell into a sortof Charlie Kaufman-esque state. Aside from all the sections about the IRS workers, he writes himself into the book through faux-introductions and he makes up things about himself and just sticks it all in there. Because he couldn’t help how interested he was in absurdist writing and how in love with language he was. Because one of the things that is so great about his writing is the way it battles itself with its disparate tempos- here calm and straight-frward and beautiful in its simplicity; there frenetic and confusing and dumbfounding in its linguistic complexity.

Another Page of transcript from "The Pale King" w/ notes and alterations by its author David Foster Wallace

And yet, he didn’t want his work to become only about that. In the article he notes how irony can do a lot of things, but one thing it can’t do is redeem. It’s outside of the realm of irony’s abilities. It seems like he battled that throughout the composition of this new book. In one of those letters (I think to Franzen), he said for it to be any good, he would have to write a 50,000 page transcript and then cut it down from there to a readable “thing.”

The article is the place to go for info about Wallace. This is much more about how I think of myself in relation to what he said. But before he died, his goal was to create a work that is all the things he believes about writing and the world. So of course it includes him. He wanted to write something that helped someone. But, because of his mental state, which was in disarray (the article details the litany of medications he took and his various attempts and failures to half-successes to deal with depression), he couldn’t bring himself to write anymore. He had an untold number of pages and notes and ideas, but he couldn’t make it work the way he wanted to on the page. (The above pages were also posted on The New Yorker’s website. You can click on them to enlarge and read his notations. To me, it’s inspiring to read a writer at work.)

I know very well what that’s like. To get the tone of the thing right, to make it all of the things you want it to be – all of which are different so as to immediately avoid any criticism that a) it’s too nice or too cynical or too whatever and b) more importantly, to avoid any assumptions or categorization by readers (or viewers) about which parts of the writing directly mirror your own personality, c) it covers all the bases you know of to cover.

Wallace’s suicide seems almost like the given ending to his final novel. How else could an author’s final novel end, how else could his career end, but in death? It’s a surprise, given he wrote so much about himself in his new novel, that he did not write a post-script in which he killed himself. Perhaps because he could not focus enough to write or could not settle his fears enough to focus on anything other than the fact that he thought the fears were taking over him, he decided to make his reality the ending to his fiction. Perhaps this was the way he thought he could prove to his readers that he was willing to die for them.

He spoke so often of wanting to move of wanting to make his work something useful that would point people toward something better. He wanted his work to help people. And so it seems that he made his life the warning  and the blatant plea he could not figure out how to give on the page. A warning and plea to get help. A warning and plea to keep going. A warning and plea to do what, in the end he could not: to keep writing and to write something that helps make people less alone inside. He did it so well and so beautifully for a while. But he couldn’t sustain it, and he hated that fact.

Maybe he thought his life had become the emotional, mental equivalent of what my Grandfather’s body’s physical state was just before he died: unable to breathe on its own; damaged and deteriorated beyond repair, such that to go on living would not be living anymore. I’m not commending or even excusing his suicide. I’m just trying to gain some hint of his possible motivation.

And so the book will be published this fall. Talking with my good friend BJ, recently, he observed that for someone so wrapped up in style and the way Wallace’s own feelings about it expanded and arced the older he grew, combined with an increasing drive to be simultaneously helpful and innovative, the idea of an unfinished novel – particularly an unfinished novel he had grand reservations about – becoming the published work just might be more interesting than a “fully-realized” work of fiction. More interesting, more fitting, and more final. And besides, when in the history of any artistic endeavor worth pursuing has the phrase “fully-realized” entered the artist’s mind as a thing achievable?

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Few Things Here and There

I’ve been reading and accumulating all sorts of things this week at work. Here are some things I’ve enjoyed*. Please note that they are on the lighter side. I’ve been following Health Care, Haiti, The Americanization of Mental Health, Hypotheses on China’s economic strength and growth over the next 10 years, and long-term sub-concussive head injuries in football players as well, but I think they have enough coverage. Mostly I’ve been reading fiction, but that’s it’s own thing. These things are all short.

*I saw the American Idol video of the 62 yr-old guy. Wasn’t that funny. Seemed a bit forced on the part of the show. That’s just me. But its out there too.

1. “ALICE IN MURDERLAND” POSTER:

There's no escaping it. It's RIGHT THERE.

This is the poster for the movie I was a PA for back in October or November, I forget which. I’d thought the title was “The Alice in Wonderland Murders,” but this is better. As much better as anything connected to this movie can be. What a ridiculous poster. What a ridiculous movie. Good tagline, though.

2. CINEMA 2009:

I love this video. I found myself swept up in it. It captures the excitement and beauty and pure visual thrill of going to the movies. Films really are a thing to behold. I like things that remind me of that.

3. WES ANDERSON ACCEPTANCE VIDEO:

The more I think about “Fantastic Mr. Fox” the more I like it. My quibbles were minor at the time, and it really was a great movie for all ages. Vibrant and fun and funny and exciting, I was really impressed by how well-crafted the world was and how immediate the action felt. It didn’t cop out, there were real, sometimes harsh consequences for Mr. Fox’s actions.

4. CONAN vs. LENO

The Man, The Myth, The Hair

I’ve been reading about this for the last week, nearly every day in the NY Times and CNN and IMDB. I’m very much on Conan’s side. I don’t despise Leno the way some seem to. He’s a very likable guy, he’s nice, and he can be funny (not that you’d know it from his new show). Yes, the biggest blame goes to NBC for allowing this sort of charade to happen. NBC’s executives should be ashamed of themselves for trying to squeeze out both hosts when their lineup simply isn’t working. But it is Leno’s fault, too. The graceful thing to do would have been to go out on top and not create a new show. He agreed that he’d hand over the show in 2009, that should have been it. Conan deserves time to build his show’s aesthetic and audience. He’s been doing his show in the least appealing possible circumstances, and finally he had enough (I really like his letter to the public, too). The right thing for Leno to do is to step aside. It’s time for him to go. Going back to 11:35pm– and worse, potentially going back to The Tonight Show itself– would smack of bad form and leave a bad taste in everyone’s mouth. It’s up to Leno, though.

Same Old New Job

A week ago I started a two-month temporary job with an insurance company. I worked insurance in Kansas, and I can honestly say that when I quit that job last July, I never intended setting foot inside another one like it. Not that this one is much like it. That one was huge and involved an immensely complex, intricate electronic filing software. This company pays me almost twice as much money per hour due to the higher cost of living in CA (my monthly expenses are nearly identical) and files its claims by hand. As in a physical, real, manila folder with documents in it and color-coded numbers on the side. They also have filing software, but it’s remarkably tiny and frustrating in the way out-dated things are. Frustrating not because we’re confused by them but because we’re not used to thinking in such limited terms. If my previous company was Windows 7, this one is DOS.

They All Look the Same

And for the time, I’m liking it. I’m a little less bitter and burnt out now than when I left my old job. Also, it’s a nice thing to realize you have acquired a set of skills and understanding in a complicated area. My first day I had nothing to do so they gave me a couple claims to look over. Looking at the estimate a contractor had submitted, I got out a pen and started marking next to all the superfluous line items. Extra hours of labor for simple tasks, completely unjustified roofing materials when their report didn’t even mention the roof and they took no photos of it. I don’t know that I feel comfortable, because it’s still the insurance business. But I do feel capable. And now that I’m handling claims again, I’m finding that my previous job’s training has paid off and my documentation is extremely thorough and precise. In the insurance industry, this is never a bad thing. The only trick now is learning this new system and seeing how things go.

This isn’t my career. The final three months working in Kansas were awful. I was bitter and angry, partly because the job was getting worse (my company started treating employees like crap) and partly because I didn’t want to be there anymore. I wanted to be gone. As good as some things were in Kansas, a lot of things weren’t. Two months from now, if I can’t stand it, I walk away. If I like it, think I can take it for a while and am doing well, it can become a permanent position.

One thing that helps, too, is that I’m, also making a new film. It will occupy as much mental space as the job does. Making sure I pour myself into what I ultimately want to do makes going to work every day a little easier. Oh, so do the paychecks.

Over-Analyze This

Found out tonight I’m recording an episode of the excellent podcast “Battleship Pretension” tomorrow on the subject of Over-analyzing movies – does it really exist? If so, to what extent is it a bad thing?

So, I’ve been compiling a list of questions, thoughts, and anecdotes since over-analyzing movies (and anything) is an accusation often lobbed at me. It never fails to provoke an eye-roll from me at the time, but I’d be lying if I said I don’t quietly worry over it at night.

As a filmmaker, I worry about it even more. Am I over-analyzing my own writing? Am I seeing things in this that aren’t there and won’t translate on-screen? Is there even a point in making this film? It’s worth noting that I’ve been at it for about 2 hours now, and not because I can’t think of what to contribute. We’re past that. Now we’re back on the roller-coaster of circular-logic about intelligent art vs. “dumb” art and how maybe it’s a sign of elitism that I would even try to label someone else’s art as dumb, and then the other part of me that says no, screw that, Writing X is smart and Writing Z is dumb. And dumb is bad. And I am smart. Am I smart?

A few weeks ago, I was in charge of the devotional for my Men’s Group and we discussed, for about two hours, to what extent FORM or PACKAGING does and should influence us. I promise it actually had a lot to do with God and how we receive His message and whether or not it’s necessarily Biblically WRONG to discount a sermon based on the way it’s delivered/written. We also talked about the rise of the over-packaged church. You know the one. Starbucks and bookshop and giant plasma screens everywhere and loud, thumping announcements with “cutting edge” graphics and music hip enough that, quote, “you won’t be ashamed to bring your unsaved friends!” How those things distract from the message in one way, but in another way, because one of the gifts God gives us is the ability to deliver His truth to other people, the way we package something is vital because good packaging (as form) points to a form higher than ourselves.

I’m off-topic.

Jonathan Franzen

So, the subject reminded me of a passage in Jonathan Franzen’s book How to Be Alone about writing intelligent fiction with a heightened vocabulary that most people can still understand. About the contract between reader and writer. Because one of the things I want to talk about tomorrow (we’ll see if we even get around to it) is, since I’m coming to the topic not only as a critic but also as an artist, whose work is the subject of the criticism (I’m speaking in the global sense, we’re not dissecting MY films on the show), that my view on the show’s topic might be that the ideas of the “Best Analysis” and the “Most Analysis” are two very different things; that Best Analysis relies not solely on the intellect when determining quality, while the Most Analysis refuses to base quality on anything but intellect.

I couldn’t find the passage (I have the paper-back edition, so if you stumble upon it, let me know), but I did get distracted and wound up in Franzen’s own personal struggle of why to write in one of the essays, called “Why Bother?” Here’s his predicament:

“Panic grows in the gap between the increasing length of the project and the shrinking time increments of cultural change: How to design a craft that can float on history for as long as it takes to build it? The novelist has more and more to say to readers who have less and less time to read: Where to find the energy to engage with a culture in crisis when the crisis consists in the impossibility of engaging with the culture?”

Reading that sentence sent me into a frenzy. Keep in mind, he wrote this article in 1996, nearly 15 years ago. How do you maintain culturally relevant work when the culture being reflected changes faster than you can create? I feel this way about movies; the peril must be amplified for the novelist. If this was the state of things in 1996, what calamity befalls the novelist now? How fast social phenomena come and go! How long do you think it will be before twitter and Facebook and MySpace (and blogs!?) are obsolete? For an easy example, look at cell-phones. The moment you buy one, five more have come out. In six months or a year, the model you bought will have been updated and expanded. It takes about two years to “earn” a phone-upgrade through the average cell-phone plan, provided you don’t change plans every so often. Think how movies have changed. Think how music has changed. How the delivery systems and modes of receiving them have changed. Now think how much the book has changed. Not much. Ink on paper, bound together. Sure, there’s that gizmo the Kindle, but it hasn’t caught on. For all the changes in everything else, most people still prefer to have a book and hold it. The newspaper can’t even boast that. The book is one of our most steadfast artistic endeavors. And yet so few people read.

I remembered that the article arrived at an answer to Franzen’s fear, if not a solution, and because at this point it was a little after 3:30am, I had to read ahead to figure out if his answers would satisfy me or, if they didn’t, if I could come up with a good enough counter-proposal to be able to go to sleep. In other words, I had to analyze. To an extent. Franzen’s answer is one I do find comforting.

Expecting a novel to bear the weight of our whole disturbed society–to help solve our contemporary problems–seems to me to be a peculiarly American delusion. To write sentences of such authenticity that refuge can be taken in them: Isn’t this enough? Isn’t it a lot?

Don DeLillo

It is enough. I started breathing again. A lot of times, too, a book or movie or whatever that is only about the RIGHT NOW will, itself, only be relevant right now. It will be a product of its time, and its own shelf-life will only be as long as that of the social phenomenon it’s about. And then it will be gone. But other things will last. Better things will remain. The film “25th Hour” got totally overlooked in 2002 when it came out. It was on my list of the best films of that year, because I sought it out. Zero Oscar nominations. Zero Golden Globe nominations. The movie was made by Spike Lee and has Edward Norton, Philip Seymour Hoffman, Rosario Dawson, and Anna Paquin. Seven years later, it is appearing on numerous Best-of-the-Decade Lists. Seven years later, it has remained.

So, of course, this entry, which was supposed to be short, has gone long. I’ll close with more encouragement, from the end of Franzen’s essay. It comes from another favorite writer of mine, Don DeLillo, who wrote to Franzen personally when he (Franzen) appealed to him (DeLillo) for help.

“The writer leads, he doesn’t follow. The dynamic lives in the writer’s mind, not in the size of the audience. And if the social novel lives, but only barely, surviving in the cracks and ruts of the culture, maybe it will be taken more seriously, as an endangered spectacle. A reduced context but a more intense one.

Writing is a form of personal freedom. It frees us from the mass identity we see in the making all around us. In the end, writers will write not to be outlaw heroes of some underculture but mainly to save themselves, to survive as individuals.”

Top 10 Films of the Decade

(NOTE: See my entire Top 30 of the Decade HERE)

10. The Aviator

Martin Scorsese remade “Citizen Kane” and didn’t bother to tell anyone. A very different picture than most people are used to seeing from him, it brings with it the best performance of Leonardo DiCaprio’s career as Howard Hughes, airplanes and obsession. His portrayal of a man disintegrating from the outside in is haunting, even as those around him, particularly Katherine Hepburn (Cate Blanchett) try to pull him back into the world.

The movie is about a man corrupted by himself, not others. I think it might be Scorsese’s best film. It is a brilliant portrait of a man, pre-50’s Hollywood, and obsession. A great bio-pic in the way it focuses on a particular segment of Hughes’ life and allows it to speak for the rest of it.

9. Memento

This is the film that launched Christopher Nolan into view as one of the most original writer/directors of the decade, and it remains his masterpiece. The ever-under-rated Guy Pearce stars as Leonard, a man with no short-term memory who uses tattoos and notes to try to track down his wife’s killer.

The film unfolds backwards, with the ending first, so that we are completely in Leonard’s shoes. It’s much more difficult to interpret the behavior of someone you meet when you can’t remember your first impression, when you can’t tell how long or how well you know someone. The movie isn’t a gimmick, though. The movie is about what we do with the truth when we find it.

8. High Fidelity

John Cusack’s best movie hands down. This movie is the precursor to quirky romantic comedies that came later in the decade, but it’s different. It’s truer. Cusack’s Rob has been dumped and as he traces back through his relationships, something emerges he hadn’t quite noticed – he’s kindof an asshole.

But what a loveable one he is, and therein lies the movie’s biggest charm. It gets relationships so well and is so smart about them. My favorite is when he details the top 5 things he loved about his girlfriend. They’re small things, but they’re the most important. Also, the movie introduced us to Jack Black. Or maybe it unleashed him.

7. There Will Be Blood

Paul Thomas Anderson’s intimate epic is making nearly everyone’s Decade List, and for good reason. This is one of the most unique films ever made. The way Anderson moves his camera, Daniel Day-Lewis’ career-defining portrayal of a man selling out his own soul bit by bit, Johnny Greenwood’s spare, curious score. This movie seems like it was made in its own universe. Anderson tells his stories his way, and the climax of this film left some angry, some dazzled, and everyone speechless.

Movies are rarely made like this, is the thing. This is a film and a performance that will be talked about for a long, long time.

6. Adaptation

A film that could have been called “A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to the Typewriter,” Charlie Kaufman created a story about himself creating the story he wrote out of a story he was writing that he couldn’t figure out how to write it so he wrote himself into it, which is what he did and what the film is. This is the best film ever made about the creative process and the struggle to know what to write and how to write and why to write and getting over yourself and just writing and maybe even, whether he knew it or not, how Charlie Kaufman’s fake-in-real-life, real-in-fake-life brother Donald was the best thing that ever happened to his movie.

Listen, it’ll be better if you just see the movie. It also has Meryl Streep and an Oscar-winning performance from Chris Cooper, and Nicholas Cage playing two roles. The way all of these people are searching for things and are lonely and collide, it’s just wonderful to see.

5. Kill Bill

I took a girl to see “Volume 1” and she walked out. I stayed. We’re not together anymore, but I’ve got a 4-hour masterpiece from Quentin Tarantino, so you won’t catch me complaining. For those who say “Volume 2” is better or “Volume 1” is more exciting, I say you’re missing the point. It’s one story, one movie, you just had to wait a while for the second part. In a style all his own, Tarantino frontloads the action and the movie, about Uma Thurman’s “The Bride” hunting down the man who tried to kill her – her husband. There’s kung-fu and some western and even some comic book. “Volume 1” has an incredible action set-piece in the restaurant, and “Volume 2” has my favorite scene- a flashback where The Bride finds out she’s pregnant just as someone comes to kill her. The conversation between The Bride and her would-be assassin (also a woman) shows Tarantino’s patience and skill a story-teller. I’m partial to “Pulp Fiction,” but this may be Tarantino’s most complete work.

4. The Incredibles

Not only is “The Incredibles” the best movie to come from Pixar, it’s also the best superhero movie ever made. There isn’t a wasted moment in Brad Bird’s movie, which is sortof like a combination of “Watchmen,” “The Fantastic Four,” and “American Beauty.” You’ve got super-heroes being sued for saving people. Everyone in the family has a unique, awesome power. There is endless commentary on the state of the suburban family. Come on! Plus, the action. The best sequence in the movie involves the young son, Dash (he’s fast), running from bad guys on an island. He’s been chased for a long time, and all of a sudden he looks down and realizes, to his total glee, that he is running on water. The combination of the score, the reveal, and Dash’s reaction make it a perfect moment. This is one of the most entertaining movies I’ve ever seen. And one of the smartest.

3. Traffic

“Traffic” is not the movie for the lazy. Convoluted plot-lines, dialogue-heavy, fast explanations of who people are and why they’re important, and a huge ensemble all surrounding the notion of the War on Drugs. Senators and Drug Czars, corrupt Mexican officials and cops trying to figure out their place. Kingpins and D.E.A. agents and informants, parents and children, and one man choosing whether or not to be corrupted.

The film won Oscars for Best Supporting Actor, Best Adapted Screenplay, and Best Director, and well-deserved. It’s my favorite Soderbergh picture for the way he coordinates all the stories and finds a bold look for each setting to help tell the story more clearly. It doesn’t have all the answers, but it asks the right questions and looks in the right places.

2. The Royal Tenenbaums

Another ensemble, Wes Anderson’s film does what all of his films do – it looks at the life of a family through the prism the patriarch’s effect on the rest of them. But it does what not quite all of his films do – it gives just the right amount of time to each character and weaves the stories together so that we can’t quite gauge how everyone will respond. It is funny and exciting and compassionate and sad and whimsical and quirky—that evil word that used to mean something better than it means now.

The movie is grounded by Gene Hackman’s performance as Royal, who isn’t so much an asshole as just more a son of a bitch. Anderson doesn’t play safe and the material gets dark, even bleak. But in one of the film’s final shots, a long-take that puts a button on the story but not the characters’ lives or issues, there is a definitive hope. Isn’t that just like a comedy.

1. The Lord of the Rings

I suppose there must be people who don’t like this series, but I don’t have much use for them. Peter Jackson solidified his place in film history with the best trilogy ever made. That’s a little unfair, since it’s really all one story. One glorious epic story about good and evil and love and death and regret and friendship and loyalty and pretty much anything worth anything.  This is truly awesome spectacle, with numerous amazing battle sequences (My favorite may be the battle and chase in the Caverns from “Fellowship…”), grand landscapes and maybe the biggest scope of any movie ever made.

But what sets it apart is it gives dimension to all those elements, they’re not cardboard cut-outs. There are difficult choices in hopeless moments and to say everything worked out in the end is pretty naïve. When Sam confronts a giant spider, it is loaded with the weight of saving Frodo, which itself is loaded with our knowledge that Frodo has been particularly horrible to Sam for quite some time. The movie blends its spectacle and story seamlessly, and the result is a great and unique entertainment that captivated audiences and critics.

Maybe this movie is #1 for me because these movies were the biggest event-films of this decade. I remember the planning that went into seeing it, the standing in lines for hours with family and friends. Going early to save seats. Seeing the movie over and over again because you knew you weren’t going to see anything else like it for 12 months until the next one came out.

I hadn’t read the books and even though I could guess how it would end, there was such a sense of anticipation about the films. They have a wonderfully mysterious quality to them that reaches something inside of me, longing and ready for adventure and danger and something bigger than myself. “The Lord of the Rings” tapped into that and did so with respect and care and true cinematic brilliance. It is the best film of the decade.


It Has Come to This

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