Multimedia: More short reviews

What we’re watching, reading/looking at, watching, and, uh, rejecting:

The American Experience, “Walt Whitman” (PBS)
Last Thursday night we serendipitously stumbled upon the broadcast of The American Experience episode on Walt Whitman. One commentator noted that “it was as if Whitman had read a want ad’s notice for ‘National Poet’ and signed up.”

For me, the highlight was the discussion around Whitman’s first manuscript of “Leaves of Grass.” While showing the notebook, the commentator noted his first words, and then a crossing out, and then skipping down a half page and then, a rethought, and the first lines ready for publication:

“I CELEBRATE myself,
And what I assume you shall assume,
For every atom belonging to me as good belongs to you.”

It was a fine moment of television. In its combination of music, a sonorous voice, and that “Ken Burns” style of slo-mo (that makes old shit look really nice), you were given insight to that first flint strike that would become a campfire, and ultimately an inferno, that still holds us in awe.
–Lane Twitchell

Fun Home by Alison Bechdel (Houghton Mifflin)
This intimate exploration of the author’s relationship with her late, tight-lipped, semi-closeted, furniture-fussy, funeral-home directing, English-teacher father weaves in Proust, Gatsby, Wilde, and Radclyffe Hall, as Bechdel links her own OCD and eventual coming out to the traits she revered and resented in her distant yet dominant dad. A graphic novel (in both senses), it’s packed with exquisitely detailed Doonesburyish illustrations, plus insight both filial and sexual. The representations of ’70s Greenwich Village and ’80s college life shine plenty, but it’s Bechdel’s fearless spelunking into memory, family, sex, death, childhood, and love — y’know, those minor themes — that catapult it to literary-memoir swoonworthiness.
–Stephanie Wells

21 (Sony Pictures)
A group of MIT genius students counts cards and makes millions in the casinos. Vegas! Card games! Evil Kevin Spacey! Guitar-pop-driven montages! Laurence Fishburn as antihero! What’s not to like? Well, everything else, actually. The screenplay suffers from leaps of illogic, the leading man slips in and out of his accent (he’s a Brit playing an American) and the main characters are archetyped to within an inch of their celluloid lives. Still, if you’re in the mood, it’s decent popcorn fare. See it in an empty theater with someone you can giggle through it with.
–Lisa Parrish

Lori Gottlieb writes: “Settle! Don’t worry about passion or intense connection. Don’t nix a guy based on his annoying habit of yelling ‘Bravo!’ in movie theaters… Because if you want to have the infrastructure in place to have a family, settling is the way to go.” Bullshit. (Here’s Tobey Maguire buying the rights.) Yelling Bravo! in a movie theater is a far cry from yelling Bravo! in bed. And more infuriating, the single-mom author cannot even commit to her own thesis — “It’s one thing to settle for a subpar mate; it’s quite another to settle for a subpar father figure for my child.” Love rules.
–Wendy West

22 responses to “Multimedia: More short reviews”

  1. Dave says:

    Zoiks, Natasha. I’m glad you’re alright! How frightening.

  2. lane says:

    wow that’s crazy, glad you’re ok,

  3. ScottyWhoShouldBeStudying says:

    Did that bruise happen in Natasha’s accident? It’s a Whitman miracle!

  4. Dave says:

    Swells, I got a copy of Best American Comics 2007 for my birthday and it has an excerpt of that Bechdel comic. Really great stuff. I love Dykes to Watch Out For, of course.

  5. Dave says:

    Also: I’d settle for Tobey Maguire.

  6. Tim Wager says:

    Natasha’s near disaster of yesterday reminded me of Parrish’s Magoo Theory, a classic post from yesteryear. Brush up on the back catalog, ye lurkers.

    The graphic novel looks really cool, SWells. Procrastinating grading, much? Me too.

    WW, love rules, indeed!

  7. rm says:

    i’m glad that ww brought up the atlantic “settling” article.

    i found it flawed and frustrating in many ways but i was hoping we would get to talk about it here on the whatsit. though gottlieb seems painfully selfish herself, whatever “settling” means for different people at different stages in their lives rang true for many of my friends…whether they always care to admit it or not.

    and i love the work ethic, protestant or otherwise, around here. you folks need a reason to procrastinate?!? grading, schmading-i’m usually on office space time.

    by the way, i’ll be settling if/when i vote for obama…

  8. LP says:

    Swells, I’m with ya on that Bechdel book. Really amazing stuff, so brutally honest and poignant.

    Natasha: Whoa! Thank goodness for paperwork! It’s a good thing that, as president of the company, you don’t make everyone walk over to your desk to get stuff. What a story!

    And from now on, I’m going to refer to you as President Natasha.

    Wager, thanks for the shout-out re: Magoo. And can we find a way to post the photo of your new Fu Manchu look? T-Wag got rid of the beard, people!

  9. Tim Wager says:

    Just skimmed what I could stomach of the Gottlieb article. When Friends and Broadcast News are linchpins to an argument, you know the writer is in serious trouble. Funny how easy it is for men to settle, too. Had I only known! I could have been living a wonderfully tepid existence for years now, married to my prom date, fat and happy, balding, etc., instead of going through the miseries and ecstasies of the rollercoaster of love.

    Yes, I got rid of the beard, and Parrish couldn’t be happier, even though she’s not here to see it. Here’s my latest look.

  10. tim's prom date says:

    you can only wish, pal.

    and is it a true zappatista or are we talking goose gossage?

    one thing it looks like you’re not in any danger of is balding, my friend.

  11. Lloyd Benson says:

    Sir, I served with Zappa; I knew Zappa; Zappa was a friend of mine;
    Sir, you are no Zappa

  12. Tim Wager says:

    I had a Gossage-with-soul patch for about 15 minutes, but then cut it back to my approximation of a Zappa. My dentist told me that I look like I’m an extra on Deadwood.

    BTW, o, keepers-of-TGW, one of my favorite WordPress features seems to have disappeared, whereby one could easily decipher the true authors of sock puppetry. Wha’happen?

  13. Dave says:

    We really need a sockpuppet policy. Make the authorship of your sockpuppetry publicly identifiable, people.

  14. Lloyd Benson says:

    Benson be me, Scotty.

    Oops, gotta get back to my studies!

  15. rm says:

    um, i’m tim’s prom date, patti smith, orack bamama, hayley mills, and almost every other example of cringe inducing sock puppetry.

  16. Tim Wager says:

    And I’m the King of Norway!

  17. LT says:

    Here’s some great Zappa for all you sockpuppets.

    And I’ve been missing WW.

    And I’m glad President Natasha was not assassinated by that old lady radical faction.

  18. Natasha says:

    Guys, thank you so much for all of your responses. I am grateful for what happened to me yesterday, because I realized how many friends I had. I received such an overwhelming response from people offering help: swiping up the glass, boarding up the store, etc. One friend showed up with a bottle of Gray Goose ( I know, I know, French vodka, Russian Standard is not easy to get) and offered boba milk tea, others just came to hug. I want you all to know that if anyone here ever needs anything, I’ll be there for you too.

    T, thank your for a fast response and shaving your beard :) It’s great to have a friend, who insists on checking my GPS’ offered route, because he does not trust it:)

    Lisa, not only I believe in the Magoo theory, but I have been trying to experiment with it for years. I’d love to talk to you more about this. That’s actually why I got into physics in the first place. I think I am Mr. Magoo. Last year I rented a car and was hit in the front left door (my door) by a driver traveling 90 mph. From the impact my car flew through the intersection and hit a sidewalk. My door as well as the front left fender and half the front of the car were gone (scattered all over the street) because of the impact. When I got out of the car without a scratch to check on the other driver all I saw was shocked witnesses, who later told me I was born with a silver spoon in my mouth.

    LT, I always knew, I should stay out of politics:)

    Thank you guys, I am lucky to be a part of TGW!

  19. brooke says:

    Wow Natasha – just read about your near miss. Happy you made it through unscathed! If I were down there I’d bring you a bottle of Hangar One Vodka, the Alameda Standard!

  20. Natasha says:

    Guys, here is the full video from ch 4