10 comments alsolikelife | TSPDT Final 100
I allowed myself this visit to finally hear your SUGAR CANE ALLEY video essay as my evening’s treat — and the word does the experience justice. This may be the apex of your merging of the personal and always incisive observations on cinema. It’s as if you’ve draw back the curtain on your inner thoughts, the stream of consciousness that runs through each of our heads as we individually watch films and reflect on how they relate to our own lives — the memories triggered, the philosophies formed, the resolutions made, etc. Perhaps your podcasts of THIS AMERICAN LIFE have sunk in deeper than expected [:-)] — your piece, in my (somewhat biased?) opinion resembles a well-done NPR audio essay or even a New Yorker short story. I am not sure what I expected, even with the summary verbal preview, but I wasn’t prepared for the poignancy, the doleful recollection as cinematically told as what was depicted on screen (I could visualize the back of your grandparents’ heads moving through landscapes I’ve never set foot upon) and the glimmer of insight gained. It was a wonderful clip to choose, a terrific dovetailing even if what was discussed what was not immediately related to what was seen (as per your previous entries). Indeed, your soundtrack added greater poignancy to one of the film’s best scenes — the bond between young and old, the transmission of history and identity, the hope for the future. What an irony, this anxiety of communication of yours, on this and other fronts, when you are so adept at articulating these ineffable thoughts that swirl within. Don’t hide away. Please… Finally I am posting to your blog — figuring that one baring of the soul deserves another. I look forward to more of these audio adventures at the crossroads of cinema and the personal. It means a great deal to share, especially if it is where you find meaning…and more.
Lovely piece, Kevin
If it is any comfort to you, Kevin — my late grandfather (mother’s father) was a hard-headed Irish-American — who didn’t much like talking on the phone in general — but was particularly nervous about long distance calls. No matter how long it had been since last talking, no matter how much one had to say — after a minute or two, he started getting antsy, saying “Long distance is expensive, this will cost too much”.
Another memory that this piece brings to mind — my father’s oldest half-sister (more than 20 years older), once came to visit from Croatia (long ago). Perhaps because we had no pre-existing bond, we had a wonderful time not (verbally) understanding each other — pointing to items and trying to exchange words for them. I can’t recall doing this with my father’s father in Croatian (as he did speak English) — but do remember him trying to recall the German he learned in elementary school — back when his country was Austria-Hungary. My father’s mother, on the other hand, never seemed to say anything in English (though she probably understood it a bit). For some reason, perhaps I was so young, I don’t recall any discomfort over the fact that I didn’t understand any of the words she said. ;~}
This piece is especially timely for me — as I have just finished watching the last of Pierre Perrault’s films documentaries about Ile au Coudres in Quebec. These capture a time of cultural and economic change (and loss) in the 60s — mainly as seen through the eyes of the old. It reminds me of my own experiences visiting my father’s relatives in Illinois at the same time. The railroad my grandfather had helped build in the 30s was bankrupt — and the traks he had helped lay were being ripped up. Farms in the suburbs of Chicago were becoming increasingly anachronistic… And yet the old folk, whose world was changing about them, retained a surprising amount of vitality.
Sorry for blathering on so… (but that was the effect your little piece had on me)..
many thanks nyvg – and yes, i’m almost certain that listening to This American Life has something to do with it — at least putting it in my head that “it’s okay” to venture this more personal approach to observations.
I admit the “verbal preview” serves as sort of a head fake – the shift in voice and tone that happens between it and the rest of the piece is perhaps too jarring – but like I said, I’m settling into this tone. I don’t think I’ll do it for every entry but evolution is definitely taking place, it seems.
Thanks MEK — and thanks especially for sharing that family anecdote. It’s reassuring to know that long-distance phone call phobia is a pan-cultural phenomenon.
I think when we’re young we seem more comfortable with these gaps and willing to work around them — as you get older self-consciousness accumulates, followed by regret. It can be psychologically gruelling for a person with a perfectionist mentality like me who rarely if ever achieves “perfection”.
The Perrault docs sound interesting — the only thing I’ve seen close to that are the docs by Michel Brault – you’ve seen some of those, haven’t you? The two I saw were a sunnier take on rural life with no sense of erosion in their cultural practices.
Hey did you follow the spelling bee this year? It got boffo coverage on ABC.
Well–Brault and Perrault worked together on a number of projects — including part one of the Ile au Coudre series (Pour la suite du monde / For Those Who Will Follow, 1963). There is a gradual progression through the course of the three films — to an acknowledgment that certain things must pass away (including one of the principal “characters” of the series).
The National Film board of Canada has issued box sets of Brault’s early work and vol. 1 of Perrault series. and these are dirt cheap — at least when ordered from http://www.archambault.ca (located in Montreal). Right now, Brault is my favorite Quebecois film maker (even edging out his childhood friend Claude Jutra).
I hope the NFB will issue more Brault material — especially a long-running series he created on the music of French North America (which I will never see if doesn’t appear on DVD).
I made a response — but it was eaten somewhere along the way. I’ll try again later.
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I think when we're young we seem more comfortable with these gaps and willing to work around them — as you get older self-consciousness accumulates, followed by regret. It can be psychologically gruelling for a person with a perfectionist mentality like me who rarely if ever achieves “perfection”.
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