Tuesday, February 21, 2006

Documentaries and Books: Get 'em While They're Hot!

As an unrelated preface, today (about a subject I may address in the future), the Quin Snyder coach-resignation-firing debacle has turned completely ridiculous. Nobody but the fired coach seems to be willing to tell the truth about how the whole thing went down. Now, the U has asked two alumni (who are season ticket holders) to conduct an "independent" investigation into what happened. In addition to not knowing how to fire someone, the Board of Curators apparently doesn't know what independent means either. Okay, I am done with that.

What Central Standard is really abuzz with is the anticipation of the upcoming True/False Film Festival. Starting Thursday, Our Town will be host to over thirty documentary films (and nearly as many directors) from around the world. This is the third year of the festival and it has been getting bigger and better each year. Monkey and I are slated to see a dozen films this weekend (we saw ten last year). Many of the films are premiers (but the film companies will claim that the premiers are in New York or LA in upcoming weeks (legal and publicity reasons, I guess (they can say that if our film showings are listed as "Sneak Previews" or "Works in Progress"or some other such legal agreement))).

For instance, one film The Devil and Daniel Johnston is showing here this weekend, but a story about Daniel Johnston (visionary artist and musician) in this Sunday's NY Times claims that the film will be having its premier in the Big Apple. No big deal. As long as I get to see the film.

In a related vein, two years ago, Monkey and I saw a film at the inaugural Festival called Confederate States of America, about how stereotypical images of African Americans are still being portrayed in advertisements, the media, and such. (It was about more than that, but, hey, it WAS two years ago.) Last week, that film was just playing in New York. For some reason, we felt a twinge of pride knowing that our little burg was showing that film years before the cultural mecca of our country. Big deal? Maybe it was to us. We don't get much to be proud of out here, culturally. Besides, maybe, Thomas Hart Benton, Blind Boone, Langston Hughes, TS Eliot, Tennessee Williams, and Mark Twain. Brad Pitt doesn't count (but Chris Cooper does). And I think Annie Potts went to Stephens College....

Bibliophiles, listen up! The lowdown on some recent reads follows.

Foucault's Pendulum, Umberto Ecco: Dense. A novel of intrigue and illuminati. Translated from Italian. A trio of book publishers work together on a whim to create a false history of the Knights Templar, which explains who and where they are, why so many other secret societies were created (i.e., Rosicrucians, Masons, etc.), and what the secret to world domination they have all been searching for is. It gets out of hand. The novel follows the men over a period of twenty or so years and delves into the world of illuminati in seriously mind-boggling depth. Entertaining in the end, but almost too much historical background. I was often lost in the lists of names and the terminology.

Everything is Illuminated, Jonathan Safran Foer: YOU MUST READ THIS BOOK! I just finished this one, and it left me near to speechless. A magical realism novel about family, memory, humanity, history, and (to some extent) the Holocaust. Its style is one-of-a-kind, its humor is beautiful, its language is poetic, and its story is captivating. I have not read a novel like this before. It is unique in so many ways. Brilliant. (I know I said this about Cloud Atlas, too--it's true of both. If given the choice of which book to have with me on a desert island, I'd probably go with this one.) The closest I have ever come to crying while reading a novel.

Jonathan Strange and Mr. Norell, Susanna Clarke: Currently reading this. Long, but, thus far, easy to read. Enjoyable. Two magicians work together to return magic to its proper standing in early 19th century England, while trying to help the Crown defeat Napoleon. I am not a big fan of magic and/or sci-fi; I have never read a Harry Potter book. This is a really fun novel. The characters are well-drawn and interesting, and the matter-of-factness of the existence of magic in this time and place lends the book an almost historical-fiction quality. I don't know if it can be kept up for 800 pages; however, so far, so good.

Gonna go read now.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

You could devote an entire blog to effed-up MU isht. It's endless! Better to keep it contained with no more space than it deserves.

Wow, you should totally be a book reviewer! That way I'll read your reviews instead of the books so I don't get confused by all the characters like in War and Peace.