Wednesday, April 15, 2015

competition blown away

In life it is true that at some point you will run across (if not into) people who do things much better than you do. This might be something that means nothing much to you- like someone who bakes a better pie crust than you do, or something that might mean much more.  Just yesterday a friend sent me a short video trailer of an animated film - to which, after watching the video, I replied wistfully "I wish I could draw"... and I meant it so sincerely, I think if could draw like this person, I would somehow be better able to express myself. I think tonight's film had many of the audience members yearning for a better ability to express themselves. I was certainly one of them.

The film presented tonight was "The End of the Tour" and was an exploration of the human condition that expressed itself through the words of David Foster Wallace.  Wallace first came to my attention when his work was hyped as the next Thomas Pynchon. I admit to being a Pynchon fan and think I have mentioned it before in the context of a trip to Malta- the primary motivation was Pynchon's "V". But time passed and so did the brouhaha and I went on... never actually getting to "Infinite Jest" his best known (1,079 page) work.

I knew he had taken his own life but not much more than that until a post on FB by a friend linked me to "This is Water" his brilliant commencement speech about LIFE... I chuckle when I write that because how can anyone anywhere make any headway in describing LIFE in its infinite complexity? Especially within the confines of a commencement speech - he did - and I recommend you seek it out.

And while I passed along this link to people I know and love - and saved it for myself to revisit when I needed some perspective on what is real and important in day to day living... I, again, went no further in finding out about David Foster Wallace. The man who engendered these comments upon his death was worth taking time for....and it was my loss....

"A versatile writer of seemingly bottomless energy, Mr. Wallace was a maximalist, exhibiting in his work a huge, even manic curiosity — about the physical world, about the much larger universe of human feelings and about the complexity of living in America at the end of the 20th century. He wrote long books, complete with reflective and often hilariously self-conscious footnotes, and he wrote long sentences, with the playfulness of a master punctuater and the inventiveness of a genius grammarian. Critics often noted that he was not only an experimenter and a showoff, but also a God-fearing moralist with a fierce honesty in confronting the existence of contradiction." (from the NY Times Obit)

David Foster Wallace used his prodigious gifts as a writer — his manic, exuberant prose, his ferocious powers of observation, his ability to fuse avant-garde techniques with old-fashioned moral seriousness — to create a series of strobe-lit portraits of a millennial America overdosing on the drugs of entertainment and self-gratification, and to capture, in the words of the musician Robert Plant, the myriad “deep and meaningless” facets of contemporary life. (from the NY Times Topics)

This film was worthy of a man praised for his genius.  The final comment at the the Q&A came from a critic, who said he had never seen a movie this good at the fifteen years of multiple film festivals he had attended and reviewed. Many in the audience applauded in agreement.

I predict that 1. nothing I see this year, in any venue stage or screen will touch me the way this film did; 2. that Jason Segel (whom I did not know before this film- I know I know- I haven't turned on TV in two decades- sorry!) will be be nominated for an Oscar for his performance as David Foster Wallace; and 3. that this film will haunt me for days/weeks...maybe longer.

 David Foster Wallace

tomorrow one more film - this time a documentary- which I am sure will be very interesting but right now I am overwhelmed with thoughts/emotions from tonight's film so I will leave it at that...

more later... still seven films to go before my SFF 2015 experience is over.

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