Gapers Block has ceased publication.

Gapers Block published from April 22, 2003 to Jan. 1, 2016. The site will remain up in archive form. Please visit Third Coast Review, a new site by several GB alumni.
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Sunday, April 21

Gapers Block

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It's rare that I actually go out to the movies. For someone tasked with writing up a media column every week, this is mildly unorthadox.

I consume my motion picture quota via DVD. While not quite as romantic as the big screen, it's far more economical.

Therefore, I offer up a few more items about movies that you can't see in a theater near you.

Genghis Blues
Genghis Blues documents the travels of Paul Pena, a blues singer who should have been famous, but somehow fell from the limelight. Blind from birth, Paul lived off the royalties from his single hit song; Jet Airliner. Co-Opted by the Steve Miller band, it's responsible for his modest San Francisco apartment, guitar strings, and shortwave radio.

While listening to that radio, Paul discovered something extraordinary emanating from Moscow: Tuvan polyphonic throat singing.

Teaching himself the technique, Paul traveled to Tuva (a region of Russia on the north-west border of China) where he became the first Westerner to compete in -- and win -- the Tuvan throat singing championships.

An amazing film that accompanies an uncommon man on an uncommon journey. I implore you, go watch it.

And it should be mentioned that the entire film is infused with the spirit of Nobel laureate Richard Feynman. I'm not at all sure how to work this into my description of the film, so I figured I may as well tack it on at the end here.

At 17 I discovered Bukowski. I worked through this phase, but every now and again I indulge in a bit of his poetry. It's a common fantasy amongst the sensitive set: we imagine ourselves hard-drinking fuckers of loose women.

For a few pages. It gets old quickly.

I've been aware of the Bukowski screenplay Barfly for years. Rented at the video store down the street, it seemed a good way to christen the apartment when I first moved in.

It's not a compelling film. Having read Bukowski's books, I'd already seen it a few times over. It's predictable and more or less devoid of subtext. Lots of fighting and drinking and smoking and swearing and Frank Stallone. And Mickey Rourke before he disfigured himslef with boxing and plastic surgery.

A Moving Picture...
Home with my parents for a long holiday weekend, I watched One Hour Photo with mom. As I've not done this with her in about 10 years, it provided a decent dose of quality time.

And the movie gave us much to discuss.

One Hour Photo, is without question, one of the better films I've seen in recent years. The cinematography is straight out of 2001 (especially the opening shot) and Robin Williams puts forth a performance on par with his work in Dead Poets Society. I'd like to share a bit more, but anything revealed here will diminish your experience -- it'd be like revealing the vital bits of Psycho or Citizen Kane, and I'd not do that to you. See the film, and drop me an electronic mail if you'd like to discuss it further.

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Alex / January 9, 2004 12:34 AM

Robin Williams developes photgraph of a sled dressed as his dead mother?

Sorry. I just has to go there.

Joseph J. Finn / January 12, 2004 4:18 PM

And One Hour Photo should have been nominated for Best Cinematography and Lighting - you look at that wonderfully soulless big box store (*cough* Wal-Mart), with it's flourescent hum and wide aisles of blank-eyed consumers. Simply brilliant (I'm thinking especially of one shot showing just how isolated the photo counter and William's character is from the rest of the store, not to mention that horrid lunchroom).


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