• MT VOID, 06/09/23 -- Vol. 41, No. 50, Whole Number 2279

    From evelynchimelisleeper@gmail.com@21:1/5 to All on Sun Jun 11 06:55:55 2023
    06/09/23 -- Vol. 41, No. 50, Whole Number 2279

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    Mini Reviews, Part 24 (HOLLYWOOD DREAMS & NIGHTMARES:
    TRUMAN & TENNESSEE) (film reviews by Mark R. Leeper
    and Evelyn C. Leeper)
    UNTHINKING THINKING (letter of comment
    by Garth Spencer)
    THE TRUMAN SHOW (letter of comment by John Purcell)
    This Week's Reading (random reading) (book comments
    by Evelyn C. Leeper)


    TOPIC: Mini Reviews, Part 24 (film reviews by Mark R. Leeper and
    Evelyn C. Leeper)

    This is the twenty-fourth batch of mini-reviews, all documentaries:

    lot of people these days on the Internet and elsewhere seem to have
    an unquenchable thirst for celebrity biographies. A large number
    of DVDs come with special features that are biographies of the
    actors in the film. One most often sees these celebrity
    documentaries about actors such as Henry Fonda or Audrey Hepburn.

    In this regard, HOLLYWOOD DREAMS & NIGHTMARES is just feeding that
    appetite. Here the biographer is telling the history of Robert
    Englund, who in his fifty-year career is best known for the role of
    Freddy Krueger. Englund is not so glamorous a star as Fonda or
    Hepburn, but he comes from an impressive background of horror
    films, and his hand with knives has become an icon of the horror
    genre. (Although, as Peter Atkins observes, a monster character is
    made iconic not by the writer or the director or even the make-up
    artist, but by the actor themself.)

    In telling the story of Englund's long acting career, one sees not
    just him but dozens of actors who are much better known to us
    today. Also included is a collection of anecdotes about how it is
    to work with Englund and to be in the community of actors about the
    same age, as well as a lot about advice and praise he got early on.
    (There is maybe a bit too much of the "everyone is wonderful" sort
    of clips.) We get both Englund's reactions to other people and
    other people's reactions to him. And there are people from the
    horror film genre discussing the dynamics of the stories in the
    films as well.

    Three-dimensional monsters have been done very little since
    Universal Studios, but Englund manages to bring this depth to his
    characters (not just Freddy, but all of them). [-mrl/ecl]

    Released streaming on Screambox 6 June 2023. Rating: high +1 (-4
    to +4), or 6/10.

    Film Credits:

    What others are saying: <https://www.rottentomatoes.com/m/hollywood_dreams_and_nightmares_th e_robert_englund_story>

    THE ACT OF READING (2021): THE ACT OF READING is a documentary
    about MOBY-DICK. Director Mark Blumberg flunked his high school
    English class junior year because he didn't read MOBY-DICK or do
    any of the papers assigned. The monologue/dialogue seems to imply
    he had not yet read it when he started this project, but does that
    mean he never passed English and never graduated from high school?

    Blumberg observes and talks to several teachers about MOBY-DICK,
    including Janet Werner, the teacher who flunked him. The teacher
    whose class seems to have the most screen time, Vicki Hebert, I
    found the most annoying: she addresses her students as "my babies"
    and "my sweeties", and teaches class one day with her face marked
    up in South-Seas-style tattoos. (Her students are ... unimpressed.)

    I *love* MOBY-DICK, and certainly some of the ideas expressed and
    discussed are worthwhile. I'm not sure a tour of Melville's Great
    Barrington home with his middle-aged great-great-grandson Peter
    Whittemore in shorts really conveys much (except perhaps how
    different everything is now from them--and I suppose that is worth

    In my opinion, this is a movie for people who already love
    MOBY-DICK. Showing it to a group of uninterested students is *not*
    going to *get* them interested. [-ecl]

    Released streaming 22 February 2021. Rating: +1 (-4 to +4), or

    Film Credits:

    What others are saying:

    TENNESSEE is a documentary about/by Truman Capote and Tennessee
    Williams. It consists of readings from letters, diaries,
    interviews, and articles by the two authors. They were
    contemporaries and close friends, but most of the documentary
    focuses on one or the other, with only a few points of intersection
    when they talk about each other. They both shed a lot of light on
    their lives, their work, and their reputations. I suspect that
    director Lisa Immordino Vreeland thought that their connection
    would provide a way to take two relatively short documentaries and
    create a feature-length film, possibly with a stronger merging than
    was actually achieved.

    The result is a bit choppy, but for people who want more insight
    into the work of these two authors, it provides such a view. [-ecl]

    Released theatrically 18 June 2021. Rating: +2 (-4 to +4), or 7/10.

    Film Credits:

    What others are saying:


    UNTHINKING THINKING (letter of comment by Garth Spencer)

    In response to various reviews in the MT VOID, Garth Spencer writes:

    Apart from presenting club meetings, film nights, and some
    interesting reviews of fiction and nonfiction, I see MT VOID has
    started running an interesting loc column. I was amused and
    engrossed by your review of THE RISE AND THE REIGN OF THE MAMMALS
    in the April 21st issue, the review of UNTHINKING THINKING in the
    April 28th issue, and the things I learned from letters you
    received. Evidently you are well aware of past art in film and in
    literature alike. [-gs]


    TOPIC: THE TRUMAN SHOW (letter of comment by John Purcell)

    In response to Mark's review of THE TRUMAN SHOW in the 06/02/23
    issue of the MT VOID, John Purcell writes:

    Mark's review of THE TRUMAN SHOW was very good, reminding me how
    much I enjoyed that movie. I agree that knowing the premise before
    watching was not exactly smart marketing, but the movie is
    definitely worth watching. To me, it's definitely an allegory
    about our media-drenched and media-controlled society. The film
    makes a very good point about the human condition and how we use
    and abuse technology for a specific goal.

    Is THE TRUMAN SHOW entertainment or an eerie self referential
    mock-documentary about American society, or is this movie a warning
    about where we are heading? Looking back at THE TRUMAN SHOW
    twenty-five years later, I see many of these issues coalescing
    around us. This is a movie worth rewatching.

    All in all, we here in SouthCentralEastern Texas are dealing with
    life fairly well. It's hot, of course, with still hotter weather
    forthcoming. Summer is basically Easter to Thanksgiving here. So
    it goes. [-jp]


    TOPIC: This Week's Reading (book comments by Evelyn C. Leeper)

    I skipped both major used book sales this spring (Bryn Mawr and
    East Brunswick Friends of the Library) because I have concluded
    that my book buying philosophy has changed. In part this is a
    by-product of no used book sales for a couple of years during the
    pandemic, and in part a by-product of the $5-a-bag sales at my own

    During the pandemic, I started buying more books on-line. Not a
    lot, but where in the past I would often see a book on-line I was
    interested in, reasonably priced, but decide it was too
    extravagant, because it would be cheaper at a used book sale.
    Somehow the used book sale price was fixed in my head as the
    "proper" price. A couple of years of not having books available at
    that price ($2 a book, or even less), made me adjust my perceptions.

    The other change is realizing that having my reading determined by
    what was randomly available at used book sales might have been okay
    twenty years ago, but increasingly made less sense. Twenty years
    ago, I might have expected to be able to read another five or six
    thousand books. But now that number has decreased considerably and
    I need to be more selective in my reading.

    And the $5-a-bag sale? Well, that is more DVDs than books. I
    would basically fill a bag with any DVDs that looked either
    possibly interesting to watch or likely to be salable. But with
    many of the "possibly interesting to watch," "possibly" turned out
    to be "not". This reinforced my idea that random selection was not
    the way to go. (And my latest visit indicated that if the goal of
    the $5-a-bag sale was to thoroughly deplete the stock, it has
    succeeded. Many of the sale shelves are half-empty and the DVD
    selection is about two dozen Russian films, two dozen Indian films,
    and a half a shelf of totally uninteresting DVDs.) [-ecl]


    Mark Leeper

    Two things are infinite: the universe and human
    stupidity; and I'm not sure about the universe.
    --Albert Einstein

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