HOMECOMING (Jon Jost, 2004)

An American family in crisis is at the heart of the single most brilliant American film of the 1990s, The Bed You Sleep In (1993). Set in Oregon timber country, it is a trenchant account of a family within the context of regional economic downturn in the mid-1990s. A lumber mill is in the midst […]

DRIFTERS (John Grierson, 1929)

Commercial fishing is a humble occupation; herring fishermen, among the most humble of the humble. What I love most about John Grierson’s poetic (not poetical) documentary about North Sea herring fishermen—Britain’s Grierson, incidentally, coined the word documentary—is that it reflects the humility that Santiago feels vis-à-vis Nature in Ernest Hemingway’s The Old Man and the […]

FIVE STAR FINAL (Mervyn LeRoy, 1931)

Joseph Randall, city editor of the New York Gazette, is instructed by its owner to revert to sensationalism in order to bolster sales. The revival of coverage of a twenty-year-old murder trial ends in a double suicide and assorted wrecked lives.      From a play by Louis Weitzenkom, Mervyn LeRoy’s Five Star Final is, regrettably, still […]