Monday, August 02, 2004

Pictures of Home

For those who might be interested, there are now some pictures available of our home here. We’ve made a lot of progress over the last couple months endowing our place with little touches that give it the personal character that we hope to take solace in and magically impart to our visitors. We still have a ways to go but we’re definitely getting there.

I can also vouch for the excellence of Ross McElwee’s Sherman’s March, the 1986 documentary about his relationships with half a dozen or so Southern women, General Sherman’s devastating march through the south during the Civil War, fears of Nuclear Holocaust (there’s an incredibly poetic moment where McElwee’s remembers being in Hawaii as a small child, standing on a beach in the early morning hour with hundreds of others in hopes of catching a glimpse of a Nuclear Bomb test taking place over 800 miles away), Burt Reynolds, his family and assorted other meanderings that are always interesting. There are numerous moments when folks yell at him to put his camera down (one woman, a former teacher, berates him: “Put that damn thing down…this is life!”) but for the most part they either talk freely to the camera or, perhaps more interestingly, allow for a certain camera-inducing histrionics to inform their delivery.

What surprised me the most were the moments of intimacy McElwee captures. In one scene he and a former girlfriend have a feverish conversation one room removed from a dinner party they’re both attending where she tells him why she can’t be his lover. In other scenes he records himself narrating to the camera late at night from the living room of his home, whispering for fear of waking up his father who is already deeply skeptical of the validity of his son’s chosen career as a first-person documentary maker. Other scenes show women primping in bathrooms, applying make-up or brushing their hair. Sometimes we see McElwee’s image captured in a mirror, camera held to his eye with one hand and while the other thrusts a microphone toward his subject. It seems absurd, but you end amazed by his audacity.

Luckily, too, he has an engaging personality. His voice is naturally melodious- soft and even-keeled with a wickedly dry sense of humor and delivery. His musings are always interesting and well observed and oftentimes genuinely moving.

Sadly, Sherman’s March is the only work of his currently available on DVD. It comes highly recommended.

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