I do love David Fincher. What follows is more a love letter to him than a detailed critical analysis. That being said, I would not love him so much had his work not satisfied some critical creature lurking in my brain. That detailed analysis I will leave to someone with more time and knowledge than I have, and certainly there is a lot in Fincher’s work deserving such attention. Some of that I
mention as I move along, and some of it is implied. He is an artist, and he creates works of art. For me, art first must entertain, interest, engage me. In that Fincher succeeds to a degree matched by only a few of his peers. As you will see, in some cases it took me more than one viewing to recognize the brilliance within a particular work. But loving his work as I do, that was an easy and always rewarding undertaking.
I had been vaguely aware of Anne Teresa De Keersmaeker but I had never experienced any of her dance work. Until last night, that is. I put on my new Blu-ray of her remarkable piece “Rain” and I was transported. Ten dancers, 3 of them men, the other 7 women. Music by Steve Reich, “Music for 18 Musicians,” some 70 minutes of it. Non-stop dancing
(Photograph Copyright 2009 by Andrew Moore)
The photograph we are looking at is Plate 20 in Andrew Moore’s “Blue Alabama.” When I first look at it I see a simple photo taken from a hallway through open double-doors onto a porch where four people are seated in conversation. On the floor is a golden retriever, possibly keeping an eye on the photographer in the hallway. It must be summertime, for the people are wearing shorts. Beyond the porch is the green of the yard, echoing the bit of green I see from a plant on the porch. An attractive portrayal of a peaceful moment.
But every time I return to the picture I find myself moved more deeply by the photograph. It seems more complicated than I first thought. Carefully composed and filled with stillness, it seems to contain movement and life.
Above left: the author with his grandmother, 1939. Right, the author in a ditch, 1941. Old Sawyerville is glimpsed in backgrounds.
Let’s start with what may be my earliest childhood memory. At home. Where else?
I am standing on the steps leading down from our screened-in back porch to the back yard. There is a bannister on the right side as you face the house. It is covered with clematis in white bloom. I am holding on to the bannister to keep from falling. A train whistle blows, and I look slightly to the east across the highway and see the train on the tracks beyond the few houses and buildings and trees on the far side of the road. The train is passing from east to west. It is pulled by an old-fashioned locomotive and smoke is trailing behind. Colors are vivid. Everything is somehow separate but yet part of a larger picture. Perspective is flat. Later on when I see paintings by Grandma Moses, I know that is what it looked like. I recall strong feelings of astonishment and joy.
[Tom Miller (Tom Canford’s real name) was a unit publicist working on movies from 1970 until 1987. So what the heck is a unit publicist? In this essay Tom describes what such a person does, or at least back then. The work was already changing at the time of his retirement and is much different now in the time of the internet and YouTube and DVD extra features.]
WHAT’S A NICE PERSON LIKE YOU DOING IN A JOB LIKE THIS?
Robert Mitchum and Rita Hayworth!
“I met her first when she was thirteen,” says Mitchum. You wonder at such a statement.
BOOKS RELATING TO HALE COUNTY, ALABAMA.
This is not a comprehensive bibliography, more of a quick-and-dirty look at what is available. There are many more books available that concern William Christenberry, James Agee and Walker Evans, Moundville Archeological Park and the Rural Studio and I have selected only a few as examples.
Don’t laugh too quickly. A case can be made.