Archive for May 16th, 2017



by Pat Perry

I am humbled to be part of this festival honoring Allan Fish.  Although I have been a frequent commenter and an occasional contributor to this site, I never got to know Allan very well.  Truth be told, I was mostly intimidated by him, by both his encyclopedic knowledge of cinema and his ability to capture the essence of any film in  just a few incisive, brilliantly written paragraphs.  And – since I’m telling the truth here – I was also intimidated by his mercurial temper and gruffness, although I always understood those were tied up with his exacting standards for both the films he watched and what was written about them. He wanted cinema to be exceptional, and he wanted us to be exceptionally smart in discerning what was art and what was junk. Only after his passing did I learn from the reminisces of fellow bloggers of his extreme generosity in sharing his films and his knowledge with those who reached out to him.  All too late, I wished I had made more of an effort to connect with him myself.

I’m not sure what Allan would have thought of my choice here, but I hope he would recognize my own similar, if considerably less educated, passion to tell people “This film is good! This film is important! You should watch this!”

With the Trump presidency has come a resurgence of interest in classic dystopian fiction such as 1984 and The Handmaid’s Tale. But there is yet another, lesser-known work that begs to be revisited as well: Wallace Shawn’s 1996 play The Designated Mourner.  Set in an unnamed country at an unspecified time , the play unfolds as a series of reminisces by three characters – a cynical, vulgarian journalist, his estranged wife and his left-wing intellectual father-in-law – their individual stories coalescing into a chilling oral history of a society gone mad, its most erudite and learned members pitilessly slaughtered by government decree. (more…)

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