On First Reformed

firstreformed

ON FIRST REFORMED  (Spoilers)

The form perfectly matches the content. And so, with First Reformed, Paul Schrader has done it, just as Henry Jaglom, another disciple of greater directors, was able to hit jackpot once with Deja Vu. William Gass said if tragedies weren’t tragic, no one would go to them, but these days if a serious film doesn’t “speak” to the issues of the day (how the issues of certain human beings are greater than others is a different discussion) it is pretty much DOA. First Reformed is concerned with everything we worry about today—including race, but in an offhand way—without blatantly stacking the deck, as a film like American Beauty does. It promises to be a tragedy and even though it turns out not to be, there is still catharsis in its last second Ordet-like save, and I don’t mean because some in the audience think the priest is dead and imagines being saved. “Nothing matters but the quality of affection,” Ezra Pound wrote in Canto LXXVI. What is the quality of affection in that swirling rapturous kissing between the priest and the pregnant widow? Carnality, like in Ordet? It might not matter if it proves affection is still possible. Continue reading

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Report from the middle of The Recognitions

(First post on The Recognitions)

In the middle of this wonderful book, many characters are running around trying to one up most everyone else–most significantly the character Recktall Brown (yes, Recktall Brown) has the forger Wyatt making false masterpieces of 500 year old Flemish Art. But Otto, the failed and flailing playwright, in love with a willowy heroin addict Esme, takes on more of a pivotal role in the middle of the book.

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