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Agnes Varda: A Fortune Right in Front of Me

By Jeffrey OverstreetOctober 28, 2011

  Tonight, I’m paying attention to one of my “essentials.” You probably have a movie like this one—a movie that repairs you, that restores your spirits, that put everything into perspective. (If you do, leave a comment so we can all check it out.) But let me tell you what I’m watching. I see a…

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Original or Copy?

By Jeffrey OverstreetOctober 11, 2011

This is about a new film called Certified Copy. But it’s not a movie review. It could be. I could describe the story. I could tell you about its awards and honors. I could assess the actors’ performances (Juliette Binoche is better than ever, and William Shimmel, an opera singer, is arresting in his first…

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Learning to Be “The Perfect Human”

By Jeffrey OverstreetSeptember 19, 2011

Deadlines? Don’t get me started. The past few years, I’ve tested my friends’ patience by complaining about deadlines for essays, novels, interviews, marketing assignments, and film reviews. Sometimes I tell myself that I’d become a decent writer if only I’d break free from deadlines. But the fact is that I designed this cage. And if…

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A Room Full of Lion Tamers

By Jeffrey OverstreetAugust 29, 2011

To tame a lion, you need a good chair. That’s one of the lessons that Dave Hoover, a wild animal trainer, shares in Errol Morris’s documentary Fast, Cheap and Out of Control. Why a chair? Because, he explains, a cat has only one point of interest. If a lion’s charging at you, it’s best to…

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Stories From Before We Can Remember, Part 2

By Jeffrey OverstreetJuly 25, 2011

Continued from Friday. In my last two posts, I wrote about disappointing and rewarding time-travels at the movies. But the strangest film I’ve seen recently took me back in time even farther, into realms of folklore and primitive religion. And like both The Tree of Life and Cave of Forgotten Dreams, it brought me to…

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Stories From Before We Can Remember, Part 1

By Jeffrey OverstreetJuly 22, 2011

Doc Brown might disagree, but Hollywood says you don’t need a DeLorean to visit the past. This summer, your local cineplex is offering time travel at twelve bucks a ticket. In my last Good Letters post, I noticed that most 2011 moviegoers are visiting old familiar faces—Captain Jack Sparrow, the Transformers, the Muppets, Magneto, the…

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A Summer of Time Travel

By Jeffrey OverstreetJuly 7, 2011

Please note: This post contains plot spoilers for some of the films discussed.  We go to the movies to get out of here. To go somewhere else. And sometimes, that’s enough. But it’s best when we come back bearing treasure, like Bilbo Baggins returning to Bag End in The Hobbit—wiser for his adventures, richer for…

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When It Comes to Love, We’re Beginners

By Jeffrey OverstreetJune 15, 2011

During a lecture last March, I spoke fondly of a friend whom I had recently lost to cancer. Halfway through the anecdote, I suddenly recognized his wife, the mother of his two young children, in the audience, listening in rapt attention. She was far from home, a surprise visitor. I almost choked. And I suddenly…

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The Tree of Life, Part 2: A Storm of Poetry

By Jeffrey OverstreetJune 9, 2011

Continued from yesterday.  On her album Fan Dance, Sam Phillips sings: Burning light inside my dreams I wake up in the dark The light is outside my door. Love is everywhere I go. That could be the song of Jack O’Brien, The Tree of Life’s central character. Jack lives with deep wounds—the loss of a…

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The Tree of Life, Part 1: “Did You Like It?”

By Jeffrey OverstreetJune 8, 2011

As the barista took my ATM card, she noticed my notebook and asked, “What are you writing?” “A movie review.” “Oh, really? What movie?” She scribbled my coffee order on a strip of paper and gave it to her coworker. “The Tree of Life.” “I haven’t heard of that. Who’s in it?” “Sean Penn, Brad…

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