Freedom Fighters

“But nothing disturbs the feeling of specialness like the presence of other human beings feeling identically special.” – page 444.

Jonathan Franzen’s Freedom is an epic piece of self-loathing.

I didn’t read Franzen’s Corrections – the literary cause-de-celebre from a few years back that shot Franzen’s name as a contemporary literary titan into the stratosphere — ahhh…the power of Oprah.  When it comes to writers like Franzen, I like to come in through the side door, read their follow-ups first and introduce myself to them when they are perhaps not at their best.

In Freedom, Franzen introduces us to the Berglunds – the on-the-surface, perfect, Mid-West, All-American, upper-middle-class family living the dream.  It comes as no surprise that they are anything but, and Franzen paints an epic anti-Norman Rockwell portrait of this family from the parents’ teenage days to their children growing up and flying the coop.  Continue reading

Revisiting The Sweet Hereafter – The Best Film of the 1990’s

There is no such thing as a simple list.

The 1990’s proved to be as ponderous as it was wondrous when looking back on its contributions to cinema.  It was the decade where I came of age as a film buff, but many of its films that seemed at the time to speak so strongly to my generation just haven’t held up that well to scrutiny as years have passed.  It was a decade that saw one of the most original filmmakers of the 1980’s, David Lynch, do his most astounding work on television with Twin Peaks.  In film, the Coen Brothers hit their stride while a contemplative Canuck (Atom Egoyan) and an insane Dane (Lars Von Trier) reached career pinnacles.  Meanwhile, emerging from the British Isles were the classically refined works of Anthony Minghella and Sam Mendes.  But it was in the Coen Brothers’ America where many saw a mini-Renaissance.  Unlike the 1970’s, which produced a plethora of auteurs (Scorsese, Spielberg, De Palma, Coppola, Lucas) who were birthed in formal film schools, the 1990’s saw the emergence of a new generation of auteurs (Tarantino, PT Anderson, Fincher, Spike Jonze) who developed their styles first by working in music videos or by being products of their own self-guided fan-boy obsessed film clubs after dropping out of film school. Continue reading