We watched Mondovino this weekend, a length documentary pitting the small “independent” winemakers against the big consultants and wine powerhouses. The director certainly had a statement to make, and I believe they got their point across; whether I agree with it, like most things these days, boils down to “it’s complicated.” I think they at least didn’t try to simplify what’s ultimately yet another debate of globalization versus the little guys.
Or something like that.
In any event, the camera work was a lot like Blair Witch, and made me dizzy after over two hours of random zooming, poor focus, and shaky work. I felt physically ill. It’s not artsy, it’s just stupid. I can use a camcorder, if you’re going to make something for Cannes, try a tripod, if you can’t afford a steadycam. I’ll repeat. It’s not artistic, it’s shoddy shit, and it’s not pleasant. I get it, you’re trying to look past the centerpieces and point out the little guy. I get it, your camera work sucks.
I’ll stop ranting now. They got some really interesting folks to talk, especially in the old French curmudgeons. Camera work sucked. 5/10.
Longitude is an interesting story. Not the book itself, but it’s the first (and only) book recommended to me by my mother in law (then just my girlfriend’s mother). This happened near the start of my relationship with Sarah, so about a decade ago. The funny bit of the story was that I borrowed the novel, and didn’t ever really get into it, for months. I probably had it close to a year before I finally gave up and gave the book back.
Well, since then I’ve grown up, and gotten into nonfiction and a touch of history now, so I picked the book up again, and the topic wasn’t interesting. The downside is it’s too short, and it doesn’t really talk that much about watchmaking or sextants or anything else so much as a very short description of the story of the longitude prize and the key players, and the unfortunate little political battles along the way. I mean, it’s a swell little book, but way too short, and way too light on details. It seems to me it would have made a nice long article in the New Yorker and would have been an interesting read that way. 5/10.
I’ve since started The Making of the Atomic Bomb, a comparably massive volume covering the history of 20th century warfare, nuclear physics, and leading up to the whole of the atomic bomb. While I’ve only made a small dent in its 928 pages, the author has thus far done a fantastic job of transporting one to each time and era he covers, and has been exhaustive in his brief descriptions of just about everything that was happening. I’ll write more once I finish, but thus far I can only recommend it.