David Foster Wallace
world copyright Giovanni Giovannetti/effigie

David Foster Wallace was an ultimate wunderkind, and he bought into the idea of himself as exceptional to a devastating degree. He was a sensitive person, and sensitive people, especially sensitive smart people, can hold onto the evidence of their specialness like an armor. David Foster Wallace learned the hard way that this type of armor is made of paper, and you can only truly find that out if you dreams come true and you get everything you thought you needed to prove yourself.


Heaven Knows What starts off with desperation and ferocious feeling. Arielle Holmes (playing a version of herself named Harley) is in a library begging a greasy-haired boy to give her the key to his forgiveness. He is unmovable, and his silent opaqueness pushes her further to seek any desperate action that may somehow budge his heart. Her eyes are sharp with a terrible kind of love.

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I just discovered Richard Wright’s Black Boy pretty recently. It’s not quite a direct memoir (many of the personal facts and anecdotes are fuzzy and were inserted for narrative effect) as it a vivid impression of what it was like to be a young black man in 1920-30ss America. It makes that time period from that perspective alive and present. Reading an evocative account of another person’s experience closes the distance between you. We can never fully know what’s it… Read more »


be Like all mental illnesses, bipolar disorder presents in many different ways. Often, however, portrayals of people with this disorder on screen seem caricatured, the humanity of the person obscured by depictions of problematic symptoms. People aren’t bipolar, they have bipolar disorder. More accurately, they have symptoms and behaviors that indicate they fit the criteria in the bipolar spectrum. Infinitely Polar Bear is about a woman (director Maya Forbes) remembering her childhood, and she beautifully translates to the screen her… Read more »

Bojack Charlie Rose Urethra

Fresh off the heels of consuming Season 2 of Netflix’s Bojack Horseman, I’ve decided to go back to the beginning of the hit series about depression, alcoholism, and loneliness.

The fact that it’s a cartoon with the further absurdity of anthropomorphized animals helps the Raphael Bob-Waksberg-created series get deep into to the dark little heart of melancholia. Distance can give us sharp perspective, and helps us open up about things often kept hidden in the stark light of real humans in real human skin. Animation can help us be more honest sometimes, (and so can funny voices.)


Mark Duplass’s character Josef in Creep (streaming now on Netflix,) is a nice guy with a suspicious, tear-jerking story. He’s got an manipulatively sincere twinkle in his big brown eyes that should send his Craigslist-hired videographer running down the hill, but, thankfully for the audience, Aaron (Patrick Brice) wants to take Josef at his word. He wants to believe that everything is going to be ok, and when he really starts to get a glimpse at how off everything is, he still just wants to help Josef, to see him as a broken person who needs saving.


It’s still hard to believe that 2005’s Werner Herzog film Grizzly Man is real. Timothy’s personality is over the top, the beats of the documentary are comedic, and the interviews often seem extremely staged, especially the coroner’s spooky performance. The presentation of the film leads many to wonder about it’s veracity. Despite news reports about Timothy’s death and a rich recorded history of Timothy’s work and presence, upon viewing the film some people still think his death, and Timothy himself was a hoax.


The third season of Orange is The New Black gave us a beautiful thing: the evolution of Tiffany “Pennsatucky” Doggett from a delusional, violent, racist, homophobic, bible-thumping caricature to a complicated person who had a traumatic and neglectful upbringing. Pennsatucky, for all of her self-righteous bravado, is capable of humor, reflectiveness and change. Humanizing Pennsatucky also helped shine a light prison sexual assault’s grim reality.