David Foster Wallace was the Kurt Cobain of the literary world, an artist whose brilliance was so isolating that in the end he could not live with it.
In 1996, Wallace did a book tour for his highly acclaimed novel Infinite Jest, and on the last leg of the tour he was joined by writer David Lipsky, who was assigned to do a profile of Wallace for Rolling Stone. The End of the Tour is based on Lipsky’s book Although of Course You End Up Becoming Yourself, which transcribes the five-day interview. (The Rolling Stone article was never actually written.)
Jason Segel plays David Foster Wallace as a man struggling to keep it real in the face of critical accolades, publicity, and the onslaught of demented fans and groupies. Jesse Eisenberg’s Lipsky is a writer who admires Wallace while at the same time envying and resenting his talent and success. Together they present a fascinating and convincing look into the world of writers and the publishing industry, as well as an exploration of the dynamic between a journalist and his subject.
If you’re celebrating National Novel Writing Month, you can find a list of other recommended movies here.
“It is only those who have neither fired a shot nor heard the shrieks and groans of the wounded who cry aloud for blood, more vengeance, more desolation. War is hell.” –General Tecumseh Sherman
And it was Francois Truffaut who supposedly said that it’s impossible to make an anti-war movie, because depictions of war are bound to make it look glamorous and exciting. Click here for a list of movies that prove him wrong.
The Japanese have a long history of ghost and spirit folklore, and in this movie, director Kaneto Shindo has combined elements of several stories with his own social criticism to create one of the most romantic and haunting ghost stories ever.
Set during the medieval civil wars of Japan, the movie begins with a group of samurai soldiers coming out of the bamboo groves to descend upon the home of Yone (Nobuka Otowa) and her daughter-in-law Shige (Kiwako Taichi) who are home alone because Yone’s son Hachi (Kichiemon Nakamura) has been conscripted into military service. The samurai brutally rape and kill the two women and burn their house to the ground, but the next morning, the women’s bodies are still there, and they are visited by a black cat who licks their wounds.
Three years later, samurai warriors are disappearing from the Rashomon Gate, seduced by a beautiful young woman who lures them into her home, introduces them to her mother, serves them sake, and then rips open their throats with her teeth.
No one among the samurai is brave enough to hunt down this killer, but then along comes Hachi, the sole survivor of a ferocious battle in another part of the country, and he is promoted to samurai and put in charge of evicting the evil spirits from the grove that was once his home.
Whether he recognizes his wife and his mother, indeed, whether they really are his wife and his mother, I leave for you to determine. All I can tell you is that the images from this film–the ghostly glow of these spirits and the creeping mist in the bamboo groves–will haunt you long after the movie is over.
For the Criterion essay by Maitland McDonagh, click here. For a list of other recommended Halloween movies, click here.