River of Grass (Kelly Reichardt, 1994)


Reichardt herself describes her debut feature best: “a road movie without the road, a love story without the love, and a crime story without the crime.” I bet it represents golden-era Sundance as well as anything. I have nothing else to say about it so I guess I’m a lazy critic, and have been ever since reviving the blog a few weeks ago.

It’s a strange position I’ve put myself in, blogging each movie I watch when I’m generally disillusioned with cinema. I guess it’s helped me realize just how clearly my present priorities lie elsewhere.





Primer (Shane Carruth, 2004)


If only I had access to the time machine in the film. Then, without taking time away from other activities, I could watch it repeatedly to delve into its complexities. Upon achieving enlightenment, I’d return the DVD to the video store before I checked it out. Unfortunately, given my time-constrained existence, I’m liable to just gawk respectfully at the high style achieved with low budget and call it a day.

P.S. Cis hetero white men inventing in garages. Sigh?

Service Plaza


It all starts in the bladder. How long can you hold it? The next service plaza is in 38 miles. Eating lunch, gassing up, and switching drivers would all make much more sense 38 miles down the road. It would also get us past the bottlenecks in the metro area. How long can you hold it? Sade can’t be unread on the point of restriction of potty privileges as a form of erotic torture. Yet we just stopped 40 minutes ago. Daddy knew it was a bad idea to let you drink that large Coke but Mommy let you and look what happened, surprise surprise. Being a grown-up means learning to hold it. What’s an adult toy store?

Now we have self-driving cars loaded with screens. Everybody wears diapers. There are no billboards. There are no worries about driving while intoxicated. The service plaza has been reduced to an automatic drive-through. Road trips no longer build character.

I have more things to say about service plazas. There’s the old decrepit ones with almost dead fast food chains like Roy Rogers. Then there are the newer ones where you can get a salad or Impossible Meat and each urinal is a walled-in personal wiz fortress. I especially like it when there’s one service plaza for traffic going in both directions with an overpass for the side of the highway that’s further from the service plaza. It seems more efficient that way. Also you could meet up with friends who are travelling in the opposite direction. Like the classic algebra problem of how long will it take the two trains to meet and where will they meet, only it’s cars instead of trains. Or like a cold war spy drama about that one service plaza in East Germany where East Germans and West Germans could buy cigarettes and take leaks side-by-side under close Stasi supervision.

No, in case you’re wondering, the whole trucker aspect of service plazas doesn’t turn me on. I wish it did though. That would reinforce my notion of a service plaza providing all of your needs. You could turn tricks for money and sexual release, then take a shower, spend the money on food. I guess you couldn’t get real medicine but if things got bad you could just take a bunch of Tylenol from the gas station convenience store.

I wonder what it’s like to work at a service plaza. I wonder if you get regular customers. You must. There must be some regular customers and other customers just passing through who you’ll probably never see again. I guess some service plazas have secret entrances and exits that connect to local roads. It must really suck to work at a service plaza that can only be accessed from one side of the freeway. Some folks who live “upstream” from the service plaza have a quicker trip to work but a slower trip home. Other folks who live “downstream” from the service plaza have a slower trip to work but a quicker trip home. If you work at a service plaza on a toll road I wonder if you still have to pay the toll.

I was once at a service plaza that sold lots of knives. That was kind of scary. Almost as scary as the so-called Chinese food. The gas is so expensive at service plazas. You could use your gas money to buy a knife, then use the knife to stick people up (if you’re ambitious you could stick up the convenience store), then you could use the knife to slash the tires of people you don’t like, steal gas, and drive away. But the problem is the freeway is crawling with cops. State Police. Overpaid and self-righteous. Many states make them wear douchey hats, almost as douchey as Park Ranger hats. So I don’t think a highway rest stop would be a good place for a stickup. Oh, and you might find yourself bringing a knife to a gunfight, not a good idea.

My parents are oddly obsessed with the Molly Pitcher service plaza on the New Jersey Turnpike. The service plazas on the New Jersey Turnpike are named after Revolutionary War heroes. They’d always get wistful about it and make a point of stopping there. When I got older I started liking to think I was conceived there in the back seat of whatever car they drove as newlyweds, a Plymouth I think. Nowadays self-driving cars have tinted windows so there’s no need to park and road head just isn’t the same. Just as I turned 16 human operation of autos was outlawed. The clerks at the Department of Motor Vehicles were almost compassionate when I arrived for my permit exam even though it was cancelled. By the time I was 18 human operation of autos had been outlawed in all the English-speaking countries. So now I’m learning a new language just to move to a new country, get a driver’s license, and work at a service plaza. I guess human operation of autos will be outlawed everywhere someday. Maybe by then there will be a service plaza halfway between Earth and the Moon or something like that and I could flip burgers in artificial gravity. That got me really excited. Looks like I stained my pants and they’re dripping.

Notes on an Appearance (Ricky D’Ambrose, 2017)


New York intellectuals, portrayed in an alternative present where ennui is dignified and “i” still capitalized. Very white (not just in that way). Exquisite taste in classical and jazz music. Old maps, street and subway. Semicontextualized home video of Twin Towers. “New York is becoming a relic of itself, like Paris,” my most elegant college friend said in her emptying Park Avenue apartment being sold off by divorcing parents.

DVD also comes with three shorts in a stylistic progression leading to the feature:

“Pilgrims” (2013)

“Six Cents in the Pocket” (2015)

“Spiral Jetty” (2015)