Movie Mom

Movie Mom


Stone Reader

posted by rkumar
A
Lowest Recommended Age:Middle School
Profanity:Mild
Nudity/Sex:None
Alcohol/Drugs:References to drug use
Violence/Scariness:References to suicide, mental illness, war
Diversity Issues:None
Movie Release Date:2003

Bookworm, you know who you are, you glorified loafer, you word-nerd. You, at times, have shunned humans, shirked work, stayed up too late, skipped showers, spent beautiful days inside, hiked mountains with hardbacks, haunted bookstores for hours (not buying a thing), faked illness, and committed legion other minor social crimes, all to be with these magnificent companions, these books. It is to you that this documentary is tipping its hat, for “The Stone Reader” is an ode to loving books. When you pull your nose from that novel, see this movie.

In director Mark Moskowitz, you will recognize a kindred soul. Moskowitz is a bit of a geek whose day-job is creating promotional spots for politicians and who calls his mom when he has to do something that makes him anxious. He directs this slow-paced but engaging documentary with a visible need to communicate the joy of his obsession, which was re-ignited by a book called “The Stones of Summer.”

As he informs you in the first “chapter” of the documentary, Moskowitz picked up the book at seventeen and could not make it through the first chapters. At forty-two, he finds himself trying again and this time he is enthralled. He makes it his mission to find out what happened to the book, which no one else seems to have ever read, and to the author, Dow Mossman, who never published again. His trip meanders back and forth from his pastoral home to various interviews with experts on everything along the reading chain, from writers to publishers to reviewers.

Torpid and philosophical, the first half of the movie examines the reader’s connection to books and features thought-provoking interviews as well as a lovely radio piece in which writer Mario Puzo describes his parent’s horror at his reading habit. The second half of the movie introduces the palpable tension of whether Moskowitz will ever find out what happened to Mossman.

It’s not often that you get to see a documentary about such an un-cinematic subject as the joy of reading. There are no sexy Hollywood stars here, flexing their dramatic muscles as lovers brought together by books or as characters from the pages of a novel, which are the typical roles played by literature in film. The modulations of tone are subtle from the quiet excitement of Moskowitz’s young son as he lovingly unwraps the latest “Harry Potter” to the elegiac note which creeps into the interview with Carl Brandt, a literary agent, as he talks about how the book could never have been published these days.

Let it be noted that this movie is about as far as one can go from a summer action flick and still be sitting in a theater. For those who do not share Moskowitz’s love of books, then this movie will be 128 minutes better spent elsewhere, perhaps with someone who can explain to them the immense and lifelong joy of reading.

Parents should know that the most dangerous act in this movie is when Moskowitz drives from his mailbox to his house without wearing his seatbelt. There are discussions about the early ‘70’s which mention draft-dodging, war and drug use. One of the people interviewed, Dan Guenther, discusses some of his experiences in Vietnam.

Families who see this movie should talk about what reading means to them, about what book first inspired a sense in them that they were not alone, about an author who they feel speaks to them. Beyond reading, families might discuss how a personal quest might inspire a person to strive to learn or excel, and might alienate them from others, as Mossman was alienated.

Families who enjoyed this movie might wish to rent literary inspired stories such as “Shakespeare in Love” (1998) or “Possession” (2002), both starring Gwyneth Paltrow. They might also be interested in “Shadowlands” (1994) or “84 Charing Cross Road” (1986), both starring Anthony Hopkins. For those families who truly enjoyed the movie, it is more likely that they will wish to rush home to read. If so, a delightful ode to reading is Anne Fadiman’s little book “Ex Libris: Confessions of a Common Reader.”



Previous Posts

Dr. Martin Luther King's Nobel Prize Acceptance Speech
This week's release, "Selma," begins with the ceremony honoring The Reverend Dr. Martin Luther King with the Nobel Peace Prize. Here is the real footage of his famous speech. [iframe width="560" height="315" src="//www.youtube.com/embed/5r98tT0j1a0?rel=0" frameborder="0"]

posted 12:00:34pm Dec. 22, 2014 | read full post »

A Child's Christmas in Wales
The whole family will enjoy this beautiful version of Dylan Thomas' classic memory about his family Christmases in Wales. [iframe width="420" height="315" src="//www.youtube.com/embed/GrLDaAG7j_o?rel=0" frameborder="0"]

posted 8:00:23am Dec. 22, 2014 | read full post »

Pride
The ingredients for this film were so irresistible that it is a unexpected bonus to find that it is so much better than it needed to be. It's based on a true story of extraordinary kindness, generosity, and friendship and it stars a bunch of adorable English actors (Imelda Staunton, Bill Nighy) w

posted 6:00:25am Dec. 22, 2014 | read full post »

Interview: Ava DuVernay of "Selma"
My favorite movie of the year is "Selma," the story of the Reverend Dr. Martin Luther King's march from Selma, Alabama to the state capital, Montgomery, to bring attention to the barriers the

posted 9:41:45pm Dec. 21, 2014 | read full post »

Smile of the Week: A Boy and a Penguin
This reminds me a little of the depiction of a child's world in The Complete Calvin and Hobbes and Barnaby. [youtube]https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=iccscUFY860[/youtube] Many thanks to Slate for this and the others on its list of the year's best ads.

posted 12:06:45pm Dec. 21, 2014 | read full post »




Report as Inappropriate

You are reporting this content because it violates the Terms of Service.

All reported content is logged for investigation.