Pale Wire (Popscene)

Sunday, August 29, 2004

Modern Myths

Castaways of the Image Planet is a collection of essays on film written by Geoffrey O'Brien between 1985 and 2001 while a critic for The New York Review of Books, The Village Voice, VLS, The New Republic and several other publications.

It's awesome.

O'Brien capably grapples withe contemporary cinema like Pulp Fiction and A.I. but dude really shines when he looks back and reflects on the past. The essays on John Ford, Orson Welles, Groucho Marx, Alfred Hitchcock and, suprisingly, to me at least, Bing Crosby are stuffed with delicious insight and detail.

Beyond summarizing and explaining the careers of such men, O'Brien frequently uses his cinema saturated youth as the starting point for an ongoing discussion of film's role in public and private life. He seems particularly interested in the swelling heap of images, voices and personalities being stockpiled by a show business industry that over the course of his lifetime has become as present as an oil or steel trust.

I strongly recommend this one for film fans. You can get used copies on Amazon for under one dollar.