Stone Reader Reviews
I really can't recommend "The Stone Reader" enough. The filmmaker sometimes comes across a little too heavy, but if you love literature, this is one of the few movies that will ever make you want to start reading (and reading voraciously) after the credits roll. There's a quick scene in which Moskowitz shows us his personal bookshelf, and as he discusses how it's organized, you start thinking, "Yeah, mine too. Oh, I've read that. That, too." Just as the film is a meditation on the conversation between author and reader, so too is the film a conversation between Moskowitz and his viewers: a conversation about all of the conversations we've unknowingly shared together.
This flick feels mashed together. He heads out on these trips to interview people about the book, spend a lot of his personal time and money to seek these people out, and he didn't even bother to ask if they remembered anything about the book before heading out. A lot of his problems could have been solved if he had asked "Do you remember anything about this book? No? Ok thanks anyway." Most of his interviews went downhill fast. Plus he seemed to talk most of time.
I really didn't feel like sitting through anymore when he finally tracks down the author and plans to meet with him. I pushed through the last half hour as he interviews the guy and when the movie ends I was upset. We received no answers to any of the questions that he had been searching for through the whole movie. All we had we a couple of random stories from this mans life and not once did the director think to ask... why did you not write another book?
This movie fails for a lot of reasons and the biggest one being the director being more interested in himself than the story he was supposed to tell.
An aside, is it really a mystery that some authors only publish one book? Isnt that alone a triumph? Maybe it was ok that it went out of print. Obscurity has its benefits, when you have self respect.
Of course, Dow Mossman's obscurity was shattered when he received the phone call that fateful night, and he encountered Mark's rude, interrupting ways. Part way through the first conversation with the reclusive writer, Mark hands the phone to someone else with no warning at all. After waiting impatiently, you then see his hand grabbing to get it back, with no regard for the fact that two old friends are catching up after years apart. Unbelievable. But the camera never lies.
The only reason the movie is worth seeing is that regardless of Mark's rudeness, you get to meet several choice characters, and they do not disappoint. Mossman himself is thoughtful, and generous, and somehow manages not to hear as Moskowitz interrupts his profound reflections on literature.
If you were equally unsatisfied with this documentary, may we suggest King of Kong? One of the key ingredients to a successful documentary is unbiased interest, and the ability to restrain the self from interfering with the subject's life!
Mark, if you are reading this, please watch the movie and honestly ask yourself if you could have been a little more sensitive with Dow. Near the end, you interrupt him and say "Let's go upstairs." The next thing you know, Dow is meekly following you around as you enter rooms and root through drawers with no permission, as far as we could see. You treat his posessions with no respect. You charge through his basement looking through things, and he doesn't say a word. If he were a different person, maybe you would have been told to get the h*ll out of there and leave his things alone.
One last thing. That moment when Dow shows us a picture of himself with a big bunny rabbit. He carefully pulls it out of an envelope, and sure enough in seconds Mark is grabbing for it. Dow doesn't give it to him, but gently unwraps the tissue paper and shows it to the camera. Mark grabs again, and this time you can see him holding it with no respect, his thumb squarely in the middle of the print, i'm sure leaving some big thumbprint on it.
I'm sure Dow is grateful to have his book back in print, and you brought him back from obscurity. But does that excuse your unspeakable and constant rudeness?
It's not too late to change.