Blum & Poe Broadcasts presents musings by artists from their homes to yours. This week Julian Hoeber reviews a collection of film criticism—The Earth Dies Streaming, by A. S. Hamrah (n+1 Books, 2018).
The last two weeks have been unlike anything I imagined would happen, and yet retrospectively I’ve found the writing of certain authors, from just the past year or two, have helped me grasp the meaning of our current condition of social isolation. There are great virtues to being able to connect to one another through screens and to stream a wide array of moving images. And yet, being reduced to going to the market on your phone so you don’t die of pneumonia, or waving at the pinhole at the top of your laptop instead of hugging your mother, feel like the worst next steps in the increasingly virtual world we’ve been approaching.
A. S. Hamrah’s collected essays The Earth Dies Streaming has rightfully placed the author at the pinnacle of American film criticism, but his writing is about much more than movies. It’s about the social experience of going to the movies, about living in cities filled with other people with other ways of being, about understanding culture (our culture) through the experience of watching movies, and what is lost in the isolation of our small screens. Hamrah gives insight into our present world of social disconnection that his book preceded. He calls out the bogus political thematics of blockbuster films as having little to do with real politics and instead offers an alternative way of speaking about the world and images that actually engages the experience of living and thinking with the inherent complexity of other humans rather than brands. It’s something I feel I sorely need right now and reminds me that looking at art alongside other people, and thinking seriously about both art and other people’s experiences, are some of the things that fend off dystopia.
You can get the book from independent booksellers. Here are two links:
— Julian Hoeber