Soul food is rich—not just in taste, pleasure, comfort, but also in history. And yet, as documentary filmmaker Byron Hurt asks in Soul Food Junkies (2012), is this legendary culinary culture also poisonous?
In the wake of last summer’s drought and this fall’s Superstorm Sandy, Ken Burns’s harrowingly absorbing new two-part, four-hour documentary, The Dust Bowl, which airs this Sunday, November 18, on PBS, feels particularly urgent.
So why one day after a period of isolation, depression, and not eating enough, did Wright find herself crying, putting a gun in her mouth, and praying for God to give her some reason not to pull the trigger? Because for the better part of four decades, she’d been, in the words of one of her songs, “a damn liar,” hiding the homosexuality she’d been taught since childhood in church to loathe as demonic, and hating herself for both her orientation and her cowardice.
Ross McElwee’s newest verité venture, Photographic Memory, is a two-stranded tale. In one, the contemporary father and son stare each other down with tense love and irritation. In the other, dad regards his own younger self with pity and puzzlement. If McElwee the Elder can reconnect with his young meandering self, he reasons, maybe he can reconnect with his son, too.
“The dead, the dead, the dead—our dead,” wrote Walt Whitman after the Civil War, “…somewhere they crawl’d to die, alone, in bushes, low gullies, or on the sides of hills—(there, in secluded spots, their skeletons, bleach’d bones, tufts of hair, buttons, fragments of clothing, are occasionally found yet…our young men once so handsome and so joyous, taken from us—the son from the mother, the husband from the wife, the dear friend from the dear friend…the infinite dead...”