New shelving for periodicals at the UGA Main Library

L. Riverside reviews “The Bookshelf” by Amy Watts:
Following the monumental documentary “Candy and Children,” where we are shown the worldwide plight of children by the candy industry, with “The Bookshelf” A. Watts shows her ability to stun and inform her audience and takes us to a trip to the deeper meaning of discovery.

The movie takes place in a library, the setting is minimalist, forcing the audience to focus on the main message, and, like in her previous movie, there is no dialogue. Watts has clearly been influenced by the great masters, like Bergman and Tarkovsky, but she takes the action (or lack of it) to a completely different level. It would be misleading to say that Watts removes dialogue from her screenplays, instead, she adds no dialogue, revealing her maturity and mastery of filmmaking,

The film reaches its climax when the main (and only) character, brilliant performed by P. Reidenbaugh, already satiated by one magazine, lifts the bookshelf, like a skirt, and reaches for the interior of the bookshelf, where a fertile womb of knowledge and inspiration awaits him. The meaning is clear: if we want to advance knowledge we need to look behind and ahead and remove obstacles (skirts being one of them).

P. Reidenbaugh has a flawless interpretation. Despite the difficulties of his role, Reidenbaugh manages the subtleties of emotions with perfect control and keeps a dignified and upright position during the entire movie.

This movie is a must see to everyone interested in culture, education and bookshelves, especially bookshelves.


ResidueOfDesign said...

Shot in plan américain, A. Watts's latest is a study in extreme minimalism. The stationary camera and silence, combined with the medium-long one-shot, reveal an emptiness that had not been present in the director's earlier works. Or wasn't it? Like the spectacular mid-career failures of other directors, such as Wes Anderson's Life Aquatic or Woody Allen's Stardust Memories, Watts's "Bookshelf" makes the perceptive viewer long for the earlier, funnier works by this director.

Kudos to Mr. Reidenbaugh, though, whose less-than-half-minute performance runs the gamut from overstated to subtly intrigued. One awaits the day that a director adept at working with actors will give Mr. Reidenbaugh better material to work with: the "exploration" scene, so vaunted by Riverside et al., can be read as a raiding of the interior of knowledge, a violation metaphor.

"Bookshelf" does look past its own fingers and toes. It forwards the issue of sunning of these expensive and vital materials through its own fluorescently-lit limpidity. The coldness of the fluorescent fill lighting constrasts strongly with the full sunlight coming from the background. Where previously the journals, owned and distributed by increasingly monopolistic companies, were safe from light damage in the Library's basement, these precious scholarly materials are now subject to the ample sunlight allowed by the tall windows in the Reading Room. Frequent users of the Library will actively wonder where the New Holdings section has been banished, if still exists at all. What administrative whim brought on this sudden change in shelving? Are the journals safe on the first floor, where unscrupulous students and faculty could fairly cart them out the front entrance of the library without the immediate protection of tattletape? And what of the severe reduction in seating area with the advent of this new system? But because of the film's silence, these questions are obliterated by what we see, a man seemingly interested in whatever journal he happens to find on the shelf within arm's reach. Watts knows no cinéma-vérité.

Rachel said...

Mr. Reidenbaugh was great but someone needs to fire those shelves for such a poor performance. Casting them to play the role of regular shelving was a mistake. I am not convinced!