Wednesday, September 13, 2023

Radical Wolfe (2023)

The life and times of the legendary man in a white suit Tom Wolfe. He was a man who changed the way many people write by accident (the piece that put him on the map was a piece writing up his notes because he was unable to write the piece he agreed to write) and then proceeded to capture culture at key moments (Bonfire of the Vanities and The Right Stuff).

This is a loving portrait about the man  as told by friends and family. It’s full of great stories and great one liners.  I had a blast watching Wolfe hold court tell the stories behind his books and relive some of the stories that became legendary.

The first book of Wolfe’s that I read was the Right Stuff because I loved the film. I know I had read other pieces by him, but that was the point where I realized who he was and what he wrote. I became intrigued and started to hunt down his other books (though I’ve never read Bonfire). I loved his turn of phrase and way of seeing things.  This film made me want to go back and pick up the books I haven’t read.

One of the things I like about the film does that many similar films wouldn’t do, and that we get mentions of the things that didn’t work. Wolfe’s final two books were not well received,  in part because he was too removed from his subjects, for example one was a tale of college life by a man decades past that, and the film rightly mentions them. This is not a picture of a literary god but of just a nice guy who made mistakes. I like that we see the bumps.

I had a great time with RADICAL WOLFE. More importantly I think I found a cinematic friend I can revisit now and again when I want to smile.


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