The Man Who Knew Too Much Johnson


Bigger review of TOO MUCH JOHNSON now available over at The Notebook, where I get into the disputed backstory of this fascinating Wellesian artefact. Here.

And Paul Duane, co-director of NATAN, posts his impressions of the awe-inspiring Telluride Film Festival in The Irish Times, here.

My own strongest memory of the affair is not really film-related, but was certainly cinematic — having heard my whole life that if you get away from the light pollution of cities, you can really see the stars, thousands of them, I finally managed to do so, aged 46, pausing in a path in the woods on the way to my mountain retreat, gazing up hypnotized in the cold, thin air, at what looked like a glittering snowfall arrested by camera flash, an infinite array of white sparks, a spatter of pin-pricks, the universe, or as much of it as could fit into my field of vision and my brain. It was a real Spalding Gray “perfect moment,” during which my fear of being set upon and devoured by bears vanished almost entirely.

8 Responses to “The Man Who Knew Too Much Johnson”

  1. I used to go out into the desert as a kid, it was pretty easy to go only little ways to get a away from the city, and it was always amazing to see the starlight by itself, and the especially the horizon to horizon view, it was almost like an arch and you were in the center of the universe.

  2. What with the trees, I didn’t get that effect, exactly, but the setting was very Twin Peaks and that had its own appeal. I’m chalking up the desert night thing for my bucket list though.

  3. Desert nights in Palm Springs are Beyond Amazing. A sky filled with more stars than you’ve ever seen. Back in the 80’s I used to take mini-vacations there during the summer when “all the inessential people are gone” leaving foreign tourist and gay porn crews in their wake. The “Cochella Valley” in which Palm Springs is located is so named because of the shells discovered on its vast expanses of sand. IOW it used to be the bottom of the ocean.

  4. David Boxwell Says:

    Interesting to see Arlene Francis here in this context–I remember as a kid seeing her on “What’s My Line” where she was a wondrously chic and smart “television personality” (as we called ’em in them days).

  5. A drive out to the desert in California is quite possible, but not right now. I wonder if there’s anywhere left in the UK that gets good starlight. Seems like there ought to be. Anyone know? Of course, the weather is a bit of a barrier, one would need a cloudless night…

  6. David,

    Forestry Commission Scotland has designated a portion of South Ayrshire’s Galloway Forest as a ‘Dark Sky Park’ where low light pollution is observed. The Scottish weather is a crucial factor of course.

    I can remember being in Gairloch and looking up, awestruck, at the Milky Way ribboning overhead as Cassiopeia imprinted its ‘W’ onto the sky.

    You could always visit us in Australia and plant yourself in the Martian-like central wilderness for some Southern Hemisphere star action.

    “My God, it’s full of stars!”

  7. Excellent. Well, I know which is closer, but not being able to be sure of a clear night is a complicating factor. Maybe I should go camping in the summer — I think my brother has the kit. Hmm, it’s been a while since I slept on the hard ground… maybe forty years…

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