let’s have an argument about movies (a review of cinematic states by gareth higgins).

imageA guy from Ireland with a love of movies moved to the United States (specifically to Durham, NC) and decided to document his project to learn about America by watching at least one movie for every state. This is the premise of Cinematic States by Gareth Higgins: he works his way through the states (and accompanying movies) in alphabetic order with an essay on each one.

My interest in the chapters varied based on how much I knew about the state and/or the movie he was talking about. For some of the most obvious choices, I felt he was constrained a little bit: obviously he is going to have to watch The Wizard of Oz for Kansas, but what else is there to say about such an iconic movie? On the other hand, the chapter about Delaware and Fight Club was probably my favorite.

But the real reason to read a book like this is to argue with the author about which movies he picked. Here, I’ll start. Gareth watched Bull Durham for North Carolina, and while that is an okay choice, if you want to get a feel for this great state, I suggest you watch Junebug. For California, he watched Chinatown and I have never seen it, but I have to say that surely such a big state can’t be limited to one movie. I would add Pulp Fiction (which I have also never seen, yes, yes, it’s true) and Clueless. For Mississippi, he watched Crossroads, but what about O Brother, Where Art Thou? I can’t argue with Stephen King for Maine, but I would have added Cider House Rules. Close Encounters of the Third Kind is okay for Indiana, I guess, but what about Hoosiers? And one thousand points to my neighbor who pointed out that Washington state really should have been represented by Twilight.

I recommend this book for movie buffs, people who love America, and people who like to argue. But here’s the truth: reading Cinematic States was a fun experience but talking about it has been even more fun. So here is where I turn it over to you. What states do you know best and what movies would you pick to represent them?

Speakeasy provided me with a copy of this book but as always my thoughts are my own.

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One Comment

  1. Patty

    Hoosiers and Breaking Away for Indiana (as a Hoosier, imho). The scenes in Close Encounters were not filmed there and do not resemble Indiana’s landscape in any way. Pulp Fiction is not a film that I would want to represent my state, having seen it. Magnolia would be a good one for California. Untouchables for Illinois (although Chicago is arguably its own state!) and A Thousand Acres for Iowa. And, I would recommend Snow Falling on Cedars for Washington state. Will look through his list at the bookstore today!

    Posted 1/20/2014 at | Permalink

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