cover image The Tunnel at the End of the Light: Essays on Movies and Politics

The Tunnel at the End of the Light: Essays on Movies and Politics

Jim Shepard. Tin House, $15.95 trade paper (272p) ISBN 978-1-941040-72-0

This intriguing collection from novelist Shepard (The Book of Aron) brings together 10 strong pieces of politically concerned film criticism from the mid-2000s, originally published in early issues of the Believer magazine. The pieces contained within are split between the distinctly topical, such as an essay juxtaposing the Republican ticket in 2004 with Carol Reed’s The Third Man, and the timeless, such as Shepard’s observations “about how truly and lethally weird Americans really are” explored through Terrence Malick’s Badlands. It’s a pleasure to read Shepard’s graceful prose, and the insights just seem to flow from his pen. Essays such as the Third Man piece, while throwbacks to the time when they were written, remain vital for precisely the reason that the films they discuss remain vital: they balance entertainment with deeper concerns about morality and society. The only thing to regret here is that there isn’t more to devour; it’s easy to burn through these 10 short essays in a sitting or two, akin to binge watching a favorite television series. This collection shows Shepard’s voice to be as essential as ever, and it suggests that he should be writing similar criticism for our own fraught times. [em](Sept.) [/em]