Reviewed byMovie WatcherVote: 9/10/10
Unlikely, but well-done documentary which examines the history andcurrent status of the lowly typewriter via commentary from peoplehaving diverse perspectives: the long-established but struggling repairshop operators; the antiquity collectors of the earliest models; thepeople, some famous, who still use and romantically embrace theirantiquated machines; a small group who performs percussive 'music' withtypewriters; and a super creative artist who turns unusable typewritersand their parts into incredible pieces of art.
Filming, Editing, and musical soundtrack were superb.
Intelligent and entertaining, a historical, sociological, andphilosophical all-in-one study well worth the price of admission.
Reviewed byDavid Ferguson (firstname.lastname@example.org)Vote: 7/10/10
Greetings again from the darkness. QWERTY. Chances are you recognizethat from your laptop keyboard, and have never thought about the originor design reason. This is just one of the fascinating topics in thesurprisingly interesting and entertaining documentary from Doug Nichol(former music video guru for Aerosmith, Lenny Kravitz, Sting, and TheNew Kids on the Block).
Did you know there are folks who collect and still use typewriters?Well there are, and you've even heard of some of them: Tom Hanks, SamShepard, David McCullough and John Mayer. We hear from each of these asthey describe their connection to the "old school" way of producingtext on a page.
Mr. Nichol began with the idea of making a short film focusing on asmall typewriter repair shop in Berkeley. As the story evolved, helearned of the many facets associated with the community of typewriterenthusiasts those who refuse to give up the old way simply because anew way exists. There is history. There is nostalgia. There is a linkto creativity. The film explores all of this and more.
Christopher Latham Sholes was a believer in Women's Rights in the1800's, and his invention of the typewriter was to create more jobopportunities for women. His prototype looked more like a piano, anddue to a lack of investor interest, he finally had to sell to Remingtonin order to get production and marketing. By 1890, there were 60manufacturers of typewriters, and the Sholes and Glidden model remainsa gem of any collection even today.
It's bittersweet to see the recently deceased Sam Shepard and hear himexplain how he never got along with a computer screen, but loves thefeel and sound of his typewriter. He created some of the most marvelousplays ever written, and compares loading the paper to 'saddling ahorse', and notes the sound of typing has a "percussion about it".
John Mayer recalls seeing Bob Dylan "playing" a typewriter as he wrotehis songs, and has since made it apart of his own songwriting process.An inordinate amount of time is spent with Mayer on screen, but it doesmake the point that even the generation raised on technology can findvalue in an object that was once an office staple, and is now a mererelic to most. Writer David McCullough claims the typewriter is theonly way he can write, and Tom Hanks seems to truly enjoy talking abouthis typewriter obsession, and how he spends time each day typing outthank you notes and correspondence.
The repair shop is the heart of the story, and we continually come backto Ken Alexander as he lovingly restores each machine that comes in.It's with a bit of irony that we watch Ken and the store owner Herbcome to realize that they must rely on today's technology of websitesand social media as a last hope for survival.
In stark contrast to Ken bringing typewriters back to life, we seemodern sculptor Jeremy Mayes as he scavenges for typewriter parts forhis latest piece. And in an odd twist, we meet a group who makes musicwith typewriters and actually perform classic songs with their ownvibe.
Nostalgia has brought back vinyl records, and there is a community offolks who believe the typewriter revolution is underway. The rationaleis that technology is now ruling our lives and we need to step back andget in touch with what is real and produce tangible results not justuse up storage on a hard drive. While we may not be convinced that "therevolution is typewritten" (from The Typewriter Insurgency Manifesto),the film is actually thought- provoking as it tracks and connectshumans-machines-technology.
Reviewed byzkonedogVote: 7/10/10
One of the big reasons that "California Typewriter" showed up on myradar was likely because I happened to be reading a book at the sametime called "Revenge of Analog". That book describes a movement backtowards things such as records, paper, board games, and other physical(not digital) forms of leisure and commerce. That is the main theme of"California Typewriter" too...only focusing on the device listed in thetitle.
This documentary basically focuses on a number of different humaninterest stories involving a piece of technology largely thought"obsolete": the typewriter. From Tom Hanks' typewriter collection tothe actual California Typewriter story, to a sculpture artist and and acollector looking for his coup de grace (and even a little historythrown in), this doc attacks the typewriter's story from nearly everyangle.
Even above the human stories, though, is the notion present throughoutthe entire doc of that "return to analog" of sorts. As technologymarches on, sometimes we don't stop to evaluate whether the physicalexperience of creation needs to take a back seat to the ease ofcreation. Don't get me wrong...I'm not exchanging my iPhone for a flipphone, nor am I turning in my MacBook for a desktop PC. I'm no Luddite.But it is a fascinating idea for me (old enough to remember a timebefore the Internet and mobile everything)...this notion thatsometimes, say, the act of typing something on a physical device mightbe more satisfying than the ease of a word processor.
So, even though I'm not really "into" typewriters (I can honestly sayI've never used one in my life!), I can say that this doc fascinated meand connected with me on a nostalgic, but also intellectual level. Areturn to analog devices may not be for everyone, but docs like thisprove that the newest technology may not be for everyone, either. Thereis room for both, and even a mixture of both.
California Typewriter is a story about people whose lives are connected by typewriters. The film is a meditation on creativity and technology featuring Tom Hanks, John Mayer, Sam Shepard, David McCullough and others.