Reeling Through Life
Reeling Through Life: How I Learned to Live, Love, and Die at the Movies looks at how film shapes identity. Through ten cleverly constructed essays, Ison explores how a lifetime of movie-watching has, for better or worse, taught her how to navigate the world and how to grapple with issues of career, family, faith, illness, sex, and love.Cinema is a universal cultural experience, one that floods our senses with images and sounds, a powerful force that influences our perspective on the world around us. Ison discusses the universal aspects of film as she makes them personal, looking at how certain films across time shaped and molded who she has become. Drawing on a wide ranging catalog of films, both cult and classic, popular and art-house, Reeling Through Life examines how cinema shapes our views on how to make love, how to deal with mental illness, how to be Jewish, how to be a woman, how to be a drunk, and how to die with style.Rather than being a means of escape or object of mere entertainment, Ison posits that cinema is a more engaging form of art, a way to slip into other identities and inhabit other realities. A way to orient oneself into the world. Reeling Though Life is a compelling look at one popular art form and how it has influenced our identities in provocative and important ways.

Reeling Through Life Details

TitleReeling Through Life
Author
ReleaseJan 13th, 2015
PublisherSoft Skull Press
ISBN-139781619024816
Rating
GenreAutobiography, Memoir, Nonfiction, Culture, Film, Writing, Essays, Biography Memoir

Reeling Through Life Review

  • Lesley
    January 1, 1970
    How to review the perfectly written book? The language of the review can never adequately convey the power and beauty of the reviewee. Given my mediocre literary skills, how can I convey to you, the reader, the absolute necessity, the urgent imperative to absorb and savor and share Tara Ison's extraordinary essays, as you would prize chocolate truffles?Is this a memoir or a work of film criticism? I can't even answer that (and depending on your bookstore or library you may find it in either sect How to review the perfectly written book? The language of the review can never adequately convey the power and beauty of the reviewee. Given my mediocre literary skills, how can I convey to you, the reader, the absolute necessity, the urgent imperative to absorb and savor and share Tara Ison's extraordinary essays, as you would prize chocolate truffles?Is this a memoir or a work of film criticism? I can't even answer that (and depending on your bookstore or library you may find it in either section). It is definitely NOT a chronological narrative, either of Ison's life or of late 20th century cinema. Rather, in each of 9 essays, Ison reflects on an aspect of her identity, and how it was shaped (and often misshaped) by movies. Thus, "How to Be Lolita" "How to Lose Your Virginity" and "How to Be a Slut" contrast Ison's own experiences of sexual awakening with impressions she gained from watching films like The Prime of Miss Jean Brodie or Fast Times at Ridgemont High; "How to Be a Jew" explores Ison's secular Jewish upbringing and how Fiddler on the Roof and The Chosen affirmed her connection to the complexities and bitterness of Jewish experience.By far the most powerful essays are the two that reflect on aging and death: "How to Be Mrs Robinson" and "How to Die With Style". Elegantly weaving together images and dialog from The Graduate, The Last Picture Show and The Roman Spring of Mrs Stone, Ison recounts, unsentimentally her affair with a much younger man, and the realization (gained from movies) that she must end it to retain any sense of self: "So I tell my sweet young man that our time together has come to an end. That he's lovely, but this no longer works for me...Because this feels like the last elegant, self-assured, self-protective thing I can do. Older skin is thinner, more delicate. I bruise easily these days. This is the one way I can have any control over this narrative. it is the only way I can know how this part of the story will end--the only way I can sit on my own quilt, on my own bed, by myself, by choice."Movies have warned her of what awaits the sexually aging female, the "sad stock character, the ridiculous figure of fun". But movies can also lie, and though they have helped Ison confront the inevitable tickticktick of her mortality, they have offered her a prettified, glamorized, artificially sweetened version of death: (Love Story) "Her death and her dying---was beautiful, peaceful, a lovely and loving thing or (Dark Victory) "Death is painless and glamorous, quiet and peaceful. A moment of ultimate beauty and fineness, indeed." Coming to terms with the horrors of death through the illnesses of her mother, grandmother and a family friend, Ison at last grasps the greatest lie movie have told her: there is no plan for death, there are no certainties, no death "on my own terms": "I don't know how I will die, of course. Stylishly I hope. But still: Will I meet death head held high like a brave misjudged queen or convict? Will I be pretty and cherry-lipped in a white lace nightie, protesting that I am young and strong and nothing can touch me?Will anyone be there to hold my hand?Will I have lived a life that makes me ready to meet death beautifully and finely?Or will I fight to the last, try to barricade that door, claim every last second, last breath, last beat of my heart before it is the end of the thing that is me, and the thing that is me disappears forever?I don't know. I am writing, as all of us do , in the dark."
    more
  • Courtney Isbell Fowler
    January 1, 1970
      Film buffs and memoir lovers: You need this.If you have ever sat in the dark of a movie theatre and felt the power of the story on-screen electrify you in a deeply personal way then you will love Tara Ison's Reeling Through Life. Because you know that these movies are more than just an afternoon's distraction--that films can touch us and change us and sometimes even tell us who we are. As a movie buff and reader, Reeling Through Life satisfies my craving for both insightful and eagle-eyed film   Film buffs and memoir lovers: You need this.If you have ever sat in the dark of a movie theatre and felt the power of the story on-screen electrify you in a deeply personal way then you will love Tara Ison's Reeling Through Life. Because you know that these movies are more than just an afternoon's distraction--that films can touch us and change us and sometimes even tell us who we are. As a movie buff and reader, Reeling Through Life satisfies my craving for both insightful and eagle-eyed film critique and intimate memoir. Ison finds her identities both reflected and shaped by touchstone films in her life and her weaving of both storytelling and film study creates an immersive and satisfying read. I absolutley loved it and bonus: my barren Netflix and Hulu Plus queues are now full of films I can't wait to watch after reading Ison's book. Supremely enjoyable and highly recommended.
    more
  • Devoney Looser
    January 1, 1970
    Tara Ison’s memoir is funny, moving, and beautiful. If you grew up loving movies—if you grew up *on* movies—this book will bring you back to those days. It will make you think about what it means to allow scenes on the big screen to become so much a part of you that they shape your life. Ison knows movies, and she tells aching stories of coming of age through watching iconic characters and actors. There are a few movies I’m just dying to see again after reading this book (Fast Times at Ridgemont Tara Ison’s memoir is funny, moving, and beautiful. If you grew up loving movies—if you grew up *on* movies—this book will bring you back to those days. It will make you think about what it means to allow scenes on the big screen to become so much a part of you that they shape your life. Ison knows movies, and she tells aching stories of coming of age through watching iconic characters and actors. There are a few movies I’m just dying to see again after reading this book (Fast Times at Ridgemont High, Little Darlings). There are also some I’ll never see again in the same way (The Prime of Miss Jean Brodie, One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest), because I’ll have Ison’s moving stories in my head as I re-watch them. This book is an absolute gift to anyone who loves film and great storytelling.
    more
  • Evanston Public Library
    January 1, 1970
    How to review the perfectly written book? The language of the review can never adequately convey the power and beauty of the reviewee. Given my mediocre literary skills, how can I convey to you, the reader, the absolute necessity, the urgent imperative to absorb and savor and share Tara Ison's extraordinary essays, as you would prize chocolate truffles?Is this a memoir or a work of film criticism? I can't even answer that (and depending on your bookstore or library you may find it in either sect How to review the perfectly written book? The language of the review can never adequately convey the power and beauty of the reviewee. Given my mediocre literary skills, how can I convey to you, the reader, the absolute necessity, the urgent imperative to absorb and savor and share Tara Ison's extraordinary essays, as you would prize chocolate truffles?Is this a memoir or a work of film criticism? I can't even answer that (and depending on your bookstore or library you may find it in either section). It is definitely NOT a chronological narrative, either of Ison's life or of late 20th century cinema. Rather, in each of 9 essays, Ison reflects on an aspect of her identity, and how it was shaped (and often misshaped) by movies. Thus, "How to Be Lolita" "How to Lose Your Virginity" and "How to Be a Slut" contrast Ison's own experiences of sexual awakening with impressions she gained from watching films like The Prime of Miss Jean Brodie or Fast Times at Ridgemont High; "How to Be a Jew" explores Ison's secular Jewish upbringing and how Fiddler on the Roof and The Chosen affirmed her connection to the complexities and bitterness of Jewish experience.By far the most powerful essays are the two that reflect on aging and death: "How to Be Mrs Robinson" and "How to Die With Style". Elegantly weaving together images and dialog from The Graduate, The Last Picture Show and The Roman Spring of Mrs Stone, Ison recounts, unsentimentally her affair with a much younger man, and the realization (gained from movies) that she must end it to retain any sense of self: "So I tell my sweet young man that our time together has come to an end. That he's lovely, but this no longer works for me...Because this feels like the last elegant, self-assured, self-protective thing I can do. Older skin is thinner, more delicate. I bruise easily these days. This is the one way I can have any control over this narrative. it is the only way I can know how this part of the story will end--the only way I can sit on my own quilt, on my own bed, by myself, by choice."Movies have warned her of what awaits the sexually aging female, the "sad stock character, the ridiculous figure of fun". But movies can also lie, and though they have helped Ison confront the inevitable tickticktick of her mortality, they have offered her a prettified, glamorized, artificially sweetened version of death: (Love Story) "Her death and her dying---was beautiful, peaceful, a lovely and loving thing or (Dark Victory) "Death is painless and glamorous, quiet and peaceful. A moment of ultimate beauty and fineness, indeed." Coming to terms with the horrors of death through the illnesses of her mother, grandmother and a family friend, Ison at last grasps the greatest lie movie have told her: there is no plan for death, there are no certainties, no death "on my own terms": "I don't know how I will die, of course. Stylishly I hope. But still: Will I meet death head held high like a brave misjudged queen or convict? Will I be pretty and cherry-lipped in a white lace nightie, protesting that I am young and strong and nothing can touch me?Will anyone be there to hold my hand?Will I have lived a life that makes me ready to meet death beautifully and finely?Or will I fight to the last, try to barricade that door, claim every last second, last breath, last beat of my heart before it is the end of the thing that is me, and the thing that is me disappears forever? I don't now. I am writing, as all of us do , in the dark."(Lesley W., Adult Services)
    more
  • Marylee MacDonald
    January 1, 1970
    Film buffs will certainly enjoy this book, but so will anyone who wants to spend a moment thinking about the impact of Hollywood on our lives. Movies offer up role models and cautionary tales. After reading this book, I wondered if movies have completely taken the place of whatever religion might have once offered in the way of life lessons.The narrator of these essays returns to childhood and her early experiences of sitting, utterly transported, in a dark theater with a box of popcorn. These e Film buffs will certainly enjoy this book, but so will anyone who wants to spend a moment thinking about the impact of Hollywood on our lives. Movies offer up role models and cautionary tales. After reading this book, I wondered if movies have completely taken the place of whatever religion might have once offered in the way of life lessons.The narrator of these essays returns to childhood and her early experiences of sitting, utterly transported, in a dark theater with a box of popcorn. These essays reveal an author who paid close attention to Hollywood's subtext and permissions. Through film, she found a third way through the labyrinth of adolescence. The writing is absolutely beautiful and her arguments closely reasoned. Though I had seen but a fraction of these movies, I now want to see them all. I could easily picture their relevance to the author's thoughts about contemporary life, her parents, and her evolving identity.
    more
  • Wendy
    January 1, 1970
    While I can't say I relate to all the particular movies the author references, I totally get how films, especially ones you first saw as a child*, can leave a long-lasting impression on you and your worldview.Some of the essays in this collection went into too much information (especially on the author's love life) for me, but I did find the sections on alcoholism and death moving and powerful.(* I'm very glad my parents were more careful than the author's about not letting me see age-inappropri While I can't say I relate to all the particular movies the author references, I totally get how films, especially ones you first saw as a child*, can leave a long-lasting impression on you and your worldview.Some of the essays in this collection went into too much information (especially on the author's love life) for me, but I did find the sections on alcoholism and death moving and powerful.(* I'm very glad my parents were more careful than the author's about not letting me see age-inappropriate stuff though!)
    more
  • Cynthia Pauwels
    January 1, 1970
    Damn, Tara – I’m not the movie buff you are, and I didn’t recognize (too!) many of your references. But I thoroughly enjoyed, and absorbed, and actually lost myself in your words (something I haven’t done in far too long).And then the last five pages just gut-punched me, stagnate as I am, as you laid it all on the page…and your words reminded me that I’m not alone in the struggle, something I’d forgotten in the urgent crush of everyday life.Back to the writing…because I am a writer.Thank you.
    more
  • Stephanie
    January 1, 1970
    Identity sifted through film stock. I thoroughly enjoyed this memoir of the writer as watcher. She parses the films that had the most profound affect on the shaping of her life in key ways, through a series of chapter/essays whose titles exactly delineate how - eg How To Go Crazy, How To Be Lolita, How To Be A Jew, etc. The films she chooses to write about are ones you've probably seen, and if you're of a similar age, I bet they affected you in much the same way. I know that's the case for me.
    more
  • Nadine
    January 1, 1970
    Each of the nine essays on a given topic show how films are integral to the life of the author and yourself. The dialogue inserts make you remember the film vividly in some cases and in others prompting you to put the movie title on a view again or for the first time list. The only fault I had with the book was there was no index to find the part about a specific movie. Instead you would have to look at the Contents page and read the list of movies discussed within the essay. I received a copy t Each of the nine essays on a given topic show how films are integral to the life of the author and yourself. The dialogue inserts make you remember the film vividly in some cases and in others prompting you to put the movie title on a view again or for the first time list. The only fault I had with the book was there was no index to find the part about a specific movie. Instead you would have to look at the Contents page and read the list of movies discussed within the essay. I received a copy through LibraryThings for review.
    more
  • Colleen Stinchcombe
    January 1, 1970
    I was lucky enough to have a Creative Writing class in college with Tara Ison. This is the first of her books that I’ve read. It’s a series of essays that illuminate Ison’s life and the way that it was shaped by movies. I’d say: Read it to get a peek into the mind of a really fantastic writer. Read it if you’re in the mood for a memoir.Read my full review: http://colleenstinchcombe.com/post/11...
    more
  • Michael
    January 1, 1970
    I enjoyed reading this reflection on life through the lens of movies. It wasn’t an incredibly impressive book, but it was enjoyable. I knew most of the movies she talked about and it made me think about how those movies and others had shaped me across the years - the way I look at the world around me. She often writes whimsically and well - and it was pretty fun.
    more
  • Roe
    January 1, 1970
    A quick enough read. Some of the essays really were well crafted, while others seemed to miss the mark. While some were relatable, witty, and had a great balance of film summary to life experience, others were heavily weighted to one side or another. Overall: honest, charming, a little annoying 'n navel gazing, but interesting to read from someone so influenced in life by the media she ingests.
    more
  • Dianne J.
    January 1, 1970
    Not as interesting as I thought it would be for me, a movie lover. I read the introduction and then began chapter one only to find the comparisons of movies to the authors life not to be as interesting as I thought it would be. Ison is a good writer though, I just couldn't get into it.
    more
  • Patricia Murphy
    January 1, 1970
    I really enjoyed it. Innovative structure, and lots of really good reflection. I especially like the sections that "pulse" through imagery to explain emotion. I can learn a lot from this book.
  • Jessica Marie Fletcher
    January 1, 1970
    What a clever way to integrate film into a memoir. This was one of those reads that left me breathless at the end. Beautifully integrated and honest.
  • Stephanie Funk
    January 1, 1970
    Such a wonderful and unexpected form for a memoir. Funny, relatable, and apt. Her chapter about writing particularly strikes a chord with me.
  • Robert
    January 1, 1970
    This book was highly addictive to me--couldn't put it down.
  • Beth
    January 1, 1970
    This is a mix of memoir and film class—my dream book! Chapters include How to Go Crazy, How to Be Lolita, How to Be a Drunk, and How to Die in Style, with tons of film references.
  • LL
    January 1, 1970
    Interesting and clever
  • Suzy
    January 1, 1970
    This is a good book for you movie fanatics out there! It's amazing how much certain movies can really stick with us as kids and play a major role in our lives.
  • Cynthia Frazer
    January 1, 1970
    Excellent. Fast,for a thoughtful book.
  • Nick Melloan-ruiz
    January 1, 1970
    An emotional sneak attack
  • Tish
    January 1, 1970
    I thought this book would be something completely different. I thought the films informed her childhood and taught her how to move thru life... which would have been brilliant but it's more so explanations of what happened to her mixed in with some film critiques... and many films I haven't seen and don't care to see
    more
  • Rebekah Thomas
    January 1, 1970
    I'm conflicted about 3 stars - I'm might bump it to 2. Ison is a decent writer but it does feel like she's taken a few too many Creative Writing workshops and I may or may not have hash tagged this #whitepeopleproblems (yes. sometimes my head gets a little fratboy-hipster up in there - I apologize) somewhere around page 150 or so. Because she just kept going on about her parents divorce, southern California 1970's style benignly negligent parenting and Movies of the Week that made her want to be I'm conflicted about 3 stars - I'm might bump it to 2. Ison is a decent writer but it does feel like she's taken a few too many Creative Writing workshops and I may or may not have hash tagged this #whitepeopleproblems (yes. sometimes my head gets a little fratboy-hipster up in there - I apologize) somewhere around page 150 or so. Because she just kept going on about her parents divorce, southern California 1970's style benignly negligent parenting and Movies of the Week that made her want to be an alcoholic....so she could be interesting (see also the chapter on, How to Go Crazy). And there wasn't any resolution or growth exactly. Every section felt more like "These are the movies I watched with this theme, how they influenced me as a child/teenager" and then, at the end of that chapter, "...and basically I'm that same exact person now at 50! Le Chaim! (See also her chapter, How to Be a Jew)". I love the movies so we have that in common and her wrestle at the end about How to Be A Writer, felt authentically neurotic and self-doubting. Very real.....Fine. 2.5 stars. How's that?
    more
  • Liz
    January 1, 1970
    I loved a couple of the essays, but didn't love most of them. Some seemed to go on for a long time, expounding about movies, without connecting them to the author's life in the ways that I expected given both the title of the book and the set-up of the essays I preferred in this collection.
    more
Write a review