For All Mankind

Al Reinert answers a single question in For All Mankind, his poetic 1989 documentary about the Apollo missions to the moon: What did it feel like? The former newspaper reporter tosses chronology aside in favor of narrative. He weaves together a single journey to the lunar surface based on millions of feet of footage from nine Apollo missions, much of which had never before emerged from its icy vault at NASA's Johnson Space Center. This unorthodox picture, which has been remastered by Criterion for the 40th anniversary of the 1969 moon landing this month, may never earn plaudits from space buffs for historical accuracy, but it certainly wowed viewers at the Sundance Film Festival where it won both the Audience Award and the Grand Jury Prize. Opening with John F. Kennedy's 1962 speech inciting the space race "for the progress of all people," the film launches the viewer into the mental realm of the American astronaut. An eerie soundtrack by Brian Eno sets the mood as Reinert juxtaposes philosophical narration from crew members with popular tunes they listened to at the time, including Frank Sinatra and the booming motif of Stanley Kubrick's 2001. Reinert wants to tell us that the astronauts are ordinary men in extraordinary circumstances as they gleefully somersault in their seats, fumble with moon rocks, or recall the haunting dreams they had sleeping in the Lunar Module with an entire planet to themselves. The troubles of Apollo 13 are only hinted at in the documentary, but Reinert would explore that drama six years later as screenwriter for the eponymous feature starring Tom Hanks.

July 25: On this day in 1834 Samuel Taylor Coleridge died of heart disease at the age of sixty-one.

Crime fiction legends Dennis Lehane and Michael Connelly discuss the new book that unites their beloved sleuths Patrick Kenzie and Harry Bosch.

Books, CDs, DVDs to know about now
Paradise and Elsewhere

Canadian short story marvel Kathy Page emerges as the Alice Munro of the supernatural from these heartfelt tales of shapeshifting swimmers, mild-mannered cannibals, and personality-shifting viruses transmitted through kisses.


When a persuasive pastor arrives in a sleepy farm town, his sage influence has otherworldly results (talking sheep, a mayor who walks on water). But can he pull off the miracle of finding kindly local Liz Denny the love of her life?  Small wonder looms large in this charmer from Andre Alexis.

The Hundred-Year House

When a poetry scholar goes digging through the decrepit estate of his wife's family to uncover a bygone arts colony's strange mysteries, he awakens a tenacious monster: his mother-in-law. A wickedly funny take on aging aristocracies from author Rebecca Makkai (The Borrower).