Zach Goldberg



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“If you figure a way to live without serving a master, any master, then let the rest of us know, will you? For you’d be the first in the history of the world.” – Lancaster Dodd, The Master

Whether you know it or not, you serve a master. If you’re fortunate, you recognize it early on and are blessed with an apprenticeship that could last a lifetime.

I’ve been on a particular kick recently in discussing cinema, invoking its name countless times over the past couple of months. There’s a reason for this, beyond the obvious that I am a filmmaker with a deep adoration for movies.

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Stagecoach (1939) dir. John Ford

Orson Welles once said, "Hawks is great prose; Ford is poetry." Take in a just a few Ford pictures and you'll understand. For now, "Stagecoach." Ford had been working the Hollywood system for more than two decades, but it wasn't before this film (released in 1939), that he found his first monumental success. The film was also his first western in over 10 years and it was a genre Ford would not leave for the rest of his career. It's easy to understand why. The landscapes of the west are a directors dream, Take for example the legendary shot of John Wayne in "Stagecoach" (pictured above). Wayne's Ringo Kid is not introduced until after the first act of the movie, but the way his appearance is shot immediately declares that he is an important character to pay attention to and the one we should follow closely the rest of the film. The stagecoach company crosses a tiny river passing when we hear shots fire. We cut to Wayne waving his gun in the air, his figure looming over the western peaks and valleys (hell, the way the shot is composed he's appears taller than the formations behind him). The camera quickly dollies in, and Wayne takes up the entire frame. As an audience, we're hooked. Who is this man? It's filmmaking at its finest.


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The American Western has come to hold a very special place in my cinematic heart. This certainly took some time. As an adolescent, I couldn’t appreciate the pacing of these films, nor the almost mythic archetypes and characterizations. And, having not immersed myself in cinema quite yet, was incapable of comprehending the beauty of the compositions– how these filmmakers made the setting of the west a character in and of itself.

Today, I count many westerns among my favorite films. I’m reminded of a quote from Clint Eastwood:

“There are not too many American art forms that are original.. Other than the western and jazz or blues, that’s all that’s really original.”

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Why do we dream?

This has baffled us for eons. What is the function of the dream state? Is it physiological? Biological? Psychological?

I’ve always been very taken with the idea that dreams allow us to process information and experiences that we absorb in our waking life and, through our sub-conscious mind, better make sense of them.

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I was raised Jewish.

My family is Jewish. Cultural, New York Jews in every sense. Reform Jews– meaning while we honored and observed the big holidays and my siblings and I took part in Bar or Bat-Mitzvahs, it was a very “modernized” version of Judaism. We didn’t observe Shabbat. We only attended temple during the high holy days of Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur. We certainly did not keep kosher.

Our Judaism seemed to be less about faith and more about tradition and community. To this day, my extended family still gets together on these holidays, but more for the occasion of sharing each other’s company.

So, yes, I was raised Jewish. Am Jewish. Will always be Jewish. But when I think of faith, when I dwell on what inspires me and provides context and understanding into the depth of humanity, I am inevitably brought back to one thing.

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Nights of Cabiria (1957) dir. Federico Fellini

The last moments of the film may be the most wonderful and life-affirming in all of cinema. Dance and sing, fellow adventurers. Dance and sing.


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“I had to sit down so I went into a movie house. I didn’t know what was playing or anything, I just needed a moment to gather my thoughts and be logical and put the world back into rational perspective. And I went upstairs to the balcony, and I sat down, and the movie was a film that I’d seen many times in my life since I was a kid, and I always loved it. I’m watching these people up on the screen and I started getting hooked on the film. Look at all the people up there on the screen, they’re real funny, and what if the worst is true? What if there is no God and you only go around once and that’s it. Well, you know, don’t you wanna be part of the experience?” – Woody Allen, Hannah and Her Sisters

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