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Cinematic States: Stories We Tell, the American Dreamlife, and How to Understand Everything

3.92  ·  Rating details ·  12 ratings  ·  9 reviews
A Northern Irish writer explores his adopted homeland through film in this irreverent yet moving journey through each of the 50 states. Set among a personal backdrop of immigration memoir, he takes on American myths in their most powerful form—the motion picture—by setting out to determine if a Kansas yellow brick road really does lead to the end of the rainbow, and whethe ...more
Paperback, 380 pages
Published November 5th 2013 by Burnside Books
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Feb 11, 2014 rated it really liked it
Born in Belfast, Gareth Higgins lived in a nation torn apart by politics and religion. His escape was the local cinema. Film opened up an alternative reality for him:

Because of the violence that engulfed my community, the limits of home–where people were killed because of their voting preference or religious beliefs or being in the wrong place at the wrong time, where religion was politics, and politics was violence–were too restrictive for me to accept as the boundaries of being human. Places l
Feb 09, 2014 rated it really liked it
Shelves: insightful
I thoroughly enjoyed reading it. It was a quick, easy, and interesting read. The premise is that Higgins, who has come to live in the United States from Ireland, needs a way to connect with his American neighbors and since he is a film buff, he decides to watch and analyze films that he feels represent each American state to see what he can learn about its people.

As I was reading, it was fun to guess what films he would pick to represent each state-some were obvious, like Gone with the Wind for
Glen Grunau
Apr 10, 2016 rated it really liked it
I recently spent 6 days in the far south of the US in Albuquerque, New Mexico. I was attending the Movies and Meaning Conference with host Gareth Higgins. He is a self-confessed movie addict. I can relate. But Gareth inspired me with his reminder that movies are not created for our passive entertainment. They are given to us (at least the good ones) to help us live better.

Gareth has written a book entitled Cinematic States: Stories We Tell, The American Dreamlife, and How to Understand Everythi
Jan 15, 2014 added it
Shelves: read-in-2014
A guy from Ireland with a love of movies moved to the United States (specifically to Durham, NC) and decided to document his project to learn about America by watching at least one movie for every state. This is the premise of Cinematic States by Gareth Higgins: he works his way through the states (and accompanying movies) in alphabetic order with an essay on each one.

My interest in the chapters varied based on how much I knew about the state and/or the movie he was talking about. For some of th
Perhaps unintentionally one of the most well written and compelling arguments for getting a Netflix disc subscription, Cinematic States is a lovely book. It flits in an appropriately dreamlike fashion from meditative vignette to meditative vignette, examining the brush strokes of America's cinematic psyche. It says painfully beautiful things about forgiveness, acceptance, loving others and the lies we tell ourselves about the redemptive power of violence. It is different and distinct from almost ...more
George Donigian
An Irishman writes cinematic reflections and observations about each of the 50 states plus the District of Columbia through the lens of films either made in or featuring the given state. Colorado, for example, leads to Citizen Kane and The Shining, which lead further to a wildly substantive conversation between Charles Foster Kane, Jack Torrance, and a counselor who represents Colorado’s conservative Christian ministries. Fight Club shows us Delaware and the power of corporate entities to shape, ...more
April Yamasaki
The premise of the book is intriguing — a look at America through the lens of different movies set in each of the fifty states plus Washington DC. Originally from Northern Ireland and now living in the US, author Gareth Higgins has a unique perspective–keenly observant, sometimes irreverent, always thought-provoking. Here is my full review: If you Love Movies, You'll Love This Book. ...more
Fr. River
Jan 02, 2014 rated it it was amazing
Cinematic States is a book by Gareth Higgins, who is native to Ireland. He describes his love of movies in Ireland and then he takes us through all fifty states identifying each with a movie. He shows the mixture of our perceptions and of how we let our ambitions shape us in each state. We tend to be a people looking for the American dream and he points out that the American dream that we really are looking for is basically one of loving one another.
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Oct 04, 2018 added it
A Northern Irishman emigrates to the US and writes about the movies he think best represent each of the 50 States.
He includes a lot of movies I haven't seen, and excludes many I have. Not that he hasn't seen the films I've seen, he just didn't think they represented the state in question. In his West Virginia essay he mentions Matewan, but not as a representative film. Matewan is one of my favorite films and depicts a heroic struggle of forces present in contemporary US culture, but is it truly
Caleb Seeling
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May 20, 2016
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