(a film review by Mark R. Leeper)

THE ACT OF READING is a documentary about MOBY-DICK. Director Mark Blumberg flunked his high school English class junior year because he didn't read MOBY-DICK or do any of the papers assigned. The monologue/dialogue seems to imply he had not yet read it when he started this project, but does that mean he never passed English and never graduated from high school?

Blumberg observes and talks to several teachers about MOBY-DICK, including Janet Werner, the teacher who flunked him. The teacher whose class seems to have the most screen time, Vicki Hebert, I found the most annoying: she addresses her students as "my babies" and "my sweeties", and teaches class one day with her face marked up in South-Seas-style tattoos. (Her students are ... unimpressed.)

I *love* MOBY-DICK, and certainly some of the ideas expressed and discussed are worthwhile. I'm not sure a tour of Melville's Great Barrington home with his middle-aged great-great-grandson Peter Whittemore in shorts really conveys much (except perhaps how different everything is now from them--and I suppose that is worth something).

In my opinion, this is a movie for people who already love MOBY-DICK. Showing it to a group of uninterested students is *not* going to *get* them interested.

Released streaming 22 February 2021. Rating: +1 (-4 to +4), or 6/10.

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					Mark R. Leeper
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