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Review: California Typewriter is an informative, charismatic homage to an outdated machine

California Typewriter is a documentary about people whose lives are connected by typewriters.

4 out of 4 stars

Title
California Typewriter
Directed by
Doug Nichol
Starring
Tom Hanks, Kenneth Alexander, Sam Shepard, Martin Howard
Genre
Documentary
Classification
G
Country
USA
Language
English
Year
2017

I enjoyed this film about typewriters so much that I feel guilty writing this review on a computer instead of a Smith Corona.

The soulful, romantic take on typewriter loyalty begins with a narrator going on about a "1963 Buick LeSabre hammering along U.S. Highway 91, Interstate 15," southwest of Las Vegas. Is this a Hunter S. Thompson novel? A Springsteen lyric? It is neither. Rather, California Typewriter is an informative and charismatic homage to a humble, outdated composing machine.

We visit a struggling typewriter repair shop in Berkeley, Calif., and we hear from collectors and thoughtful championing celebrities such as Tom Hanks, Sam Shepard and guitarist John Mayer. There's a certain nostalgia at work here, but where the film really clicks is on the subject of the creative process and as a meditation on the human-machine dynamic. The film openly roots for a typewriter revival and, if you don't believe that it can happen, I've got a vinyl-pressing plant in Brooklyn to sell you.

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