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CALIFORNIA TYPEWRITER launches us into the bittersweet moment when a beloved technology, the typewriter, faces extinction. Delivering a thought-provoking view on the changing dynamic between humans and machines, director and three-time Grammy Award winner and nominee Doug Nichol explores the mythology attached to the classic typewriter, as cultural historians, collectors and various celebrity obsessives (including Tom Hanks, John Mayer, David McCullough, and Sam Shepard) celebrate the typewriter both as object and means of summoning the creative spirit. The film culminates in the movingly documented struggle of California Typewriter, one of the last standing repair shops in America dedicated to keeping the aging machines clicking.
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Even if you have no interest in the typewriter itself, you will be moved by the people presented in this documentary. Their stories unfold in an intriguing way and the filmmakers leave you with wanting to know more about each and every one of them. One point of fascination is seeing each person;s intimate connection with their machine(s).and their individual philosophies that have developed from using the typewrter Tying all of these stories together is the overall examination of the California Typewriter shop and the people who work there.
Do not think this is a journey into the Wayback Machine, for even though these machines are older than most of the people who will read this review, you will see your contemporaries up here extolling the virtues of the typewriter.
Watch and enjoy!
But this documentary is so much more than just the story of the typewriter. In fact, it's really NOT the story of the typewriter. It's the story of creativity, of adaptability, of these machines to last beyond their supposed technological usefulness and to find new footholds in our lives. The crossover with Jeremy Mayer as an artist was provocative, but ultimately beautiful.
I've met several people featured in this documentary, and they shine nearly as much on the screen as they do in real life. It was great fun to see them honored for their own contributions to preserving these honorable machines.
If you think you still have Grandma's old typewriter hidden in the attic, I urge you to go find it, clean it up, buy a new ribbon on Amazon (they're cheap and plentiful!), roll in a sheet of clean paper, and type away. There is something about hearing and feeling the mechanics of a typewriter that cannot be matched by any computer. Write someone a thank-you note. Send someone a letter so they know you're thinking of them. Believe me, it'll make their day.
Note, this movie can be seen for free on Hulu.