On Joan Micklin Silver (1935–2020)

Carlos Valladares at n+1:

Hester Street contains no muckraking impulse to uncover the “truth” of How the Other Half Lives. She rejected any sort of outsider gaze in favor of an awareness to the cadences of Yiddish, the shimmering falling leaves as an immigrant son and his father learn how to play baseball in a sun-kissed park, the loving camera effect gotten out of Keats’s blindingly over-exposed white shirt. It’s a perceptiveness that doesn’t advertise how perceptive it is. Much of Hester Street is consumed with the ordinary problem of how Carol Kane should style her wild hair, what raiment she should cross Delancey Street in, which hat to wear. Nearly a century after the events of Hester Street, in Crossing Delancey (my favorite Silver film, a rom-com set in contemporary 1988 New York), Amy Irving is obsessed by the same problem: whether to wear a Diane Keaton-ish bowler hat that was gifted to her by the owner of a pickle shop (Peter Riegert). The past constantly revives in Silver; newer generations never forget where they came from; time ebbs and flows in and out of style.

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