Stone Reader [Special Edition] [2 Discs] [DVD] [2002]

A must-see for those that love documentaries and reading, The Stone Reader is also an exceptional two-disc DVD. Framed at 1.85:1, and fortunately anamorphic, the picture does suffer from the obvious restraints of a low-budget film. Colors are generally very good and accurate, but the detail is often lacking. While not an unappealing transfer, and probably about as good as can be expected, the general quality is, at times, a bit of a distraction, though, fortunately, not enough to create an unfavorable first impression. The two-channel Dolby Digital soundtrack is, once again, about as much as would be expected for this genre. Documentaries, for the most part, aren't known for having, let alone needing, an expansive audio field, and that is the case here. The dialogue is perfectly clear, and nothing else would be expected, or required. What sets this release apart, though, is the number of supplemental features. For starters, the first disc includes a gap-filled and somewhat lacking commentary track from Stones of Summer author Dow Mossman and director Mark Moskowitz. Finishing off this disc is additional footage of the authors interviewed for the film plus lists of the books they've written and a web resource of additional book titles. The second disc contains the bulk of the extras, and the honest truth is that it all may be a bit more than the average viewer can absorb. Some of it has nothing necessarily to do with this film, such as an interview with Toni Morrison by A.S. Byatt and a short film by Cindy Stilwell called First Story (literally no connection can be made between either film!), while others features include extended interviews with authors from the film, deleted scenes, and film-related featurettes, including one on Roger Ebert's Overlooked Film Festival and how this film made it that far. Some features fall in the middle, such as a full broadcast of William F. Buckley's Firing Line from 1974 with author Leslie Fiedler as his guest. On the whole, the hours of information offered is a bit overwhelming, but will appeal greatly to the reading intelligentsia. Who would have expected such dense material with a little-seen documentary? In a strange way, it all seems to work together with one common denominator: a passion for the love of reading.
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Special Features

  • Feature length commentary with director Mark Moskowitz
  • Photo gallery
  • Book lists
  • Writers panel
  • Betty Kelly interview
  • Leslie Fieldler: More From Stone Reader
  • Leslie Fieldler: From Firing Line
  • A.S. Byatt With Toni Morrison
  • Further conversations
  • Deleted scenes
  • Connections Across Time
  • Jane Maslin With Mark Moskowitz
  • Featurette (What Happened Next)
  • Roger Ebert's Overlooked Film Festival
  • First story
  • Original theatrical trailer
  • Scene selections
  • Web resources
  • Closed Captioned


Stone Reader
In 1972, 18-year-old Mark Moskowitz read a positive review in the New York Times Book Review that inspired him to get a copy of Dow Mossman's novel, The Stones of Summer. An avid reader, Moskowitz found himself unable to get through the book, and set it aside after 20 pages. Twenty-five years later, he finally picked it up again, this time reading it all the way through. Moskowitz was thrilled with the book, and immediately began looking for the author's other works. There weren't any. At this point, Moskowitz, who earns his living making political advertisements, began making a documentary, Stone Reader, which depicts his search for Mossman. He tracks down the writer of the original Times review, along with teachers, editors, agents, and other authors whom he thinks might have known Mossman or might have some insight into what happened to the author. He talks to critic Leslie Fiedler and author Frank Conroy, the head of the Iowa Writers Workshop, among others. Moskowitz tries to understand how it's possible for an author to write one outstanding book as a young man and then seemingly disappear. He also explores his own rewarding lifelong relationship with literature. ~ Josh Ralske, Rovi

Cast & Crew

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