Ebert’s reviews were deeply subjective, but his position as America’s most famous film critic means he represented something bigger than himself. His perspective was that of an educated, middle-class, white, liberal American male, and his zero-star reviews are a reflection of what the average educated, middle-class, white, liberal American male was willing to accept at any given moment. Ebert’s forty-six-year body of work reads like an intellectual autobiography. There are few writers who I’ve spent more time reading than Roger Ebert. There are few culture writers who inspired more people to follow in his footsteps. I’m surprised by how seldom I’ve revisited him since his death.
"Most pizzas are cooked over here, on the right side, far from the fire," Tamaki explained to me in Japanese, drawing an overhead picture of the oven, a three-quarters circle, flat at the bottom, the wood burning off to the left, a line down the middle. "That's the safest place. But I put the marinara in the center, close to the flames. When other pizza guys see this they can't believe I'd take this risk," he said. "There is no room for mistake in the center. Timing has to be perfect. And then at the last moment I throw in a handful of sugi chips" — Japanese cedar — "flaring up the fire, glazing the dough, giving it just the slightest hint of bitterness from the wood. That bitterness deepens all the other flavors and amplifies the umami."
Tamaki makes a style of Neapolitan pizza that's not quite NYC, not quite Naples; it's something all his own, and something worthy in and of itself of a visit to Tokyo. Over the last 20-odd years, new kinds of Neapolitan-style pizza have taken shape and matured in Tokyo. The style derives from the classic Neapolitan — a thin-but-not-too-thin crust, lush San Marzano tomatoes, and careful attention to the fundamentals of fine-grained doppio zero flour, olive oil, and water — but in the same way that New York's Neapolitan is often called neo-Neapolitan (because the center is usually less soupy, the toppings sometimes more baroque, and the old New York ovens fired by coal, not wood), the pies coming out of the ovens of Tamaki and his brethren can only be called Tokyo Neapolitan. A perfect Tokyo Neapolitan pizza is defined by locally sourced wood burned in a locally sourced oven, an extra punch of salt, and a delicateness of dough that extends to the tip of the fire-seared crust.
Cumming’s images undermine the idea that a photograph, upon first glance, is as reliable as anything that reaches the unique receptors leading to our sensorium—eyes, nose, ears, mouth, skin, the liminal areas between the world around us and the world of cognition. He explores the moment of seeing, and delivers us wildly imagined permutations of the moment that follows: when perception is either uncontrollably, automatically processed or mistakenly processed based on remembered experience. But always with a robust and fathomless imagination.
The act of translation is not just a case of switching words from one language to another: it requires countless extralinguistic tweaks and alterations to account for differences in the target culture. And there is more to the adaptation of a short story to film than simply producing a visual rendition of what is written on the page.