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Gravity's Rainbow 

Wednesday, Mar 5 2008
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The San Francisco Irish Film Festival has plenty of interesting screenings scheduled: San Francisco's favorite Irish superstar, Trainspotting author Irvine Welsh, contributes a short film about testicular cancer called Nuts, for example. The really sexy one, though, is undoubtedly Cathal Black's Learning Gravity. It's the latest but not the first documentary on the subject of an old white guy from Milford, Michigan: Thomas Lynch, writer, undertaker, and main inspiration for Six Feet Under. (One of the other inspirations was Jessica Mitford's The American Way of Death, natch.) Lynch presides over a funeral home at which three generations of Lynches have worked, and the experience has made him a poet as well as an authoritative observer of human behavior. Six Feet Under creator Alan Ball calls Lynch "a brilliant, soulful writer" whose essays helped create the tone of the HBO television show. We can see why -- among other repetitive funereal gestures people make, he writes, is "The nodding of heads in mum consensus at the mystery of it all."

Black and Lynch (their real names, apparently) both appear in person at Learning Gravity's screening today at 7 p.m.
March 10-13; Wed., March 12, 2008

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Hiya Swanhuyser

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