Download Albert Maysles by Joe McElhaney PDF

By Joe McElhaney

Albert Maysles has created the most influential documentaries of the postwar interval. Such movies as Salesman, Gimme Shelter, and Grey Gardens proceed to generate severe debate concerning the ethics and aesthetics of the documentary shape. during this in-depth research, Joe McElhaney bargains a unique realizing of the historic relevance of Maysles. by way of heavily concentrating on Maysles's expressive use of his digicam, really in terms of the filming of the human determine, this ebook situates Maysles's movies inside of not just documentary movie heritage yet movie background more often than not, arguing for his or her broad-ranging significance to either narrative movie and documentary cinema. entire with a fascinating interview with Maysles and a close comparability of the version releases of his documentary at the Beatles (What's occurring: The Beatles within the U.S.A. and The Beatles: the 1st U.S. Visit), this paintings is a pivotal examine of an important filmmaker.

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Every one of these observations is off the mark, but Mekas’s objections make useful starting points for discussing the film. The reference to “the good old naturalistic tradition,” like Mamber’s objections to the film’s strong sense of structure, suggests that the film attempts to shape its material into something that approaches the realist novel in psychological observation if not in form. This likely was a fundamental problem for those who had previously embraced the work of the Maysles brothers.

Surprisingly, one of the harshest reviews came from Jonas Mekas. Clearly feeling betrayed at the desire of the Maysles brothers to make a film that could speak to a wide audience, he wrote that Salesman was “a big pancake, without any sense of structure” (Mekas 349). Mekas uses the word “boring” six times in his short review. Louis Marcorelles likewise expressed disappointment, although he was much less harsh. Finding it “a remarkable exercise in style,” he nevertheless thought that the film lacked a “critical dimension” in its attitude to reality (Living Cinema 65).

Indd 38 Albert Maysles 1/12/09 4:05:35 PM do not learn anything new about themselves by the end of their films, nor does either film pretend to know anything about these two men other than what occurs directly in front of the camera. This is not true of Salesman. With Salesman, the Maysles brothers undergo a passage not simply from documentary short film to nonfiction feature but from anecdote to something approaching, within the compact space of ninetyone minutes, epic form with a self-consciously American dimension, simultaneously literary and theatrical.

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