By Joe McElhaney

ISBN-10: 0252034295

ISBN-13: 9780252034299

Albert Maysles has created the most influential documentaries of the postwar interval. Such motion pictures as Salesman, Gimme Shelter, and Grey Gardens proceed to generate excessive debate concerning the ethics and aesthetics of the documentary shape. during this in-depth learn, Joe McElhaney bargains a singular realizing of the old relevance of Maysles. by way of heavily targeting Maysles's expressive use of his digital camera, really when it comes to the filming of the human determine, this publication situates Maysles's movies inside of not just documentary movie background yet movie heritage more often than not, arguing for his or her broad-ranging value to either narrative movie and documentary cinema. entire with a fascinating interview with Maysles and an in depth comparability of the variation releases of his documentary at the Beatles (What's taking place: The Beatles within the U.S.A. and The Beatles: the 1st U.S. Visit), this paintings is a pivotal research of an important filmmaker.

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Documentary critics and scholars have traditionally held documentary filmmakers accountable for what they say about their own work in a way that would be unimaginable for scholars of Hollywood cinema to hold accountable the (often questionable) statements made by, say, John Ford or Howard Hawks about their own work. I essentially agree with Stella Bruzzi, who argues that direct cinema has been misdefined and has misdefined itself (72). The implied continuity between the statements made by direct-cinema filmmakers and the works themselves has too often closed off other possibilities for reading these films.

However, most of the Maysles films from the 1960s and after are set in America, and while embracing a pluralistic vision they nevertheless imply that whatever its flaws, America remains the ultimate space for humanistic and democratic principles. Ozawa brings this point home with a clarity verging on the didactic, as the conductor of the Boston Symphony, the Japanese-born Seiji Ozawa, extensively discusses his difficulties as a conductor within an emotionally rigid Japan that has no place for him.

Wiseman’s methods are the obverse of Maysles’s. Wiseman’s camera, x-ray like, concerns itself with uncovering the surface of the worlds being depicted, hence the emphasis on grotesquerie, caricature, ugliness, and on movements predicated on their relationship to stillness, embalming, or death: the mannequins in The Store or the statuary in La Comédie- Française (1996). While mindful of the dehumanizing aspects of work in contemporary American culture, Maysles never goes to the extremes of Wiseman.

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Albert Maysles by Joe McElhaney


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