February 8, 2005

Maysles' documenting Christo and Jeanne Claude.

The NYT has a nice article about the filmmaker Albert Maysles, who has been documenting the work of Christo and Jeanne Claude for decades. I've been recommending the five-film documentary set in my sidebar (scroll down) for a long time. I recently re-watched the "Runnning Fence" one, which I particularly like because of the fence itself and because of the artists' interaction with the crusty ranchers and the crunchy environmentalists. Anyway, the occasion for my rewatching is the same as the occasion for the Times' article: the big "Gates" project unfurls this weekend in Central Park.
A pioneer in direct cinema, the American version of French cinéma vérité, Mr. Maysles is an old-school documentarian, preferring to remain out of frame and let life speak for itself.

"When you ask a question," he said, "you already know what the answer will be."

And so he has sought out what he doesn't already know.

It was Mr. Maysles's team who filmed a man being stabbed to death during a Rolling Stones concert at Altamont in the 1970 film "Gimme Shelter," Mr. Maysles who ferreted out the aspirations and disappointments of a reclusive mother and daughter in their decaying house in East Hampton, on Long Island, in "Grey Gardens" (1976). And it is Mr. Maysles whom the Christos have allowed to accompany them from intimacy to intimacy for more than three decades, from Christo's freak-out session as he watched their Colorado curtain become snagged during its unfurling in 1972 to Jeanne-Claude's singing "Oh, What a Beautiful Day," a bit off-key, in the back of a taxi cab in 2003.

I love the Maysles' movies. And did you notice the jab at Michael Moore in that passage?

No comments: