Paul Arthur

  • Cast and crew preparing a reenactment during the filming of Errol Morris’s Standard Operating Procedure. Photo: Nubar Alexanian, 2007.

    Errol Morris

    A KEY ASSUMPTION in cinema verité’s once-dominant aesthetic program is that Truth and Beauty exist in inverse proportions. Accordingly, any overt display of artfulness or blatant shaping of rhetorical devices inevitably weakens a documentary’s capacity for veracious inscriptions of reality. For better or worse, injunctions against such techniques as mood music, reenactments, and suspenseful editing were swept away during the commercial resurgence of American documentaries in the late 1980s. Today it is rare for a successful nonfiction release to eschew the ramping up of viewer engagement through

  • Stan Brakhage: Four Films

    THERE IS A SMALL ANECDOTE in circulation concerning Stan Brakhage and his first confrontation with Andy Warhol’s “long-take” films of the early sixties. Brakhage arrived in New York one day, curious and somewhat irritated by the critical praise these films had received at the hands of Jonas Mekas in The Village Voice. He requested from Mekas a private screening of the work in question and, this promptly accomplished, retired to a room with a projector, only to emerge several hours later—tired but more enraged than before, denouncing the flurry of critical revelation occasioned by films such as

  • The Calisthenics of Vision: Open Instructions on the Films of George Landow

    STAN BREAKAGE, BY THE MAGNITUDE of his effort and the articulation of a hypostatic universe, could well be posited as the Atlas of New American Cinema. George Landow might have been its Charles Atlas, a figure taken up wth the analytic assumption of heroic postures, were it not for his rejection of “bulk” for “definition” (the former endemic to body builders, the latter to athletes). Instead, engendering a kind of popular hermeneutics, Landow emerges as an esthetic Jack La Lanne, that is, a guide for the retraining of the perceptual organs.

    Though he shares certain phenomenological concerns with