Movie Journal: The Rise of the New American Cinema, 1959–1971, by Jonas Mekas. New York: Columbia University Press, 2016. 496 pages.
I BEGAN READING Jonas Mekas’s Movie Journal column in the Village Voice in 1961, three years after it first appeared and roughly around the time I saw his first feature film, Guns of the Trees (1961), at the eclectic New York film showcase Cinema 16. Chalk it up to callow youth and an inchoate sense that women were most valued as muses or if they filmed flowers, but I was not receptive to the emerging movement that Mekas would dub the New American Cinema and certainly not to Guns, which was extremely depressingthe sinkhole of cinema, I said. I laughed aloud at Stan Brakhage’s Anticipation of the Night (1958) and the modern-dance posing of the star of Meshes of the Afternoon (1943), Maya Deren, who was also the film’s coauthor. In his March 15,
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