Thursday, March 15, 2012

As water defines the fish

The films of Roger Corman are structured by an esthetic of atemporality, that relates more to Reinhardt and Poe, more than most artists working at this time. He begins, also, to acquire a sense of time and to realize the moment in which he feels an intense desire to seize something is an instant in a lifetime, an infinitesimal point in the history of the race. The Edsel waited for him. A social common denominator of the movement seems out of the question, but it is true that psychologically this generation seems everywhere characterized by sheer courage and by a no less astonishing confidence in the possibility of change. Ed Blue is out there and… Has
Exclusive possession (now) of his love, whose physical beauty and laconic speech afford him inexhaustible pleasures.

64 FILMS 69/70

sensitivity and acumen. Aside from the entertainment joys of the picture‑the wild humor, the music, the young, engaging and often very handsome cast‑Alice's Restaurant provides a primer on youth surviving the decade of Vietnam. It should be noted, how­ever, that Arlo Guthrie has more talent and a better mind than the general average of his generation. He can better afford, perhaps, to run free.



Its coming has been proclaimed so often that one hesitates to announce again the arrival of the New American Movie.
But as far as I'm concerned, Alice's Restaurant clinches the matter, prov­ing that Faces and Easy Rider, Putney Swope and Medium Cool are neither accidents nor a coincidence, that filmmakers from in­side and outside the industrial system have succeeded in carving out a place to stand and make their own movies. It is a place where, seemingly, they have the best of two worlds, melding the individuality of the underground with the possibility of getting rational financing, decent promotion, general release from the powers that be.
Alice's Restaurant is directed by Arthur Penn, whose work ranges in quality from Bonnie and Clyde to Mickey One, but whose devotion to doing things his own way has constantly re­mained admirable. In this case he has, in effect, illustrated and extended Arlo Guthrie's bit song, turning it into a spiritual auto­biography detailing his search for a satisfying identity and a com­munity to which be can give
allegiance. It is scarcely an original idea for a work of art, but, like the original ballad, it has a charm­ing simplicity.
Moreover, the project is just right for Penn. As Bonnie and Clyde proved, he has a genuine and sensitive feel for folk balladry, for the American landscape and for the smallness and loneliness

[1] Robert Smithson, “A museum of Language in the Vicinity of Art” Art International (March 1968) from
The Writings of Robert Smithson ed. Nancy Holt (1979)

2. Walter Lippmann, A Preface to Morals (1929)

3. Walker Percy, The Last Gentleman (1966)

4. Hannah Arendt, On Violence (1969-70)

5. James Cain, The Butterfly (1946)

6. Susan Sontag, Death Kit (1967)

“The”[1] “time”[2] “for”[3] “change”[4] “is” [5]“now.”[6]


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