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April 17, 2016

"One of the most perfect films that I've ever seen runs a total of three minutes." — Manohla Dargis

The headline above was the opening sentence of her April 1 New York Times review of a 14-film retrospective of Bruce Baillie's movies from 1961 to 1977, at the Film Society of Lincoln Center, up through April 21, 2016 (next Thursday).

She continued:

Shot in 1966, Bruce Baillie's "All My Life" opens on a pan of an old picket fence framed by the blue sky above and a stretch of summer-brown grass below. On the soundtrack, you can hear the crackle and hiss of an old record that's soon filled with the sounds of Ella Fitzgerald singing "All My Life" in a 1936 session with the pianist Teddy Wilson. 

In many respects, the image is perfectly ordinary, the kind that you chance on if you're driving along, say, a California road, as Mr. Baillie was when he popped out of a car, seized by inspiration. Yet, as the camera continues to float left and Fitzgerald begins singing ("All my life/I’ve been waiting for you"), something magical — call it cinema — happens in the middle of the first verse. As the words "My wonderful one/I've begun" warm the soundtrack, a splash of red flowers on the fence suddenly appears, as if the film itself were offering you a garland.

April 17, 2016 at 08:01 AM | Permalink


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