• Img_current_amarriedcouplegrabs38_large

    In his Los Angeles Times review of Eclipse Series 24, critic Dennis Lim lays out why readers may not know the filmmaker honored by the set, and why they should: “The subject of The Actuality Dramas of Allan King, a new five-film DVD set from Criterion’s Eclipse line, has long been cinema verité’s forgotten man. This is partly because King’s films, mostly made for Canadian television, received limited exposure abroad. But it could also be because he gravitated to harsher subjects than his American colleagues (he never made a concert movie or a celebrity documentary).” He also explains the set’s title: “The late Allan King, the leading Canadian counterpart to Wiseman, the Maysles brothers, and D. A. Pennebaker, referred to his subjects as characters and called his films ‘actuality dramas,’ an admission that he was consciously testing and blurring the boundaries between narrative and documentary.”

    Lim describes the films in the set (including A Married Couple, “perhaps King’s crowning achievement . . . a chronicle that often matches the devastating intensity of a similarly themed fiction film of the period, John Cassavetes’ Faces”) as “humane, unblinking.” He makes a strong case for King as an essential artist, and we couldn’t agree more: “Looking closely at people and situations that others would prefer not to see, his best work ranged across a remarkable spectrum of human experience, all of which he approached with a curiosity and steely compassion that are the very definition of humanist art.”

    Also: recommended reading from DVD Town.

    UPDATE 28SEP2010: Glenn Heath Jr., writing for Slant: “If there’s one great pleasure in a tormented cinephile’s life, it’s the sudden and unexpected discovery of a filmmaker so involving, so essential, that experiencing their films sends your preconceived notions about genre, production, and even the rhythms of everyday life into a tailspin. Canadian director Allan King, whose five diverse and devastating ‘actuality dramas’ are finally available via Criterion’s indispensable Eclipse box set, is such an artist.”

Leave the first comment