More than forty years after legendary documentarian Les Blank began filming singer-songwriter Leon Russell, the brilliant work that emerged from his observations, A Poem Is a Naked Person, is finally available on Blu-ray and DVD. This long-awaited vérité wonder melds Blank’s idiosyncratic, off-the-cuff filmmaking style with Russell’s dynamic talent, to create an intimate and beautifully unique portrait of an artist. Blank’s film, wholly imbued with his singular style, shows the storied musician and his rotating cast of characters in a variety of situations and locales, from captivating concert footage to scenes from Russell’s Oklahoma recording studio. The clip below offers a brief glimpse at this eccentric film and its spirited performer, following Russell as he plays the Hank Williams song “Jambalaya (on the Bayou)” with a plate of barbecue atop his piano.
Digging Through Movie History at Chaplin’s Studios
Film scholar Craig Barron gives us a tour of the studios on whose back lot Charlie Chaplin built the set for his final film of the silent era, The Circus.
Career Women in the Land of Lubitsch
Critics Molly Haskell and Farran Smith Nehme talk about the highly idiosyncratic heroines who populate Ernst Lubitsch’s comedies, including the protagonist of his final film, Cluny Brown.
Ritwik Ghatak’s Pursuit of Truth Beyond Realism
Acclaimed Indian filmmakers Saeed Akhtar Mirza and Kumar Shahani discuss how the Bengali master mixed expressionism and naturalism in his devastating domestic tragedy The Cloud-Capped Star.