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Jonas1968

  • 3.3
A verité portrait of Jonas Mekas making his daily rounds, JONAS shows us the underground impresario attending a peace rally, filming in Central Park, typing up notes at the Village Voice and projecting his latest rushes at the Film-Makers' Cooperative. A true New Yorker, Mekas seems to be everywhere at once, always with a Bolex camera slung over his shoulder. In detailing these routines, director Gideon Bachmann comes away with a striking time capsule of a city bent on art. - Max Goldberg

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"...a striking time capsule of a city bent on art." - Max Goldberg


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Viewers unfamiliar with Jonas Mekas, as I was, will find Gideon Bachmann's "Jonas" a welcome companion to the master's playful diary films. Mekas earns his reputation as “godfather of American avant garde cinema” with a peripatetic style of whiplash pans, near-subliminal cuts, and non-diegetic sound. The documentary "Jonas" makes these abstractions more accessible by showing us Mekas the filmmaker in action, Bolex in hand, whirling to record staccato fragments of late-1960s Manhattan. Bachmann cannily matches his visual style to that of Mekas' films, tracking his subject dynamically as Mekas mingles with Allan Ginsberg, Norman Mailer, and Shirley Clarke to a soundtrack of Pete Seeger and Bob Dylan. Watching these artists in motion makes clear that a more conventional style would fail to impart the dynamism of the underground scene which Mekas, in his heavy Lithuanian accent, defines as "cinema that doesn't take itself seriously." "Jonas" shows us how much fun Mekas and his cohort were having. After seeing Bachmann's playful paean, watching their films is that much fun too.

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