We need a little humanism in these polarizing times. Two quiet, poetic summer films--distinctly American ones--portray an array of characters with grace and without judgement.
Decades after Salesman and Grey Gardens, In Transit is another piece in an enriching oeuvre of documentaries. It may not break much ground artistically as many of Maysles' other works have, but it still feels like an accomplished, refreshing doc distinctive in a sea of quick-paced docs (and YouTube videos) in an era of cynical indies and sheepish, boring blockbusters. What burns through is a love for the quirky, the misfits and the down-on-luck. The camera and the shaping of the film through editing (brilliant work by True) and intertwining stories treats all within the work with compassion. A reminder how much the Maysles will be missed. ****
Person to Person reminded me somewhat of Wayne Wang's and Paul Auster's 1995 multi-character movie Smoke. Though not as sharply written or disarmingly deep as Auster's tales, Person to Person, a movie written and directed by Dustin Guy Defa, is comparable as lithe little New York comedy and a quiet gem. The cast (deftly selected by one of the masters of casting: Avy Kaufman), which includes as its most familiar faces Michael Cera and Abbi Jacobson as bumbling NYC paper reporters and a rumpled Philip Baker Hall (almost emotionless--perhaps hardened from all he's seen) as a tinker, are all appealing. A true standout is the bright Tavi Gevinson with her pixie haircut and blunt voice delivering amusingly dry and quietly searing social commentary. The comic lines throughout land softly and the story-lines don't really move anywhere too surprising, it knows its limits and because of this, the film feels humble and warm. ***
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