One of my ambitions: 7 American films + 7 live lectures/presentations. De Tocqueville part 2. In this election year... there is much to do. A few lines by Henry Adams on the Grant administration to whet your appetite:

“The same laxity that led Gould into a trap which might easily have become the penitentiary, led the United States Senate, the Executive departments and the Judiciary into confusion, cross purposes and ill-temper that would have been scandalous in a boarding-school of girls. For satirists or comedians, the study was rich and endless, and they exploited its corners with happy results, but a young man fresh from the rustic simplicity of London noticed with horror that the grossest satires on the American senator and politician never failed to excite the laughter and applause of every audience. Rich and poor joined in throwing contempt on their own representatives. Society laughed a vacant and meaningless derision over its own failure. Nothing remained for a young man without position or power except to laugh too.
The system of 1789 had broken down, and with it the eighteenth century fabric of a priori, or moral, principles. Politicians had tacitly given it up. Grant’s administration marked the avowal. Nine-tenths of men’s political energies must henceforth be wasted on expedients to piece out, – to patch, – or, in vulgar language, to tinker, – the political machine as often as it broke down. Such a system, or want of system, might last centuries, if tempered by an occasional revolution or civil war; but as a machine, it was, or soon would be, the poorest in the world, – the clumsiest, – the most inefficient.”

A fiction film/documentary, the complex connections they make with American reality, the way in which they give their due weight to what shaped it (a pause, a gesture, a phrase that enters fiction from the street or vice-versa, a costume, a piece of furniture in a room, the texture of a wall, all of this counts as much if not more than a narrative style or all of the content analysis they always try to shove down our throats). The distinction between genres is, as we all know, becoming more and more untenable, and this series intends to highlight and penetrate these overlap areas. Some American themes to frame this operation: democracy; business, its traveling salesmen and their saga; family, that rather unsteady pedestal of all values; what has become of a founding myth (the West), murder as business and pleasure. All this is, of course, only a partial study, just a way of starting a conversation or, as they say, potentially putting one’s foot it, that is, saying something different about the US of A, and not least about cinema.
There are films and filmmakers that are unavoidable. I urge you to let me give them another look because there’s always more to say about them. There are some that need to be rediscovered again and again (Leo McCarey). There are filmmakers we don’t know much about and that should be explored because they encapsulate American reality better than so many others (Jon Alpert, Kent MacKenzie, and Leonard Kastle).

Jean-Pierre Gorin

Screening 1. A sale is a sale is sale

James W. Horne and Leo Mc Carey
USA, 1929, 19’

Albert Maysles and David Maysles
USA, 1968, 85’


Screening 2. The way it came went

Jon Alpert
USA, 2005, 84’



Screening 3. The bed rock ...shaky

Fred Guiol et Leo McCarey
USA, 1928, 23’

Kent MacKenzie
USA, 1961, 72’


Screening 4. Blood on the tracks or i kill, therefore i am

Leonard Kastle
USA, 1970, 108’

John Ford
USA, 1946, 97’



























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