Speaking Directly: Some American Notes

A key work in the American independent cinema, Jon Jost’s first feature (1974) is an essay film devoted to self-definition and moral reckoning. Made on an impossibly slim budget$2,500this multifaceted work includes everything from the tools and preconditions of its own making to Jost’s personal relationships at the time to a cogent political analysis of the U.S. in relation to the rest of the world (Vietnam in particular). Its equally varied technique includes everything from extended takes and elaborate camera movements to liquid, lyrical dissolves and incidental animation. Certain sections are bound to irritate, others may amuse or enlightenbut all are versions of what the title promises, and collectively they have more to say about the 60s counterculture than you could find in a lifetime of TV misinformation. If you’re curious why some critics have called Jost the American Godard, this is the perfect place to find a credible answer. (JR)

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