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Warren Finerty, Gary Goodrow, James Anderson, Carl Lee,
Like an anteroom in hell, The Connection logs the listless waiting of West Village druggies caught in that irreducible moment before the dealer delivers. Director Shirley Clarke captures this hep crash pad with the distanced cool of a Miles Davis composition: the highly inventive roving camera, some marvelous medicated acting, and a poignant jazz score add up to a truly hip mise-en-scène. As luck would have it, half of the “dopers” are jazz musicians, including the great Jackie McLean on alto sax and Freddie Redd on piano, so when they’re not nodding out they’re counting down some great riffs in the key of H. Clarke’s first feature is also a critique of filmic reality, brought to us courtesy of a filmmaker within the story who is making a documentary about addicts.
Robert Frost: A Lover’s Quarrel with the World
Shirley Clarke, United States, 1963
Clarke’s gift for portraiture is amply evident in her Academy Award–winning depiction of octogenarian poet Robert Frost—brilliantly edited by Charlotte Zwerin—which shuttles between a series of speaking engagements and scenes of the poet at home in Vermont. Entertaining the audience at Sarah Lawrence, Frost draws attention to the camera crew and to the tension between documentary and performance, saying: “This is a documentary film going on . . . and [the shots] have all been about me with a hoe digging potatoes or walking in the woods, reciting my own poems.” The crowd laughs, as does he, clarifying, “I don’t farm very much—for many years, I have had a little garden—but it is a false picture that presents me as always digging potatoes or saying my own poems.”