Wednesday, 16 September 2015

The Connection

Listening to Jackie Mclean’s Destination Out! album this morning… The lead feature in this month’s Sight and Sound, 100 Overlooked Films Directed By Women put in mind Shirley Clarke’s 1961 film The Connection which I revisited last night, and features Jackie Mclean as one of the junkie jazz musicians holed up in Warren Finnerty’s roach infested tenement apartment waiting to score. It’s a great tragedy that so little footage of Living Theatre performances exist, The Connection especially - early productions, included Martin Sheen and Cecil Taylor in the cast, but what a high-wire act that play must have been to see, with actors suffering the unpredictable tortures of junk sickness (which many audiences believed were genuine), spontaneous outbursts of bebop jazz, and great street poetry. Shirley Clarke’s film is surprisingly cinematic for an adaptation of a single-set production, the play-within-a-play transposed to a film-within-a-film and includes rough camerawork, sudden jump cuts, narrative breakdowns, and in a sequence where the film’s fictional director experiments with a shot of heroin, the camerawork becomes listless and inattentive, a moment that always makes me think of Roger Corman, ever conscientious, taking LSD in preparation for making The TripThe Connection is available as an excellent luminous looking region-free Blu-Ray, and comes highly recommended.

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