Losing Ground Screen 15 articles

Losing Ground

1982

Losing Ground Poster
  • While Collins’ basic head/heart dichotomy isn’t especially deep, she still succeeds in detailing the various ways in which we all stumble about looking for a blessed moment of release. At its best, Losing Ground suggests a wobbly filmmaker who was robbed of the chance to steady herself. At its worst, it’s still a fascinating time capsule.

  • The inherent tension of this scenario is ratcheted up gradually, across patient, theatrically composed scenes, and while Losing Ground affects the familiar soul-searching feel of many modern indies, it's clearly a product of a previous generation's fondness for the unashamedly highbrow, with well-spoken characters spouting shards of psychoanalytic jargon.

  • Jones gets to mouth one of the finest pick-up lines in all of cinema: “Christianity has had a devastating effect on man as an intuitive creature, don’t you think?” Collins... left a small but distinguished legacy when she died at age forty-six in 1988—her fifty-four-minute The Cruz Brothers and Miss Malloy (1980), which shows her and DP Ronald K. Gray beginning experiments with subjective camerawork that they’ll continue in Losing Ground, will also have a revival.

  • Collins’s calm, analytical compositions, with their bright colors and lambent light, form lyrical tableaux that highlight the actors’ vulnerable intimacy. Scott’s taut, balletic poise lends Sarah’s crisis a quiet agony, and Gunn (who died in 1989) is aptly persuasive in the role of a determined artist.

  • Collins’s sharp script is peppered with compassionate insights about long-term relationships, and reflexive dialogue about what it means to be a black creative. Scott is a marvel at balancing a cool exterior with interior passions, while the sinewy, charismatic Gunn gives a layered performance.

  • While it’s tempting to read this as a feminist moment, her very real tears aren’t only from heartbreak, but also from frustration: she has no other option except to shoot. This masterful finale, born of rage and realized with supreme control, is a fitting image for black independent filmmaking in the U.S., a work in progress, driven by passion and necessity.

  • A year [before Bill Gunn died], another extraordinary talent with whom Gunn had collaborated, Kathleen Collins, passed away prematurely: Her second (and final) film, the loose and effervescent Losing Ground (1982), stands as one of the finest about a marriage between two ambitious members of the creative class.

  • As crucial as it is to reclaim Losing Ground as a vital, vibrant, retroactively canonical independent film by an African American female director—made when African American female directors were even scarcer than they are now—it’s no less crucial to view Collins’s film on its own defiantly individualistic terms.

  • Filled with luminous cinematography and careful framing, Losing Ground often has a rapt quality... Collins directed Losing Ground with clarity and grace, all of her cinematic choices helping to convey Sara’s internal journey.

  • Overall, the film is an astute meditation on a great many things: the academic experience, the aesthetic experience, the black experience, and Sara's experience as a woman... Collins once remarked, "I'm interested in solving certain questions, such as: How do you do an interesting narrative film?" LOSING GROUND is an exceptional solution to that dilemma. There's nothing wrong with telling stories, indeed.

  • It's easily among the most important cinematic rediscoveries of 2015. One of the first narrative features written and directed by an African-American woman, it exhibits a sensibility that's closer in spirit to the casually wise naturalism of Jean Renoir or Eric Rohmer than much in the American film canon.

  • The making of this low-budget production brings out Ms. Collins’s comic gifts even as it allows Sara to blossom. The part of Frankie suits her, as do the attentions of her dashing co-star, played to the hilt by Mr. Jones, featured in the original “Night of the Living Dead” and one of the title characters in Mr. Gunn’s 1973 cult film, “Ganja & Hess.”

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    Film Comment: Nick Davis
    May 03, 2016 | May/June 2016 Issue (p. 75)

    Sara's dilemmas are emotionally and psychologically rich, even as the film calls constant attention to its own constructedness through bright, Godardian colors, proscenium-style framing, and film-within-a-film conceits. Initially coalescing as yet another parable of an inhibited female professional who needs to relax, Losing Ground instead explores the high stakes of self-transformation, the ambivalent pleasures of the body, and the blessings and curses of partnership.

  • It is thanks to Nina Lorez Collins that we are able to see her mother’s brilliant work... It could have so easily been trashed at any step along that path, so any viewing of Losing Ground is a gift, and should be welcomed as such.

  • Collins is ceaselessly visually daring and formally innovative—her narrative builds up to a dance-based musical film-within-a-film, in which Sara releases herself during one of her trips back to New York. The screenplay’s investigations into race, class, and sexuality live and breathe through the depth with which Collins renders multifaceted inner desires, harkening back to the deft characterizations of her posthumously published short story collection, Whatever Happened to Interracial Love?

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