Salesman Screen 5 articles



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  • The Village Voice: Jonas Mekas
    June 12, 1969 | The Village Voice Film Guide (pp. 228-229)

    Salesman is a very well-made film, but God, it's so grim, so boring. And that's why I am not writing about it: i can't figure out why this good movie is so boring. Every shot is good, but when they are spliced together, next to each other, the whole thing looks like a big pancake, without any sense of structure.

  • One of the most remarkable things about the Right in American politics is its skill at conflating religious rhetoric with capitalist ideals. They’re selling a polemic, a good vs. evil view of the world in which unfettered greed and consumption is of service to the common good... Salesman is Albert and David Maysles’ artful, direct cinema documentary about the way these ideas play out in everyday life—borrowing on credit is just as sacred an activity as reading scripture.

  • The movie is not just a social and political landmark, but a technical and aesthetic one as well... Salesman's embellishment of the genre's developing vocabulary pushed documentaries further away from the goal of simply recording life... The Maysles brothers and Zwerin showed that it was possible, even desirable, to interpret and report simultaneously—and that the result could bring nonfiction filmmaking closer to social criticism than it had ever gotten before.

  • A quietly devastating study of door-to-door Bible peddlers, SALESMAN is at once a cinéma vérité classic, a critique of commodification, and a portrait of the other 1960's America. Reminiscent of Jim Jarmusch's STRANGER THAN PARADISE (1984), the Maysles capture an America that feels empty, from the blank winter landscapes of New England to the equally evacuated outskirts of Miami Beach.

  • The camera’s presence is ambiguous. It follows the film’s characters going door to door with breathtakingly smooth tracking shots. At first, it is positioned behind its four subjects as they give their flustered potential customers the hard sell. But eventually it becomes less of a disinterested observer. It suddenly appears in a living room, waiting for the knock on the door. Later, when one subject returns from a successful sale, the camera seemingly stands on both sides of a motel threshold.

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