Actuality Dramas of Allan King, The (Eclipse Series 24) (DVD)
Canadian director Allan King is one of cinema’s best-kept secrets. Over the course of fifty years, he shuttled between features and shorts, big-screen cinema and episodic television, comedy and drama, fiction and nonfiction. It was with his cinema-verité-style documentaries, though—his “actuality dramas,” as he called them—that King left his greatest mark on film history. These startlingly intimate studies of people whose lives are in flux—damaged children, warring spouses, the terminally ill— always done without narration or interviews, are riveting and at times emotionally overwhelming. Humane, cathartic, and important, Allan King’s spontaneous portraits of the everyday demand to be seen.
FILMS IN THIS SET
For his enthralling first feature, Allan King took his cameras to a home for emotionally disturbed young people. Situated inside the facility like a fly on the wall, we witness the full spectrum of emotions displayed by twelve fascinating children and the caregivers trying to nurture and guide them. The stunning Warrendale won the Prix d’art et d’essai at Cannes and a special documentary award from the National Society of Film Critics.
Billy and Antoinette Edwards let it all hang out for Allan King and crew in this jaw-dropping examination of a marriage in trouble, which “makes John Cassavetes’s Faces look like early Doris Day” (Time). Intense and hectic, frightening and funny, A Married Couple is ultimately a film about the eternal power struggle in romantic relationships, as well as a document of the moment when entrenched gender roles began to crumble.
In the early 1970s, ten teenagers (five boys and five girls) leave behind parents, school, and all other authority figures to live on a farm for ten weeks. What emerges in front of Allan King’s cameras are the fears, hopes, and alienation of a disillusioned generation. Come On Children is a swift, vivid rendering of the growing pains of a counterculture.
An extraordinary, transformative experience, Allan King’s Dying at Grace is quite simply unprecedented: five terminally ill cancer patients allowed the director access to their final months and days inside the Toronto Grace Health Centre. The result is an unflinching, enormously empathetic contemplation of death, featuring some of the most memorable people ever captured on film.
Allan King brings us in close to the people who reside and work in a home for geriatric care in this beautifully conceived, powerful documentary. For four months, King follows the daily routines of eight patients suffering from dementia and memory loss; the result is searing, compassionate drama that can bring to the viewer a greater understanding of his or her loved ones.