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The Way of the Termite: The Essay in Cinema

Sunday, April 19, 2009
2:00 p.m. Routine Pleasures
Jean-Pierre Gorin (U.S./U.K./France, 1986)

Archival Print
Jean-Pierre Gorin in Person

We present this screening in memory of Manny Farber, painter and film critic, who died at age ninety-one in August 2008. His landmark essay “White Elephant Art vs. Termite Art” gave this series its title. Gorin writes: “Routine Pleasures is an essay film in which Manny’s work plays an essential role and my closer-than-close relationship to him is abundantly evoked. It is not a documentary on Manny (he never appears in it). It is a meditation on method and work, the American landscape, the male imaginary, the high and low of American culture, the materialist nature of artistic imagination, friendship, the endless obsessive pursuit of details. . . . In short, if asked what it is about, I find myself forced to say simply that it is a film about about.” In his last published writing, Manny Farber described Gorin’s “crescendos of wild, inventive wit that build to precise penetrations of what makes a particular movie tick. An uncompromising critical predator, he will circle his subject until he nails it. As a filmmaker, critic, teacher, he has a brilliant, deep grasp of moviemaking.”

• Written by Gorin, Patrick Amos. Photographed by Babette Mangolte. (81 mins, B&W/Color, 16mm, From Cinémathèque Française)