For Reel

Always for Pleasure (1978)
January 16, 2017, 8:51 pm
Filed under: Reviews | Tags: , ,

Director: Les Blank
3.5 Stars
always-for-pleasureLes Blank’s celebration of New Orleans traditions steers clear of the images one might expect of a photographic tour guide—rather than reveling in the debauchery of the French Quarter, Always For Pleasure deals with mostly small, poor neighborhoods, highlighting an unfettered, local charm. The series of parades, including a jazz funeral march and a hypnotic ceremony that honors the Tchoupitoulas tribe, document from a perspective that is simultaneously detached and seduced. That is, if Blank’s ambition is to capture the spectacle and let it speak for itself, his very admiration of the culture is transparent—take, for instance, his thorough fixation on how to cook thirty pounds of crawfish, or the amount of time he invests into exploring the tradition of the aforementioned Native American celebration. Blank avoids the political analysis of the latter, instead focusing on its sensual pleasures—the impressive showmanship, the intricately designed arrays of color. If there are difficulties in capturing the spirit of something that needs to be experienced, Blank’s small snippet of hedonism has an irresistible vivacity that leaves one smiling.

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