What do a group of model-train enthusiasts and the legendary film critic and painter Manny Farber have in common? These two lines intersect in cultural inquisitor Jean-Pierre Gorin’s lovely and distinctly American film, which takes as its subject singular passions (the locomotive aficionados’ elaborately designed worlds in miniature; Farber’s teeming canvases) and expands to something richly philosophical, meditative, and surprisingly funny. Routine Pleasures is a masterful tribute to our hobbies and obsessions. –The Criterion Collection
One of the most intelligent and original minds in cinema today, Jean-Pierre Gorin has carved a unique and important niche in the tradition of documentary film. His ‘journey’ has taken him from philosophy and journalism through to the founding of the radical Dziga Vertov Group with Jean-Luc Godard in 1968. Born in Paris in 1943, Gorin was an ardent cinéphile since his youth.
He received his baccalaureate in Philosophy in 1960, subsequently enrolling at the Sorbonne. Here he took part in the seminars of Louis Althusser, Jacques Lacan, and Michel Foucault. In addition, from 1965 to 1968, Gorin was an editor at Le Monde newspaper, helping create its weekly literary supplement, Le Monde des livres. He wrote dozens of articles, contributing to the political and esthetic debates that would lead eventually to the upheaval of May 1968 and to his partnering with Godard as co-director on some of the most radical and influential political films of that period.
Long fascinated by the… read more
Though the links Gorin makes between the train enthusiasts and Manny Farber may seem tenuous at times, this is still a humane and gentle essay film about a slice of American life which possibly doesn't exist anymore. I get very excited when I see how some filmmakers can take the format of the personal essay and translate it to film. A rich and rewarding movie.