The Bowery is a neighborhood in New York City populated largely by the down and out or transients. New to the neighborhood is Ray, who is one of those who can and still does work, but like the others spends what little money he has on booze, which means he usually sleeps on the streets.
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3,6 Will Ray return to the Bowery? Raise your stakes, preachers and rogues. Will he succumb to akrasia, the logic-defying illness of volitional inconsequence which makes us, more often than not, choose against our better judgment, toppling Socrate’s equation that knowing what is good and desiring it are one? Evidence beats rational lab scenarios, good reasons fail to satisfy. Ray Salyer, the actor, hopped on a train
Its a semi-staged documentary, sorta like today's reality shows, but using a few down-and-out actors and mostly genuine, authentic "Bowery bums". Great photography. Great bums.I can't help but wonder who was the intended audience? Beatniks?
Several years ago there was in Lisbon a retrospective of Weegee's work and before the profusion of its extraordinary images about the tragedy of everyday life i imagined a film made from their articulation in continuity. Before Nan Goldin having actually done it, Rogosin, with a narrative principle, directed this innovative and inaugural film, at least admirable for its artistic complicity with the human dimension.
This groundbreaking documentary, inspired by the work of the Italian neo-realists, explores life on the Bowery in NYC in the 1950s. Added to the National Film Registry in 2008, ON THE BOWERY is a deeply fascinating look at poverty in a very specific time and place. It's an evocative portrait of the men (many of whom are veterans) that society forgot in the years after WWII.
A (beautiful) document of the socioeconomic phenomenon of the Bowery in the 50s. But also of a doc-making ethos that's post-Flaherty but not yet at Shirley Clarke. There's huge power/privilege in being the one who creates the narrative; unless the filmmaker's role in the interaction is explicit, I'm wary of buying in (& knowing he consulted academics only adds to my fear of insidious liberal paternalism.) Jury's out.
It may not all be “true” documentary footage in the conventional sense, but it’s a potent and vivid document of a very specific time and place. The poetic montages that bookend the film, beautifully shot and edited, speak with immediacy across the gap of time that separates us from 1950s New York and approach pure cinema. http://filmcapsule.com/2012/08/22/on-the-bowery-1956/
A side of New York City long lost, but beautifully preserved in this semi-documentary from Lionel Rogosin. For a literary equivalent in a similar vein, look towards the New Yorker writings of Joseph Mitchell.