At first, I was perturbed by the exaggeration that makes this a "mockumentary". Continually referencing itself as a film, I rolled eyes, but histrionics, void monologues, isolated jazz jams, turn into conversations and interactions that finally feel utterly natural, real, dark, bugs on the wall and all, in this claustrophobic chamber piece, built over time to become quite threatening, satisfying, intimate, deathly.
Clarke's adaptation of the Jack Gelber play often feels like just a filmed version until it gets under your skin somewhat aptly considering the subject matter. A group of junkies are filmed by a not so hip director while waiting for their 'connection' to show up with the junk. At first they play for the camera but the need for a 'fix' soon leads to more honest rantings and ravings. Excellent score and camera work.
I like plays and I like movies, and rarely do I like one adapted from the other but, man, Shirley Clarke is a brilliant dramaturg, and that camera made a great choreographer. It's a hard-earned 4 when the first half hour of a film makes you cringe, but she did it; from overly self-conscious and contrived to something like ecstatic. Kinetic, dynamic cinematography/score. Just not sure about that Jim Dunn subplot...
Effective. It looks like what it is, a play adapted into a film. All shot inside a dingy New York apartment, a combination jazz musician's hangout and a heroin den. The attempt is made to present it as a documentary shot in real time, while acting & dialogue are seemingly spontaneous. Fluid camera work adds to this illusion of voyeurism into a sleazy underworld.
What a gem this was. Jazz and life of drug addicts mockumentary directed and really well. Music is great if you are a jazz lover. I liked the cutting tecnique taken from the "Rope". Don't you think Leach charecter is like Fargo's Buscemi? Wounded in throat and acting style I mean. Also movie is adapted from a play and has a theatre feeling which made it better.
Jazz music, rather unknown actors (most likely the same that had played the characters on stage), a closed set (minimalistically-furnished appartment), which feels at times both extremely crowded and rather empty, and a mockumentary about what it means to be an addict. Plus, one cannot be totally impartial when filming, but has to have same experiences as the subjects, or else the message will not be passed on.
I'd say that even with the less engaging sections, we have here:
a great soundtrack (you can find it quite easily the album via streaming, although it's the theatrical play soundtrack), some good punchlines and yes, great shots as well. I'm not very fond of all the acting here (specially the character Leach), but being patient you can have some good moments, specially from Sam and Solly.