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Ray Pride

By Ray Pride


Robert Persons’ General Orders No. 9 is an essay film at least partly about the urbanization of rural Georgia, reminiscent of Patrick Keiller’s lovingly dyspeptic but visually striking London and Robinson in Space or Terence Davies’ brooding memory musical Distant Voices, Still Lives. It’s more in that school than Terrence Malick’s Tree of Life, the convenient reference point in some reviews of its New York week-long run. (The free-floating character of the narration doesn’t distill itself to the many voices of so-similar inchoate spiritual yearning in the Malick film.) Haunted beauty, a majestic trance: it’s deeply invested in what Greil Marcus called “old, weird America.” Daniel James Scott interviews Persons at Filmmaker. Of overt influences, he tells Scott, “Gosh, I’m sort of all over the place. But there were certainly a lot of films that we used to reference—a lot of Tarkovsky films, Herzog films, Chris Marker, John Grierson docs, the British Film Unit, David Lynch and Harry [Everett] Smith. There were also a number of novels and books. One in particular was this bit of naturalist writing from the 18th century, William Bartram’s Travels. He was a Philadelphia naturalist who travelled through the southeast and was really the first to write about it while drawing pictures of plants and animals. His writing is very effusive, and has a lot of sense of wonder in it. I liked the idea of someone going around recording things. And I saw my film as an updating of that in a sense.”

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“I think [technology has[ its made my life faster, it’s made the ability to succeed easier. But has that made my life better? Is it better now than it was in the eighties or seventies? I don’t think we are happier. Maybe because I’m 55, I really am asking these questions… I really want to do meaningful things! This is also the time that I really want to focus on directing. I think that I will act less and less. I’ve been doing it for 52 years. It’s a long time to do one thing and I feel like there are a lot of stories that I got out of my system that I don’t need to tell anymore. I don’t need to ever do The Accused again! That is never going to happen again! You hit these milestones as an actor, and then you say, ‘Now what? Now what do I have to say?'”
~ Jodie Foster

“If there’s one rule Hollywood has metaphysically proven in its century of experimentation, it’s that there’s no amount of money you can’t squander in the quest for hits.

“Netflix has spent the past couple years attempting to brute-force jailbreak this law. Its counter-theory has seemed to be, sure, a billion dollars doesn’t guarantee quality but how about three billion dollars? How about five billion dollars? Seven?

“This week’s latest cinematic opus to run across no-man’s-land into the machine-gun emplacements has been the Jared Leto yakuza movie ‘The Outsider.’ Once again, debuting on Netflix, another thing called a movie that at one glance doesn’t look like any kind of movie anyone has ever seen before, outside of off-prime time screenings at the AFM.

“If you’re working at a normal studio, you have one or two of these total misfires in a year and people start calling for your head. How many is Netflix going on? Fifteen? Twenty? This quarter? Any normal company would be getting murdered over results like that.”
~ Richard Rushfield