Christmas Movies II

film 5 of 25

The Days Before Christmas

Film Review by Dean Duncan Jun 11, 2015

The Maysles brothers and Frederick Wiseman quite properly get celebrated for their pioneering observational documentaries, in the 60’s and afterwards. But they didn’t invent the approach, nor were they the first to apply it to perfection. Exhibit A. Co-director Wolf Koenig not only cited Cartier-Bresson’s notion of the decisive moment in photography (cf. C-B’s seminal 1952 book), but he was able to absorb and then translate it to cinematic settings, to his moving, durating, documentary films. It’s a matter of cinematic method, as well as moral sensibility—equal parts penetrating and compassionate. Watch, wait, see, be. The Christmas setting gives this one a special warmth, or on occasion, an extra ironical chill. The cold-hearted Scots mother, giving bare comfort to her exiled child!