Love, art and death on cam­era

Los Angeles Times - - MOVIES - — Sheri L in­den

Grap­pling with death — and art and love — two film­mak­ers turn the cam­eras on them­selves and each other in the thorny, ten­der and un­var­nished “One Cut, One Life.”

The fi­nal work by Ed Pin­cus, a sem­i­nal fig­ure in di­rect cinema, is a col­lab­o­ra­tion with Lu­cia Small, who first teamed with him for a postKa­t­rina look at New Or­leans, “The Axe in the At­tic.” But it’s the in­volve­ment, of­ten un­der protest, of Pin­cus’ wife, Jane, that is the heart of this nakedly search­ing chron­i­cle.

The Brook­lyn-born Pin­cus, who died in 2013, in­flu­enced gen­er­a­tions of doc­u­men­tar­i­ans with his for­ays into first-per­son non­fic­tion, no­tably “Di­aries,” which put his fam­ily life and open mar­riage front and cen­ter.

At Small’s urg­ing, he em­barks on “One Cut” af­ter he’s di­ag­nosed with a po­ten­tially fa­tal blood dis­or­der. She’s haunted by the deaths of two friends and an­tic­i­pat­ing her grief over Pin­cus’ pass­ing. The­matic con­nec­tions don’t crys­tal­lize, yet the film poses stir­ring ques­tions about not just mor­tal­ity but also mar­i­tal bonds and the cam­er­aw­ield­ing artist’s in­tru­sions and self-jus­ti­fi­ca­tions.

Jane, an artist and au­thor, re­sents the con­stant film­ing, but she’s nonethe­less forth­com­ing be­fore the prob­ing lens, ex­press­ing jeal­ousies that re­call the emo­tional ter­rain of “Di­aries.” Small claims to be trou­bled by her con­fes­sions, while Pin­cus re­mains un­apolo­getic about his needs and the artis­tic im­per­a­tive.

The film is an ex­plo­ration of art as a way through im­mense and com­plex emo­tions. It is a breath­tak­ing re­minder of life’s joys — in na­ture, in friend­ship and, in a par­tic­u­larly buoy­ant scene, in the bark of a de­ceased friend’s poo­dle. “One Cut, One Life.” No MPAA rat­ing. Run­ning time: 1 hour, 46 min­utes. Play­ing: Laemmle’s Mu­sic Hall 3, Bev­erly Hills.

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