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Performance in the Cinema of Hal Hartley By Steven Rawle

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Performance in the Cinema of Hal Hartley


The genesis of this book goes back almost two decades. As a fresh-faced teenager, just awakening to the possibilities of cinema, I was fortunate enough to be able to see a season of independent American films on Channel 4 in the United Kingdom in the early 1990s. A couple films in particular stood out, which I seem to remember were The Unbelievable Truth and Trust. The films seemed different. The dialogue was unusual, the performances wry and witty, and the films were not like anything I had seen before. Although I was aware of other indie filmmakers, like Jim Jarmusch, Whit Stillman, John Sayles, Allison Anders, Spike Lee, Steven Soderbergh, the Coen Brothers, and later Kevin Smith (Hartley, the self-styled auteur, was horrified by Smith’s thanks to him at the end of Clerks), this exposure in particular began my long interest in independent film, especially Hartley’s work, that has culminated in the book in your hands.

The reason for mentioning this is that it feels like a bygone age. For many, the indie boom of the 1980s and 90s seems like a long time ago indeed and is cause for much nostalgia. For me, that whole scene was