Movie Review: A late legend of documentary film spends his swan song with Americans In Transit

For those who believe that death represents a journey from one plane of existence to another, it will seem apropos that the final feature directed by the late and legendary documentary filmmaker Albert Maysles, made when he was nearly 90 years old, takes place entirely on a cross-country train. In Transit, on which Maysles collaborated with four other directors, can’t compare to the pioneering Direct Cinema docs he made with his brother, David (who died in 1987)—such classics as Salesman (1969), Gimme Shelter (1970), and Grey Gardens (1975). But it’s very much of a piece with Maysles’ lifelong commitment to capturing reality on the fly, offering a vivid cross-section of regular folks who all happen to be aboard the Empire Builder, an Amtrak train that makes a three-day journey between Chicago and the Pacific Northwest. The film’s ideal audience is people who, riding public transportation, would …

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