Movie Review: With Counting, Jem Cohen watches the world through a camera lens

It doesn’t feel quite right to call Jem Cohen’s Counting an essay film. It’s more like a collection of snapshots taken out the window of a moving train by a backpacking student abroad who’s too distracted by the scenery to focus on the heavy textbook in his lap. That’s not a criticism, by the way. Shot over several years in cities from New York to Moscow to Porto, and divided into 15 chapters of wildly varying length, Counting finds the director of the charming, critically acclaimed fiction-doc hybrid Museum Hours practicing the sort of impressionistic, globe-trotting cine-journalism pioneered and perfected by Chris Marker—a debt that the director acknowledges explicitly in the final sequence. (Cats also abound throughout.) But where Marker’s great works A Grin Without A Cat and Sans Soleil were delivery devices for their maker’s eloquent voice-over assessments of history, politics …

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