Bruce Baillie (b. 1931)
Mr. Hayashi (1961)
Bruce Baillie's Mr. Hayashi might be thought of as a putative East Coast story transformed by a West Coast sensibility. The narrative, slight as it is, mounts a social critique of sorts, involving the difficulty the title character, a Japanese gardener, has finding work that pays adequately. But the beauty of Baillie's black-and-white photography, the misty lusciousness of the landscapes he chooses to photograph, and the powerful silence of Mr. Hayashi's figure within them make the viewer forget all about economics and ethnicity. The shots remind us of Sung scrolls of fields and mountain peaks, where the human figure is dwarfed in the middle distance. Rather than a study of unemployment, the film becomes a study of nested layers of stillness and serenity (first, the placidity of the photography; second, the brooding calm of the landscape; third, the meditativeness of Mr. Hayashi himself, walking with his head bowed in thought and uttering his thoughtful voice-over narration). The quiet inwardness of it all makes his employment situation seem relatively unimportant by comparison.

Bruce Baillie in UbuWeb Sound