The talented documentarians Albert and David Maysles, both of whom studied psychology at college, were always at their best when addressing offbeat subjects: door-to-door Bible salesmen; a pair of eccentric Jackie Kennedy relatives living in a decrepit mansion on Long Island; the self-absorbed writer Truman Capote; the climate of violence surrounding the Rolling Stones at Altamont. Advocates of what they called "direct cinema," the Maysles Brothers achieved the kind of intimacy with their subjects lesser filmmakers can but dream of. Their vivid portrait of one of the world's great actors, Meet Marlon Brando (1965), remains one of their most memorable works, and their homage to a bold conceptual art work by a Bulgarian-born artist, Christo's Valley Curtain (1974), captures not only the spirit of a visionary, but the flavor of his time. Christo's project is, of course, familiar to Coloradans: In 1973, he draped his enormous orange curtain across our state's Rifle Gap.
The two Maysles films will screen -- free -- at 7 p.m. Friday, November 5, as part of the Boulder Public Library's terrific "History and Development of Documentary Film" series, which continues through November with works by Martin Scorsese, Erik Branouw, Luis Buñuel and Werner Herzog. The library is at 1000 Canyon in Boulder; for more information, go to www.boulder.lib.co.us/films.