Jonas Mekas wrote:
My film diaries 1970-1979: my marriage, children are born, you see them growing up. Footage of daily life, fragments of happiness and beauty, trips to France, Italy, Spain, Austria. Seasons of the year as they pass through New York. Friends, home life, nature, unending search for moments of beauty and celebration of life friendships, feelings, brief moments of happiness. The film is also my love poem to New York. It’s the ultimate Dogme movie, before the birth of Dogme.
[…]The magnum opus title of Mr. Mekas’s latest film suggests the amount of time you’ll have to devote to it. At 288 minutes, this is a blizzard of detail and filmmaking technique, and the movie crystallizes Mr. Mekas’s life into a few hours of blissful, and eventually mournful, experience. At almost five hours, the movie is brief only when compared with Mr. Mekas’s 78 years of life. The film is a first — the home movie as epic. With its intentionally rough-hewn cuts, it is a journal, with hand-typed titles interspersed throughout that skitter past like lightning flashes and are meant to evoke moments. It’s a fleeting storm of a film, with pockets of rhythms that suggest the ebb and flow of a naturally unfolding event — though for some, its length may call for coffee and blankets.
Touchingly, Mr. Mekas provides more of an immersion into his personal life than he has allowed anyone to view before in the welter of films he has built up over his career. ”As I Was Moving Ahead” at the very least is a meditation on his complicated and shifting feelings about parenthood: it’s packed with shots of his daughters, both choppy and leisurely, that make clear the positions they occupy in their daddy’s eye (and lens); they’re covered from infancy through first Communion, with soaring, ethereal choral music over the latter. Paternal love is the film’s most consistent element. […]
Mr. Mekas confesses that he simply gathered spools of film from the shelves in his home and made a protracted document of feeling. ”As I Was Moving Ahead” has a lovely, unadorned, though distended sentimentality. Even though he has sliced much of his last 30 years into this movie and broken the film into 12 chapters, Mr. Mekas understands the unreliability of memory. More astoundingly, he manages to tame that phenomenon and get it on film.
One of the title cards that turn up continually reads ”Life goes on.” It’s as eloquent a summary of the aims of ”As I Was Moving Ahead” as are Mr. Mekas’s random observations, like ”enjoy those brief moments” or ”that moment everything came back to me, in fragments.” He puts his life on fast forward for this film.