Fabrizio del Wrongo writes:
This Les Blank documentary, focused on the Mardi Gras traditions of New Orleans, is a zesty and clamorous memento mori, but it’s also a vision of America (and life) that in its breadth, color, and immediacy is comparable to Altman’s “Nashville.” It has none of Altman’s wryness, though. Blank’s calling cards are his positivity, his eagerness to engage, and his openness. In fact, he’s so open that sometimes you worry his movies will dissipate as you’re watching them — that they’ll turn into blurs of faces and moments, meaningless beyond what they communicate as individual parts. But when Blank is really on, as he is here, his pictures are held together by a sensibility and a musical, free-form sense of rhythm that raises them above the level of mere observation and turns them into something akin to materialized sense memories. Nothing in “Always for Pleasure” feels out of place or arbitrary. Nothing feels thought out either. Blank’s New Orleans is an ever-surging cultural estuary. You can only understand by immersing yourself in it.