Film Essent Archive for July, 2010

Can You Do Me a Kindness?

Just a note for you NYC folks: Winnebago Man premieres there this weekend, and tix are reportedly selling out. I caught Winnebago Man last year at Cinevegas, and it is hilarious. From last year’s Cinevegas dispatch:
I also very much enjoyed Winnebago Man, in which director Ben Steinbauer became obsessed with tracking down Jack Rebney, better known to many folks through YouTube as The Winnebago Man (or, alternatively, The World’s Angriest Man) courtesy of a viral video of outtakes of Rebney taken during an industrial video shoot for the recreational vehicles, in which he rants and swears most impressively. Steinbauer managed to track down Rebney, considered by found video afficionados to be a “holy grail” of sorts, to find out what happened to him. While I’m not normally in favor of the director of a documentary being in the film itself, this particular case is an exception, given that the story is somewhat about the relationship that evolves between Steinbauer and his crusty, curmudgeonly subject.
Winnebago Man is an immensely enjoyable film, and that’s at least in part due to some excellent editing choices by Malcolm Pullinger. It’s also worth noting that one of the cinematographers credited on the film is Brad Beesley, who also shot and directed the surprisingly poignant Summercamp!, which is one of my favorite underappreciated documentaries.

Me again. If you’re in NYC and you’ve not seen Winnebago Man, go see it, will you? Added bonus: Michael Moore and Jack Rebney, the Winnebago Man himself, are expected at the screenings at the Sunshine Cinema.

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Armond, Armond, Quite Contrary

I was just reading this piece that Ray Pride linked to about Armond White on Maclean’s, in which writer Jaime Weinman attempts to dissect the man whose penchant for contrariasm has made him one of the most talked about critics du jour.
Love him or hate him, but you have to admire White for finding a way to use the internet to reinvent himself, rather than just shaking his fist in the air and yelling at those damn kids to get off his print critic lawn. Roger Ebert, who’s quoted in the article from this piece calling that White a “… troll. A smart and knowning one, but a troll.” has also learned to leverage the power of the internet to his advantage, communicating more directly with his large fan base through both his online journal and prolific use of Twitter. But whereas Ebert has been accused in recent years of growing too soft and generous with his reviews, White is the bellwether of contrariasm. If everyone else loves it (see: Toy Story 3) White is almost certain to review it negatively. If most other critics slam a film, White is likely to find something to like about it.

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“The purpose of film isn’t to present the kindness of the world.”
~ Isabelle Huppert

The Promised Land steers into the fact that the United States can mean whatever people want it to mean. You may not be able to be Elvis, but you can sure as shit impersonate him for a living. America, like its current President (at least as of this article’s publication), is so dangerous precisely because it’s a blank canvas on which anyone can project their dreams. Whatever it is that you see for yourself, there’s someone you can pay for the pleasure of believing that it’s possible. In his view, the pursuit of happiness is the ultimate con, a delusion that prevents us from seeing our circumstances for what they are.

“Forget the Matrix, it’s the invention of happiness that blinded us to the truth. The rich got richer and the poor help them do it. Jarecki doesn’t argue that the American Dream is dead; he argues that it was never alive in the first place — that we were all lobsters in a pot full of water that was boiling too slowly for any of us to notice. And now it’s time for dinner. Donald J. Trump is the President of the United States. Elvis has left the building.”
~ David Ehrlich