Tuesday, January 09, 2007

A pair of artistic bios: Robert Wilson and Carmelo Muñiz Sanchez, "Absolute Wilson" and "Romántico"

"Absolute Wilson" (dir. Katharina Otto, US, 2006, 105 mins.) Robert Wilson is one of the most visually innovative stage directors of our time. At least in MY humble opinion! I LOVE his work! "The Black Rider" and "Einstein On The Beach" are probably his two best known, if most accessible pieces. "Absolute Wilson" is more than a biography, but it serves as a road map to the unusual and sometimes indecipherable images he stages. After viewing this nifty documentary, I came away with a fuller understanding of where his inspiration originates as well as why he is so rarely produced. His workaholic mania creates EPIC pieces. "The Black Rider" is perhaps the smallest of his works. However, most of his work lasts at least 3 hours and his most precedent setting productions have been 8-12 hours long (i.e. "the CIVIL warS"). There is also the nearly infamous 7 day long production of "KA MOUNTain and GUARDenia TERRACE" which was 'staged' around a neighborhood in a Greek village.

Wilson comes off as a fascinating and unpretentious man, so driven by internal vision that his control issues extend into producing and funding his own work. The necessity of dealing with the economic issues of his productions have kept him conversationally in touch with the public mind, which makes his interviews far from the narcissistic psycho-babble one would expect from an artist with such an overwhelmingly personal vision. The documentary itself is understated, almost to the point of unremarkable, which is a pity as the collection of archive footage, along with some very enlightening interviews with such artists as Phillip Glass and Tom Waits and the late critic, Susan Sontag, make it is so highly valuable! Though I seem to lack a certain excitement about the film as a whole, it would most definitely be something I would include in a my personal collection.

By the end of this short documentary, I would love to have dinner with the man. If only he would stop long enough to eat. On the opposite end of the 'advantaged artist scale,' I screened a documentary where I felt the need to take the man out to dinner!

"Romántico" (dir. Mark Becker, US, 2005, 80 mins.) Oh, this was a tough one for me! In short, it is a documentary about an illegal immigrant from Mexico, and follows his life over an indeterminate number of years. Why was this tough for me? Well, it is a pretty bleak life for an illegal immigrant. However, the film itself captures or at least maintains a dignity for it's main subject, Carmelo Muñiz Sanchez, who makes his living as a musician. It is the nearly nightmarish bleakness of his surroundings and the tragic consequences of some of his friends and family that continued to pound MY spirits down, while trying to appreciate the position the man occupies in his world. I can not say it was necessarily from lack of caring for his situation, however there was a point, and it happened within the FIRST 20 minutes, that I just thought to myself, "My gawd! Why keep on trying?!" Though the film does eventually answer the question, I found everyone so miserable that I didn't see where the resolution was any more promising than the initial predicament. I just couldn't get past all that BLEAKNESS...

1 comment:

Maxxxxx said...

re "Absolute Wilson": "Sweet, sweet eye juice!!!"

re "Romantico": "Stop it!"