Over fifty very famous American, Canadian, British and Australian funny people (filmmakers, writers, actors and comedians) share life and professional journeys and insights, in an effort to shed light on the thesis: Do you have to be miserable to be funny?
I admit that for the first 20 minutes or so of this film I wasn't entirely sure I was going to sit through the whole thing. Like many other people, I found it pretty boring, and I wasn't entirely looking forward to an hour and a half of watching this guy bite icicles and stick them together. However, if you sit through the creation of his first work long enough to see the finished product, you get an idea of how impressive the rest of the film is. I really think it's sad that so many people found this impossibly boring or a retread of ideas done by other artists.
Rivers and Tides is a quiet study of some of the artwork and methods of Andy Goldsworthy, who makes his art entirely out of things in nature, generally resulting in pieces that will be consumed by nature through the normal process of entropy. It is slow moving and unglamorous, but I think that a lot of the point of the movie is to show that Goldsworthy's art does not need any accompaniment in order for it to be appreciated. I've even heard people complain about how he is always talking throughout the movie, rather than just letting nature and his artwork speak for themselves, which I just think is madness.
On the other hand, lots of people complain about CDs coming with the lyrics written out inside them. A lot of musicians as well think their music should mean whatever the listener wants it to mean without the musician showing the exact lyrics, I guess I'm just the kind of person that believes that I'd like to know what the artist was trying to accomplish with his or her artwork. I can still take it how I want to even if I know what it was meant to do. I can understand not wanting to hear him talk through the movie. He does, after all, lose his train of thought and find himself unable to explain some of his work at more than one occasion, but if you don't want Goldsworthy talk about his art while you're watching the film, feel free to turn the sound off. That's like not reading the lyrics if you don't want to know what a musician is singing and would rather interpret the words yourself.
I think that Andy Goldsworthy's work, which I had no idea existed before I watched this movie, is incredibly impressive, and I'm glad that this film was made in order to showcase it. Indeed, since his work is generally not the kind that can be transported into a studio, photography is the only medium other than film that can express it, and I really appreciated being able to see the work that goes into his art, and the way that only things from nature are used. Whether or not you appreciate certain aspects of how this film is presented, Goldsworthy's work is moving enough to overlook that, because the film is not the star, Goldsworthy's art is. And given the lack of any music or even the smallest special effects and the slow-moving nature of the film, it seems to me that director Thomas Riedelsheimer knows that.
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