Documentary about the late Chicago artist and musician Wesley Willis. Filmmaker Daniel Bitton follows Willis throughout the Chicago area, riding the bus, talking to friends and strangers ...
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Documentary about the late Chicago artist and musician Wesley Willis. Filmmaker Daniel Bitton follows Willis throughout the Chicago area, riding the bus, talking to friends and strangers alike, selling his CDs to record shops and going about his day. Willis was memorable to many for being schizophrenic as well as 6'6" and over 300 pounds, but was loved by his fans and friends for his quirky, oddball music, artistic talent and for being a real gentle giant. He was a testament to the human drive to survive and create, as he himself was a survivor of extreme poverty, mental illness, child abuse, racism, and obesity. The fact that he lived to see 40 was incredible, but his having a successful music career and being able to function was even more so. Also included on the DVD is a complete Los Angeles concert with Willis' punk band "Wesley Willis Fiasco". Written by
Willis is Living, Breathing Inspiration - His Documentary Somewhat Less So
Not a documentary so much as a day in the life, the lack of traditional narration seen here is both liberating and rough around the edges. The director's hands-off approach, which consists of simply following Wesley around to his various haunts in and around the city of Chicago, gives us a revealing, enlightening look at the chance encounters and everyday stimulus that led to his subject's work. It also gives us a rare opportunity to see Willis precisely as he was, unguarded and genuine. Clearly, the man has struggled with more than his share of problems. Obese, loud and medicated, he attracts wary glances and uneasy smiles at every stop, but appears to have long since left behind any apprehensions and fully embraced his own notoriety. And while the completely open direction of the film does give us a rare chance to know Wesley as the warm, brash, adventurous spirit he really was, it also leaves a lot of questions about his ways disappointingly unanswered. Though the music that ultimately led to his stardom may seem shallow and childish at first glance, a deeper look at its contents and inspirations shed light on what it truly was: a perfect expression of his carefree, prolific character and a fleeting chance to escape the personal demons that chased him throughout his life. Willis makes for a great subject, but I remain undecided on the film itself.
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