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7/10
Author: Cosmoeticadotcom (cosmoetica@gmail.com) from United States
21 June 2012

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

Of the many documentaries available for streaming on Netflix, very few are worth watching. Some have potentially interesting subject matter, but are ill wrought. Others are just paint by numbers formula documentaries with a political, religious, or philosophic agenda. Still others are just plain amateurish. Then there are documentaries like Bill Rose's 2005 The Loss Of Nameless Things, about the rise and violent fall of a playwright and dramaturg whose critical and artistic star seemed to be waxing, before, like many clichéd artists of talent, he kyboshed it all and nearly killed himself. Instead, he ended up destroying his brain, his marriage, his past, and his future. The artist in question was Oakley 'Tad' Hall III, son of the fairly well known novelist and Academic, Oakley Hall II.

Rose's film is odd because it is compelling, due to its structural innovation (its first 70% details Hall's rise, until his 1978 accident, without a single contemporaneous image of Hall, and the last 30% shows the brain damaged Hall dominating the film), even as the life it tells of is both trite and rather tritely conveyed by the man's peers and friends. Of course, like Arthur Rimbaud, Jim Morrison, Vincent Van Gogh, and countless other artists of merit who flamed out early, Hall is hagiographized as a potential great, even though the little bits of his art the film presents is, well, trite. Naturally, he had an obsession: for Hall it was the mediocre French playwright Alfred Jarry, and his rather over the top work, Ubu Roi. If that's not enough to give one a sense of the man's easy box, Hall is portrayed as a sexual magnet for the opposite sex and an artistic outsider and rebel, even though his father was a well known and influential leader of the MFA movement in California in the middle of last century. To say that Tad Hall was 'connected' is an understatement. To top matters off, of course, this rebel, in the late 60s, was into partying, sex, drugs, free love, etc. Stories of his 'brilliance' and 'genius' and other good qualities are neverending, it seems.

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