Fascinating Cultural Scrapbook of the 50's, 60's and 70's
With no thru-plot line and inconsistent cinematography, a viewer's appreciation of this unexpectedly fascinating film will in large part depend on their interest in the variety modern American culture has to offer and other people's old photo albums. I sat down to sample a copy of this unfortunately obscure film expecting to spend only a few minutes, but got wrapped up in it and could scarcely tear myself away.
What it is is nothing less than a scrapbook of three decades of American cultural life from the point of view of one of its premiere photographers. Bruce Webber, known by many for his innovative commercial ad work, and by many others for his studies of male nudes, simultaneously gives us a revelation of what it is to be an artist and loving memoirs of jazz singer Frances Faye and iconic designer/editor Diana Vreeland, all mixed with Webber's own highly personalized photos and home movies. It's a heady mix and pure art at its best. CHOP SUEY is not a "gay film" per se, but a gay sensibility is clearly present in the telling.
Many film fans have "test films" for friends and prospective lovers they are getting serious with - if they like a particular film they "get" the test giver. I'd strongly recommend this film (if one can find a copy - as of this writing, no easy feat) as a close to ideal "test" film for anyone who claims to be open to new experiences and any test giver who wants to measure the breadth of cultural exposure, true sophistication and tolerance of the person tested. I'd not be entirely comfortable with children being exposed to anyone who hated this film or, to be honest, anyone who hated this film being allowed to breed.
The "7 of 10" rating is only so low in recognition of the resistance some will have to the "stream of consciousness" organization of the piece. For anyone else, it's an enthralling experience.
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