Monster Road explores the wildly fantastic worlds of legendary underground clay animator Bruce Bickford. Tracing the origins of his remarkably unique sensibility, the film journeys back to B... Read allMonster Road explores the wildly fantastic worlds of legendary underground clay animator Bruce Bickford. Tracing the origins of his remarkably unique sensibility, the film journeys back to Bickford's childhood in a competitive household during the paranoia of the Cold War and exa... Read allMonster Road explores the wildly fantastic worlds of legendary underground clay animator Bruce Bickford. Tracing the origins of his remarkably unique sensibility, the film journeys back to Bickford's childhood in a competitive household during the paranoia of the Cold War and examines his relationship with his father, George, who is facing the onset of Alzheimer's Dis... Read all
What she likes about this fellow is the purity of his life and therefore his art. There is no room at all for reflecting on meaning or greater perspectives, what people often call "intellectual." His heart is in his hands, that is essentially his entire life and this is impressive because we can see both. Each endorses the other.
The first remark I might make is about what we are intended to see and know: that this was a wounded soul, shot through in several ways and apparently both autistic and obsessive- compulsive. Like Crumb, a similar personality and the subject of a similar movie, his slightly interesting art takes on a grander meaning in this context. Both had a younger brother kill themselves.
But I walked away from this with another perspective from the fourth metalevel. The first level is that this is art about other art, continuously morphing among recognizables. The second is his life as art. The third is the film artifact that was distilled as a whole thing itself as a documentary. The fourth is the context I was seeing it in, with a talented young claymationer.
There are only three main ways of telling a story. Only three roots. These can be cleanly traced back to Shakespeare, Cervantes and Dante, each of which defined a language, a literary tradition and a method of reflection and folding. You might usefully characterize these are being based on adjectives-adverbs, verbs and nouns respectively.
Those that makes the most effective literature and film to my mind, a conscious mind, are the first two. Indeed this film itself is in the Cervantes tradition: a world that defines a person with urges.
But the man within is distinctly in the Italian tradition of storytelling: humans live and in living invest their surroundings with life. These humans bump into each other. They don't merely illustrate life, they ARE life and any story worth telling is attached to lives.
What this man has made with his little scenes are different hells and purgatories, very much in the Dante tradition but without the resonant references. I am convinced that this can be engaging storytelling, but it can never be art, surely not using cinema. Yes, I know: Antonioni, Bertolucci, Scorsese, Pasolini, Coppola, even Fellini. Each had one success, and that was when they escaped their Italian constraints. Unless they change the world somehow and it would have to be by a great man (sadly, a man) they won't be able to ever have lifealtering art in this tradition. Only empathic tales.
Watch this for tools, not lives.
Ted's Evaluation -- 2 of 3: Has some interesting elements.
- Jun 1, 2006