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A review for the clueless who are wondering why they should watch a movie about movie posters
My review is positive, but I can't add much that hasn't already been said by other reviewers who are more knowledgeable. So instead I'll offer a perspective that hasn't yet been covered here.
If, like me, you know NOTHING about movie posters (aside from maybe recognizing the iconic Jaws image of a buxom beach beauty being stalked by an underwater creature that can only be compared to a Mesozoic dinosaur) and are simply interested in this title because the subject is so bizarre you figure it has to be a hilarious mockumentary, then unfortunately you'll be disappointed. "24x36" is exactly what it claims to be, no more, no less, "A movie about movie posters."
But don't run away yawning just yet. Although I thought this film missed a great opportunity to approach the subject in a fun, cheeky and dramatic way (like "Ambassadors of Hollywood" about people who make a living by dressing up as movie characters and strutting down Hollywood Blvd for tips), "24x36" still delivers. It's informative without getting over the heads of newbies, and by appealing to our sensibilities as art lovers, it proves its point that movie posters are an equally important part of art culture. My only gripe is that it just hits the subject head-on as if you, the moviegoer, specifically want to see a movie about movie posters.
In that respect, parts seemed a bit dry to me, since the entire 82 min experience is composed of interviews with people you don't know, and, with the exception of one charmingly quirky character (I can't remember his name, but he's the artist who talks about getting a gun and ending it all), all the interviewees are normal people. In other words, no drama, no suspense and no real mystery.
Before you yell at me "This is a documentary, not Orson Welles' The Third Man!" let me point out that it's possible to have an informative documentary whilst having a little fun at the same time. For example, Orson Welles' own "F for Fake" is a documentary about art forgeries, and Welles manages to draw us into a clever little story, and ultimately a wonderful practical joke payoff, while also approaching the subject very seriously. Another great example is "King of Kongs", a documentary about a videogame tournament that weaves a heart-pounding rivalry between the 'good guy' and 'the douchebag'.
Here in "24x36" they flirted with this dramatic approach in the way they suspensefully introduced "Rob" the eccentric director of Mondo. Before we see a stitch of him, we get a slew of people talking about him and his bizarre behavior. Next we see him but only half of him, not his face, only his lower half dressed in a flamboyant rose colored suit that looks like something out of Prince's hand-me-downs. A+ for that style of filmmaking; I would've liked to see more of that stylistic approach just to spice up the show a bit.
Instead most of this documentary is straightforward. There are some real gems of information, and there are a couple of individuals whose opinions on movie posters, and art in general, are extremely thought-provoking. But unless this documentary has your full attention, it's easy to find your mind wandering a bit, just as it would during an 82 minute college lecture.
In the end, I was satisfied with having learned a lot which gave me a much deeper appreciation of the archaic (yet still going strong) art of movie posters. It's a well made documentary with good edits and eye catching visuals. But if you were hoping for a quirky, offbeat, humorous documentary, I would first check out the aforementioned "Ambassadors of Hollywood" (comic con fans), "King of Kongs" (80s videogames), "F for Fake" (art forgeries), as well as my favorite documentary ever, about a has-been 80s metal band attempting a comeback, "Anvil! The Story of Anvil".
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