Saturday, July 11, 2009

Movie of the Month: Part Eight

I recently reviewed the following
film for Video Librarian, and thought
the results were worth sharing.

(Stephen Kijak, 2006, US, 95 mins.)

"It was this thing that seemed to be flowing outside of time in a way."
-- Kijak on the first time he heard Walker's voice

After his 1960s success with the UK-based Walker Brothers ran its course, Ohio-born Scott Walker released several solo albums, and then disappeared. Every few years, a new record would mat-
erialize, but the former teen idol would not. He wasn’t finished with music-making, but he was finished with show business, and called a halt to all interviews, tours, and television appearances.

In talking about the film, Stephen Kijak, co-director of the fes-
tival favorite Cinemania, has explained that he earned the re-
clusive Walker's trust through years of email messages, phone
calls, and faxes until the man with the bottomless baritone final-
ly agreed to sit down for a couple of conversations and to allow
cameras into the studio during the making of 2006's eerie Drift.

Along with executive producer David Bowie, who credits Walker
for influencing his own theatrically-oriented work, speakers include Brian Eno, Lulu, Alison Goldfrapp, and Pulp's Jarvis Cocker (Queer as Folk actor Gale Harold provided further production assistance).

Conspicuous by their absence: friends and relatives, because Walker doesn't talk about his personal life, excepting a brief acknowledgement of a little too much “imbibing” in his past.

Though some may see this as a deficit, it allows the artist to main-
tain his well-guarded privacy and to retain an air of mystery. In-
stead, Kijak looks at specific albums and songs, and allows a few
outside voices to come into play, but there are no real dissenters.

Remarkably, the director dodges the hagiography bullet. As
he states in the production notes, "The plan was to try and shine
a black-light on the enigma—not to penetrate it, but to respect it, and to let the music tell its own story." Consequently, his docu-
mentary lives or dies by the otherworldly music, rather than
the earthbound life, of its subject. Highly recommended.

Click here for Movie of the Month, Part Seven: Stranded

Endnote: Slightly revised from the original text. Click
here for my '07 interview with Kijak about the film. Images
from Urban Honking and Alama Drafthouse Cinema Blog.

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