Posts Tagged ‘documentary

16
May
19

Movie Review: “J. R. “Bob” Dobbs Church of the SubGenius”

“J. R. “Bob” Dobbs Church of the SubGenius”

“We are actually Religion, that seems like an Art Piece, that seems like a religion, that seems like performance art, that seems like a joke, that seems like a religion…” This quote got my attention in the “J. R. “Bob” Dobbs Church of the SubGenius” and most readily defines the J.R. Bob Dobbs’ movement and the message in Sandy K. Boone’s documentary film currently making its way through the festival circuit. The documentary envelopes everything from the Church’s inception to the current status as the Bob Hobbs’ story is told anecdotal fashion representing the aesthetic of movement itself. The history and evolutions of the Church of the SubGenius is as infamous and as obscure as it is dense and complicated for the outsider to fathom. Founders Doug Smith (a.k.a. Reverend Ivan Stang) and Steve Wilcox (a.k.a. Dr. Phyllo Drummond) were just 2 dudes smoking some weed when the revelation of “Bob Dobbs” was conceived in these young men’s minds. The message was clear and can be summed up in a few words to quote the Reverend Ivan Stang from his very own lips, “Bob, Slack, and the conspiracy!’

 

Sandy K. Boone and the “J. R. “Bob” Dobbs Church of the SubGenius” crew at the South by South West screening at the ZACH Theatre.

“J. R. “Bob” Dobbs Church of the SubGenius” is a relatively linear storyline covering the inception of J. R. “Bob” Dobbs “Super Salesman” as conceived by Doug Smith and Steve Wilcox as a means to reject the idea of American mid-century normalcy. “Bob” Dobbs found a sweet spot in the ‘70s and ‘80s counterculture that perfectly reflect their and many others overall disenchantment post-WWII America. It portrays the counterculture’s common ill at ease feelings with normalcy and socially acceptable behavior. Both Smith and Wilcox taps into a similar sensibilities that both R. Crumb comics and Gilbert Shelton’s “Fabulous Furry Freak Brothers” does, but in a twist explores the rejection of social norms by embracing  in “Bob”, the pinnacle of those beliefs from a different vantage point, rather than extolling the virtues of the eccentric and weird. J. R. “Bob” Dobbs and the Church of the SubGenius uses the facade of normalcy in a satirical attack of those accepted and worshipped values. Of course, something like J. R. “Bob” Dobbs movement evolves and grows over the years by adding layers and enlarging mythology takes on a new depth of meaning. The doc captures all the key moments that crystalized the Church of the SubGenius into a movement. The doc familiarizes the audience with church history by informing the audience with the cult’s terminology and jargon, like these terms “, Pinks” or “Normals”, “Pleasure Saucers” and the very important and fundamental concept of “Slack”. These all are essential parts to understand the ideals and social commentary the Church of the SubGenius lampoons and ridicules. 

Continue reading ‘Movie Review: “J. R. “Bob” Dobbs Church of the SubGenius”’

09
Mar
19

Movie Review: “Meow Wolf: Origin Story”

Meow Wold: Origin Story

Meow Wold: Origin Story

Meow Wolf art collective got my attention a number of years ago because of a friend, Liberty Yablon, who was part of that community. Then when another friend, Cherry Shore, enthusiastically reported her experience when she discovered the “Maximalist” installation of “House of Eternal Return”. Cherry posted a lot of photos from inside House of Eternal Return and really caught my attention then. After this happened anything to do with Meow Wolf got my immediate attention. Surprisingly, when I was shooting the WGA Awards red carpet George R.R.Martin and I had a conversation about it. Based on our conversation George was very enthusiastic about the prospects of Meow Wolf’s artistic concept. Since then I knew that a documentary was in the works and it so happened I saw a post about a LACMA screening and I knew I had to join in. Here’s my take on it.

Meow Wolf: Origin Story is the back story to the creation of Meow Wolf. Less succinctly it’s a documentary on a group of a young energetic creatively driven artists, who grouped together to create an art collective in Santa Fe New Mexico, resisting social norms and conventions, while originating their own ethos by rejecting corporatist hierarchy and embracing radical enclusion. The ideas and ethos that established and fuel Meow Wolf are the things that have sustained the collective from the beginning and are fleshed out in Meow Wolf: Origin Story. The doc chronicles Meow Wolf’s inception and growth with a bunch of brave young souls rejecting the commercial art world, pooling their money and embarking on an unspecified intrepid artistic dream to create. They practiced radical democracy in their decision-making and DIY collaborative artwork that generated an immersive storytelling experience meant to challenge and engage with radical ideas. The word psychedelic was freely used in the narrative of Meow Wolf’s clever and inventive mind-expanding movie offering new possibilities of thinking using alternative concepts of juxtaposed realities or multiverse continuums to bend the mind. Meow Wolf’s approach is like a whimsical child tying it all together with a thread of quantum theory bursts of consciousness and the spectacle of the Vedas generating their Surrealist and Maximalist vision for all to see.

Meow Wolf fosters a lot of heady ideas, but as much as it is an artistic statement about creativity, it also portrays the story of human the experience with experimentation in acceptance, community, and relationships. The documentary shares real-time captures the dynamics of creativity, in interpersonal relationships and their struggles as the collective grew and morphed socially and creatively.  One of the most compelling stories within the doc revolves around David Loughridge friendship with Vince Kadlubeck and his contribution to the group. David Loughridge was key to the group’s dynamics. He helped put together one of Meow Wolf’s ambitious installations, The Due Return (Interdimensional Ship). The Due Return was the most significant project for the group at the time. The installation was a 70-foot long two-story ship filled with rooms, dressed with objects and memorabilia, that created a sense of nostalgic occupancy and futuristic travel. It was a great success and David was instrumental to that success. After The Due Return exhibition closed David was diagnosed as a manic-depressive. David eventually sought electroshock therapy to help with his mental disability. Many in the group, including both Sean Di Ianni and Vince Kadlubeck felt it was doing him some good, and then it wasn’t. It is a heart-wrenching moment in the film when for those closest to David, and also for those in collective, were confronted by the harshness of mortality with the loss of one of their own.

After this tragedy, the doc moves on to its last heroic theme. It embodies Meow Wolf’s greatest struggle and accomplishment by mobilizing the collective most ambitious project that changed everything the now legendary installation House of Eternal Return. House of Eternal Return was funded in large part by George R. R. Martin, who believed in their vision, among other investors. George was moved by their SIFI Fantasy laced pitch and he bought them a bowling alley they needed to embark on their epic journey began. House of Eternal Return was constructed by over 140 artists at a record pace. The construction of the installation was a race in financial brinksmanship. It’s a story of staggering and achievement under the meanest of circumstances but they pulled it off! The doc is an amazing achievement in its own right! The majority of the film is composed of old random video clips from a host of donors. These clips were assembled from dozens of sources after a decade of an art collective randomness that could lay waste to the best intentions to any archived footage. The video footage is in excellent condition and makes the movie very easy to watch. There’s a lot of depth and heart to Meow Wolf: Origin Story, with some eye-opening cultural moments that portends to a dramatic shift in culture and a different approach to society in general. As the”Meow Wolf About Page” puts it and says very succinctly “Meow Wolf comes out of a dumpster-diving, DIY past, and we want to help emerging artists and art communities around the world.” Meow Wolf has an eye on art and a vision for a new social order we all should consider.

Meow Wolf: Origin Story is available on VOD here.

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