Another great performance/film/discussion by Glover (he calls it “Vaudeville Distribution”), who is indeed weird, but also seems smart and dedicated to art in ways that very few commercially-recognized filmmakers are. And he’s not really a commercially-recognized filmmaker but a commercially-recognized actor who makes movies outside the system. Thankfully with his second feature he seems more comfortable with his position. What Is It? and its ensuing discussion focused so hard on breaking free from the commercial system, on purposely causing a disturbance, that sometimes Glover came across as one of those condescending IMDB reviewers commenting on black-and-white movies, “if you’re the type of brainwashed consumer who thinks the Transformers movies are pretty good, then you’ll have no use for this slow-moving masterpiece.”
This time Glover is celebrating his position as outsider artist by adapting a screenplay by Steven C. Stewart, who appeared incidentally in the previous film, and lived (Stewart died before the film’s completion) with severe cerebral palsy. Stewart wrote the screenplay as a dark sexual fantasy for himself to play lead. In a way, the content is worse than some of the commercial crap Glover considers himself above: a thriller in which a guy sleeps with and murders a string of beautiful women, complete with an “it was all a dream” ending. But since Stewart is the lead actor, speaking lines that are completely unintelligible to most audience members but perfectly understood by the women in the film, it brings new levels to the typically misogynistic murder-sex story – because here’s a guy with a lifetime of real frustration (Glover explains that Stewart, an intelligent guy who struggled his whole life to be understood, was locked up in a hospital and treated like an idiot/inmate for years), not just a hack screenwriter getting revenge on a college ex-girlfriend by murdering her repeatedly in his movies.
Stewart’s character is in an institution (filmed, painfully/coincidentally, in the same place where he’d been imprisoned), falls and smacks his head. Later, a lovely woman picks him up, takes him out a few times. Their relationship is evolving, he has stood up (so to speak) to her ex-husband (Bruce Glover) and one night in the car he proposes marriage but she turns him down. So he strangles her to death. Later he has (graphic) sex with her daughter and strangles her too. Moving on, he tries to get a date with a wheelchair-bound woman who doesn’t want to be with anyone like herself. He goes out with a condescending woman whom he drowns in her bathtub, then wanders next door (these scenes were shot in a grand, open set) to visit the girl with leg problems. Even more graphic sex, then he knocks her down and runs over her neck with his chair.
This could go on indefinitely, and Glover says that in the original script it did, for hours. But smack!, sad Stewart wakes up on the hallway floor of that first scene, goes into his room and talks to someone but they can’t understand him.
The color (esp. the reds) seemed gooey and gluey, like the film would have to be scrubbed off the Plaza’s screen the next morning. Crispin seemed pleased to get a question that deviated from his prepared speeches on the films, about the use of music, and answered it more knowledgably and completely than anyone would have expected – and he again alluded to his Czech castle where he hopes to shoot another trilogy (partly involving his father) before making It Is Mine. I hope if he continues with the vaudeville distribution model, he brings them all back here – if not, I’m willing to travel.