Friday, April 22, 2011
Directed by Jeff Malmberg
Starring Mark Hogancamp
a guy who was severely beaten and left brain damaged creates his own town full of action figures and barbies to therapeutically work his way through his trauma. he has created this alternate world with a long ongoing story which he documents in photographs. most of the people in his town (marwencol) are based on real people in his life, but the story is mostly fictional. this is a horrible synopsis of this fantastic documentary.
This is yet another documentary which has it all. Completely different yet equally as good as Exit Through The Gift Shop, this film gives us a great presentation of extremely interesting subject matter. It has a satisfying conclusion; and I wouldn't mind a follow-up.
The biggest achievement of this documentary as a film is its pacing and planning. Information is doled out in such a way as to not overload the viewer; and that's no mean feat given that the reason for this whole thing is an extremely brutal assault. At the end of the 82 minute span we (are led to believe we) understand each facet of the story, from before the beating until slightly after a show at a gallery in New York.
Using a combination of simple shots of Hogancamp's photos and some outside views of the setups, Malmberg brings us into the 1/6th scale world as well as the thought process. He does a fantastic job of making Hogancamp the star of the movie. There's no question that this is his art and even though we're looking through a lens we know that Mark is the one who's telling us about it. Interviews with his various subjects give us a great second-person view into him as a person.
This wouldn't be complete without a discussion of the art itself, which is truly stunning. I don't want to sit here and recap the movie--that would be a disservice to all involved but mostly to you, our intrepid dozen readers--but the fact that the work was made on such a small amount of money and in such a small amount of space is phenomenal. The fact that it didn't come from a perspective of making Art but a therapeutic need to rebuild imagination is critical to its success. We looked at each other around the hour mark and said practically simultaneously that what's so awesome about the art is that it's genuine. There is no pretense, no tongues in any cheeks, no irony. And I want to see more of it.
This gets the third unironic five-star rating since the blog began. Unequivocally.
absolutely fantastic! i love a story about art that is true and genuine, and made not for the sake of art, but just happens to cross paths with the terrible monster of the art world. it's really a terrible thing that this man, mark hogencamp, was beaten so severely, but there are some really positive things that have come with it. i know that's a horrible thing to say because he is still struggling mentally and physically, but what he has created is so fantastic! the level of detail he takes, walking his model jeep to town and back everyday so the tires look worn, the guns, the items in every characters possession, the buildings. i'm a detail oriented person so i find this stuff amazing. and the beautiful photographs that come out of this...they look like photojournalism at it's best. the fact that he gets a static action figure with the same plastic face to emote....crazy good.
the documentary itself is mostly just mark hogencamp narrating the story of marwencol interspersed with the facts of his attack, what his day to day life is, and how he was "discovered". there are also interviews with some of the real people who have characters based on them in marwencol, their take on what he's doing, and their character's story. this is a wonderful documentary. i would recommend this to anyone. it doesn't make you mad, or drive you crazy, or enlighten you to gross and terrible facts about industries. it's just a story of a man's story and it gives you a wonderful glimpse into marwencol and mark hogencamp.