|My favourite No Festival Required screening of the year is always the selection of short films shown at the Phoenix Art Museum. Here's Selection 2010.|
The suicide is Sarah and she leaves all her paintings to our narrator, who I don't believe is ever named but who is a distant relative and a fellow meeskeit, in her will. Most amazingly, this comes completely out of the blue: she didn't even know Sarah was an artist until the paintings arrive. They're a varied bunch, painted in different styles, designed for different genres and set in different locales, but they all have one thing in common: they all feature members of their family in highly ironic settings. This was Sarah's revenge on her rather twisted relatives, though much of it could be seen as wish fulfillment, and we learn their stories through the deceptively quiet narration.
Every member of this family has some sort of personality quirk or physical deformity, it seems, some more serious than others. There's the husband who murders his adulterous wife and her lover, so they're painted in a romantic clinch. Bitter rivals who would never stoop so low as to be seen in the same place at the same time are drawn together. Some are ironically negative, such as the thief who becomes a bible toter or the big shot investor who is turned into a pretzel seller, working out of a street cart. Some are ironically positive: a cripple is restored to health to become an award winning baseball player and a recluse parties on down at the Stork Club with a host of celebrities. Murray, the religious member of the family, who joins Jews for Jesus only to be killed by a suicide bomber in the Holy Land, is ironic enough already so he's merely painted as the son of God.
For a quiet and sad apparent documentary, this is deceptively deep. There's nothing flash or technically astute. The camera merely moves over paintings and drawings while the narration explains them, telling stories of revenge, of wish fulfilment, but always of ironically sad jokes. It's a wonderful piece that continues from where I left it with a few more layers of melancholy, as the connections between the two meeskuits grow in a painting and a number of drawings. I wonder where the idea came from, whether it sprung from seeing the artwork, which is really all by Herb Rogoff, or whether the paintings sprung from the idea. I'm happy imagining the former and extending the concept to real life. What stories could I conjure up with thrift store art? It could become a hobby, one worthy of a Randall Munroe strip at xkcd.