Reel Affirmations 2005
Review by Will O’Bryan
Rating: (3 out of 5)
Saturday, 10/15/2005, 5:00 PM
Feature presentation, $9 at Goethe Institut Inter Nationes
DELMAS HOWE’S HOMETOWN of Truth or Consequences, N.M., lends its name to this biopic of the acclaimed painter. Indeed, Director Matt Sneddon helps audiences understand Howe’s artistic truth. The consequences are great or slight, depending on which part of the movie grabs your attention, as there are about four of them packed into this creation.
First we have the movie about a quirky New Mexico town with an offbeat, game-show name. This movie is about Main Street parades and a lifelong resident whose constant companion is a doll. It’s also the movie about a right-wing religious upswing in a town that’s none to friendly to ”alternate lifestyles.”
That movement becomes another movie, though, that shows a small town’s extremes: home to a colony of avant-garde artists and gay people on one hand, hostile homophobes on the other. Howe, of course, belongs to the former group. Then there is another movie in here about his idyllic cowboy childhood. And yet another movie about his years in New York and the piers he cruised.
And finally we have ”Stations: A Gay Passion,” Howe’s masterpiece, which, along with Howe himself, comprise the film’s constants. As Sneddon leads us yonder and far, without an obvious map for getting from Point A to Point B, he manages to surprise us by pulling it all together just before losing us forever. Just when it seems there is a filmmaker’s tangent spinning off into space, the relevance pops out. We’re given just enough to gain our bearings, and then it’s out on another expedition.
How Sneddon’s style is received will be up to each viewer. Some will find his methods disorganized and unfocused. Other will appreciate his near epic documentary that spans decades, with sex, violence, controversy, and events that have changed the world. Most, like me, will probably fall somewhere in the middle.