Review by Randy Shulman
Rating: (4 out of 5) [Critic’s Pick!]
Saturday, 10/17/2009, 7:00 PM
Feature presentation, $10 at
GEORGE AND MIKE Kuchar have directed over 200 films. And yet, you’ve likely never heard of them or their works — unless you were of a certain age and clued into the underground cinema movement that was all the rage during the ’60s and ’70s.
But you don’t have to be interested in the subject matter to love its subjects — and in Jennifer M. Kroot’s delightfully entertaining documentary It Came from Kuchar, you’ll find yourself in good company, as directors such as John Waters, Wayne Wang and Atom Egoyan sing the Kuchars’ praises.
“They’re funny and serious in equal absurd amounts,” says comedian Buck Henry, while Wang says that despite the campy, over-the-top qualities that typify the Kuchar films, they contain “unbearable humanity.” Waters, for his part, claims the brothers turned “low budget into a visionary style.”
Kroot’s interviews with the brothers, now in their late sixties, show a pair of men more than just slightly off-center. You might say they’re borderline crazy — but in a good, positive, artistic way. Deploying clips from their movies, Kroot attempts to get to the bottom of movies with names like I Was a Teenage Rumpot, The Craven Sluck, The Devil’s Cleavage and Sins of the Fleshapoids, which features the birth of a baby robot that may well be the funniest sight gag ever committed to celluloid.
The Kuchars engaged in free-form, low-budget filmmaking, movies that, especially during the free-love ’60s became part of the overall happening. (Andy Warhol, in an archival clip, offers an inspired definition of what a happening is that won’t be revealed here — you’ll have to see the film clip for yourself, but it’s a doozy).
Though it’s never explicitly stated that the brothers are gay, it’s more or less evident where their proclivities lie. Still, you wish that Kroot were a little more definitive. Well, no matter, It Came from Kuchar is fun, frisky, ceaselessly enjoyable documentary froth.
And yet there are moments of utter sobriety and clarity, of deep, heartfelt poignancy, such as Kroot’s inspired inclusion of a clip from George’s 1987 video diaries, as he visits an AIDS-stricken Curt McDowell, with whom he made the porn film Thundercrack. It’s an amazing moment, a moment committed to video before everyone was posting their every living instant on YouTube for all to see. George Kuchar, it turns out, was a man way ahead of his time. Way ahead.