It is Fine! EVERYTHING IS FINE
The decidedly peculiar new film from actor-turned-filmmaker Crispin Hellion Glover and co-director David Brothers is 80 minutes long, and it’s a good bet that you’ll spend much of that time checking your watch. If you stay (and you should), it’ll be a tribute to the film’s screenwriter, the late Steven C. Stewart. Drawing deeply from his own life, Stewart stars as Paul Baker, a bookish, middle-aged man with cerebral palsy who lives in a shabby rehab hospital. Paul’s a learned man, but illness has made his speech too slurred to be intelligible to most people (including those of us watching this film). Certain women, however, understand Paul perfectly, and are so charmed by his insight into their inner woes that they go to bed with him — in sex scenes that are clearly the product of Paul’s imagination, yet are so disturbingly frank that you may well look away. Paul is blissed-out with each conquest, but inevitably his date will say something that rattles his idealized notions of womanhood, such as, “I’m going to cut my hair.” Enraged, Paul strangles that one.
A movie about a serial killer with cerebral palsy might cause outrage had it been written by a civilian. But since it’s the product of the long-suffering Stewart, it’s hard to dismiss out of hand. Getting the film made is said to have been the writer’s life dream; he died before seeing the final cut. To reject his movie, then, is to reject the man — and, perhaps, the right of the disabled to have and express sexual fantasies. Making things more unsettling for moviegoers is the likely back-row presence of Glover, who’s not in the movie but is traveling the country, introducing his film and reading, beforehand, from his wittily peculiar art books. If you duck out during the screening, you may meet Glover’s gaze as you head up the aisle. All these factors — the weird movie, its tragic backstory, the on-site presence of its endearingly hopeful maker — combine for a nerve-jangling hour–plus. Movie-going is rarely this fraught. (Egyptian Theatre, Fri.-Sat., Dec. 7-8 and Mon., Dec. 10, 8 p.m.)
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