CHOP SUEY

3 Stars
Year Released: 2001
MPAA Rating: Unrated
Running Time: 98 minutes
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This rather odd documentary feels like a combination of about four unfinished docs, punctuated by random shots of beautiful men accompanied by unconnected voiceovers featuring nostalgic memories of days gone by! The title comes from a camera club created to photograph and film the strikingly beautiful Johnson, a late-teen wrestler from Wisconsin who’s photographed in a variety of gorgeous locations and who narrates the film with Weber like a director-star DVD commentary. This material is interlaced with: a look at the life of jazz singer Faye, including extensive conversations with her long-time partner Shepherd; a series of “studio conversations” looking at famous photographers and their famous subjects; and very lively conversations with Vogue editor Vreeland. The main theme here is the relationship between a photographer and his subject, and in this is also brought out brilliantly in short docs about the Brazilian jujitsu champ Gracie, the surfing Fletcher family and touching bits involving actor Vincent, the British explorer Thesiger and water polo player-turned-model Aquilon. Weber’s freeform approach here is effective, and his images are always striking and surprisingly moving, drawing out a real soul-connection between the various people that has universal meaning. Only the Faye segments fail to address this theme, making them feel wedged in here only because Weber loved her music (and rightly so!) and because he had such terrific footage of and about her. OK, there’s a tenuous connection through Johnson’s presence in the Shepherd scenes, and it is indeed wonderful material. But frankly it should be a separate film.



Posted on February 20, 2004 in Reviews by
Buffer


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