Thursday, June 25, 2009

The Windmill Movie at the Film Forum

Consider Seeing It Before the Run Ends on June 30

The "block" in "creative block" can be a terrible thing to experience, but the "creative" component can still be...well, rife with creativity. The non-fiction film The Windmill Movie offers insight into the agony as well as the ecstasy of pursuing an artistic path even if it leads into a frustrating dead end.

Filmmaker Alexander Olch created The Windmill Movie out of notes and footage left behind by Richard P. Rogers, his mentor. Rogers, who died from cancer in 2001 when he was only in his 50s, was a Harvard professor and filmmaker whose artistic vision can be admired in his 1970 short film Quarry (which shares the Film Forum bill) as well as much of the work he did on his longterm Windmill movie project, an autobiographical venture that remained unfinished at the time of his death.

In dreaming up the Windmill movie, Rogers seemed to want to use cinema to expose unsettling truths about himself, his family, and the Long Island WASP culture that produced him. This artistic goal proved quixotic, but Olch, in his own artsy way, comes up with feasible approximations of at least some of what Rogers hoped to reveal. With the support of Rogers's longtime lover, photographer and Windmill Movie producer Susan Meiselas (a MacArthur Fellow), Olch offers glimpses of Rogers as a son, a lover, a filmmaker, a neighbor, a stranger, a friend, a patient, a traveler. Olch's arch approach can be confounding, but it seems to be a valid way to escort audiences through the complexities of Rogers's character, exploits, and thoughts.

Throughout the movie my thoughts returned again and again to the parallel career of BAT favorite Ross McElwee, so I was not very surprised to see McElwee's name in the credits. McElwee taught with his friend Rogers at Harvard and contributed "amazing notes" on the film, according to this interview with Olch.

Source (2:21)

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