The other night at dinner I told my friend Natalie about a film I’d been dying to see called Beauty is Embarrassing. She’s a giant Pee Wee Herman fan, and the film (a documentary about artist Wayne White) features Paul Rubens and has some really great classic footage from the old Pee Wee Herman show days. I mentioned that it hadn’t been released on video yet, but was streaming for rent and that one of these days we should check it out at the Overground.
Synchronicity and I have always had a good relationship over the years, and nestled in my email inbox yesterday afternoon was a message from the International House Cinema here in Philadelphia, with a list of their upcoming films. One of which was Beauty is Embarrassing. Here’s this film I’ve been waiting to see for probably a year, that to date there had been no local screenings of, and after talking it up, it’s playing two days later.
I instantly bought two tickets. Before reading that Wayne would be joining us live via Skype after the film for a Q&A. Before seeing if Natalie could even get off work to see it with me. But I just rolled the dice and everything worked out perfectly.
The movie officially took over the #1 spot for my BEST FILMS OF 2012 list. Director Neil Berkeley managed to make a documentary about an artist that wasn’t about being tortured (see: In a Dream, Isaiah Zagar or Burden of Dreams, Werner Herzog) or broken by their own obsessive need to create. Wayne (a puppeteer, painter, banjo player, husband, father, writer) comes off throughout the film as a guy who’s damned glad to be doing what he does for a living. Sure, he’d be making art if he wasn’t getting paid for it, but you get the feeling that he understands how lucky he is to be doing just that. Getting paid to do what he loves, and getting the ‘respect he so richly deserves’ for it.
This is the first time in a long time that a documentary has been my best film pick of the year. If you get a chance to see it theatrically- do it. If you can’t…. You can always watch it here. (and yes. You have to pay. Just do it. Best film of the year.)
Natalie even managed to ask a really poignant question during his Q&A about his thoughts on CG in animation and character design. I had nothing, so her not only asking a question but asking a good question… major nerd points.
We didn’t intend to go on a second date so close after the first, but… synchronicity. She was a great movie companion, taking time off work and fighting traffic just to see a film she didn’t really know anything about.
It’s been a very movie heavy week so far, come to think of it.
A very sick Erin and I saw ‘Rise of the Guardians’ for Movie Night this week, and my friend Sam, who was in town from Santa Cruz, spent most of last night (late night) hanging out with me, catching up and talking about our feelings like grownups while we played movie after movie in the background. I can’t remember what all we watched, but the conversation was great and I was really glad that our schedules were able to align so we could steal the time to have it.
All of this while dealing with our first strange AirBnB encounter. I never met the guest, but apparently it didn’t work out so well and they left shortly after arriving. AirBnB’s customer service was really great- they were able to offer advice and help me get the situation under control. Really affirmed the faith I’ve put in the service since allowing total strangers into my home.
I’m finally unwinding now; it’s late, I’m tired and tomorrow is therapy, so I’m going to try and get to sleep.
Photo: Ticket and Words With Wayne Art.