Friday, 30 January 2015

REVIEW - ART AND CRAFT (MARK BECKER, SAM CULLMAN AND JENNIFER GRAUSMAN)


Where and how one finds peace and contentment, individuals so easily judged in their tastes and their habits, but contented individuals. These curious characters enjoy acceptance in Middle America, of all places; shine a harsh, digital light on this demi-society of culturally dispossessed people and it's their freaks who turn out looking the most normal of all. Art and Craft seduces itself with its situation, the banality of vast green lawns and even vaster interstates, vastest of all a clear blue sky that drenches everything in a privacy-depriving white sheen. Mark Landis, an art forger like no other, since he harbours their typical talent and dedication but not their egotism, is the film's primary subject - he's engaging and intriguing and, in the context of the world beyond his locational purview, not as strange as he must seem to his infuriated neighbours. Part of Art and Craft's appeal, but also part of what makes it a slightly frustrating sit, is the passive-aggression that Landis inspires in sad-sack wannabe macho men, disenfranchised by a dream they'd been sold and never could capitalise on, now baffled once more by this polar opposite representation of man, so comfortable in his identity, so foreign to theirs. They're the more bizarre creatures to me, but even they only seek acceptance, like Landis, like the rest of us. Art and Craft, in its purpose and its structure alike, is somewhat unformed as its own work of art, and lacking in any discernible personal touches, save a cheap, relentless muzak score that accompanies it. As such, it's a fairly neat fit for its subject of impersonal forgery, knocked-off appropriations of other people's art, yet as in other regards of its own character, Art and Craft seems wholly unaware of itself, of how to tease out any uniqueness in its form, any reason for its existence.