January 22, 2008

Sundance. Patti Smith: Dream of Life.

Patti Smith: Dream of Life "Is Patti Smith: Dream of Life, which premiered here last night, actually a documentary?" asks Premiere's Glenn Kenny. "I don't think so, and I don't think the film's director, Steven Sebring, or the film's subject/inspiration/creative collaborator Ms Smith do, either.... Some of it doesn't work but most of it does and as a whole, while it's not likely to win any converts, it's a spellbinder. But it's not a documentary, it's a document."

"The movie suggests a context for Smith's life and work, as she talks about carrying the torch of Walt Whitman and William Burroughs and passing it on to the next generation, and as she sits in cluttered rooms filled with all the accumulated artifacts that continue to define and inspire her," writes the AV Club's Noel Murray, but "the film never penetrates beyond how Smith chooses to define herself. And the paltry amount of live performances in Dream of Life is a crime."

"For me, the authenticity is in the way Sebring has captured (or emulated) the grit and textures of Smith's prose, and the fierce spiritual tension that her band music has always injected in one form or another," writes Jeffrey Wells.

IndieWIRE interviews Sebring.

Update: "Having not seen her for a while, the Bagger had forgetten her gifts as a shaman, the way she used movement - is it OK to say that she is a mighty fine dancer? - to bring a room to heel and then show it love."

Update, 1/23: In the Guardian, Francesca Martin reports on Smith's upcoming show at the Fondation Cartier in Paris: "It will include found objects, such as a stone taken from the river in which Virginia Woolf committed suicide, and Polaroids of cutlery belonging to the writer Arthur Rimbaud, Jimi Hendrix's guitar, and slippers once worn by the late photographer Robert Mapplethorpe, Smith's former lover. Also on display will be a total of 250 Polaroids, 25 drawings and film extracts, alongside examples of Smith's collaborative work, including The Coral Sea, a prose elegy Smith wrote in 1996 in memory of Mapplethorpe, set to music with former My Bloody Valentine leader Kevin Shields."

Update, 1/30: "[W]hereas I viewed [Kurt Cobain: About a Son] as both death poem and a film about absence, Dream of Life - a film about continuing in the face of absence - is almost its mirror image," writes AJ Schnack. "While the first hour of the film was a complete success for me, it felt to me as if the film goes off the rails in the third act."

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Posted by dwhudson at January 22, 2008 12:55 PM