I had the amazing opportunity to see Cripsin Glover during his last tour at the Music Box: Chicago. I missed his first time through the windy city, but made it a point not to miss his second. Over the course of two nights we were given a glimpse inside the mind of one of the most bizarre artists working today.
Most people recognize him as George McFly in Back To The Future or The River’s Edge or even the remake of Willard. His filmography as an actor is eclectic at best and he’s humble about some of the terrible film’s he has done. For his role in Charlie’s Angels he was able to fund his true passion – filmmaking. You will not see his films at a multiplex or on DVD or VOD. His niche is reserved to cinephiles “in the know.” He has taken the showmanship of directors and producers of the 50’s and 60’s and modernized it into his own extravaganza.
In the tradition of filmmakers like William Castle and Herschel Gordon Lewis, Glover shows up at art house venues for two days and sucks you into his disturbing world. The shows begin with an hour long slide show comprised of sections from his books. If you haven’t see a Glover book, they are a treat. He’s taken old books, sometimes children’s books, and through omitting parts of the original text and adding illustrations/photographs he creates a new (often creepy) work.
An example from Concrete Inspection (there are huge blackened out gaps between words and sentences to form this ad):
Index. Character and composition required. Cleanliness required. Density proportions required. Determinations usually required. Voids in, determination of forms.
Once his slide show is over the film begins. If you’re there the first night he screens What Is It? On the second night he unveils It Is Fine! Everything Is Fine! When the films are over he opens the for for Q &A. He then attempts to answer every question in the room and this is no exaggeration. Inevitably he’s asked about his appearance on David Letterman to which he denies any drug use. Instead he tells you about a film role he was preparing for and he was diving in to pure method acting. After the hours of anecdotes, stories, philosophies and inspirations he rounds out the night with signing autographs.
Each night he dedicates up to five hours of what can only be deemed: The Crispin Glover Experience. If you have the opportunity do not hesitate.
What Is It? is the first part of Glover’s “It” trilogy. Between the first and second film this is the more surreal of the two. He used actors with Down’s Syndrome, but takes great strides to not exploit them. By using the actors, images of snails, and death he attempts to make an audience feel uncomfortable then questions you as to why it made you feel that way. Glover is able to steer away from pretentious student film fare by injecting dark humor in the lacking linear narrative. What Is It? makes you ask its titles question over and over. He fills the short running time with pieces that will offend you, disgust you, make you laugh, and worry that somehow it will all traumatize your subconscious.
It Is Fine! Everything Is Fine! is a different beast all together. The narrative is less experimental but stays true to a disturbing tone. Glover worked closely with the subject of the film Steven C. Stewart. Steven suffered terribly from Cerebral Palsy and wasted away in a nursing home. He daydreamed of the person he could have been without Palsy. He would dream of everyone being able to understand his speech, of being a ladykiller, and of being a menace to anyone that crossed him. Glover took his story and gave him the voice he wished for. The writing credit stands as Steven C. Stewart.
Glover also worked with David Brothers to create It Is Fine! Brothers brought his years of experience as an art director to the table, though some of his credits include High School Musical and other kids films, he was still able to create an homage to German Expressionist cinema. The film is highly sexual, since it hold the dreams o fa man forced into sexual repression by his own body. It is shocking and disturbing, but you never forget that it provided a man who could not otherwise express himself the ability to artistically paint the canvas of his life.
You may ask yourself why would a director appear in films like Hot Tub Time Machine, Alice In Wonderland, Epic Movie, and Charlie’s Angels? Or why would someone with his taste offer his voice to Open Season? The simple answer is money. He exploits himself as an actor to personally finance his vision. This way he has no one to answer to, which is the dream of any director. To a lesser degree we are all selling ourselves in one way or another for the opportunity to do something we enjoy.
Visit crispinlover.com frequently and if you see his tour coming anywhere near you then make it a point to go. There has been no news on the final “It” film, but we hope that It Is Mine will find the budget it needs soon.
What are you thoughts on Crispin Glover? Have you seen his show? Feel free to leave any comments below.