I see a lot of movies every year. A
ton. But this year I’ve decided I don’t see enough movies, so one of my
New Year Resolutions was to simply see more. And to write about them.
See, that’s the other half of the equation: I see a ton of movies, but
I write about comparatively few of them. There are a lot of reasons,
but they mainly boil down to the fact that I feel the  need to do long
form reviews, and sometimes – like in the midst of Sundance – I just
don’t have the time.

so was born this new blog! I aim to make an entry for every single
movie I see in 2010. Some entries may be very short, some may be
lengthy. Entries may take a couple of days to be posted. Let’s see how
long this lasts.

last  thing: one of my main objectives this year is to rewatch more
movies. I know this sounds like a strange goal, but there are films I
haven’t seen since high school, which means it’s been almost a lifetime
since I saw them. Recently I rewatched Black Christmas for
the first time since the 1980s, and I might as well have been seeing
the movie for the first time. I’m interested in getting a look at some
movies I loved or hated twenty or even ten years ago and seeing how I
feel about them now.

Let’s begin…

#4: In the Realms of the Unreal
d. Jessica Yu

I’ve been fascinated with the art of Henry Darger for years, but this documentary about his life and his work never seemed to get watched. It’s been on my Netflix Watch Instantly for a long, long time, and finally determined to clear some of these out, I sat down  to watch it tonight.

The doc itself is okay; it’s told largely using Darger’s own words – from his epic 15,000 page book The Story of the Vivian Girls, in What is known as the Realms of the Unreal, of the Glandeco-Angelinnian War Storm, Caused by the Child Slave Rebellion as well as from his autobiography. There are a couple of narrators, including Dakota Fanning, a very appropriate choice. At any rate, the doc is fine, but feels like it’s just skimming the surface.

What else could it do, though? Darger was a Chicago janitor who lived by himself as a recluse until his death in 1973; no one knew that he was writing an epic fantasy novel about children, or that he was working on ten foot long paintings that were eerily beautiful and creepy at once. The world Darger created in his fiction and his art is beyond bizarre, and his fascination with violence being visited upon children is disturbing, if informed by his own early life.

The doc brought out competing feelings in me. On the one hand, looking at Darger’s work – which includes copious naked children (mostly girls, although many of them have penises, indicating that Darger was really out there or just didn’t know what girls looked like naked) – and his obsession with little children, as well as his feverish wish to adopt some of his own, it’s hard not to see him as a mentally ill guy who was one step away from being a child molester. On the other hand the attempts to figure out what was ‘wrong’ with him or what made him think the way he did reeks of our endless need to diagnose everything that makes us unique and interesting. Darger’s life wasn’t happy, but would he have produced this art if he was happy and adjusted and ‘normal?’

The doc animates some of Darger’s work, and I think it would be an amazing undertaking for some brave soul to attempt to create a cartoon adaptation of Darger’s book, using his style. I’m imagining a multi-year series on one of the cable networks. It would be fascinating, if likely unwatchable.