Thursday, September 13, 2012

Movie with Abe: Beauty is Embarrassing (Capsule Review)

Beauty is Embarrassing
Directed by Neil Berkeley
Released September 7, 2012

It’s important when making a documentary about a person to establish his or her character immediately, to give audiences a reason to connect and to keep watching. “Beauty is Embarrassing,” a chronicle of the life of artist Wayne White, accomplishes that superbly, featuring clips of White showcasing his work and swearing frequently as he describes his individuality. It seems clear from the outset that White is not someone who feels held back by society, and who is firmly committed to being as free-spirited as he desires. As the film progresses, however, it becomes set on White’s career-making participation as a puppet designer for “Pee-Wee’s Playhouse,” and becomes focused on his interactions with others and his distancing from society. Wild and unfiltered as he may be, hearing White defend his beliefs, or, rather, emphasize that he doesn’t care if you don’t like what he thinks, is far more fascinating than a more biographical, in-depth look at his history. This documentary’s title comes from one of White’s works, and correctly acknowledges that, in this case, the man and the myth are more interesting than the true story. The film’s first twenty minutes understand that, but delving into White’s history is much less engaging than just seeing him in action.


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