The film, like much of Sillen’s work, focuses on the life and work of an artistic outlier in this case, poet Jesse Bernstein, who was influential on emerging scene for Nirvana and other grunge rock bands in Seattle in the late 1980s and early ’90s.
Times reviewer Mike Hale says Sillen “is developing a specialty as a post-Beatnik preservationist,” having previously made films on an underground Atlanta singer (“Benjamin Smoke“) and singer-songwriter Vic Chesnutt (“Speed Racer“).
From the review:
Mr. Bernstein was apparently never far from a camera lens, and a copious record of his life exists in photographs and on videotape the documentarians best friend. Mr. Sillen makes adroit use of this material in a film thats consistently entertaining, though its accounts of Mr. Bernsteins wild-man behavior, delivered by a long procession of graying friends and lovers, can become repetitious.
At a retrospective of his short films at the IFC Center in Manhattan Tuesday night, Sillen told an audience that Bernstein pursued “a singular devotion to his art.”
The 84-minute film opens tonight at the IFC Center, 323 Avenue of the Americas, at Third Street, Greenwich Village, where it will be screened through Tuesday, December 21.