Friday, September 17, 2004

Z Channel: A Magnificent Obsession

Z Channel is a treasure trove of art film clips in search of a documentary. It runs overly long, and could accomplish the portrait of Z Channel creator Jerry Harvey in a fraction of the run time. The man set the stage of art-films for the general public well before the rest of the world caught up with the marvels of view-on-demand, DVD and 500 cable channels. He played a large factor in influncing a young generation of film makers from Jim Jarmusch to Quentin Tarantino. He preserved and nurtured foreign directors from Paul Verhoeven to Luchino Visconti on american soil. And he was a champion for lost on misunderstood work of cinema from Heaven's Gate to Overlord. For any lover of foreign cinema, it's a great trip just to see bits of so many films in one place. He also commited suicide after murdering his second wife.
The exploration of Jerry Harvey's psyche, drive and ultimate demise just is not done well (how could it be, the guy was private and the act was a spontaneous surprise even to his closest friends. An hours worth of unconnected anecdotes could boiled down to one collage of several of the many interviewees trying to come to grips with his great accomplishments followed by such a horific act. The rest adds very little. If you want all the details however, this film provides them. If you want transcendence, there just is not much here.


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