Review of Unstuck in Time – The Hollywood Reporter

Fit for a documentary about an unconventional thinker, Kurt Vonnegut: Unstable in terms of time take a unique approach. It serves the functions expected of a typical artist documentary, combining interviews with subjects, interviews with experts, archives and footage into a solid summary of the film. his life, work and legacy. But throughout the story is a story about making the documentary itself – an approach that, although it doesn’t always work out, feels like a creative blow to the spirit of the film. Vonnegut himself.

The film’s story begins in 1982, when filmmaker Robert Weide, then 23, wrote to his favorite author, then 59, asking to make a movie about him. (To put the timeline in perspective, Weide points out that he’s now the same age as Vonnegut when the project started.) Or maybe it started a few years earlier, when Weide was assigned to read. Champion’s Breakfast in high school, and became so enamored with it that his teacher invited him to teach a course on Vonnegut to his classmates while he was still a student. True to its title, Unstable in terms of time bringing a Tralfamadorian perspective to the timeline: A clip of Vonnegut looking at a World War II time board at his old high school might deceive biographers discussing the time him as a prisoner of war in Dresden, which could lead to talk about coping mechanisms, which could turn into a cue to show off his artwork.

Kurt Vonnegut: Unstable in terms of time

Key point

A unique documentary about a unique man.

Release date: Friday, November 19
Director: Robert B. Weide, Don Argott
Writer: Robert B. Weide

2 hours 6 minutes

In any case, Vonnegut agreed to the request and began to correspond with Weide and sit for interviews. Their partnership continued for years, and then decades. In time they became closer, the relationship between their film subject turned into a real friendship. They spend time together, meet each other’s families, confide in each other about their relationships, exchange gifts and advice. At the time of Vonnegut’s death, in 2007, they had been working on the documentary for more than three decades. It’s still a decade away from Weide, with the help of director Don Argott, finally finishing the picture. Meanwhile, Weide experiences a number of major events in his life that take up more of the film’s length than seems necessary, their inclusion here perhaps to explain why it took him so long. complete. (Among other things, he is busy doing Curb your enthusiasm.)

Unstable in terms of time without regard to objectivity. Weide’s playfulness is evident when hanging out with one of his heroes: “If someone had told me in high school that one day I would spend a few nights in the room where Kurt Vonnegut had writing all those books, I think my head is going to explode,” he tells of the early days of the endeavor. It’s also what makes the movie a fan-only movie. While accessible even to the casual reader, thanks to the patient explanations of the scholars and biographers who made Vonnegut’s work of a lifetime, the film isn’t really geared towards. converting skeptics, revealing new information or even telling a truly great story. It is a chance to immerse yourself in Vonnegut’s intelligence and wit – to admire his ability to deliver jokes, enjoy the unusual perfection of prose, drink wine with a smile on his face. his.

Sometimes, this borders on writing. During the first half of the 126-minute film, barely a word of criticism was heard from any of the interview subjects, including colleagues, academics, loved ones, and of course, Weide himself. But the film eventually makes room for more complex reflections on Vonnegut from his children and grandsons, who recall him as a capricious and inattentive father figure who gave up his life. His “dull” Cape Cod – including his staunchly supportive first wife, Jane – for New York celebrity excitement set after 1969 Slaughterhouse-Year made him a star. And there is nothing overshadowing his dark, even desperate sense of humour that makes his work so unforgettable. “You should know when he laughs at the most inopportune times, but somehow it just seems right,” says daughter Nanny. “Definitely his way of sublimation.”

Unstable in terms of time It is most effective in painting the subject’s persona when it allows his contradictions to surface. In one clip, Vonnegut says it “didn’t do” [him] a bit sad” to reflect on his childhood because those were happy times; in other words, he says it makes him “deeply sad” when he looks back at old photos of his family. In a 1988 interview, Vonnegut rejected the idea that Dresden was a pivotal time in his life, and suggested that the neighborhood dogs he knew growing up had a greater influence on him. Meanwhile, other interview subjects, unpleasant footage, and the fact that his wartime experience is the focus of Slaughterhouse-Year all indicate the opposite. As his daughter, Edie said, “He’s full of it.”

In those moments, something more complex manifests through the cracks of another feeling, for better or for worse, like one’s loving tribute to a hero and friend too much. try. (Even its structure seems to be borrowed from Timequake, which becomes a story about the author’s struggle to write the story.) Unstable in terms of timeThe respect for its subject can put the very subject off a bit – you might wonder if Vonnegut and Weide’s relationship is really all that warm, Or was it just presented that way because Weide wanted to protect what they had together. But in the end, it feels like a real act of friendship. If that’s not good, what is it?

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