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Marina Antunes [Celluloid 01.17.11] news drama experimental

General film fans will recognize Crispin Glover as George McFly or any number of odd characters that he occasionally portrays on screen but procurers of the strange may be aware of the other facet of Glover’s career and for those that don’t let me introduce you to Crispin Glover: the filmmaker.

For a few years now, Glover has been working on the “It” trilogy, a collection of three films made completely off the Hollywood track but financed through his work in the Hollywood machine. With only a few copies in existence, the films are only presented occasionally when Glover hits the road with a travelling road show which includes a presentation beforehand, a screening of the film, a Q & A and completed by an autograph session. So now you’re wondering: a presentation of what? Aside from acting and directing, Glover also writes books or more like it, edits books to make them his own and they are strange little gems full of bizarre images accompanied by even more bizarre stories. But what fans (or this fan at least) really go for are the films and they are in a category all their own.

I first saw Glover a few years ago when he rolled into town with What Is It?, the first entry into his trilogy. The film is a kaleidoscope of horror, an uncompromising surrealist tale which makes anything Buñuel ever spit out look like kids play. Featuring a cast of actors with Down’s Syndrome, this is the tale of a young man with a fascination for snails (one of which is voiced by Fairuza Balk) and who is tormented by his apparently racist psyche. Beyond the nude women walking around with animal head masks, screaming snails and Glover himself appearing as some manifestation of the young man’s id, I can’t recall many details of the film but some of the images Glover presents are engrained in my mind.

The follow-up, It Is Fine! Everything Is Fine is completely different. First off, it's not written by Glover and beyond that, it actually makes sense. Written by and starring Steven C. Stewart in the role of Paul, it’s the story of a man with a fetish for long haired women. When the woman he falls in love with turns him down, Paul goes on a killing spree. The catch: Stewart - and therefore Paul – suffers from severe cerebral palsy. The result is a look at the psyche of a debilitated man, a psyche that functions much like that of any other human being. It’s a fascinating tale, one which takes place in a surreal world of gorgeous women. It’s like a lucid nightmare, one that plays out in disturbing fashion but which, very successfully, gets across the point that physical disability doesn’t necessarily render an individual incapable. Even if a killing spree isn't exactly normal it's something that could have, just as easily, been thought up by a physically normal individual.

What Is It? had a dark, baroque and almost hellish visual design and those looking for something similar in It Is Fine! will be a little disappointed as the second film provides a very different colour and stylistic palette and though the stories are very different and captured in wildly different ways (for starters, Stewart’s script is quite linear and easy to follow where as Glover’s script for What Is It? is nearly impossible to track), the themes that permeate through Glover’s pet project are now crystal clear.

It’s not for everyone but those who like the experimental will appreciate Glover’s fiercely independent approach and his dedication to this trilogy which, by the time he’s done, will have taken him the better part of a decade to complete. It Is Mine, the conclusion of the trilogy, is still a few years away but you’d best believe I’ll be there when he comes back to share it. Considering how different the films have been so far, I can’t begin to imagine what he has in store for us as a conclusion.

The films, along with Glover’s “Big Slide Show” part one and two are currently on tour. Updates and upcoming dates can be found on the official website.

For the curious, the trailer for What Is It? and It Is Fine! are below.

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