DVD Note: In November I reviewed the documentary The Life & Times of Allen Ginsberg. I rent my DVDs from GreenCine and they send me one DVD at a time. The week after my review, I reviewed the DVD with the extras which amount to a long list of poets talking about their friendship with Allen Ginsberg, some interviewed before his death and some after. I watched them all and have noted my favorites: Joan Baez, Beck, Bono, Stan Brakhage, William Burroughs, Johnny Depp, Lawrence Ferlinghetti*, Philip Glass*, Peter Hale* (especially talking about Paul McCartney and then watching Paul McCartney), John Hammond, Sr., Abbie Hoffman, Jack Johnson, Ken Kesey, Timothy Leary, Judith Malina and Julian Beck, Jonas Mekas, Thurston Moore, Yoko Ono, Lee Ranaldo, Gehlek Rimoche* (footage of his death service), Bob Rosenthal, Ed Sanders*, Patti Smith* (footage of his death service), Steven Taylor, Hunter S. Thompson, Bob Thurman, Anne Waldman* (tells story of the founding of Naropa Institute's school of disembodied poetics), and Andy Warhol.
Getting this screener is the result of my first Kickstarter contribution. I donated $25 dollars over a year ago, probably a pittance compared to other contributors to this very expensive movie-making process. A Place to Stand is the documentary about the life of New Mexico poet Jimmy Santiago Baca, an Arizona convict who taught himself to read and write in prison and whose entire life was transformed by poetry.
Even though the film was already given glowing reviews from The Nation and the Los Angeles Times, I wasn’t expecting this movie. After all, you get used to things being sort of half-assed here in New Mexico. And I had just seen a threadbare documentary of artist Ray Johnson called How to Draw a Bunny (2002), a great story but somewhat amateurish documentary.
I was expecting something equally homegrown with A Place to Stand. Big mistake. This thing exceptionally well-filmed. Its storytelling technique reminded me of Searching for Sugarman, very fluid, creative and professional.
Not only was this the best, hands down, documentary of a poet or about poetry that I’ve ever seen, this film was so good, I stopped taking notes. I had to stop and give this story my full, rapt attention. Monsieur Big Bang walked through the living room in gym shorts intending to work out on the treadmill in another room. But instead, he stopped and sat on the couch in rapt attention for the entire movie.
This is an unbelievable moving story about redemption and the spiritual weight of words. If DVD copies are available for sale by next year, I'm buying a stack for Christmas presents.
Extras on my screener included a featurette on the movie’s animator, author readings (indoors and outdoors), and a short on the artist Eric Christo Martinez (a former convict whose life was also transformed through art).
A primer on Jimmy Santiago Baca:
To check movie showings: http://aplacetostandmovie.com/