It’s exciting to see Shyamalan on such confident footing once more, all these years later.
Jonathan Winters is a fine and funny fellow, and deserves better than this. Out of the goodness of his heart, he agreed to be at the center of a mockumentary directed by Jim Pasternak. The result is not merely a bad film, but a waste of an opportunity. As he approaches 85, Winters is still active, funny, enthusiastically involved in painting and could have been the subject of a good film. This isn’t it.
The mockumentary form has many possibilities. They usually depend on satirizing the tone and feeling of a genre. The simple fact that it’s fake doesn’t make one successful. This one purports to show Winters at a crucial moment in his late flowering as an artist, during which he gets a gallery opening, is championed by a famous art critic and promised a show at the Museum of Modern Art. None of these non-events is staged with style or conviction. They are simply walked through as if really happening.
At the gallery, one of his paintings is stolen from a wall, and Winters goes into a depression, finding himself unable to paint. It was, you see, his favorite painting. Pasternak leads a team including Winters himself to go to the house of the alleged thief. The house is unlocked, they walk in, find the painting, and Winters can paint again. Is there anyone reading this who can’t think of an approach that isn’t so lame?
Consider too the “curator” at the Museum of Modern Art. She is a pleasant woman who looks at negatives of Winters’ sub-Dali paintings through a little magnifier and declares him worthy of a show. No effort is made to make her character or her process funny.