film 5 of 5

It Came From Kuchar

Film Review by Dean Duncan Mar 26, 2015

This isn’t a film by the boys, but a documentary about the boys. Let’s be frank. These guys are afflicted! And high functioning too, sometimes to the point of an odd, whacked out, undeniable genius. All this being the case the Kuchars, and their films too, are unusually important, and unusually complicated. There are lots of possibilities, responsibilities, challenges and dangers here. It’s not fair to key overly on a disability or a challenge. Disabilities and challenges needn’t, shouldn’t be just ignored either. As we consider disability and challenge we get in danger of coddling, or sentimentality. Even worse, it’s tempting to misappropriate.

With all of these pitfalls in the vicinity, It Came From Kuchar emerges as a very good effort. Good, but not without its own considerable problems. Many of these, predictably, are reflections from the source/s.

Here’s a thing. George and Mike are important artists, important filmmakers, important pieces in a medium that is far too often skewed in the direction of Commerce. Commerce can be a drag, and even a disaster. But on the other hand, it can impose a degree of decorum that is actually quite important, to a lot of people anyway. This isn’t necessarily, isn’t even true of the Underground.

And so the Kuchars, and to a degree this documentary that wants to honour them. For me, there are moral missteps. John Waters, for instance. He actually provides a completely unaffected, affectionate witness here. It’s very nice. That stupendous, devoted clip from his notorious Pink Flamingos beautifully serves to make an essential point. Once again, as stated above, we need independent people, outsiders, the alienated. And we don’t only need them so that we can gather them into the folds of squareness. In order to give a voice to the usually voiceless, we need independent cinema! (There is no place in the corporate world for these ill-raised, heaven-kissed savant/auteurs.) But we should also remember that John Waters not only sympathizes with the outsider, but he almost always goes on to defend deviance. (No such thing? For one response to that assertion, see our review of Jack Smith’s Flaming Creatures, q.v.) Thank goodness for the San Francisco Art Institute job that George got, for his right-minded friends and defenders, for his problematical frankness about bodies and all. But you know? He and Mike (and Ed Wood) are pornographers too, with all of the sorrowful solitude and addiction that that might imply. So celebrate, absolutely. But let’s keep those grains of salt at hand.