Michelle Esrick's eye-opening and immensely appealing new documentary SAINT MISBEHAVIN': THE WAVY GRAVY MOVIE. And I doubt very much whether the subject of the film would particularly approve of its use. (Are true saints much aware of -- or do they even care about -- this lofty designation?)
Joan Rivers documentary that debuted a few months back -- and you're faced with quite the conundrum.
As someone once said, it takes all kinds .
TrustMovies sat down to watch this wonderful documentary, he had no idea in hell of who Wavy Gravy was. He got up from his chair 87 minutes later, steeped in nostaliga (for the 1950s and 1960s) but with his spirit renewed (not an easy thing to have happen as one's 70th year approaches). I hope that this does not make the movie a shoo-in for only elderly hippies (which it is) but that younger audiences will have their eyes opened and minds expanded a bit, too. We shall see.
Bob Dylan (who is said to have used Hugh's typewriter to write some songs) to Tiny Tim, Moondog, and especially Ken Kesey and his Merry Pranksters. You'll see a different side of the famous Woodstock festival, too, as Hugh's Hog Farm group is given the job of security. (Something like the character played by Liev Schrieber in Taking Woodstock, perhaps -- but without the transvestism?) "No one who is laughing can run," Wavy insists, and then, during the festival, has the very smart notion of training those he has coaxed back to normalcy from bad acid trips to help the newer bad acid trips find their way home.
Happiness Runs. In later days we see Wavy training children to become clowns. "We're inclusive," he exclaims with a grin. "There's even a kid here who's --" But why spoil one of the movie's best lines. Along the way we see Romney/Gravy's move from poet to fool to inspired fool to clown to intuitive clown. A genuinely fascinating subject, he seems to fully live in the world while taking into his existence and making use of literally everything that comes his way.
Jackson Browne (shown at bottom, left), Joan Baez and Bonnie Raitt (above, right). One interviewee tells us that the guy has gone way beyond the counter culture, and from what we've seen, this is a certainty. Today his wife of decades calls him "The most heroic person I have ever met in my entire life." (That's she two photos above, and below, in the early days of their marriage.) "And in that place in me where I am saying these things," she continues, "I'm not his wife; he's my teacher." With all this, the film manages to sidestep hagiography by being so damned specific as to the good Romney has done within the confines of what is very definitely his outsider role. As you might expect from a documentary about the guy, the credits are nine minutes long -- and most of them seem to be thank yous.
Ripple Effect Films, opened in San Francisco last Friday (at the Red Vic Movie House and the Landmark Shattuck), and will open this Wednesday, December 8, here in New York City (at the IFC Center). For further playdates, click here and then, from the menu on the right side of the screen, click on Screenings and Events.