Monday, April 28, 2014

Dan Wechsler's MORE THAN THE RAINBOW: NYC photography and photographers come to fine life

Ostensibly all about the hugely talented New York City street photographer Matt Weber -- and indeed there is plenty of Mr. Weber and his fine work on display here -- MORE THAN A RAINBOW, the documentary made in 2012 by first-time filmmaker Dan Wechsler grows into a truly interesting discussion of photo-graphy and its discon-tents via a half dozen or more other photo-graphers, several of whom I believe make their home, too, in one or another borough of New York City.

Mr. Wechsler, shown at right, along with his cinematographer Arlene Muller and editor John Rosenberg, does a crack job of putting together a movie full of energy, pizzazz and found art (rather like the city it covers). Its photographers are not at all shy about communicating, and as they seem extremely intelligent and well-spoken, it's a pleasure to hear most of them spout, just as it is to see their quite varied work. Only one of them seems something of an asshole, a fellow named Eric Kroll who seems to actively dislike Mr Weber's work and has no qualms about telling us this. Kroll's own work, involved solely in sex and Kroll, seems not nearly as interesting (and if you're familiar with TrustMovies, you'll also know he has nothing against sex of almost any kind).

Other photographers include Dave BeckermanBoogie, Ralph Gibson, the Philadelphia-based Zoe Strauss, Jeff Mermelstein, the late Ben Lifson and more, and while the subjects discussed begin with and bounce off Matt Weber (shown above, center, and below), we're soon into subjects that range from color versus back-and-white and how steam seems endlessly attractive for New York City shutterbugs to love relationships, how day jobs impact on photography (Weber drove a cab for twelve years to earn his keep) Capitalism, and photographs of 9/11.

Regarding that last subject, one of the interviewees here maintains that a particular shot of Weber's from 9/11 is the best photo taken on that day -- and one of the most poignant  pictures in the history of photography. You'll just have to see the film to see the photo, and yes, I'd pretty much agree with that assessment.

Some of Weber's other works are shown here, and -- damn -- they're good, taking us back to the heyday of street photography and demonstrating why New York City's vitality seems a constantly burgeoning thing. We've got 3 Sailors, Times Square (above, from 1989) and Van Gogh, below, also from 1989.

There's an Ecstatic Obama Girl from election night, 2008 and one of those must-snap-it steam shots, titled Homeless Heat (1990), further below.

We watch wonder boy Todd Oldham putting together a book on Weber's photography (Did that particular book ever see publication?)

Finally, if the movie seems to run down a bit prior to its close, this may be due to filmmaker Wechsler's not quite knowing where to go or how to end his piece. Even so, there is plenty of art and life on the screen,
and plenty to think about when it's all over.

More Than the Rainbow, from First Run Features and running 82 minutes, opens this Friday, May 2, in New York City at the Quad Cinema, and in Los Angeles at the Arena Cinema from May 24 thru May 26.

Bonus: Because this film is being distributed by First Run Features, we're pretty much assured of a DVD release eventually (one photographer friend of mine wants to own it ASAP) and probably some streaming venues, as well.

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