A surprise gift to the viewer, in rather the same manner as was the initial introduction, over a decade ago, a "gift" of outsider artist Al Carbee to documentarian Jeremy Workman by a journalist friend, MAGICAL UNIVERSE is proof plenty that Mr. Workman did not look the proverbial gift horse in the mouth. Instead, he and his girlfriend Astrid befriended Mr. Carbee, and out of this odd, endearing friendship has come one of the best documentaries of the year (hell, the decade, even the new century).
Art and Craft and Fifi Howls from Happiness -- but few I think have taken us this far into the mind, the universe of the artist as well as Workman's does. His film, like its subject, is an original.
You'll have to see the movie to understand the ramifications of what the man's words mean. Can art accomplish anything -- other than what it achieves for the artist -- until it is seen and appreciated? The photographs of Vivian Maier make the case for the negative answer, just as Carbee's story underscores the positive aspects of sharing.
Sundance Selects -- opens this Friday, October 31, in New York City at the IFC Center, and will hit Los Angeles at the wonderful little Arena Cinema the following Friday, November 7. Elsewhere? Not sure, but you'll certainly be able to see it on DVD or some streaming source, and eventually, I imagine, via the Sundance Now Doc Club.