Wednesday, 5 January 2011

Louie Bluie (1985) - Terry Zwigoff

Zwigoff's first effort at directing is this documentary about obscure Chicago blues fella Howard Armstrong. Zwigoff is a man obviously drawn to the more eccentric chappies in life, since Armstrong is the flipside to that other oddball Zwigoff spent years following around (for his excellent second documentary Crumb), yeah you guessed it - Robert Crumb. You see Armstrong (who's nickname is the title of this doc), not only plays a mean fiddle and mandolin, but also dabbles in painting and drawing. His art is pretty good, I was particularly impressed with his porn bible, which he keeps locked in a special case. Oh yes eccentric doesn't really do him justice. He reminded me a fair bit of Screamin' Jay Hawkins too, both are around the same age and seem to have an endless well from which they draw mad story after mad story. Except with Jay you know quite a bit of it is front, both do share exquisite taste in clothes though.

At just one hour long, this was an easy watch, not all that much happens really. Armstrong travels back to where he grew up telling his story and playing songs with various folk as he goes. This is intercut with footage of him in Chicago, telling stories and you'll never guess (well alright you probably will), playing songs with various old blokes. The music was okay but nothing to make you wonder how this guy had slipped through the cracks of success. Nonetheless as I say it was watchable, and you have to applaud people like Zwigoff for putting the years in to make something like this, despite the fact that it's appeal is (cough) limited to put it mildly. Kudos as well to Criterion for sticking this out on DVD last year. I'm just hoping this means that during 2011 we'll see Ghost World come out via them too. Fingers crossed eh.

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