Tuesday, 6 November 2012

Waterpark (2012) - Evan Prosofsky

I have a lot of time for documentaries, well actually that's an understatement - I adore documentaries. I also have a lot of time for people that make that all important leap from talking about doing something to actually going out and actually creating something.

Waterpark is Evan Prosofsky's first shot at making a documentary, his day job finds him working as a cinematographer, mainly for music videos. This doc first came to my attention when when I received a frantic phone call form my wife informing me that Dirty Beaches (a Canadian musician whom I'm head over heels about), was playing in our town. He's played here a few times in the past but for various reasons I haven't managed to catch his shows. It turns out that this time he'd be playing live accompaniment to a Canadian documentary about a huge shopping mall, a shopping mall that's so big it also houses a waterpark. Crazy, huh?

So that's how I came to be sitting in an art gallery last Friday watching this. Evan was there to introduce his film, and he explained that Edmonton, Canada (where he is from) is home to this bizarre shopping mall, we were informed that the winters there were incredibly harsh, yet people would spend their time at the mall, swimming, hanging out and generally enjoying a break from the harsh reality that was happening outside.

So not only do you have the juxtaposition of arctic winter conditions and tropical beach locale, but also shopping rubbing up against leisure. More than enough there for a decent documentary I thought. Mr Dirty Beaches (or Alex Zhang Hungtai to you and me) was ready behind his analogue Korg synth, the lights dimmed and we were off.

Waterpark kicks off with an infomercial about said waterpark and then for the next fifteen minutes or so consists off people swimming, walking around, bungee jumping, swimming some more and erm, that's your lot really. Empty is the word that kept coming to mind as I watched it. Vacuous. What is the point, I kept thinking. I looked over at my wife (who I'd dragged along) about five minutes in, and saw she was thinking the same thing as me. After fifteen minutes it was all over, and of course being a special screening with the director present, the crowd applauded long and loud.

Evan Prosofsky fielded questions from the audience afterwards, but they dried up quickly simply because there was nothing of substance to ask any questions about. I had to fight the urge to ask him why he'd bothered to make Waterpark in the first place, since Evan looked so happy. I just couldn't be the one to rain on his parade. We left as soon as it was politely possible to do so, and talked about nothing else all the way home. We came to the conclusion that if this was on YouTube no one would be able to sit through it without skimming through to the end after a few minutes. On the plus side I did get to see Dirty Beaches though.

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