The Rapidian

It Is Fine, Everything Is Fine! Actor/Director Crispin Glover speaks, performs, screens films at UICA

A still from <i>It Is Fine, Everything Is Fine!</i>

A still from It Is Fine, Everything Is Fine! /UICA

Underwriting support from:

What is It?

Trailer - What is it? is a follow-up to It is Fine. Everything is Fine! and is the second film in the trilogy
When - 8 p.m. tonight
Where - UICA (41 Sheldon SE)
Admission - $25

Actor/Director Crispin Glover in a still from <i>What is it?</i>

Actor/Director Crispin Glover in a still from What is it? /UICA

I had not heard of Crispin Glover until 2 p.m. yesterday afternoon. Since listening as he read his books at a slideshow live at Urban Institute for Contemporary Arts (UICA - 41 Sheldon SE), I have watched countless YouTube videos, trailers to his movies and skimmed his books. At the UICA event, I watched his newest film, It is Fine, Everything is Fine! and had the privilege to hear him speak about his experience making the film. In the past 24 hours, Crispin Glover has changed my life.

As a local performance artist and dancer with Dance In The Annex, it is extremely important to me to attend events such as this.  Crispin Glover's performance and film made me question everything that I have ever previously created, as well as inspired me to continue to create challenging and thought provoking pieces.  This is an essential event for any artist looking to have their own ideas and practices challenged. 

Tonight at 8 p.m. at UICA, you can have a similar experience. He will be presenting his newest slideshow performance as well as screening his first film in the 'It' trilogy, What is It? The only catch: A ticket is a hefty $25. Dig in your couch cushions. Ask for an advance from your boss. This is the best $25 you will spend all year. The entire event lasted over three hours and, as stated above, will most likely change your life.

He began last night's event with an unforgettable performance and slideshow presentation of seven of his books. Images projected on the screen were filled with wild stories of zoos, mothers, a penis falling off and Glover narrating images from his book, The Land of Sunshine, in German. His enthusiasm and honesty was remarkable as he read each page.

While reading from his book, An Egg Farm, Glover chronicles the love story of Milly and Dexter. A standout quote reads, "A thing may seem sweet as syrup, but oh how it burns." Tonight's new slideshow presentation promises to be equally extravagant and enjoyable.

Last night's film, It is Fine. was written by Steven C. Stewart who also stars in the movie. The story is a semi-autobiographical version of Stewart's life, portraying fantastical and realistic aspects of his life with cerebral palsy. The film has a 1970's made for TV murder mystery feel to it, with wildly creative sets, graphic sexual scenes and a charming cast. This film is a reaction to Stewart's entire life, and is universally relatable. Although most who witness it may not have a handicap, as Stewart identifies his cerebral palsy, they may still find comfort and similarities to their own life in his raw and honest account of his life through the fantastical experiences in the film. 

Glover's choices for the film score are exceptional, acting as thematic motifs throughout. Each time Paul Baker, Stewart's character, brushes a woman's hair, Ludwig van Beethoven's fifth symphony is played. Karma, a young woman who falls in love with Paul, is accompanied by the Sugar Plum Fairy suite from Pyotr Tchaikovsky's The Nutcracker. The innocence of the piece perfectly contrasts Karma's explicitly sexual seduction of Paul.

Stewart spent his 20s locked away in a nursing home where he was verbally abused and called a mental retard. He was of normal intelligence, although his cerebral palsy created a disconnect between himself and others. The opening and closing scenes of the film are shot in that very nursing home while all other scenes are shot on sets made by David Brothers who co-produced the film. Each set is a vast landscape of color with simple props. Characters are placed in them in a way that makes them appear very small, representing the loneliness Stewart felt most of his life.

Stewart passed away one month after shooting ended in 2001. In Glover's Q&A after the screening, he noted that this film is the best he will ever make in his entire career. The film cost around $200,000 to produce, and most of the cast and crew worked with no pay. Everyone involved believed in Stewart's story and understood the importance of bringing the film into existence. Before Stewart died Glover explained to him that audiences would find the film "weird." Although Stewart never saw the film, he fully understood what he had written as well as how it would be received.

Glover has starred in many corporately funded films such as Back to the Future, Charlie's Angels and most recently Tim Burton's Alice in Wonderland. In his talk he elaborated on his professional choices, and his reasoning for working on certain "big name" movies. By taking on the role of the Thin Man in Charlie's Angels, Glover was able to make enough money to fund It is Fine. Everything is Fine! His ability to bridge the gap between corporately funded films and his own independent projects under his company Volcanic Eruptions, was both inspiring and educational. Many artists can take note from the sort of creative lifestyle he has established, recognizing that being a part of more mainstream projects can allow an artist to work on their own independent works.

Tonight's film, What is it?, is a sort of thesis statement for It is Fine. Everything is Fine! The majority of actors in the film have down syndrome and create many questions of taboo and controversy, which Glover will address in his Q and A following the film screening. The film stars Glover as well as Steven C. Stewart. The last film in the trilogy, It is Mine, will not come out for some time. It will be a complex production requiring funding that will come from corporately funded projects. 

In the three hours of sitting in the UICA, one moment made me truly feel as if everything was fine. Glover thanked the UICA for hosting him but, most importantly, pointed out the value of having a space like that in our city. Many large cities don't have venues to host artists like Glover or the size of the audience would be too large to have a truly constructive space for conversation. A feeling of warmth came over me to hear affirmation about the potential this city has to learn from the artists within it as well as visiting ones who give performances like Glover's.

So tonight! Dig in your old coats for lose change. You'll leave feeling renewed. You might even believe for a moment that everything really is fine.

**Be forwarned: Crispin Glover's films portray nudity, graphic sexual content, disturbing images and extremely raw and - at times - disturbing subject matter.

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Comments

Marlee, great review.  It's refreshing to hear such an enthusiastic response. 

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