Friday, October 19, 2012

Review: "The Entertainers" at Hot Springs Documentary Film Fest

Posted By on Fri, Oct 19, 2012 at 1:45 PM

the_entertainers.jpg

"The Entertainers"
Michael Zimmer and Nick Holle
92 Minutes

"The Entertainers" takes us into the world of the Old-Time (Tyme?) Piano Playing Championships and the ragtime musicians who compete for the trophy of World's Best. We're introduced in media res to six different competitors waiting to hear the results of the first round, and the pressure is on. The movie then takes a step back and introduces us to the world that these people inhabit outside of the competition.

Or at least, it would like to. The six chosen competitors only discuss ragtime to the camera, showing us glimpses of their social and working lives, but failing to interact with anyone not in the world of ragtime. When one competitor mentions that he is dealing with bankruptcy, the camera zooms in tight, expecting an emotional moment.

Unfortunately, the characters in this movie don't exist outside of their obsessions, so the emotional punch falls flat.

Many of the best documentaries that follow quirky subcultures full of social misfits are at their best when they become immersed in how the participants live in the greater culture. Other movies such as "Trekkies" and "Crumb" always make sure not to make the movie about the object of obsession, but about the people looking for meaning in their lives or their search for others like them. When competitor Jim Boston talks frankly of his struggles with suicidal thoughts and how the competition is a major part in his decision to choose life, it's an intensely human moment. So it's a sad thing that the movie feels the need to devote more time to the less interesting nuts and bolts of ragtime. There is nothing hip about ragtime. Nothing. The drama of the competition isn't the same for viewers as it is for the participants.

But we as viewers are drawn to the human stories that motivate these people. Filmmakers Michael Zimmer and Nick Holle obviously care about their subjects, and the moments where the six are interacting with each other and the public are the best parts. There are some very good moments in this movie, but the filmmakers are best when they're a fly on the wall unnoticed by everyone.

Tags: , , , , ,

Favorite

Speaking of...

Comments (6)

Showing 1-6 of 6

Add a comment

 
Subscribe to this thread:
Showing 1-6 of 6

Add a comment

More by Matthew Rowe

Readers also liked…

  • Staff Picks: Netflix and Chill, Benji's pasta fresca, Creedence Clearwater Revival and more

    The podcast Design Matters, published by Design Observer, is celebrating its 10th year and they are revisiting some of their best episodes from the last decade. I just finished this week's replay of the interview with the Scottish born illustrator Marion Deuchars. At the end of the wonderful interview, her two young sons are invited into the studio near where they pitch in some of their own thoughts on art and, in particular, drawing in the art books their mother created for children and adults.
    • Aug 28, 2015
  • Guest Mix: Rural War Room

    World wide weird duo Rural War Room (Donavan Suitt & Byron Werner) is celebrating 10 years of broadcasting and production here in Little Rock and abroad. RWR Radio on KABF 88.3 FM (10 p.m. Tuesdays or anytime on their website), features the duo alternating records in an effort to surprise one another.
    • Sep 14, 2015
  • Your new flags of Little Rock

    BRASHER: Hello Arkansans, this is the first piece from us, Brasher and Rowe and we are some dudes who work in downtown Little Rock and we eat lunch and just talk about all the exciting things around here.
    • Sep 18, 2015

Most Shared

Visit Arkansas

Little River County gears up for Sesquicentennial

Little River County gears up for Sesquicentennial

Historical entertainment planned for joint celebration of three Southwest Arkansas milestone anniversaries

Most Recent Comments

  • Re: Arkansas Times Recommends: The Think Edition

    • Apply for real register Passport ,Visa,Driving License,ID CARDS,marriage certificates,diplomas etc for sell Guaranteed 24 hour…

    • on February 24, 2017

Blogroll

 

© 2017 Arkansas Times | 201 East Markham, Suite 200, Little Rock, AR 72201
Powered by Foundation