Blue Is Beautiful | Chicago Reader

Blue Is Beautiful

Early in this 30-minute movie D.C. band the Make-Up (James Canty, Steve Gamboa, Michelle Mae, and Ian Svenonius) are being questioned by a man who seems to be an immigration official. When he asks them why they want to be somewhere other than where they came from, the ominous yet playful sincerity of their responses tips what seems like documentary into fiction. Filmmaker James Schneider's elegant fusion of performance footage and near-abstract evocations of the band's travels from venue to venue steers far away from pretentiousness without being completely free of camp. Hefting a glittery baseball bat as he poses for a photographer, front man Svenonius appears to exploit and undermine the kitsch value of this gesture in the same moment. Instead of using music to smooth the transition from a performance to a shot of a gym shoe hanging in a tree, Schneider allows a strong chord to follow the edit, emphasizing that the association is contrived. In fact, Schneider, who shot and directed, is so good at composing images and linking them temporally through editing, it's surprising that at one point he resorts to the use of superimposition and a split screen.

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