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Glass, Shattered

A stupefying dull portrait of a composer

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Glass: A Portrait of Philip in Twelve Parts
Directed by Scott Hicks
Koch Lorber Films
Opens April 18, IFC Center

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Scott Hicks's documentary portrait of Philip Glass opens with an attempt to summon a little of Koyaanisqatsi's bravado: As Glass's best-known score blasts, Hicks goes pseudo-avant-garde on a Coney Island roller coaster, letting the cars flash by as a series of lights and diagonals. It's an ill-advised, rote gesture, but it's the last time style makes any appearance. The rest of the time, Glass is a stupefyingly dull portrait of a man who doesn't seem to be lying when he says, "I have so few secrets." Not every biography needs to be obsessed with digging up drinking stories and sexual anecdotes: Glass is a serious artist (despite how currently trendy it is to dismiss him), and a close dissection of his work would've been welcome. Instead, we get Glass making vegetarian pizza from scratch while Hicks tries to force a metaphor as to how upper-middle-class culinary habits are a mirror for Glass's working process. Things perk up briefly in a segment devoted to soundtrack work, sparked by a typically loud Errol Morris announcing, "I think collaboration should be contentious," and an endearingly professional, non-neurotic Woody Allen editing Cassandra's Dream. Otherwise, everyone seems to conclude that Glass is a) intensely private, or b) very interiorized, which tells us exactly nothing. The biggest revelation, at least for stalkers, is locating Glass's New York apartment; watch him receive visitors, recognize Enzo's Pizza, and head on over.

 
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