Film

Film

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The downtown performance artist formerly known as Michael Morra, who died in 2001, led the sort of life that might make a compelling film—but not this one. “Anything I ever liked,” he explains, “I always did to excess,” including, but not limited to, heroin, cocaine, and alcohol. Like its subject, Luis Fernandez de la Reguera’s eponymous doc is a bloated, intermittently coherent mess; the sub-public-access production values seem fitting under the circumstances. Friends, enablers, and marquee-name colleagues from Redglare’s indie-film cameo days deliver bland encomiums and backhanded compliments (Jim Jarmusch summarizes him as a “con man with a soul”). Clips of early stand-up routines are similarly unilluminating. Instead, most of the screen time goes to the 600-pound-plus Rockets himself as he slowly fizzles out, beached on the San Juan sand, lifting an oxygen mask to swig vodka, slurring anecdotes about scoring junk for Sid and Nancy, nodding off mid-sentence, waking up to find a beer can hidden under his skin folds. There’s a human tragedy here waiting to be told; what we get, however, is a sordid, grotesque freak show.

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