Alexander Olch makes smart ties - and has made one absolutely brilliant film. The Windmill Movie - his beautiful documentary about his mentor and Harvard film professor, Richard P. Rogers - premiered on HBO last night. Dick, as he was called, died from metastatic melanoma in 2001 and left behind over 200 hours of film, including hours and hours of footage of his wealthy, preppy family frolicking on Hamptons beaches, drinking by a windmill and playing tennis. He spent decades trying to tell his family's - and his - story honestly through his own eyes and words, but it took Alex, and the distance he had from it, to finish it. The first part is told by Dick through journal entries, but those stopped in the '70s, so Alex seamlessly filled in the rest. In the process, we get into the soul of the man.
It's about WASP dysfunction, WASP guilt for complaining about dysfunction; a film maker's artistic struggle to be honest about his own story, another film maker's struggle to be honest about someone else's; relationships with women, be they mothers or lovers; and how grappling with the concept of immortality can be harder than realizing one's own mortality. It's really, really good. Dick would be proud.
(Also -- last night's reception was totally fun with sickeningly good food from BONDST. Metropolitan/Last Days of Disco/Barcelona Writer-Director Whit Stillman was in the crowd, along with the adorable designer Erin Fetherston and Gosford Park's Bob Balaban among countless others).
Alex said that it will be available on demand for the next month or so and that HBO will be replaying it around the holidays. You must watch!