Doc of the Day: Buskers Review - Dan Schindel

Doc of the Day: Buskers

Posted in Days of Docs, Reviews by - September 15, 2012

The stories behind those zany people performing on the street.

Dir. Chad S. Taylor, 2008, 59 min, Viewed via Netflix Instant

You know a movie will be at least worthwhile when it begins with the question “So you lost your teeth eating fire?” Busking, sadly, isn’t the movie about street performers that we deserve, nor is it really the one we need right now, but it’s serviceable. It’s directed by a guy who juggles chainsaws for “a living” in Venice Beach, and that kind of low-rent approach probably suits this world just perfectly.

Everyone looks down on buskers, often considering them no better than panhandlers. But you know, they’re out there all day, doing stuff to keep us entertained, and they get paid for crap for it. So fork over some respect, at least. Because really, street performance is a labor of love. No one is in this for the money. No one ever got rich off of it (unless there’s some truly remarkable story of which I am unaware). The movie is a tribute to the work of people who often fade into the background noise of boisterous city goings-about.

I really wish that the film had showcased more of this art, though. The acts generally work as punctuation marks after various beats in the story, but I would have loved to see more of it. One guy has a volunteer hold a cucumber against his stomach, then he slices the cucumber with a samurai sword without even touching the volunteer! That’s crazy! Seeing that, and the audience’s reaction to it, you can kind of understand how doing this day in and day out could be fulfilling, monetary dissatisfaction aside.

Busker is as ephemeral as a dandelion, but it’s cool while it lasts. But there’s still a great movie waiting to be made about street performers (although Confessions of a Superhero kind of already is, though its focus is a bit specific). For now, this doc will do.

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Dan Schindel loves movies more than you do.

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