Entertainment » Movies

It Came From Kuchar

by Joseph Pisano
EDGE Media Network Contributor
Tuesday Jun 29, 2010
It Came From Kuchar

Directors George and Mike Kuchar, twin brothers from the Bronx and patron saints of New York's underground film community, are as devoted to moviemaking and as well versed in cinematic language as fellow Gothamites Woody Allen and Martin Scorcese.

But, unlike these two far more famous contemporaries, the Kuchar brothers never have attained mainstream success and, more tellingly, never have sought it, preferring instead to remain true bohemian auteurs unencumbered by commercial considerations. Normally, a description like this brings to mind snotty NYU film school types hopelessly in love with their own staggering talent, but in Jennifer M. Kroot's warm-hearted documentary It Came from Kuchar, the Kuchar brothers discuss their body of delightfully bizarre work with self-effacing graciousness, proving that, yes, there are at least two indisputably kind and unpretentious auteurs in this world.

In addition to interviews with George and Mike, Kroot also weaves together a collection of admiring talking heads, some surprising (Atom Egoyan) and some not (John Waters), in the end reconstructing a wonderfully idiosyncratic cinematic legacy.

City kids through and through, the Kuchar brothers grew up in a quintessential New York tenement with, thanks to the megalomaniacal urban planning efforts of Robert Moses, window views of nearby vacant lots and the Cross Bronx Expressway. Both graduated from the School of Industrial Art in 1960; the school was one of those New York vocational high schools that specialize in turning the poor's offspring into respectable middle-class citizens by giving them a trade. The Kuchar brothers tried their hand at bourgeois normalcy for a while. It did not take.

George and Mike's love of sexually charged, melodramatic films like Douglas Sirk's Imitation of Life and Daniel Mann's Butterfield 8 has been an enduring influence, as evidenced by the titles of some of their most beloved works: The Naked and the Nude; Corruption of the Damned; Hold Me While I'm Naked; Sins of the Fleshapoids. Sure, neither George (a much more prolific director than his brother with over 200 films to his credit) nor Mike have ever made a movie to rival Mean Streets or Annie Hall in terms of overall quality, but their low-budget, stream-of-consciousness productions are as playfully endearing as anything that has ever been committed to film.

Speaking of endearing, the centerpiece of the DVD's special features is its audio commentary with the Kuchar brothers and Kroot. George and Mike's hilarious off-the-cuff remarks are the cure for a bad day. Other special features include extended and deleted scenes, the documentary's theatrical trailer, and the digital short Egg Replacer directed by Chrisjof Whiteman, the winner of a contest that challenged underground filmmakers to create a work inspired by the Kuchar brothers. And here is the best complement for Egg Replacer: one could easily believe that George or Mike directed it.

Special Features include:

- Audio Commentary
- Short film: Egg Replacer
- Deleted and extended scenes
- Theatrical trailer

Joseph Pisano is a freelance writer living in New York.


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