Considering that Azazel Jacobs, the director of Momma’s Man, is the offspring of American avant-garde filmmaker extraordinaire Ken Jacobs, one would be forgiven for expecting his film to be more experimental and abstract than the seemingly conventional narrative that plays out. Yet buried beneath the poignant clutter of this occasionally familiar stunted-youth-in-life-transition tale is a surprisingly complex, elegantly detailed meditation on creativity and artistic growth. While Ken Jacobs may work with found footage, purposefully elongating time and reassembling it into tapestries of pointed Americana, his son has constructed a personal fiction film using the detritus of his own life: the downtown Manhattan loft where he grew up, the gadgets and tchotchkes strewn about it like cherished memories, and his parents themselves.
Momma’s Man was one of my personal favorites from Sundance this past year (the others being the forthcoming Ballast and the surprisingly complex Baghead, already in release) so I’d urge anyone at all interested in the state of the American Independent to make this a priority. It’s rough around the edges and occassionally a little shoddy, but isn’t that what’s been missing from the Sundance factory these last few years? A little bit of imperfection in the craftsmanship goes a long way. Skip Hamlet 2 (a wildly unfunny suckfest on an epic scale), and go for the little guy.