REVIEW: McNaughton Paints Slice of Life Doc of "Condo"
by Danny Lorber
(indieWIRE/2.14.2000) — John McNaughton‘s directorial debut film was the seminal “Henry: Portrait of a Serial Killer,” a maddening, droll expose into the life of a homicidal psycho. The film was impressively disturbing — if not awkwardly sardonic, and its ability to haunt as oppose to shock signaled that McNaughton was a major talent to watch. Yet his career, while always interesting, has followed a comparatively disappointing tract, as he’s fused silly, though enjoyably salacious Hollywood efforts like “Wild Things” with mediocre indies such as “Normal Life.”
His new effort, “Condo Painting,” which is now playing in New York and Los Angeles, is a documentary. It’s his second effort in the genre, after the apt filming of Eric Bogosian‘s one-man show, “Sex, Drugs and Rock.” The film tells of a year in the life of George Condo, the New York artist. Condo was an ’80s NYC art scene star, and he was so revolted by the utter commercialization of his colleagues, that he fled the county, spending a decade in Paris. He came back with an international reputation and a ton of money, yet still honest in his work: cartoon like images surrounded by abstract, pastel surroundings — nutcases, in a colorful, splashy world.
“Condo Painting” was initially intended as a short funded by the Pace Gallery, but was expanded into a feature as McNaughton became increasingly fascinated by his subject. The film is interested in one thing: exposing an artist at work. Unlike similar efforts about creative people, it rarely delves into its subjects personal life — we see him work, see him draw, hear him talk about inspiration and creative goals. The film is quite fascinating in exposing Condo’s seemingly endless creative drive; he never stops making things.
Over the year, Condo, a big, husky man from Newton, Massachusetts with a deep voice colored by an appropriate accent, creates a series of paintings and loses two of his best friends, Allen Ginsberg and William Burroughs. Early in the film, we see a scene of Condo and Burroughs collaborating on a painting