Sunday, July 14, 2019

Theory of Obscurity - a Film about the Residents

Melanie discovered this rather obscure documentary on the Kanopy streaming service and while we have not been Resident fanatics, the multi-media group has always fascinated us both with their sense of the absurd and their antagonistic sounds.

While the band continues to hide their identities to this day, this film concentrates on members of their management company, the Cryptic Corporation, as well as many musicians, dancers and assorted hangers-on - including a super young Penn Jilette! - who have worked with the Residents over their 40 year history.

Originating in Shreveport, Louisiana (birthplace of Jerry Lee Lewis), of all places, the members obviously did not fit in in this small, Southern town and they all moved to San Francisco in the early/mid-60's just as the town was an epicenter for artists of all sorts who were experimenting with styles and substances. Of particular interest is film footage of the members' early (first?) public performances (not yet as the Residents and with other friends helping out) and their early film/video experimentations.

The film discusses things like the way they got their name, their love of Captain Beefheart, the art direction, the eyeball concept and much more, right through to footage of their 40th year anniversary tour shows.

There is no way of knowing what is really true or not in this doc and you get the feeling that, although they will not admit it, some of the people interviewed are actually members of the Residents and not just "management" or friends. But, none of that truly matters and their motto seems to be that nothing is true and nothing really exists.

Pretty darn compelling throughout and well worth the search for this oddity.