This doc sounded more interesting and outre on the surface than it actually was. While I found Bernstein a unique individual and empathized somewhat with his problems and unique voice, the film never quite got far enough below the surface of his personality or his influence on Grunge or the changing Seattle scene to really make it as poetic as his spoken word.
Documentaries are always a great way to learn something new about something or someone new. Bernstein is a poet who is new to me, and I found his life to quite worthy of a critical analysis. There is a trap to focus too much on the death rather the life when the individual's demise is already known. The director made an excellent decision to only give Bernstein's suicide a sliver of the runtime. Life trumps death.
Great camera work, editing, sound, words, great rhythm. Great rhythm to all of those things and how they work together. Great flow. Somewhere between musical and verbal. It wears its formal rigor lightly and I missed it at first. Powerful currents–like Twin Peaks but under a calm surface—of vitality, though, not tragedy. Metaphorically, philosophically, uses "and" where too many use "but." Has the texture of life.
Around 3/4 of the way in Jesse's children make their appearance, with the younger casually helping the older with lower back soreness. The two are fleeting moments of small representations of the idiosyncrasies of Jesse bleeding into realities his poems; tiny, esoteric bits of personality telling stories of a tormented life. The rest of the movie is somewhat dead, but Jesse's story more or less tells itself.
A sum of its parts; interviews with friends and lovers and an accumulation of public appearances. The poet as public figure is addressed but much of the mystery remains below the surface of this frank but compelling documentary.