Friday, October 07, 2022

Look at Me (short), Featuring Savion Glover

If you never saw and heard Savion Glover’s collaborations with McCoy Tyner, you missed something great. The dancer’s upcoming “duet” with a past-his-prime rock drummer looks far less promising, especially to the exasperated gala director who paired them together. The resulting verbal confrontation (with tap accompaniment) took on a life of its own for director-screenwriter Sally Potter, who spun it off from the film it was originally part of, to stand alone as the short film Look at Me, which screens this weekend in New York.

You can tell Adam’s gala concert will be nauseatingly didactic, because he plans to have Savion Glover (playing himself) and Leo performing on-stage in cages. It is to benefit the “wrongly incarcerated,” as if Manhattan’s DA prosecuted criminals anymore. You can really tell
Look At Me was not made by a New Yorker, once you take a gander at the apartment Leo shares with his lover. Who might that be? Take a guess.

The problem is Leo only seems to know one speed. He can’t help playing harder and faster than Animal from the Muppets. However, this isn’t his gig. When Adam not so gently reminds him of that fact, it unleashes a torrent of resentment from the drummer.

Frankly, the way Potter and actor Javier Bardem depict Leo just does not match the way most musicians I know conduct themselves. In the real world, Leo would have already reached some kind of consensus plan with Glover and would improvise accordingly. Working musicians are professionals. Yet, Potter has Bardem explode, so his rage can express predictable grievances rooted in identity politics.

However, it is interesting to see Chris Rock in a role requiring him to “stand his ground,” in some respect, after that thing that happened. It is a nice performance and quite the contrast to his established image.

Given the cast and Potter’s reputation,
Look at Me will probably reach several hundred times the audience average shorts manage to garner. It is debatable whether that is a good thing for actual gigging musical artists, because the film reinforces the negative stereotype of musicians being unreliable, self-destructive head-cases. At least viewers can hear Glover’s percussive feet and guitarist Fred Frith on Potter’s soundtrack. Not recommended, Look at Me screens with Orlando, Friday through Monday (10/7-10/10), at the Metrograph.