CineVegas Review: ‘It Came From Kuchar’
You’ve probably never heard of George Kuchar or his twin brother Miek. Even though they have hundreds of directing credits between them (George has 215 alone), their names are as lost to the general public as a ship that has entered into the Bermuda Triangle. Yet, despite this unfamiliarity in the minds of general film audiences, the works of the Kuchar brothers have inspired filmmakers like John Waters, Guy Maddin, Atom Egoyan and Buck Henry.
The documentary film ‘It Came From Kuchar’ is a celebration of their life, work and inspiration. Director Jennifer Kroot works in all the angles spending equal amounts of time on each of these three aspects. We see interviews she conducted with George and Mike as they discuss their lives, their childhood, and the relationships they each had with their mother. We see interviews with filmmakers, critics, and film historians alike as they discuss the ways the Kuchar Brothers have influenced the media of film. These are spliced with actual scenes from various Kuchar films, films that a majority of the public has never seen. With titles like ‘Hold Me While I’m Naked,’ ‘The Devil’s Cleavage,’ and ‘Sins of the Fleshapoids,’ you can clearly see why the Kuchar Brothers never made it into the big leagues.
But, unlike ‘Anvil!,’ ‘It Came From Kuchar’ is never about George or Mike’s frustrations and inabilities to become mainstream film directors. They each have a passion for filmmaking, and they have no regrets for the paths they have chosen. In fact, George, to this day, continues to direct films with the help of the San Francisco Art Institute. George has taught a film class there since 1971, and he continues to utalize the institute and his students in helping him create his later films. Kroot’s documentary also follows the production of George’s latest film, ‘The Fury of Frau Frankenstein,’ and hearing his students/crew talk about George’s work ethic is both humorous and heartfelt.
And that, more than anything, is what ‘It Came From Kuchar’ is all about. It is a heartwarming depiction of twin brother filmmakers whose passion for the medium outweigh their artistic abilities. Their films don’t look polished. They hardly look complete. But none of that matters. George makes the films he wants to make, and, without a studio backing him or standing in his way, he is able to do just that.
One negative about Kroot’s documentary is the way Mike seems to be shortchanged, particularly in the directing pair’s later years. Much of the film follows George. It stands to reason, seeing as how George, with 215 directing credits to Mike’s 17, is the much more prolific of the two. However, the moments featuring both George and Mike under one roof are smile-inducing.
There are several stand-out interview moments in ‘It Came From Kuchar.’ So many times Kroot will be speaking with George and Mike at different locales about a similar subject, and she edits the conversations in such a way that it appears each brother is finishing the others sentences. Whether it is through a gifted level of editing or the two brothers are that finely tuned to each other remains to be seen. Regardless, these moments serve as emotional backbone to the depiction of the Kuchar Brothers’ life outside of film.
‘It Came From Kuchar’ is a wonderful documentary that brings to light a film movement not seen by many but that influenced hundreds. The Kuchar Brothers were and still are pioneers in the underground film movement, and Kroot’s documentary is a heartwarming look at everything they have accomplished and everything they stand for.