“This movie needs to be seen in art classes all over the world!”
- Tanner Toobach, Unboxed Watched and Reviewed
“This movie needs to be seen in art classes all over the world!”
“This movie needs to be seen in art classes all over the world!”
- Tanner Toobach, Unboxed Watched and Reviewed
LOVE IS DVD OF THE MONTH IN THE JUNE, 2014 ISSUE OF BIZARRE MAGAZINE!!
Review by Billy Chainsaw
Ugly and beautiful in equal measures
An artist whose work features shit, dismemberment and feral creatures is perfect for the pages of Bizarre, so join us as we step to the disturbing, wonderfully weird world of Beth Moore-Love.
This documentary profile of the left-field American artist plays like a surgical dissection of her paintings, while providing a compelling perspective on her life.
Rather than bombarding viewers with talking heads, director Larry Wessel focuses on Moore-Love as she paints, while discussing her work with mentor Bo Caudill. And while this might sound dull on paper, on screen it provides a fascinating insight into what makes Moore-Love tick, throwing up explanations as to why she paints such shocking subjects. It’s rare to see such a personal examination of an artist and their creative process. and to feel as though you’ve been allowed access to their most private thoughts and inspirations; and while the pace is slow and the structure is stark, this perfectly reflects the meticulous nature of Moore-Love’s intricate outpourings.
So face the strange and get down with the ugly/beautiful art of Beth Moore-Love – but don’t be surprised if it gives you nightmares.
- Billy Chainsaw, Bizarre Magazine
June 18, 2014
Once again, I’d like to give props to this film about a brilliant New Mexico artist which was shown to me by the filmmaker when I was back home in SoCal. This engrossing, disturbing, funny, and delightfully surprising film would make a great gift to yourself or to your favorite transgressive friend.
- Markus Jeffries
May 29, 2014 by mesikammen
The first time I heard of Beth Moore-Love and her paintings was while reading about Anton LaVey many, many years ago. The man adored Moore-Love’s paintings.
Intrigued, I did some research in the internet. What I found was something unique and haunting. No wonder the bald man loved that stuff. To my surprise there was not that much information about the artist in the net though.
Years passed. When I heard that a new documentary by Larry Wessel was about Beth Moore-Love last year, I was more than delighted. That was something I definitely wanted to see.
Wessel put nine years into the making of the film. The documentary, that runs for 1 hour and 51 minutes, was filmed in New Mexico, Berlin and Los Angeles between 2005 and 2013. Like previous films by Wessel, this one also is a gem.
We hear the story of Moore-Love from interviews with her and from many persons close to her. We hear stories behind many of her very detailed paintings that are at the same time beautiful and gruesome.
The movie is fascinating from the beginning till the end. It gives a unique view about a unique artist and her work. Wessel has done a great service for all of us by telling us a story about an artist that is oddly not more widely known.
Larry Wessel has once again picked up a great subject for a film and given it a great treatment. This is a masterpiece that everyone with a taste for the beautiful, the gruesome, the thought provoking and the wickedly funny should see. Highly recommended!
Larry Wessel’s Love is amazing.
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Love the movie, the official webpage (Order your copy of the movie from here!)
Love the movie in Facebook.
Love the movie, the official trailer.
Long have I been aware of her work. I met her on one occasion when she came down to the CIA . I was and have always been very impressed with her work which retains the vintage classic beauty of the Victorian era infused with the manic and horrific blasts of reality and carnage.
Larry Wessel has achieved something few have in documenting not only her work but more intriguingly the process of her work. Like stepping into an actual living painting we float like spirits along the tops of the New Mexico mesas and plateaus and come to (rest?) on the very crux of her ball of seething and yet very historical and biting wit.
An amazing glimpse into the genius of a torn soul who seeks to rip the pretty rose tinted glasses off the eyes of the world and shove stinking bloody reality in their face with a splash of a delicious sense of humor. Truly one of the great underground artists of our time being captured by one of the best underground documentarians of our time.
- Carl Crew/ California Institute of Abnormalarts
ILLUSEUM presents the World Premiere of LOVE, A Film by Larry Wessel at The UNEXPECTED Festival taking place at The Concrete Church in Amsterdam May 17th 2014.
For filmmaker Larry Wessel, cinema has always been his “religion,” as he was raised by “two religious fanatics” whose church was the movie theatre. In fact, Wessel was named after his father’s favorite screen star, Laurence Olivier. It’s really no surprise then that the man who devoured Famous Monsters of Filmland and considers Francois Truffaut’s Hitchcock to be his Bible would start making films in 1968 at a mere 11 years old.
Wessel’s first project was The Black Glove, which he shot on a borrowed 8mm camera. The film, which sounds like a Dario Argento movie, is about the murder of an old man by a psychopath who wears black gloves and wields a knife. Wessel later bought a Kodak Super 8mm camera with money he saved from his paperboy job and at the age of 13 made a film called The Vulture Eye, which was based on Edgar Allan Poe’s The Tell-Tale Heart. “This film won me an Honorable Mention in a national film competition back then called the [Eastman] Kodak Teenage Movie Awards,” Wessel says. That wasn’t his only film based on a short story, either. Three years later he made A Perfect Day for Bananafish, based on a story by J.D. Salinger. Ambitious? Yes, but that ambition earned him four scholarships to film school at the University of Southern California.
“I learned nothing about cinema that I didn’t already know,” Wessel states about this time in college. “My classmates were the nephew of Roger Corman and the sons of Norman Jewison and Judith Krantz. A cinema professor there proclaimed that I had moral problems when I mentioned that I wanted to direct horror films and that my favorite films were Psycho and The Texas Chainsaw Massacre.” It was that criticism and more that led Wessel to believe there was a “conspiracy to kill [his] creative spirit” and caused him to leave the school after three years.
1994 saw the release of his notorious and critically-acclaimed movie, Larry Wessel’s Taurobolium, The Tijuana Bullfight Documentary. “I spent four years (1990-1994) going to every bullfight in Tijuana, Mexico,” Wessel says. “It took me a year to edit the 200 plus hours of footage. The end result is what a lot of people refer to as the best documentary on the subject of bullfighting ever made.” This film ultimately led to his current feature, Iconoclast, a documentary about Boyd Rice. Before that was released, however, there were quite a few other films that saw the light of day.
There was Sugar and Spice, a documentary that dealt with transsexuals, drag queens and transvestites; Ultramegalopolis; Tattoo Deluxe; Carny Talk; Sex, Death and the Hollywood Mystique; Song Demo for a Helen Keller World; and Hollywood Head Bash featuring live performances from The Mentors. Then came Iconoclast.
The film is a look at the life of Boyd Rice, a man whom some would call infamous. Truth be told, there are few who fit the definition of the movie’s title better than he. He is a writer, prankster, musician and actor. He’s also researcher who has delved into the occult, fascism, Social Darwinism, Charles Manson, Anton LaVey and the Church of Satan, Tiki culture and more. His legacy will be one of inspiration and confusion, and he leaves a trail of controversy whichever direction he takes. Wessel found the idea of doing a documentary on him to be almost “inevitable.”
“Anton LaVey [founder of the Church of Satan] was a big promoter of my Taurobolium,” Wessel says. “Over the years several people have told me that on their first visit with LaVey he would require them to watch [it] with him!” In 1997 Wessel found out that Rice’s band, NON, was opening for Death in June at the El Rey. He went to the show and met Rice for the first time. “He had been banned from performing there due to the actions of a small group of protestors who showed up outside the theater with picket signs. Boyd’s first words to me were that he loved Taurobolium and that Anton LaVey had screened it for him at The Church of Satan!” A friendship of sorts formed, and in 2000 Wessel went to Boulder, CO for a seminar and ended up shooting Rice for a documentary on collectors.
“He met me at my hotel,” Wessel recalls, “and from there we drove to Casa Bonita where we not only enjoyed a few beers and some Mexican food, but I was privileged to witness a man in a gorilla costume ripping the clothes off a teenage beauty queen and then pushing her off a 30 foot tall indoor waterfall into a black lagoon below! While watching this ape commit rape I asked Boyd if he would like me to do a documentary about him. He wasn’t keen on the idea at this point, but I think I planted the seed.” Two years later the director filmed NON at the Key Club and then in 2004, before NON played the Key Club again, he received an e-mail from Rice praising the bullfighting documentary and asking Wessel if he wanted to do the documentary. The rest, as they say, is history.
The film takes place over three DVDs, with each disc focusing on different cities Rice has called home over the years. With such an extensive project, and with so many different aspects of Rice’s life that could be delved into, one wonders how Wessel even decided where he wanted to begin.
“I was off to a great start,” he says, “having shot both Key Club performances. The second Key Club performance featured a return engagement not only for Death in June and NON, but for the same protestors I had encountered in 1997 at the El Rey. This time, however, I had the unique opportunity to capture them with my digital camcorder debating Boyd in front of the club in the heart of the Sunset Strip!” He then spent the next six years travelling to various cities to interview Rice and his friends. Second units filmed in Boston, Portugal, Belgium and Australia, leading to over 200 hours of footage. “My next step was to find the story in all that footage.”
Despite all that access to Rice and his friends, there were things Wessel wasn’t allowed to delve into. “When I showed up in Denver,” Wessel explains, “to shoot the first round of interviews with Boyd, I had a list of all the people that I wanted to interview. The first three people on this list were his mother (Mary Roland Rice), Lisa Carver and Michael Moynihan. When I mentioned these people to Boyd his response to each one was, ‘Absolutely not.’” Carver (a.k.a. Lisa Suckdog) is a writer and musician who has been involved with Rice in the past, and Moynihan, also a writer and musician, also collaborated with Rice and once shared an apartment with him. Neither partnership apparently ended on good terms.
People also had their own reactions when they found out Wessel was doing a documentary on Rice. The most common question people asked? According to Wessel it was a stuttering, “Is he a N … N … N … Nazi?” It’s actually a common question, but one Wessel thinks has finally been answered. “I think that Iconoclast has finally put this awful ‘question’ to rest. I haven’t heard from anybody who after seeing [the film] has held onto this notion.” Beyond that question, people’s reactions to the film have been good.
“I keep reading the word ‘masterpiece’,” Wessel says, “and ‘the best documentary I have ever seen.’” In 2011, the Melbourne Underground Film Festival gave the director two awards for Iconoclast: Best Documentary and Best Director. Critics and fans aren’t the only ones enamored with the film. “[Rice] said that it exceeded his wildest expectations. He told me that he felt good about dying now that Iconoclast is how people will remember him!”
Of course, as with any film, there are moments that have to be left on the cutting room floor (or hard drive). This film, even at three DVDs, was no exception. In fact, what is missing could be another movie in its own right.
“There were sequences that I put together,” Wessel explains, “that had to be removed because they didn’t move the plot along. Some of these include the origin of the voice sampled in the tune “Cleanliness and Order,” Boyd’s Grail research (although this is mentioned briefly in a sequence about a dream he had where Jean Cocteau appears), a visit to the Unarius Academy of Science in El Cajon, a clever prank pulled on Denny’s restaurants, Boyd’s love for California Highway Patrol magazine, high school hijinks involving a giant paper mache penis constructed by Boyd, a meet and greet with fans at a book signing and many more that I can’t recall at the moment. There were also a few interviews with certain people that had to be scuttled.” One of those interviews was with director Richard Wolstencroft, who directed Rice in Pearls Before Swine.
“Richard thought out loud,” Wessel says, “that Rice’s importance in the future will be regarded alongside figures such as William Burroughs, Jack Kerouac and Allen Ginsberg, which I thought was a bit of a stretch. I had footage of Kim Fowley saying that Boyd Rice was the next Jesus Christ. Earlier in the film during Boyd’s introduction at M.I.T., Boyd’s self-proclamation about coming from the same bloodline as Jesus Christ had been mentioned, and I thought that it would be too much to underline this with Mr. Fowley’s comment so I got rid of that one. There were other interviews as well that didn’t make the final cut. That being said, there are 35 people (other than Boyd) who did make the final cut.”
Those people include Ray Dennis Steckler, Coop, Gidget Gein, Rozz Williams, Douglas P., Adam Parfrey, Rodney Bingenheimer, Blanche Barton, Stanton LaVey and many more.
So will there be a second film? Nope. Wessel says, “I can think of at least three people that could pick up where Iconoclast leaves off: Lisa Carver, Michael Moynihan and Giddle Partridge, but don’t hold your breath.”
With Rice’s reputation and the protests that have sprung up where NON is set to perform, one would think that finding places to screen the movie would prove difficult. Nothing could be further from the truth. Wessel says, “Getting screenings has been a cake walk. Iconoclast had its sold-out red carpet world premiere at Quentin Tarantino’s New Beverly Cinema in Los Angeles; followed by screenings at the Roxie Theater in San Francisco; Anthology Film Archives in New York City … [and more].” Additional screenings are in the planning stages. “So far people have enjoyed seeing [my film] at cinemas all over the world. I am a lucky man.”
This lucky man isn’t stopping with his latest documentary, either. “My new passion,” Wessel explains, “is for animation, and I’ve taken to it like a duck to water. [Also] be on the lookout for a feature-length horror film directed by yours truly.” If Iconoclast is any indication of what he is capable of, it is probably safe to say that anything from him is going to be interesting … and perhaps more than a bit controversial.
- Doug Brunell
Information on Wessel and his works can be found at www.wesselmania.net. Mute is planning on releasing a 90 minute version of Iconoclast, and information on his latest movie, Love, can be found at www.lovethemovie.org/. You can also read the Film Threat review of Love at www.filmthreat.com/reviews/75806/.
Larry Wessel’s documentary feature film, Love, is a profile of artist Beth Moore-Love. Instead of a routine and obvious biography, the film explores Moore-Love’s various paintings as she, often with the assistance of her painting mentor Dale Caudill, explains her inspirations and the ideas contained within them. In this way, the biography still comes through, only framed by the subject matter of the art, giving a unique perspective on the artist’s personal history.
And if her story doesn’t interest you, perhaps the art itself will. Populated with dismemberment, shit, small children, wild animals and strange historical context, her artwork often delivers on shock, though conversation reveals that the grotesque has a purpose. Sure, some elements just fit, but everything ties into the idea that she’s hoping to get across (which varies by painting), and are surprisingly often based on actual events or forgotten stories.
It’s rare that any artist, outside of perhaps a filmmaker commentary track, sits down and goes through their work explaining why they did what they did. And in that regard, this film is comprehensive in its dissection of Beth Moore-Love’s artwork, as she details what stories inspired her to create, what other bits of art or ephemera served as a springboard for her transformative ideas. If you’re curious about any of her artwork, this is the place for the straight skinny on all of it.
Of course, the plus and minus of that is, while it is a rare gift to peek behind the artistic curtain, sometimes you just don’t want to know, or the actual explanation doesn’t quite live up to the one inside your head. The latter is the risk many an artist try to mitigate with vague answers or outright refusals to discuss their inspiration or thought-process. I personally like both takes; sometimes the mystery is better, and sometimes it’s fascinating regardless. In this case, it’s fascinating.
That said, I think the edit of this film is a little too bloated for my tastes. I get the idea of wanting to let things breathe, lest you be stuck with the less interesting structure of ticking off the boxes in the stroll through Moore-Love’s paintings that almost would feel like the documentary equivalent of a website “listicle.” At the same time, some aspects of this broadening of the pace were too much for me. For example, in the opening, we get about three minutes or so of scenic footage of New Mexico. I get setting the context and stage, but it was excessive. This coupled with the almost two hour run time and… this could be much tighter. I understand why that might not be something the filmmaker wants to do, but it would’ve been my preference that the film was tightened up some more.
Then again, it speaks to the goal of the film, right? If it’s me, and I want to introduce folks to the artist and her work in the most entertaining, far-reaching fashion possible, I choose a few of her best paintings (however that distinction could be made) and I make a tight edit that would be less challenging to the short attention span set. If the goal is to comprehensively catalog her career up to this point, then this film’s structure and pace makes much more sense. If this were a film in wide release, I’d see this as the extended director’s cut, with a much shorter, still fascinating, cut possible.
And that’s about where I fall with the film. I did not know Beth Moore-Love’s artwork prior to seeing this film, and I relished the opportunity to get inside the head of the artist to hear the stories behind so many strange, often disturbing, paintings. I found much to embrace and enjoy about the film. At the same time, it felt too long for me, mainly due to aspects I saw as padding (such as the scenic shots). Still, as far as comprehensive profiles of an artist and their work goes, I can’t imagine this film left too much out, and if you’re already a fan of Beth Moore-Love’s paintings, or are looking for something uniquely grotesque and powerful, then Love delivers.
- Mark Bell,
CHAD ROCHE GIVES LOVE 10 STARS AND A RAVE REVIEW ON IMDb!!
Author: Chad Roche (firstname.lastname@example.org) from Fremont, California – United States
30 March 2014
I first came across Larry Wessel and his wildly interesting visions in a featured interview in Panik magazine some years back. Larry is the kind of artist who blasts open the proverbial can of worms with a vaudevillian sense of humor and a Satanic eye for revelation in the details.
“LOVE”, Larry Wessel’s new film documentary about Beth Moore Love, a contemporary American artist, explores the work and creative history of a brilliant painter whose vision comes on like concentrated hits of storytelling delivered in grotesquery; like vivisections of the id where beauty and innocence lie in close proximity, if not chained in some way, to horror, decay and cruelty.
I’m convinced only Larry Wessel could have told the Beth Moore Love story as deliberately and with such empathy, skill and subtle precision as he does.
Hatched from the personal scars and societal horrors of the Vietnam war, Beth Moore Love’s formula came to her in an epiphany one day in 1989. In a conversation with a stranger about American society, the man, a war veteran, said to her, “These people are asleep. They don’t know what reality is. What they need is a string of severed heads strung from post to post over the street. That might wake them up to reality.”
Beth Moore Love delivers more than a string of severed heads with her painting. She takes us by the hand and walks us into the fractured light of the American soul, somewhere near the center of Eliot’s Wasteland, where Hieronymus Bosch keeps his garden and Killer Zero leaves his butchered victims to the carrion birds.
Wessel’s skill as a documentarian begins with his genuine ability to engage his subjects. The interviews in “LOVE” are wonderfully revealing and free of affectation. Each person has their say, offering distinct insights into Moore’s genesis and development as an artist. Wessel wastes not a word, expression, or gesture. His cinematography draws us visually into the weird dimensions of Love’s paintings and turbo-charges the trip with a delightful use of sound and musical score to a near hallucinatory effect.
Get ready to see what can’t be unseen. Leave your comforts and consolations at home, they won’t help you now. The tour bus is heading for the high desert and Larry Wessel is selling tickets to ride.