Richard Brody at The New Yorker:
Every great urban filmmaker has a personal metaphysics of the city, a sense that the synergies and mysteries of urban life can find their ideal form in images. That’s what Pola Rapaport reveals in her first feature, “Broken Meat,” from 1991, which is showing, starting Wednesday, on Metrograph’s virtual cinema (with her introduction) and is also streaming on Vimeo.
It’s a film in a particular and too often narrowing mode: a documentary portrait of an artist, the poet Alan Granville, whose work doesn’t appear to have attracted much attention beyond the movie itself. “Broken Meat” is the title of one of his works, which Rapaport reads, during a train ride, early in the film. The poet’s obscurity itself comes off as something of his life’s work, his self-chosen destiny, as he describes his lifelong hero, Vincent van Gogh. Considering a reproduction of a self-portrait that adorns his wall, Granville says that van Gogh’s gaze is not “disturbed” but “steadfast,” and that the artist awakened Granville’s “first awareness that a person could lead an undiscovered life.” Granville acknowledges that he himself is “largely an unfulfilled poet,” with no realistic hope of recognition, and the gap between his vast literary aspirations and his actual circumstances is the documentary’s anguished drama.