The 46-year-old actor/filmmaker will be immediately recognisable to many as Marty McFly’s weedy, put-upon father in Back to the Future, and as the creepy and silent henchman in the film adaptation of Charlie’s Angels, and its sequel. He also appeared last year in the 80’s-inspired comedy, Hot Tub Time Machine.
Scratch the surface however, and Glover’s interests and ambitions clearly lay outside the mainstream. Having directed two films (2005’s What Is It? and it’s sequel from 2007, It is Fine. Everything is Fine!), the latter was included in Thursday evening’s line-up, which began with Glover narrating stories from his self-penned books.
This visual presentation (entitled Crispin Hellion Glover’s Big Slide Show) involved pages from his various volumes of work being projected on screen as the actor both narrated and highlighted illustrations and photos from his books in the style best described as that of a demented TV weather forecaster. It was an utterly bizarre yet hilarious performance piece. One book in particular (Rat-Catching, written in 1988) presented an old-fashioned looking instructional guide to eliminating vermin, with a prose that quickly lapsed into the surreal and abstract.
If this work indicates Glover’s skewered perspective of life, It is Fine. Everything is Fine! represents the motion picture counterpart to that. Having been scripted a couple of decades back by the late Steven C. Stewart, the film is a haunting psycho-sexual fantasy melodrama featuring Stewart as the protagonist in the story of a disabled man’s revenge on a variety of females.
Born with severe cerebral palsy, (and as Glover described in the post-film Q&A) Stewart had been misdiagnosed and mistakenly confined to a nursing home for over a decade of his life before he was able to express himself artistically. The film itself is a truly unique viewing experience and is unflinching in it’s depiction of disability and the sexuality of that subject matter. Stewart (who sadly passed away soon after filming ended) clearly had abandonment issues and resentment towards women and some of the content is indeed shocking and uncomfortable to watch, but crucially, it never feels like Stewart is being exploited. His condition is never presented in a sanitised way and more importantly, his “character” and actions are often far removed from what could ever be described as saintly. The film is worlds apart from what other actors-tuned-directors usually crank out within the Hollywood studio system.
During the Q&A, one audience member was clearly distressed at what she had seen, and expressed her annoyance in a very verbal manner towards Glover, whom she accused of exploiting women. Glover heartily defended his film but also expressed an understanding of her issues and declared that he welcomed criticism, although the majority of the room didn’t share the woman’s grievances. Glover talked pretty much non-stop for over an hour, and was still going strong as it was fast approaching midnight. The many points and issues he talked about were both enlightening and insightful. By breaking down social and cinematic taboos, Glover has created a powerful work of art whose subversiveness also lies in the fact that he was able to fund himself by taking on roles in mindless, passive Hollywood fare like Charlie’s Angels.
Glover proved to be a fascinating figure who (rather amusingly) possessed more than a passing resemblance to George McFly in terms of his vocal inflections and mannerisms. His ability to flit between the mainstream and projects like It is Fine. Everything is Fine! is an achievement which deserves praise and recognition.
The evening was part of the actor’s intentions on taking this undistributed film on the road (clearly minus the ego-centric intentions behind Kevin Smith’s recent announcement of a similar plan for Red State) and he added that he hopes to return with his first feature sometime soon. Having purchased a 16th-century chateau in the Czech Republic to act as a studio to make the third in his intended trilogy of films, Glover aim of retaining an independent vision and having complete autonomy over his work, cement his reputation as a true original who works in an environment and culture where possessing a unique outlook isn’t particularly embraced with open arms.