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April 03, 2009

Guest of Cindy Sherman

Cindy Sherman Instantly recognizable as a guy you might have gone to college with, co-director and documentary subject, Paul H-O's personal experiences, as host for a self-produced cable television art program called "Gallery Beat," speaks volumes about New York's elitist art world and its most cherished icons. Paul's self-deprecating personality is a perfect foil for carrying out his retired-artist mission of demystifying Manhattan's snooty art scene by interviewing and reporting on gallery exhibitions from 1993 through 2006 with the help of cohorts Cathy Lebowitz and Walter Robinson. "Gallery Beat's" lighthearted "Beevis and Butthead" approach to interviewing high profile subjects eventually leads Paul to doing a series of interviews with art world heavyweight Cindy Sherman, with whom Paul gradually strikes up a five-year-long romantic relationship. Famous for her chameleon-like ability to transform into unrecognizable character subjects for her photographic art, Cindy Sherman is a star that shines far bigger and brighter than Paul's. But it isn't until he's relegated to dine three rooms away from his romantic partner at an art function, where his seat designation reads "Guest of Cindy Sherman," that Paul becomes unhinged at the absurdity of his situation. To be sure, a lack of communication and compatibility are written into the subtext of the couple's doomed relationship, but what comes through the documentary is something universally telling about a cloistered, capitalist world of greed and humiliation.
(Filmlike) Not Rated. 88 mins. (B+) (Four Stars)

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