Countdown to CIFF: #8. Beauty is Embarrassing

For the 10 days leading up to CIFF’s opening gala, I’ll be posting a quick write-up per day on some of my favourite movies at the fest. I’m not exactly unbiased — CIFF does give me a paycheque, after all — but these posts are my own opinions and not those of the festival.

I’m not sure that Beauty is Embarrassing actually needs an extra push — it was the first movie CIFF announced (er… “leaked”), so it’s already had a bit of a push. But it really is wonderful. It’s a documentary about Wayne White, who spends most of his time these days painting lettering over thrift store landscapes, but back in the early 90s was busy creating all of your childhood memories.

I mean, obviously that’s an exaggeration. But he did a lot of work on Pee Wee’s Playhouse, and did that Smashing Pumpkins video where they went to the moon, and generally made the most of his lovingly scrapped-together aesthetic. Beauty is Embarrassing goes into some of that, with a bit of behind-the-scenes footage, but it also spends as much time on where White’s at now, making “serious” art with a sense of humour and just doing his best to always be creating. Artist types in general will have a hard time not walking away inspired — and let’s be clear, I’m not the type who usually likes things that are described as inspirational. But if Wayne White can build a giant LBJ mask on a whim and wear it around town, why couldn’t I?

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