More Than the Rainbow: Film Review
Dan Wechsler follows a photographer who'd like to be the Cartier-Bresson of New York City.
NEW YORK — Great street photography differs from everyday stuff in that it "can't be recreated," according to the die-hard shooters in Dan Wechsler's More than the Rainbow, a doc centering on the work of cabbie-turned-photog Matt Weber but offering his colleagues (and a critic or two) plenty of time as well. Frozen-in-time magic abounds here, as do glimpses of vanished corners of New York; NYC-infatuated festivalgoers will appreciate its attitude, while amateur shutterbugs of all stripes may find inspiration.
Self-taught and looking more like a sports bar patron than a gallery denizen, Weber speaks of his obsession at a rapid clip: How he spent years in the '80s behind the wheel of a run-down cab, marveling at what was out his window and thinking "I gotta get a camera!" He kept driving for a while after he started taking pictures, but eventually (to his wife's chagrin, it seems) sold his hack medallion and made haunting street corners, taking scores of shots for every one worth keeping, his main vocation.
Weber's B&W images have drawn fans including Todd Oldham, seen here designing a book to showcase the work. Others, like sex-fetish specialist Eric Kroll, are unconvinced: Weber's sensibility is "too obvious" and "kinda makes me wanna barf," he says. (Establishing his credibility on issues of taste, Kroll chooses to be interviewed in the company of an almost silent, lingerie-clad model.)
Weber's personality is robust enough to fill a small doc, and pairing his atmospheric images with old Thelonious Monk tunes doubles their appeal. But Wechsler is wise to spend so much time with others who troll the sidewalks for material: semi-kindred spirit Dave Beckerman; lauded Philadelphia native Zoe Strauss; and Ralph Gibson, who defends the abundance of street photography with the lovely quote, "in the long life of a city, each man on the street becomes his own archaeologist."
Together, these veterans discuss the concerns of their profession: film versus digital, monochrome versus color, how to know when an appealing subject really, really doesn't want a stranger to take his picture. Along the way, we see signs (including a show in a Hamptons art gallery) that Weber's career may be on the uptick. Maybe he wasn't dumb to sell that taxi medallion after all.
Production Company: Lespedi Productions
Director-Producer: Dan Wechsler
Director of photography: Arlene Muller
Music: Thelonious Monk, Keith Gurland
Editor: John Rosenberg
No rating, 81 minutes
Sundance: On the Scene