Absolute Wilson



6:30 p.m. Tuesday, July 17

Creative dynamo Robert Wilson gets the HBO Documentary Films treatment in Katharina Otto-Bernstein's creatively revealing film. Featuring interviews with Wilson and a stunning galaxy of colleagues and critics, as well as excerpts from his work, Otto-Bernstein in an all-too-brief 90 minutes manages to give a vivid idea of what the man and his work are about.

Not surprisingly, Wilson -- despite his unbounded ego -- is easily the most riveting of the talking heads (and he gets by far the most time on camera). But overall, the interviews have been edited so well that everyone seems to have something of value to contribute, from Susan Sontag and John Rockwell to Philip Glass and David Byrne. The film's only weakness is that the initial, fast-moving pace, which seems to mimic Wilson's pace and creative flow, gradually slows to accommodate elements of the more usual kind of panegyric that would be the perfect accompaniment for a major grant application.

Ironically, for a close-up look at someone who is as close to a Renaissance man as we are likely to get without traveling back in time, "Absolute Wilson" carries with it a TV-14 rating, warning viewers about its "adult content, adult language and nudity." What would Michelangelo have thought?