Documentary profiles life and creativity of Montreal musician

Courtesy Cinematheque

Eighteen disorderly specks of film comprise The Socalled Movie, a documentary film written and directed by Garry Beitel profiling the life and creativity of Montreal-based musician Josh Dolgin (a.k.a. Socalled).

The film presents concert footage from across the globe, such as New York, Ukraine, Montreal and Paris. It’s this footage that provides the viewer with the greatest sense of the creative works of Socalled.

Each composition differs stylistically from the next and possesses a sort of musical fusion calling on such diverse styles as klezmer, hip hop and funk. American jazz and funk trombonist Fred Wesley and New York’s klezmer clarinetist David Krakauer collaborate with Socalled in the film.

The narration is composed of Socalled’s commentary on varying aspects of his own life, including his stance as an openly gay individual.

Despite his observations, the viewer develops a rather vague portrait of the artist. As the film progresses, Socalled continues to introduce ambiguous observations, allowing for confusion on behalf of the viewer. 

Ultimately, Socalled makes stylistic choices in his music that appear to be as senseless as the order in which the 18 clips that comprise the film appear.

However, as he slows the pace of the klezmer tune, quickens the underlying hip hop beat and makes a simple, yet profound, observation (“How can you see all the stuff humans have done with their time and brains and not want to at least give it a try? [There] is only one shot of like, being a part of the world”) both his creative works and the film alike prove to be positively unique.

Published in Volume 65, Number 2 of The Uniter (September 9, 2010)

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