Monday, January 23, 2023

Father the Flame | Movie Review

TITLE: Father the Flame
GENRE: Documentary

DIRECTOR: Chad Terpstra
WRITER: David Michael Phelps
STARS: Frank Burla, Karen Domenico, Pippo Domenico

An undulating film of diminishing increases. Increasing diminishes? Cyclical, I suppose. A Brit might use the word 'twee' as a superficially apt descriptive. For the Yiddish, see 'schmaltz.' Although, as said, superficially only. Or at least offset by information pertaining to its stated focus of pipe-making... the perhaps-to-probable dying art thereof. Although as with any decent yarn, it's the people who count.

We start in outer space and end in inner space and so it's all about space and creating it, really. Space as in the lingering of rolling cameras on subjects beyond the point where they finish speaking. A point where t/here, we learn quite much, in the form of body language. Awkward or comfortable shifting, resting, or darting eyes. A heaving chest. A heaving chest. Diminishing increases (vice-versa). Expanding, contracting.

Undulation. Big and small. Details and outlines. I wanted, at first, more details. I understand it's a documentation of tobacco pipe makers; but no real mention of tobacco? Nothing of Cavendish or Latakia? Then again--nothing of clay or meerschaum either. Plenty, however, of life and death. Of the finite and infinite, of mortality and immortality. It's in that last coupling where this film sits a spell and searches in a dark room, hands out, feeling.

Death and birth and the breaking of all that via a lineage aborted. The pipes will live on though, as briar pieces of contemplative aids. Prized possessions or once prized possessions of prized people. Adrift. There is no anchor to this film because its purported subject is artfully and vastly left undelved. So we see slices of life and feel our sizes shift accordingly in easily uneasy thought-provoking space. Always safely. Through some beautiful pensive cinematography.

It's an entire mood, a millennial might say while fumbling with a vape pen. What I'd say is it's an important thing to see Father the Flame, but don't go into it thinking you'll be some tobacco pipe guru coming out the other side. It's a swerve, see. A kindly bait-and-switch. You'll much more than likely come out a bit teary-eyed and either hugging a loved one or relentlessly polishing your maybe newly-purchased Peterson.

I suppose it is all about shifting, permanent impermanence, and finding your most comfortable place in the expanding | contracting therein. Plus, a sentimental space to do it in. Definitely, more than enough to put in your pipe and smoke. You'll just have to bring your own tobacco, as it were.


::: very :::