Walt Curtis: The Peckerneck Poet

Austin Chronicle

DIRECTED BY: Bill Plympton

REVIEWED: 03-30-98

After 64 minutes of watching self-described "jerk-off poet therapist" Walt Curtis in animator-turned-documentarian Bill Plympton's Walt Curtis: The Peckerneck Poet, you may agree with this rhyme an Oregon cowboy tosses Curtis' way: "Roses are red/Violets are blue/Assholes like you/Belong in a zoo." But if you don't agree, it's most likely because the wild, frenetic poet's irreverence and verve are, in fact, really admirable. Of special difficulty for this documentary, however, is Curtis' undeniable status as a poet-entertainer; that latter avocation is played to the hilt, much to the detriment of a fuller glimpse into Curtis. Curtis never seems "off," as if he's a little child all too aware that he's having a movie made about himself. No sources provide insight into Curtis, no friends or family are captured on-camera verbalizing what it means for Curtis to shout his poetry instead of read it gently. Maybe that's Plympton's point, though - that Curtis is such an in-your-face, full-bodied poet that he occupies all the available space around himself. If so, his antics aren't worth 64 minutes. Neither worth 27 minutes is Wayne Freedman, the smug, uninterestingly frustrated feature reporter behind "Wayne Freedman's Notebook," a short screened Plympton's film.

--Claiborne Smith

Other Films by Bill Plympton
I Married a Strange Person

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