'IT' GUY Glover.
He doesn’t quite tap dance. But when actor-turned-filmmaker Crispin Glover tours through town — clad in suit and tie, reciting repurposed 19th-century tomes, personally screening his films — he feels closer to a vaudevillian showman than the enigmatic Thin Man who famously huffed Drew Barrymore’s hair in Charlie’s Angels
To many, Glover is best remembered as George McFly from Back To the Future or the wig-wearing, high-kicking guest of David Letterman. But to see Glover present his directorial efforts, What is it? (2005) and It is fine! EVERYTHING IS FINE. (2007), is to gain a greater understanding of his total commitment to his art — and perhaps why his career has garnered so many YouTube-worthy moments. The films are the first two installments in Glover’s yet unfinished “It” trilogy, and while unrelated in plot, they’re thematically linked by subject matter provocative even to midnight crowds. What is it? features actors with Down Syndrome; It is fine! EVERYTHING IS FINE. explores the sexual proclivities of a wheelchair-bound protagonist who suffers from cerebral palsy.
Unconventional as Glover may appear, audiences who attend his screenings this weekend in Providence can expect a rather regimented schedule. Prior to each film, Glover will perform a version of “Crispin Hellion Glover’s Big Slide Show,” a one-hour long reading from eight different books he’s written, accompanied by slides from the thickly illustrated pages of those books. Following the screening, he will hold a Q&A and book signing where he intends to speak to each interested guest. It’s a display of fan service not often seen, and Glover is a gracious, albeit unusual, maestro.
In an interview via email with the Phoenix before his visit, he explained why his films can only be seen on 35mm in his presence, and his reaction to others’ perceptions of him.
The interview has been edited and condensed.
HOW DO YOU INTRODUCE YOURSELF AS AN ARTIST? I usually don’t introduce myself as anything but Crispin, as in “Hello. I’m Crispin.” Monetarily, I have made most of my living as an actor. I assume I will continue to work within the corporate film world for my entire life. I do not have anything against corporate filmmaking. What I do question is when corporatism leads to a message of non-questioning conformity in films. I would like to see more questioning.
HOW OPTIMISTIC ARE YOU THAT COMMUNITIES WILL SUPPORT LOCAL THEATERS AND ALLOW 35MM TO SURVIVE? Humans are a social animal. I am quite certain people will continue to gather in live forums to experience social thought exchange for the entire existence of humans as a species.
[Also] 35 mm film will certainly be kept in existence for archival purposes. Obviously digital technology will have impact but there are enough people in the archival communities that understand film on celluloid is mandatory to keep the film archived on film negative, as even multiple digital hard drives can malfunction in a millisecond. Hundreds of millions of dollars of films could disappear if not properly archived. So there is a monetary motivation. There are also aesthetic reasons.