A Poem is a Naked Person
Director: Les Blank
Year of Release: 2015
Running Time: 1 hour 30 minutes
Seen from a modern perspective, it's hard to imagine why Les Blank's rambling, gleefully stoned-drunk documentary A Poem is a Naked Person would be hidden from the masses for some 40 years, but it's release nonetheless counts as something of a brilliant time capsule. Following the country/blues/gospel musician Leon Russell as he begins to skyrocket in popularity during 1974, the film is less about the music (though there is plenty of extended concert footage), and more with capturing a certain off-kilter milieu. Russell, his motley band of weirdos, and the rural Oklahomans surrounding the recording studio allow Blank to veer off from the traditional music doc; trafficking in scenes such as a local artist removing scorpions from an abandoned pool before painting a massive undersea mural and a man eating a glass of champagne during the World Parachuting Championship. It's these bizarre details, mixed in with Russell's humorously cantankerous attitude, that creates an unforgettable distillation of a lost time and place.