The documentary film, Guest of Cindy Sherman, is is about a lot of things: Cindy Sherman , her work, and how she started out in the 80’s and made it big. It is also about the filmmaker himself, Paul H-O, his humble origins on cable access TV filming the show Gallery Beat in its many manifestations, and finally, his first interview with Cindy Sherman and their subsequent relationship. He gives an informative overview of her work and career. The film encompasses the rise and fall of their romance, the celebrity culture they inhabit, the art world, the changes in it over a decade and the rise of photography as an art form. Whew! Yeah, its alot. Not to mention that trying to document a relationship is a very peculiar and difficult thing to do.

Paul H-O had that camera with him from the get-go, almost like a security blanket. The film begins with Paul H-O filming the break up of his first marriage. The film certainly has a kiss and tell aspect, but is more forgiving. He doesn’t condemn Cindy Sherman but his outrage over being treated as a second class human being in the celebrity culture hierarchy comes across loud and clear. One can speculate that it was one of the only possible outcomes for him, the relationship not working. (I’d love to see this film with a group of therapists). He didn’t have enough going on outside of their relationship. Someone in the film remarked that he was riding a wave, an interesting metaphor because Paul H-O is also a surfer. It seems next to impossible to have a long-term relationship with someone who is such a creative force unless he could make his own waves. He is trying to do that with this film, albeit with mixed motives and a mixed response.

Cindy Sherman creates a different character for each of her photographs, all told, her self portraits she must have 10,000 personas. Very interesting idea. She projects these different characters and is said to have a chameleon-like quality easily morphing from one character to the other. Her own identity is submerged in her photographs. Both of these people are exhibitionists. Cindy continually photographs herself and Paul H-O has an obsession with his video camera and documents his life as well as his place in the art world. This is a film about two people who spend their lives in front of their own cameras, with some very interesting results .He turns his camera on her. Up until then she had been fairly reclusive and had been through a series of relationships with men. His initial interview with her is astonishing because the sparks fly very naturally and unexpectedly. But as any good filmmaker should know there is a time for letting it all hang out and maybe a time to put the camera away. it feels a little like reading someone’s diary. Surprisingly she lets him film her hanging out, working, photographing herself and she seems completely comfortable with his camera.

Paul H-O met her and kept the camera on through the high and low points of their relationship. which lasted over 5 years. We all have our good days and bad days, and the camera doesn’t distinguish.He also filmed the art world and the there are clips of the many personnages some of which are quite unflattering. Guest of Cindy Sherman is an astonishing documentary film, not quite fair and balanced, but complex. The motives for making the film are obviously mixed. While she may not be happy about this type of exposure, the ex-boyfriend making a biased film about their life together, I have more respect for her and her work than ever.

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