The Happy Film
Famed Austrian graphic designer Stefan Sagmeister is doing well. He lives in New York, the city of his dreams, and he’s fabulously successful in his work, which includes designing album covers for the Rolling Stones, Jay-Z, and the Talking Heads. But in the back of his mind, he suspects there must be something more. To answer this nagging concern, the endlessly charming and deadpan-funny Sagmeister concocts a bizarre experiment in which — under supervision — he attempts to enhance his happiness through the successive use of meditation, therapy, and drugs for specific periods. But Sagmeister’s attempts to measure these methods’ relative effectiveness are thwarted by real life, which creeps in and confounds the process: The influence of art, sex, love, and death prove impossible to disentangle from his carefully chosen variables. In particular, Sagmeister’s various romances endlessly complicate the results, and in this sense, the film serves as spiritual kin — and worthy heir — to Ross McElwee’s “Sherman’s March.” On a formal level, the film is jaw-droppingly inventive in its graphic approach, offering clever, insightful metaphors for the stages in Sagmeister’s halting personal journey to self-awareness.
A Doll's Eyes
Haunted by the movie "Jaws" since childhood, a filmmaker discovers why the movie affected him so deeply.