JANDEK ON CORWOOD (Chad Friedrichs) Rating: NNNN Rating: NNNN
Everyone loves a mystery. Chad Friedrichs's smart, understated documentary, Jandek On Corwood, is all about why people love them, and how.
Jandek is the Loch Ness monster of independent musicians. Since 1978, he's been releasing a steady trickle of droning, meandering albums on his own label, Corwood, and sending them to music magazines across America - with no bio, no publicity bumph, nothing to identify himself but a post office box in Houston. In 25 years, he's done two interviews, neither of them illuminating.
His obscure, genreless music and lack of backstory have made him into a sort of Rorschach test for critics, a screen for anxious projections that Friedrichs captures in a series of interviews interspersed with low-key, evocative visuals: Jandek is a recluse, a loner; he's lonely, mentally ill, a criminal.
As they struggle to explain their fascination with him, it's hard not to get drawn into the critics' frenzy of speculation. The universal drive to fill in the blanks is the real story here, and the gradual recognition that some puzzles are too pleasurable to solve. (February 4-6, Royal; after-party February 4 at Mitzi's Sister)