A Bread Factory, Part Two
2018, NR, 120 min. Directed by Patrick Wang. Starring Tyne Daly, Elisabeth Henry-Macari, James Marsters, Keaton Nigel Cooke, Trevor St. John, Janet Hsieh, George Young, Chris Conroy, Zachary Sayle.
REVIEWED By Josh Kupecki, Fri., Dec. 28, 2018
Where to end with Patrick Wang’s two-part A Bread Factory? This dense but nimble story of an art collective, a space for film and theatre whose future is uncertain, becomes much more of a certain type of reverie. Call it pretentious, but these two films are a tapestry of life where a spectrum of human existence is not necessarily examined but rather observed. And Wang sees these relationships in an often playful manner, to varying degrees of success.
But to recap from part one: Upstate New York art collective the Bread Factory is staging an update of Euripides’ Hecuba. The production is coupled with Max (Sayle) taking over the local newspaper, his staff composed of various children, which in itself is a wonderfully trenchant view of modern journalism, however pastoral. But what of May Ray, the intrusive art collective that descended to displace the Bread Factory in Checkford? That particular storyline fades away, as Wang has a different, if more esoteric, means to his end.
Also gone are the first film's bureaucratic machinations of the school arts board (thankfully, that was a plotline that attempted to exalt an institution but never seemed to do so successfully), but now Wang has gifted us with wonderful sequences of people on social media tap dancing their glee (or wrath, as it were) and a revision of Euripides’ play that feels fresh. I know that sounds trite, but it is true. Of all the things that Wang is doing in these films (and he is doing a lot), the culmination of the depiction of Hecuba’s dilemma has a resonance that calls back to everything that has come before. I would not recommend this film to everyone, but those seeking a poignant satire on art will be continuously rewarded, as the film seeks, over and over, to grapple (in often wondrous ways), with what it means to live.
Read our review of A Bread Factory, Part One here.