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“Carmine Street Guitars” is a one-of-a-kind documentary that exudes a gentle, homespun magic. It’s a no-fuss, 80-minute-long portrait of Rick Kelly, who builds and sells custom guitars out of a modest storefront on Carmine Street in New York’s Greenwich Village, and the film touches on obsessions that have been popping up of late, like fragrant weeds, in the world of documentary. “Carmine Street Guitars” is all about the weirdly grounded pleasures of analog culture; about the glory of hand-made artisanal objects in a world dominated by mass corporate production; about the aging, and persistence, of old-school jazz and rock ‘n’ roll; about the fading of bohemia in a world of rising rents, omnivorous bottom lines, and chain-store values; and about how all those themes fuse into a Zen ideal of doing what you love and loving what you do.
The film sounds earnest and touching in a minor, twilight-of-the-’60s way. Yet the beauty of “Carmine Street Guitars,” as directed by the documentary veteran Ron Mann (“Comic Book Confidential,” “Grass,” “Altman”), is what a stubbornly off-the-beat concoction it is. If Jim Jarmusch ever made a documentary, it might look just like this one. Actually, Jarmusch has made a documentary, the 2016 Iggy Pop and the Stooges profile “Gimme Danger” (a solid film, though surprisingly conventional), but I’m talking about if Jarmusch ever made a documentary as eccentric and delectable in its minimalist vibe as his fiction features. In “Carmine Street Guitars,” the characters are characters, the way they were in Errol Morris’s “Gates of Heaven.” You react to them as if they’d stepped out of a folk fable, and that’s the film’s quiet intoxication.
Rick - Kelly - Curl - Optimism - Lips
Rick Kelly, white-haired and soft-spoken, with a shy curl of optimism to his lips, is an awesomely modest craftsman who has built instruments for Lou Reed, Patti Smith, and...
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