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In 1985 Mark Romanek (director of such videos as Nine Inch Nail's "Closer" and Fiona Apple's "Criminal") made an independent film named Static. He did not direct another feature until 2002's One Hour Photo. I remember, in the DVD commentary, him referring to it as his first movie (even though it wasn't). Even the Wikipedia page about him barely mentions it. In the section Feature Films, it begins:

In 2002, Romanek wrote and directed his second full-length feature movie, One Hour Photo, with Robin Williams in the lead role as a department store photo processor who becomes obsessed with a family through their snapshots.

It fails to even begin with his first film. Does anyone know (from an interview or other source) why he dislikes or is embarrassed by Static? I personally liked it a lot and do not understand why he seeks to dismiss it. From an A.V. Club interview:

Never Let Me Go is only Mark Romanek’s second feature (not counting Static, his 1985 debut, which he himself has removed from his résumé)...

Does anyone know why?

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Very quickly after posting this question, I found an interview where he discusses this.

If you didn't see Static at the time (and let's face it, not many people did), the film's almost impossible to watch today. I bought a NTSC video copy from ebay several years ago for a small fortune because I'm a completist and was intrigued to see for myself what Romanek was evidently embarrassed about. What I discovered was a film very much of its time. Static is intriguingly quirky and delightfully odd and features a terrific soundtrack from the likes of OMD and Japan, but, more importantly, it's really rather good. And so, when I spoke to Romanek recently, I mentioned to him how much I liked Static and asked why he decided to disown it.

"It’s nice that you think that," he said. "For me it seemed premature. Like I had an opportunity to make a film before I felt I had much to say or knew what I was really doing as a filmmaker, so I just find it this sort of embarrassing bit of juvenilia. I find it is embarrassing, but I know that some people connected with it and I don’t mean to discount that fact. I just wish it would go away…"

That's probably all that needs to be said.

(I will add that if I were him, I'd be more ashamed of the appropriation in the video for NIN's "Closer".

These images seem to be inspired by the art of Joel-Peter Witkin, as well as Francis Bacon and George Tooker. The video is also very heavily inspired by the animated short film Street of Crocodiles, with much of the video being a live-action recreation of the sets and scenes from that film.

At least Static was an original screenplay written by him and Keith Gordon.)

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+1 and interesting tidbit regarding video for Closer. Brings to mind "good artists borrow; great artists steal" :) – Shiz Z. Apr 26 at 22:35
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This was some heavy "lifting." By all reports, Joel-Peter Witkin was not flattered by the appropriation. It's not even homage; some shots were straight-up recreations. If I were Mark, I'd try to distance myself from "Closer" and own up to "Static." I love that movie. – Meat Trademark Apr 26 at 23:38
    
I'm surprised Joel-Peter Witkin didn't sue. I know the movie "12 Monkeys" had to cough up cash to an artist over just one copied image (the rising chair that Bruce Willis gets strapped into). Anyway, thanks for your research -- and now I gotta see "Static"! – Shiz Z. Apr 27 at 1:35
    
Terry Gilliam, director of 12 Monkeys, seems to have stolen more art for his most recent feature. Pisses me off. The guy's an artist, why steal? Ugh! Okay, turning into chat now so I'll shut up. Glad you appreciated it. – Meat Trademark Apr 27 at 2:36

The movie seems to be a meditation about Israel as lived by US Jews, who do not dream of the violence underlying their realm of messianic hopes.

I read biographies of Keith Gordon and the father of Mark Romanek. I also note that Gordon makes anti-war movies. Static, which I watched an hour ago, is obviously about something. Even the VW Thing which he is driving at the beginning Julia is driving at the end: whose was it, what was their relationship while out in the music business? "Twins"? You'd noticed the resemblance already. So why make such a detailed plot about a crazy guy?

The protagonist's parents dying in the car crash, that's the Holocaust. Israel would be what is seen on the TV screen, a land of answered dreams attained or at least seen by modern technology. The crucifixes stand for the yearning for divine justice. The movie attempts by metaphor to present the solidarity of the Israel movement in grief and denial, unable to accept loss.

I think the signature moment in the movie was when Ernie Blick is telling rather than asking the Sheriff to let Ernie's cousin (I can't quite explain that connection) off the hook. "Do me a favor" or something like that. Ernie has this power but he doesn't know what to do with it except that it has to do with his parents' dying, which, even, he is not so aware of as the people around him are. He puts it neutrally: "you can see your parents in heaven".

The plot reaches its conclusion before the big blow-up--causing the big blow-up?--when Julia asks him what it would change even if people could see their departed relatives in heaven. "So what?" That's not how you come to terms with death. You have to dig into the circumstances of their death, on the one hand, and into the pending business you had with them--what kinds of people you and they were--on the other.

Israel is not only an amusement park for the Holocaust, as someone said, but a really bad one, reproducing the very racial policies that led to the prior disaster. Not a very credible memorial to genocide. But as a political venture with tremendous oomph and zero psychological insight, zero human content, why, it's like some guy losing family to sudden tragedy and trying to skip over the human questions and jump right to the happy reunion by means of bogus high-technology. Why, after all, why? Because this is America where anything is possible, where dreams come true. Until the bus blows up because the security forces got a little out of control.

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Can you back up your answer with any sources? – sanpaco Feb 9 at 2:17
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I read biographies of Keith Gordon and the father of Mark Romanek. You want me to add my critique to Wikipedia and then quote myself here? Oh, I also note that Gordon makes anti-war movies. That movie, which I watched an hour ago, Static, I mean, is obviously about something. The protagonist's parents dying in the car crash, that's the Holocaust. Israel would be what is seen on the TV screen, a land of answered dreams attained or at least seen by modern technology. The movie attempts by metaphor to present the solidarity of the Israel movement in grief and denial, unable to accept loss. – Chris Rushlau Feb 9 at 2:30
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You should add that to your answer. Short one sentence answers do not tend to get much attention here. Give an answer and give reasons for your answer. – sanpaco Feb 9 at 2:40
    
Saying what a poem means is not a matter of authority. – Chris Rushlau Feb 9 at 14:45
    
I appreciate this interpretation of the movie. The question, though, is why Romanek is ashamed of the movie. – Shiz Z. Apr 26 at 22:37

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