Schnipper’s Slept On: Dustin Wong, Ross McElwee, Love

January 04, 2011

Each Tuesday, FADER editor Matthew Schnipper highlights an underappreciated release he thinks we need to know about. This week it’s Dustin Wong's Infinite Love . Watch this nice movie of him playing in front of a tapestry and read Schnipper’s thoughts after the jump.

I recently watched two Ross McElwee movies. Maybe you’ve seen them? They’re on Netflix streaming. Sherman’s March and Time Indefinite, the former a muse on romance and the latter ostensibly on death. Really, like everything, they’re both about love in its various forms, coupled, familial, parental, platonic. Practically, they’re McElwee toting around a large camera in the ’80s, talking to people about himself, his and their theories, hopes, plans, worries and loves. Sherman’s March was spurred by a desire to tell a story about General Sherman’s lay-wasting trek through the South in the Civil War, but was actualized as McElwee visiting family and friends, and lovers old, potential and new. It’s a portrait of him and a handful of micro impressions of how people interact, what attracts people to each other. I mean attract both romantically and not, like what makes you like your sister or your friend or your father, the magnetic powers of any kind of closeness. Sherman’s March is, as much as anything, a search for what and who makes you light up. Time Indefinite is basically what happens when one light goes out but you know there is always more light. That endless chug of the vicious cycle weighs heavily on McElwee, and maybe all of us, but he knows that while we are all going to die, we’re all alive right now and there’s a lot of love to live for. It may seem trite, silly even, but the big stuff always is when you look at it with your own small eyes. The trick is to realize you’re just as big as everything and everyone else. I think that is why Dustin Wong’s CD is called Infinite Love.

On the CD’s inside, it says this: “On my 27th birthday my partner Angel and I ate a good amount of mushrooms. At the peak of the night I was on my bed as if I was giving birth pushing my stomach towards the ceiling, and then, I felt the love. As I started to get my senses back I kept on whispering the words infinite love.” Now this sounds somewhat stupid. But it also sounds beautiful! Because it’s believable, a man in love on drugs, moving his energy all around, hoping it will last forever. It's his mushroom truth and it made him feel good and like McElwee is saying, that holistic warmth is what you are always looking for. Without it, you’ll go nuts. He did. Regardless of sanity, you also just make a different kind of art. Wong is happy, his music is bursting.

Infinite Love is two CDs of almost all the same thing—Wong playing guitar alone, noodling and strumming, looping himself like a wind chime in an light breeze. It’s really pretty, not static but always happily familiar. Which is basically what McElwee is hoping he might find back home amongst the women of the South. He doesn’t, marries a Jewish woman and stays up north to build a home. There is one scene in Time Indefinite where he is talking directly into the camera, sitting in a dark room softly ranting morbidly. Then he interrupts himself with voiceover, mortified at how grim he’d been. It’s funny because, whatever he’s discussing, he’s got the benefit of hindsight mixed with the disadvantage of the lame exactitude of words. During an especially dark period, he says he barely filmed anything for three months but the view of the night from his bed. That scene stays onscreen. It’s devastating but it’s terrific, no need to say anything.

From The Collection:

Slept On
Schnipper’s Slept On: Dustin Wong, Ross McElwee, Love