Director: Pierre Bismuth
With: Ed Rushca, Michael Scott, DV DeVincentis, Anthony Peckham, Mike White
97min | Doc | US
Well known artist Ed Ruscha made an unusual piece of art in 1979 that is surrounded in enigma. He called it Rocky II for several reasons: firstly after the famous film by Sylvester Stallone, and secondly because his first attempt was a miserable failure – it got eaten by animals. The point here is how a seemingly ordinary or even mildly bizarre state of events can be easily and simply transformed into an amusing suspense thriller when it comes to Hollywood, given the right treatment.
But back to the mystery artwork; Fashioned out of wire covered by a fibreglass resin, it emerges in filmed footage that the successful boulder-like sculpture was hidden somewhere in the Mojave desert by the media-shy Rushca, who cannot remember where possibly due to being high at the time. Meanwhile his friend, the screenwriter and documentarian Pierre Bismuth (Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind) is made aware of the existence of the piece and hires a former detective, Michael Scott (who becomes more and more irritated as he’s thwarted) to investigate the missing sculpture by following clues and contacting former colleagues of the artist, leading to this fascinating film which unfolds as Where is Rocky II. The unexpected humour largely springs from Bismuth’s fellow collaborators on the project, the screenwriters DV DeVincentis (Grosse Point Blank, currently working on The Bengali Detective) and Anthony Peckham (Invictus) who create a fiction in parallel narrative to the doc, cleverly editing it and setting it to a classicly ominous and suspenseful score, with hilarious input from Mike White (Nacho Libre).
As we are constantly reminded, truth is stranger than fiction, and the real account of events is far more engaging than the fictional one. Thus Where is Rocky II works simultaneously as a satisfying detective-style documentary; a magnificently shot chase movie and a fascinating lesson in how to make a thriller. Brilliant. MT
The film was presented in Locarno by Art Basel | LOCARNO FILM FESTIVAL 3-13 AUGUST 2016