CPH:DOX 2017 /Where is Rocky II?


Since he saw an old BBC documentary from 1980 about American pop artist Ed Ruscha, the director has seemingly had an obsession to find the topic of that doc; a piece of artificial rock that Ruscha planted in the Mojave Desert in California among other rocks. What became of it? Is it still there?

Bismuth hires a private detective to help find the rock, but soon we learn that he also hires a couple of scriptwriters. Bismuth was on the scriptwriting team on the unfathomable “Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind” (dir. Michel Gondry”) and it is therefore no surprise that ”Where is Rocky 2” is composed in a puzzling way, combining with what looks like (staged) documentary scenes; scenes with the scriptwriters working, and scenes from the fiction film on which they are working.

I’m a sucker for meta-films and for films playing with the genres – thus giving us a chance to ponder which reality we prefer or can relate to and ultimately understand. Bismuth has called this film a piece of “fake fiction” which is a great term I intent to steal.

However, something goes awry during the last fifth or so of the film, at least for me. The essence of the story itself is something like: “Is a piece of art still art if nobody knows it’s there?” and the film’s problem is probably that the documentary-like scenes with the private detective (who plays himself) turns out to be the most engaging ones. The film that the scriptwriters are working on doesn’t add much but a flavor of trivial storytelling techniques, and it’s like the structure and the conundrums are both too obvious and too obscure. Towards the end, it seems just unnecessary and too apparent to reveal the film crew in a certain shot with the actors.

Still, until the last five or ten minutes I was rather amused and it is definitely worth a look – unless you hate this sort of thing. Then don’t look. It’s still a film of some significance even though YOU don’t watch it.

Pierre Bismuth: Where is Rocky II?, 2016. Seen at CPH:DOX. Filmkommentaren: 3/6 penheads.


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Mikkel Stolt
Mikkel Stolt
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