May 23, 2022
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Cameras are usually not impartial — they alter their topic. However whereas everybody lies for the digital camera, some individuals dwell in the digital camera. All through the movie, West usually seems most conscious of how historical past would possibly regard him, pushed by a way that in a room full of individuals, crucial connection he may make was with Simmons’s lens. (See the scene wherein he and Mos Def rap “Two Words,” and West seems to be staring by means of the digital camera’s aperture someplace into the long run.)

Simmons gives largely space-filling voice-over all through the movie, not an unreliable narrator a lot as an unsure one. There may be both far an excessive amount of or not practically sufficient of him, extra possible the previous: The segments the place he hyperlinks West’s story to his personal really feel significantly ill-placed, a distraction that doesn’t supply context on the principle topic. And a few narrative selections are contrived: An excessive amount of time is given over to West’s need to be featured in an MTV Information phase spotlighting new artists. (It so occurs that MTV was the place Simmons and Ozah met.)

The success that Simmons had hoped to seize ended up being his termination discover — as soon as West’s profession was lastly working below its personal steam, he left Simmons (and his footage) behind. That alone would have made for a compelling movie. However the third phase, which is way extra scattershot, consists largely of scraps that Simmons accrues over the subsequent couple of a long time, an period wherein West turns into one thing unfamiliar to him: a world-building famous person.

This episode is much less narratively satisfying and coherent than the primary two, however Simmons’s indiscriminate eye and his pre-existing consolation with West find yourself as belongings. The place within the early 2000s, Simmons had an aspirant as his topic, now he has somebody who exists between superhero and autocrat, a determine who isn’t performing merely for one digital camera however for a world of cameras and observers.

There’s a grim scene wherein West is talking with potential actual property companions, a gaggle of older white males, and tells them, “I took bipolar medicine final night time to have a standard dialog and switch alien to English.” He likens his therapy by the general public to being drawn and quartered.

Simmons lingers for some time — that is who his topic has turn out to be, and it’s as necessary to see as any of the clips from when he was merely an up-and-comer. However actual as it’s, this isn’t the West that Simmons is aware of, or can abdomen. There’s one thing itchy within the camerawork, and ultimately Simmons does one thing that doesn’t appear to come naturally: He turns the digital camera off.

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