Films: Wesley Willis's Joyrides

Purchase Online

  • Saturday, November 15, 9:15 PM
    Starz FilmCenter

    ATTENTION

    That showtime has passed. Please try next available showtime.

  • Monday, November 17, 9:30 PM
    Starz FilmCenter

    ATTENTION

    That showtime has passed. Please try next available showtime.

Wesley Willis's Joyrides

Wesley Willis's Joyrides

USA, 2008, 78 Minute Running Time
Genre/Subjects: African-American, Art, Documentary, Music, Social Issues
Program: Documentary Films
Language: English

DIRECTOR: Chris Bagley, Kim Shively
Producer: Chris Bagley, Kim Shively, Davis Coombe, Henry Ansbacher
Editor: Kim Shively
Screenwriter: Chris Bagley, Kim Shively
Cinematographer: Chris Bagley
Principal Cast: Wesley Willis

With over fifty rock albums and a teeming portfolio of ink-drawn cityscapes, street artist Wesley Willis makes fans wherever he goes, befriending all with a little headbutt. But this outsider artist also faces invisible demons from his past via frequent, incapacitating episodes of schizophrenia. In Wesley Willis’s Joyrides, first-time feature documentarians Chris Bagley and Kim Shively treat their subject with humor, pathos, and abiding affection, based on four years’ worth of interviews that capture both the brilliant and dark sides of this gentle giant.

His six-foot-five-inch, 300-pound frame shabbily clad, Wesley is often mistaken for a homeless man. But he actually enjoys a financially sound career as a revered artist and “rock ‘n roll machine,” in Bagley’s words. Because he always wanted to be an architect, Wesley uses a ballpoint to create intricate blueprintlike drawings of Chicago’s skylines and bustling expressways, sticking to neighborhoods far from the South Side projects where he grew up: “I’m running my ink pen. I’m running my mouth. I do it to stay outta jail.”

Meanwhile, childhood memories of his mother’s abusive boyfriend haunt him, coloring his artistic pursuits. Yet punctuating the themes of bestiality and murder are joyous shout-outs to fast-food chains and other pop-culture icons (“Rock-and-Roll McDonald's” stands one of his most popular songs). Thus alternating between mental “joyrides” and “hellrides,” Wesley’s life is never static—until leukemia cuts it short at age forty. Thanks to the work of Bagley, Shively, and the still-devoted fans who mourn him, however, Wesley Willis remains an “unstoppable show of art and music.”

The following short films will screen before this film...

You might also enjoy...

  • An Evening with Carolee Schneemann

    An Evening with Carolee Schneemann

    68 min. “An Evening with Carolee Schneemann” will include a screening of some of her most provocative and eclectic shorts, including her latest, Infinity Kisses—The Movie.... more
  • Cinema Q: Wild Combination - A Portrait of Arthur Russell

    Cinema Q: Wild Combination - A Portrait of Arthur Russell

    USA , 2008 , 71 min. This biographical tribute to poet and musician Arthur Russell brings to light the long-overlooked talents of an artist whose avant-garde pop is only now being discovered by an international audience, some fifteen years after his death from AIDS.... more
  • Guest of Cindy Sherman

    Guest of Cindy Sherman

    USA , 2008 , 88 min. MUST END Thursday, May 21 Digital presentation - It’s New York City in the early 1990s. Cindy Sherman is the press-wary luminary of contemporary American art. Everyone wants an interview; nobody gets one—with one exception: Paul Hasegawa-Overacker (H-O), the overactive mouthpiece of p... more
  • HAIR:  Let The Sun Shine In

    HAIR: Let The Sun Shine In

    USA , 55 min. Interspersing an abundance of musical numbers, interviews, and rare archival footage from the Age of Aquarius, HAIR: Let the Sun Shine In charts the forty-year odyssey of the phenomenon that is as relevant today as it was when it opened off Broadway in 1967.... more
  • Jan Saudek: Trapped by His Passions, No Hope for Rescue

    Jan Saudek: Trapped by His Passions, No Hope for Rescue

    Czech Republic , 2008 , 93 min. Czech photographer Jan Saudek is known for some of the most moving and exhilarating images of the past half century—as well as some of the most sexually explicit and shocking. With an unblinking eye, director Adolf Zika chronicles his friend and colleague’s life and work.... more
  • Life. Support. Music.

    Life. Support. Music.

    USA , 2008 , 79 min. Eric Daniel Metzgar (The Chances of the World Changing) exposes all the pain and hardship, as well as the unexpected beauty, of recovery from a devastating illness in the emotionally layered documentary Life. Support. Music. When thirty-four-year-old Jason Crigler, one of the most soug... more
  • Rumba

    Rumba

    Belgium , 2008 , 77 min. MUST END Thursday, May 28 35mm presentation - Starring Dominique Abel, Fiona Gordon, Philippe Martz, Bruno Romy Dom (Dominique Abel) and Fiona (Fiona Gordon) hold day jobs as schoolteachers—but their passion is for rumba and the dance contests they compete in by night. On the drive h... more
  • Song Sung Blue

    Song Sung Blue

    USA , 2008 , 87 min. A ragged slice of Americana, Song Sung Blue captures the strange, sad trajectory of Lightning, a Neil Diamond impersonator, and his chanteuse wife Thunder—who, following a freak accident, refuse to abandon their dreams, no matter how delusional.... more
S M T W T F S
        13 14 15
16 17 18 19 20 21 22
23            

Browse Films