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Review: My Name Is Alan and I Paint Pictures

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My Name Is Alan and I Paint Pictures

True to its title, My Name Is Alan and I Paint Pictures sees the world through its subject’s childlike eyes. Alan Russell-Cowan (a.k.a. Alan Streets) is a schizophrenic artist whose paintings both distort and insulate him from reality, but instead of understanding this process, writer-director Johnny Boston lets Alan’s corrosive worldview speak for his documentary. Boston films Alan acting out his inner torment in front of a green screen, and worse, imagines his brain chemistry in gimmicky X-ray visualizations. Paranoid and aloof to an extreme (though he’s a struggling street artist, he frequently complains about pedestrians invading his “space” and refuses a second interview for the film), Alan doesn’t let anyone inside his head, which is why the movie’s naïve speculations come off as especially disingenuous. The filmmakers pitch Alan against his wealthy English family’s alleged oppression, but it’s clear that the artist’s world-weary woes are more delusion than anything else: After dropping out of private school, Alan affects a faux working-class accent and starts hanging out with his brothers in the ‘hood. In all the talk of “healing” and resisting conformity, one expert makes the critical point that disordered artists are also fiercely repetitive and unable to grow. Although most interview subjects are only too happy to coddle Alan’s fantasies, any amount of insight into his unhinged art is almost as fascinating as the pictures themselves.

Cast: Alan Russell-Cowan, Monika Russell-Cowan, Richard Russell-Cowan, Raymond Bell, Bill Coffeill Director: Johnny Boston Screenwriter: Johnny Boston Running Time: 76 min Rating: NR Year: 2007

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