In the press notes for his documentary Audience of One, director Michael Jacobs says of his subject, Pentecostal Pastor Richard Gazowsky, “I truly admire him for his creative vision, his spiritual mentoring and his ability to exist with humor in his own bizarre world.” News to these eyes because, every way Jacobs slices it, this tongue-chanting California preacher-cum-grand delusional Christian film producer comes off as a certified loon. Better to return to the first part of Jacobs’s sentence to grasp the true sentiment conveyed by his fly-on-the-wall unfiction: “But I remain fascinated by Gazowsky…” It’s the documentary as hands-off science project, and another in the long line of Evangelical freak shows that exist almost purely for the delectation and delight of the perceived secular masses—give the geeks some rope and watch ’em hang ’emselves. It’s a product of a dangerous sort of tunnel vision that afflicts a number of documentarians these days, on all sides of the sociopolitical aisle, yet as one who has seen firsthand the destructive effects of blind religious faith, I admit that I find such chronicles, however dubious, inherently engrossing. Certain of Jacobs’s hi-def visualizations (dig that time-lapse photography EXTERIOR:CHURCH:DAY) are appropriately mesmeric, but he lacks the spirit of inquiry that would necessarily layer the situations he observes; he’s more content to stand back and let fly Gazowsky’s misguided passions of the Christ. To this end, the acronym of the pastor’s film production house, Christian WYSIWYG Productions, might also serve as Jacobs’s (in)humanist mantra: what you see is what you get.
- 88 min
- Michael Jacobs
- Richard Gazowsky, Ministry
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