To celebrate its exclusive Los Angeles opening at the Nuart Theatre on Friday, September 13, the documentary, “Harry Dean Stanton: Partly Fiction” presents both director, Sophie Huber, and its star, acclaimed actor Harry Dean Stanton in a Q&A session for Friday’s 7:30 and 9:40 p.m. screenings.
A film festival darling, “Harry Dean Stanton: Partly Fiction” takes an intimate look at the private actor of nearly 250 films through home interviews with Stanton, and colleagues such as David Lynch, Wim Wenders, Sam Shepard, Kris Kristofferson, and Deborah Harry. But perhaps what’s more revealing as clues into Stanton’s private life and work are the songs he sings; Stanton readily admits that his passion music, especially country folk songs.
Stanton states early in the film, “I don’t give anything away,” and through the course of the 77-minute documentary, viewers realize that friends and music reveal the most about the man. Hinting at a tough childhood during the depression, Stanton is loathe to talk about his parents, his family, even his own life. Yet, director Huber is quick to show numerous framed photos on the mantle, presumed family and lifelong friends.
David Lynch remarks, as Stanton sits on the couch next to him drinking Yuban coffee, that Stanton has an innocence and naturalness that’s really real and that there are a lot of things between the lines when watching him act. This is equally true in listening to Stanton talk about his life.
Per the film’s production notes, Huber met Stanton back in the 1990’s, and they’ve forged a friendship through music – she started recording songs with him. So when she suggested a documentary that put the focus on the music he chose to share through his singing and commentary, he opened up to the idea. Interestingly, the songs he chose, like “Blue Moon,” “Blue Bayou,” “Everybody Talkin,” “Blue Eyes Crying in the Rain,” are about “unrequited loves, solitude, transience and a search for ‘home’ [which] provided a way to more personal conversations.”
With clips from many of his 200 plus films, like “Cool Hand Luke,” “Alien,” “Repo Man,” “The Straight Story,” and especially “Paris, Texas,” one is able to see the depth of Stanton’s work. Especially illuminating is Wenders’ discussion of his work with Stanton in “Paris, Texas,” and Stanton’s wanting for a more “traditional” happy ending, which Wenders wonders was more to do with Stanton’s own life’s need.
With stunning black and white interview photography from cinematographer Seamus McGarvey, “Harry Dean Stanton: Partly Fiction” is a truly unique and personal look at one of America’s most talented character actors.
“Harry Dean Stanton: Partly Fiction” is 77 minutes and Not Rated and opens for a one-week run beginning Friday, September 13 at the Nuart Theatre in Los Angeles. Harry Dean Stanton and director Sophie Huber will appear in person at the Nuart Theatre for the 7:30 and 9:40 pm screenings.