Mark Rappaport is the best-kept secret in American film. More hilarious than the Coen brothers, weirder than Hal Hartley, deeper than Woody Allen, and more deadpan than Steven Wright, he is one of America's most original and unclassifiable comic geniuses. But his work is more than funny. For more than thirty years, Rappaport has been mapping the ever-expanding frontier of American unreality. Rappaport's three short films provide an ideal introduction to the longer and more challenging work of one of the greatest, and most surprisingly neglected, of American independents. This is Rappaport at his most playful and accessible. His most deceptively simple. In Mark Rappaport: The TV Spin-off, the filmmaker conducts a guided tour of his work that explains everything....and nothing. Rappaport shows himself to be the cinematic equivalent of Penn and Teller. The more he explains, the less we understand. The more the veil is lifted, the deeper the mystery gets. Post Cards hits the road to depict a long-distance romance played out in pictures. Post cards leave almost everything to the imagination, and so does Rappaport. But that is the point. The real stories of our lives take place in our minds. Not in the world, but in our hearts and souls. As every tourist knows, what matters is not events, but the view. It's not where you go, but who you are. Exterior Night presents characters who go back and forth in time to re-live parts of each other's lives. It dramatizes a mystery as loopy and endless as the Mobius strip of recycled postures, one-liners, and images from old movies that it is assembled from. It is impossible to stabilize a tonal relation to these scenes. These works combine the trademark Rappaport comedy with deeply moving drama. As with all of his films, what looks cool and mannered on the outside is throbbing with feeling just under the surface. An ice mountain to the casual view; a thermonuclear explosion in experience.
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