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Nextfest Review: Entertainment, by David Bax

11 Aug


Rick Alverson’s challenging, stirring, at times forcefully unpleasant but vital new film Entertainment starts with perhaps its most beautiful sequence, one that is surprisingly hopeful given the fact that it takes place in a kind of cemetery. The film’s protagonist, played by Gregg Turkington and unnamed in the credits (though another character does call him Neil), takes a tour of an “airplane graveyard,” where the husks of decommissioned planes bake in the desert sun. He walks through the empty fuselage of one of them and the long, arched ceiling above him resembles a cathedral. It’s a beatific origin for a story that will plum darker and more nightmarish depths as it proceeds. With Entertainment, Alverson attempts to chart the metaphysical landscape that exists between a performer’s persona and the real world identity and finds that it’s a lot like hell.