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‘Kurt Vonnegut: Unstuck in Time’ review: An idol shares the camera

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‘Kurt Vonnegut: Unstuck in Time’ review: An idol shares the camera

The documentary “Kurt Vonnegut: Unstuck in Time” takes the novelist’s importance as a given, although years after his death in 2007, his apparent importance still sparks off conflicts on social media. By the same token, when Robert B. Weid, who directed the film with Don Argot, describes the themes of a Vonnegut novel he had read as a teenager, concluding by saying “Which high school kid swallowed it.” Not gonna?” However, an audience with more adult standards might draw a quirky face at him.

Vonnegut’s successful novel was one that was extremely difficult to write. “Unstuck in Time” chronicles “Slaughterhouse-Five” and other works of the author. “Slaughterhouse-Five” (1969), with its harrowing description of the Allied firebombing that destroyed Dresden in World War II, became a counterculture classic. Vonnegut was there, as a POW the book took him a long time to complete, partly because of his reluctance to revisit past trauma.

The novel’s conceit—including the claim that its protagonist, Billy Pilgrim, is “unstable in time”, bouncing around like a pinball around his own life—was expressed in a deceptively relaxed, accessible style. (The book was made into a well-received film released in 1972.)

Much of the documentary is devoted to Weed’s decades-long work on the project and the friendship he developed with Vonnegut. It’s a double picture that somewhat dilutes the title of the film.

“I didn’t even want to be in this movie in the first place,” Weide, who has directed several seasons of documentaries and “Curve Your Enthusiasm,” finds the camera a little insidious. No Being in a movie can be the easiest thing in the world, if you set your mind to it.

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In any event, the structure of the film is determined – and sometimes skewed – by the emphasis on a writer and its cinematic Boswell storytelling. If you can roll with it, “Unstuck in Time” has its revelations and rewards.

Kurt Vonnegut: Unstuck in Time
not evaluated. Running time: 2 hours 7 minutes. Available to rent or buy in theaters and on Apple TV, Google Play, Vudu and other streaming platforms and to pay TV operators.

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