Indie documentaries can be a hit or miss kind of art. Not long ago, the bar was quite low when it came to quality and content because there really wasn't all that much out there. You'd occasionally find a good doc that was about something you loved, and that was about it. When looking to absorb information on something, anything is good if there's not a lot to choose from. In recent years, however, that all changed and documentaries became all the rage - and with that came quality and production values. Fast forward to today, and as I wrote above, it's a hit or miss kind of deal and thankfully, "Vegetable Skin, an Interview" is a hit all the way.
Honestly, my knowledge of art in any form is lackluster at best so any documentary I watch needs to be interesting to hold my attention. With this film from writer, director, Giovanni Soletta I didn't know what to expect. The fact it was not in English concerned me even more but thankfully, there was the good ol' closed caption box to hit, and I did, and that was that. Opening with a bunch of very serene shots paved the way for the story of Bruno Petretto - a seemingly unlikely artist who uses unusual materials, such as vegetables, bark, and other various things from nature to create his various artistic endeavors.
He starts his story in the very early 1970s where he was introduced to art by a friend. To be different, Bruno, under a different name, began creating and eventually exhibiting his creations made with elements of nature he would locally obtain. The film bounces a little and in a lot of places, is essentially an interesting take on the old montage sequences. The way it's all captured and put together is essentially an art in itself because although there's not a lot of what you would consider "standard" documentary sequences, it all comes together nicely - and is weirdly hypnotic. Even if you're not one hundred percent interested in the content, I can almost guarantee you'll quickly become encapsulated by this film. Weird right?
There's not a lot to write production-wise. This is a micro-budget film and at times does look like one - mostly due to some weird transitions here and there, but as I've written above, it's all very hypnotic. Especially mesmerizing is Bruno's voice throughout the film. Even though not in English, there's a hypnotic quality in the way he speaks. I can't quite explain it but it's very captivating. That, mixed with the percussive montage type sequences equal a very entertaining hour. I'm not even sure entertaining is the right word and again am forced to write "hypnotic" because I don't know how else to describe it. The story, Bruno's creative process, and all that is interesting for sure... but there's more here. Much more indeed.
"Vegetable Skin, an Interview" is one of those movies that you can't quite put your finger on why, but are completely engulfed none the less. I believe it's not just one single thing, but the mix and magic of everything combined - much like Bruno's art itself. Watching this was less informative than one would expect from a documentary, but more fascinating at the same time. Soletta has delivered a unique piece of filmmaking and with that in mind, I have no problem awarding four stars. Well done.