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Flipside movie review & film summary (2024)

Flipside movie review & film summary (2024)

The writer-director of “Flipside,” Chris Wilcha, pulls us in through indirection. He starts the movie with a portrait of Herman Leonard, a music photographer, who sits in a gallery surrounded by his portraits of the likes of Nat “King” Cole and Chet Baker and muses that “every life is a trip” and “you are the captain of your boat.” These platitudes gain some real weight when Leonard tells us he’s dying. Wilcha then informs us that the footage we’re watching is from a documentary he started but never finished. Turns out he’s got a bunch of them.

“Flipside” then depicts how this state of affairs came to be. Wilcha presents a brisk account of his early years, the no-sell-out grunge ethos he grew up with as a Gen Xer, and how, upon taking a corporate job at Columbia House, he interrogated a system he despised from the inside, actually finishing an eventually well-regarded 2000 documentary “The Target Shoots First.” Predictions that he could be the Gen-X Michael Moore ran headlong into Wilcha’s need to make a living, which led to ostensibly meaningful jobs like a gig at “This American Life.” But largely, Wilcha made commercials. Becoming the thing he beheld and disdained.

Seeking something like redemption or legitimacy or … well, meaning, Wilcha found his way back to a record store in Pompton Lakes called Flipside, where he had a job as a teenager. (A Jersey boy myself, I’ve actually set foot in the joint at least once.) Its proprietor, referred to throughout only by his first name, Dan, is, like Wilcha, something of a hoarder. This gives the spot its distinct flavor but also makes it an awkward business in the digital age. Wilcha’s initial resolve to make a film to help the business diffuses over time and becomes another unfinished project.


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