Points Of Interest
- Director: Jon Salimes, Anthony Lopez
- Running time: 74 minutes
In Points Of Interest, a documentary premièring at the Milwaukee Film Festival Friday, Sept. 30 at 9:30 p.m. at the Oriental Theater, Pennsylvania’s Strand Of Oaks sings the line: “You don’t understand what it’s like to grow up here.” The film spends its 74 minutes wondering not only what it’s like to grow up here, but also where “here” is, and who is included and excluded from that experience. A road documentary shot over Strand Of Oaks and Milwaukee’s Juniper Tar’s 10-day East Coast tour, the film is a long-form essay on performance, a road movie where the subjects blur into their surroundings, and a concert movie where the stage flows over into the audience and into the road between venues.
Points Of Interest is highlighted by the interplay between the musicians, the music, the stage, the country, and the people they meet. The film’s audience becomes just as much an audience to the places the two bands visit as to the bands themselves. Equal weight is given to concert footage and the overheard or peripheral details the musicians and filmmakers experience: tadpoles in a stream, a hearsay Pennsylvania murder story, a New York street saxophonist. Strand Of Oaks and Juniper Tar are like Greek choruses for the montages of city and small town atmosphere, only emerging intermittently and un-dramatically as subjects. Even then, their roles are often uncertain. In an impromptu campfire concert, the musicians take turns playing songs, flipping back and forth between audience and performer.
There are other moments centered on the bands: a tour of the worst hotel room they have ever seen, a hike into a forest creek. But the bands wash away into the film just as quickly as they jump into its focus. The film may lack what you’d expect—an examination of band dynamics, the relationships between the musicians and their fans—but it succeeds as something more unusual: an impressionistic juxtaposition of performing, and being performed to.