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PBIFF Review: “Shelter Island” (POSITIVE)

April 15, 2012

Abstract is quite the popular thing, especially in todays world. Anyone can be a Jackson Pollack, anybody can say they could splat paint onto a board, fiddle with it, and call it art. Our hero of the film, Harold says, “Then do it!” Director, Michael Canzoniero tells the enriching story about an autistic gentlemen who is known as the recycled artist of Shelter Island, NY. I don’t mean to use the word recycle as a bad thing, far from it, what Harold achieves in his artwork is by taking absolutely anything he can get his hands on and carry back to his place via his blue bicycle, he transforms it into amazing abstract artwork.

The story of “Shelter Island” ventures beyond the life a fellow eccentric, it also follows the resident of the small town he resides in, and more importantly Harold’s friend who is equally an eclectic patron, Jimmy Olinkiewicz, a blue-collar gas station owner and father of an Autistic child. The film follows their amazing journey from selling paintings alongside a picket fence to a major showing at a Chelsea art gallery in Manhattan, where Jimmy’s goal is to give Harold the life he feels Harold deserves.

It’s quite an inspiring tale about an eccentric who has this undying love for painting. The movie shows into great detail all the ways Harold likes to play around with his artwork. He mixes and mashes different objects and elements into the paintings giving each of them a different outlook on life. Harold is the kind of artist who paints depending on the mood he’s in, you can tell a lot from other artworks, but here you’re getting a somewhat first hand look at what an artist feels. He listens to music when he paints, depending on the music choice the mood can always change, he could listen to The Doors first album 12 hours on end and you’ll never know what you’ll get at the end. Harold also has a fascination with creating symbols behind his artwork, they’re almost alien-like, other worldly; he draws what he sees in his mind.

The movie turns gears as the focus of Jimmy comes into light, he has an autistic son named Alex, better known as the kid who created this video. The film nicely justaposes Jimmy’s parental life, with his friendship to Harold. He hopes that if he can accomplish something big for Harold, that maybe the universe will return the favor to him for his son when Alex is an adult. The movie does a find job of telling this story in an honest manner. It shows that there are still good people out there and we can all accomplish our dreams if we have the passion for it. The movie does however tend to drag out certain scenes a bit too long for it’s own good, a few more recuts is probably needed, and maybe some more music track fused into the film will give it better pacing, because as good as this story is, the pacing is the one thing that needs improvement on.


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