“I am the Shaman of rust,” proclaims Jonny, both to an admirer of his painting and to us, the audience of this quirky yet riveting film. Massimo Salvato should take enormous satisfaction from his vision, which is as much an exploration of form as an exposition of its subject-matter. He now seems equally at ease as the master- craftsman of documentary while functioning as a ‘hitman for social conscience.’
Whether railing against the relentless advancement of urban regression or weaving Fellini-esque vistas of the Newport wetlands with claustrophobic shots of corporate vandalism of the Chartist mosaics, he sucks us into Jonny’s visually-oxymoronic world with refreshing integrity.
There is something for everyone, from 00-gauge model-railway enthusiasts and bibliophiles to psychiatrists and voyeurs of political vulgarity and capitalist stupidity.
Melted dolls become metaphors for a post-nuclear world, the alien civilisation we recognise as ‘now.’
As Jonny pours one pharmaceutical tablet after another into a cup of lucozade recalling how he attempted to control his depression, he quips, “No amount of Dylan is gonna solve that!” His self-deprecation is disturbingly, brutally funny.
Salvato constantly shifts us from uncomfortable truth to another with alarming ease and his editing, while ebullient and simultaneously charming, constantly excites. The soundtrack occasionally echoes the industrial landscape of ‘Nightclubbing’ by Iggy Pop and dreamy pianos offer hints of alluring classical melody. It’s all rather scary and exhilarating yet utterly transfixing.
The faceless corporate shits who haunt the film and hound the community-artists in ritual humiliation of this most noble of human concepts retain not one iota of credibility.
Consequently, Jonny is a wake-up call for all of us who are being sacrificed on the altar of the banal.
Set your alarm for tomorrow!