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Lint (2010)
Director: Steve Aylett

review by Steven Hampton

In Terry Gilliam's retro futuristic satire Brazil, Michael Palin played a government official named Jack Lint. Meanwhile, in some other vaguely disturbing alternative reality created by Steve Aylett (pron. 'A-lit'), there was a maverick literary genius named Jeff Lint. I assume there's no direct connection, but can't be sure if those Lint boys were twins, separated at birth by a random timewarp of imagination, and sent on wildly different life paths through disparate timelines in the genre continuum, so that Jack became an Orwellian government appointed torturer, while Jeff Lint (1928-94, allegedly) grew up as the anti-Asimov or an über-Zelig; an obscure guru to some, or a stillborn talent and unreliable chump to others (sad people that they obviously are).

Lint the movie is a formidably entertaining video documentary based on the books Lint, and its companion text And Your Point Is? Perhaps unsurprisingly, Jeff Lint has been praised by the likes of Michael Moorcock. Lint was an elusive cultural maverick who wrote comics (The Caterer), and poetry, TV, and cartoons (like the childhood trauma-inducing Catty & The Major). He was, by all accounts, a cross between Philip K. Dick, Andy Warhol, and David Lynch, but not as successful with the critics as any of those worthies. Lint's 'belly stories' might be to blame for American obesity. His lexicon of made-up words present us with "a Zen point" of meaninglessness in our media-saturated world stuffed with Nadsat and Klingon derivatives.

The movie presents nominally deadpan interviews with writers that knew and were influenced by Lint's work, along with commentary by admiring fans that didn't know him at all, for the educational benefit of some other people who might question the truth about Lint's very existence (the fools!). Sifting through "mega-meta-narratives" that are inconsistent with established canon about squid aliens, to discover apparent obsessions with lobsters and ferns and waiters, we learn that Lint invented the magic bullet theory of modern history - a fragmentary timeline which links the Lincoln and JFK assassinations with numerous other celebrity shootings around every corner of the globe.

Your head will spin as Alan Moore's subtly confused myth-building draws you into the comedy and tragedy of Lint's vaulting achievements and gross failures. Tongue-in-cheek Lint enthusiast Leila Johnston is particularly amusing here. Stewart Lee is perfectly pokerfaced whatever preposterous nonsense he's delivering. Self-servingly enigmatic D. Harlan Wilson also spouts twaddle like an enthralled believer who's almost catatonic with worshipful approbation. Chief spokesman and project catalyst, Steve Aylett remains the keeper of the Lint archives and promoter of both analytical criticism and shameless opinions about the creative world's greatest yet unheralded secret idol.

Lint's ground-breaking yet un-produced Star Trek script reveals Lint's "flirting with McCoy" ploy. Lint influenced the contemporary music scene with his Unofficial Smile Group, but to what ignominious end? Lint's contributions to the 1960s' experimental theatre movement were so pioneering that he may have unintentionally killed off the whole revolution. The confrontational originality of Lint's absurdism builds to a level of exhilarating incomprehensibility. It's a portrait of one man's psychedelic assault upon human consciousness with toxic colours you have probably never seen before. Lint's disastrous journalism career is explained like a wacky treatise on professional derangement.

Although the film is troubled by a few moments of incoherent mumbling (yes, that's him, Jeff VanderMeer!), occasional jokes that fall as flat as steamrolled despair, and some low-resolution image quality, it's a highly enjoyable descent into Kafkaesque eccentricity and Pythonesque surrealism that is "crazy as a shithouse rat." Lint's behaviour as writer or artist was so wholly eccentric he seems to have put the eck, into what the eck?

His bizarre yet 'brilliant' existentialist philosophical western 'The Jarkman', reportedly starring Johnny Depp, excels like some Mandelbrot spaghetti fractalism energised to the status of bubblegum art. "To be out of step is to be free." Lint died of massive exasperation, and not as a cynic but "a defeated romantic." After this, you will, I have no doubt, wish that you too could have met the esteemed Mr Lint, just so that you can officially deny it, later.

Lint the movie




Steve Aylett in Lint



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