There’s A Pavement Movie On The Way, And It Sounds Weird As Hell

Written by on December 19, 2022

Earlier this month, something truly silly happened. A Pavement-themed musical called Slanted! Enchanted! had a three-day run in New York, and it left our critic Arielle Gordon fairly nonplussed: “Maybe the awkwardness is the point. Maybe it’ll all make sense in the context of some forthcoming Pavement mockumentary.” Well, Gordon must be psychic. There is indeed a new Pavement movie on the way, and it’s coming from director Alex Ross Perry, the same person who staged Slanted! Enchanted! But it’s not entirely clear whether “mockumentary” is the right word for this cinematic endeavor. It’s not clear if there is a right word.

Alex Ross Perry is a filmmaker with a long history of making music videos for indie bands: Sleigh Bells, Vivian Girls, Soccer Mommy. (He’s also a frequent and extremely entertaining guest on various film podcasts.) Perry’s most recent film is 2018’s Her Smell, in which Elisabeth Moss plays a struggling ’90s rocker. Earlier this year, Perry directed a new video for Pavement’s “Harness Your Hopes.” And as a New Yorker profile explains, Perry is now working on a hard-to-define Pavement film. Here’s how writer Hannah Seidlitz describes what’s happening:

Three years ago, Pavement’s label, Matador Records, approached Perry about a collaboration. The band wanted a movie, but Stephen Malkmus, the frontman, said he wasn’t interested in hiring a documentary filmmaker. He wanted to hire a screenwriter. But he didn’t want a screenplay. “No one knew what that meant,” Perry said.

Perry resolved to approach the impossible assignment from impossible angles: “Legitimate, ridiculous, real, fake, idiotic, cliché, illogical,” he said, and offered a Bob Dylan analogy. “You take the Todd Haynes Bob Dylan movie, the Scorsese documentary, the Pennebaker documentary, and the movie Dylan himself directed that everyone hates” — Renaldo And Clara — “and put them all in a blender.” The resulting film will be a mélange of bio-pic, museum footage, bits of Slanted! Enchanted!, tour doc, farce, and paean. Perry formulated his own thesis: What if Pavement, the Pynchonian rock group that never had a platinum record, was the most important band of all time?

Sounds weird! You can try to figure out more from that New Yorker profile here.

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