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December 06, 2007|PAUL YOUNG

Like dozens of artists making movies these days, Julian Schnabel and Crispin Glover consider themselves artists first, filmmakers second. Both have films out this week, based on similar subjects, which is pretty strange when you think about it.

Glover's "It Is Fine. Everything Is Fine!" is based on a story by Steven C. Stewart, who had cerebral palsy and died recently. Schnabel's "The Diving Bell and the Butterfly" is based on the dictation of the late Jean- Dominique Bauby, completely paralyzed after a stroke. Both had rich fantasy lives and left memoirs despite the odds.

The films take radically different approaches, which to me was the most interesting aspect of seeing them back to back. Glover emphasizes the artificial (meaning fake-looking sets) to underscore Stewart's fantasy, but he keeps it all at a distance through an objective point of view. Schnabel went for slick images, while restricting the POV to the lead. One reveals, the other immerses.

But Glover does something that Schnabel could not. He puts the author, Stewart, in the film, where women vie for his love and in some cases have sex with him. Glover told me Stewart fell in love with one and asked that all his proceeds go to her. Whatever the films' faults, that Stewart's dream came true is far more beautiful than either work.

-- theguide@latimes.com

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