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Review: 'Spark' a tourism ad for Burning Man

Steve Brown and Jessie Deeter offer plenty of Black Rock City footage of the nude and nutty, set to ambient music, in their look at the annual desert bacchanalia.

August 15, 2013|By Robert Abele
  • Scene from "Spark: A Burning Man Story."
Scene from "Spark: A Burning Man Story." (Spark Pictures )

For anyone voyeuristically curious about the annual desert bacchanalia Burning Man but not enough to join the exhibitionist, live-for-art multitudes in person, the documentary "Spark: A Burning Man Story" offers plenty of skillfully designed Black Rock City footage of the nude, nutty and neon-colored set to lulling, ambient music.

Unfortunately, a tourism ad for the increasingly populous festival is mostly how "Spark" plays, even with the access directors Steve Brown and Jessie Deeter got to capture the internalized hand-wringing over last year's lottery ticket fiasco, which alienated longtime attendees.

There are also lip-service critiques, mostly from estranged co-founder John Law, of how management of the event has progressed (or not). But like one of the event's built-to-blaze art projects, such leadership concerns disappear in a poof of smoke once the show hits the dust (literally), the eager artists we've been following get their elaborate works set up, and the revelry starts. Cue the musical montages.

Why harsh the buzz with something analytical? For such a hippie-ish wingding originally designed to discourage the buying and selling of anything, "Spark" has decidedly bought into its subject and has no qualms hawking it to moviegoers.

"Spark: A Burning Man Story." No MPAA rating. Running time: 1 hour, 30 minutes. Playing at the Laemmle Noho 7.

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