Festival of Books
Everything you need to know about the Festival of Books

Review: 'Young Turks' brings L.A. art period out of the archives

A snapshot of Los Angeles artists during a cultural pivot point, the documentary "Young Turks" sparks fascination and frustration in equal measure.

From 1977 to 1981, multimedia artist Stephen Seemayer filmed friends and colleagues from the downtown L.A. art scene — sculptors Coleen Sterritt and Woods Davy, Al's Bar owner Marc Kreisel, performance artists Bob & Bob and Richard Newton — during a pre-MOCA time of cheap overhead, more prevalent urban squalor and edgy, envelope-pushing spirit. ("Young Turks" was Seemayer's label for them.)

After a few rough cut showings, the 8-millimeter film was tucked away until recent interest in L.A.'s art history spurred Seemayer, with Pamela Wilson, to bring the footage back into the light.

There's plenty to satisfy art lovers (whatever you think of the individual artists' works) and the downtown-curious, as the then-interviewees expound upon their work and how this concrete pocket of urban individualism — its violence, excitement and apartness — influences them.

But the movie calls for more present-era context beyond a prologue narrated by Patt Morrison of the Los Angeles Times and fewer of Seemayer's amateurish aesthetic noodlings: interstitial interviews with raving derelicts, split-screen tricks and manipulated images.

With all that footage, something more than a manifesto in amber might have further justified this otherwise intriguing archival project.


"Young Turks." No MPAA rating. Running time: 1 hour, 35 minutes. At the Downtown Independent, Los Angeles.

PHOTOS AND MORE PHOTOS: Faces to watch 2014 | Movies ENVELOPE: The latest awards buzz DOCUMENTARIES: 10 best of 2013, and a new crop in 2014

Copyright © 2015, Los Angeles Times
Related Content
  • Tribeca 2015: George Lucas just wants to make experimental films
    Tribeca 2015: George Lucas just wants to make experimental films

    George Lucas has made known he’s put his “Star Wars” days behind him, and in a conversation Friday with Stephen Colbert at the Tribeca Film Festival, he made clear just how done with the franchise he really was—so done he’d like to spend his time making experimental films.

  • 'Paul Blart: Mall Cop 2' might work if it was actually funny
    'Paul Blart: Mall Cop 2' might work if it was actually funny

    You can take the cop out of the mall, but you can’t take the mall out of the cop. Or so says “Paul Blart: Mall Cop 2,” the noisy, scattershot if energetic follow-up to the 2009 hit starring hefty jokester Kevin James. Although there have been worse sequels -- and worse overall movies -- make no...