Film » Film Features

Unfinished Business

The student becomes the teacher in The Windmill Movie



Mostly comprising unused footage from an autobiographical film that the late documentarian Richard P. Rogers never got around to finishing, Alexander Olch's posthumous tribute to his onetime college professor inevitably succumbs to narcissistic navel-gazing and feels awfully overextended even at 80 minutes.

A son of wealth and privilege who spent a good chunk of his adult life rebelling against his cosseted upbringing, Rogers was also an inveterate womanizer, hopping from bed to bed until finally marrying the love of his life shortly before dying from brain cancer. As a study of intellectual hubris, there's a certain clinical fascination to Rogers' examination of his own pathology.

But taken as the story of one man's life — and myriad obsessions — it feels both frustratingly incomplete and unsatisfying. Preceding the feature is "Quarry," a brilliant 12-minute short Rogers made in 1967 that's an astonishingly vivid time capsule of the period. It's also vastly superior to any of the material collated in Olch's movie. Perhaps Rogers peaked at any early age, and his adult frustration stemmed from never being able to recapture the promise of youth.

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