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‘The Ringmaster’ (review)

Produced by Zachary Capp
Directed and Produced by
Molly Dworsky & Dave Newberg

Written by Zachary Capp, Molly Dworsky,
Dave Newberg, Julian Williams

Featuring Zachary Capp, Larry Lang, Gene Simmons,
Paul Stanley, Tommy Thayer, Eric Singer,
Dave Newberg, Mark Davis

 

This is an interesting one.

Film starts off as a fairly straightforward doc on a cook who, according to many, makes the best onion rings in the US.

Zachary Capp, a filmmaker who grew up eating said onion rings, begins with solid intentions, wanting to shine a light on Larry Lang, the chef whose secret batter recipe has made him a local hero in Worthington, Minnesota.

Zach begins, with his production team, documenting the life and cooking of Lang.

Capp also benignly attempts to bring some national notoriety to Lang and his incredible onion rings, but Lang is extremely resistant to the idea.

The Ringmaster plays, for a while, as a somewhat lightweight, self-indulgent doc with a lot of moral hand-wringing.

However, somewhere along the line, something fascinating happens.

The production team begins to realize that Capp is replacing his old gambling addiction (for which he attended rehab) with an obsession with making Lang a star, whether Larry wants it or not.

So, they begin to realize the doc is actually about Zach as much as Larry and adjust the editing accordingly.

There’s a lovely scene around the hour mark where Zach, Larry and Larry’s sister, Linda, admire a full rainbow. Zach was hoping this would be the climax and happy ending to his film.

Alas, much more occurs.

While not as mesmerizing as other docs that mutate – such as the brilliant Lou Pepe and Keith Fulton doc Lost in La ManchaThe Ringmaster does morph into an engrossing meditation on subject vs. documentarian.

The documentarian has the best of intentions but his addictions get the best of him, while the subject obviously has some mental issues which cloud his judgment and behavior.

This is at times a frustrating film, with lots of yakking from Zach and others that tend to go on ad nauseum.

But in the end the film is a valuable look at the inherent risks of invading someone else’s life to make a film document.

Even with the best of intentions, it’s not to everyone’s benefit to be the subject of a documentary, and The Ringmaster brings that fact to light in a truly fascinating way.

The Ringmaster is now available on Digital HD and On Demand.

 

 

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