Peter Sillen, an indie documentarian with a flair for engaging stubborn, eccentric performers brings his compassionate eye to the life of another subculture hero.
By all accounts, this secretly important man was tough to live with, but not too hard to love or admire.
| Original Score: 3/5
Important Man sets Bernstein's nasal verse to elegant streetscape montages of the city then and now.
Bernstein is made a complicated, even morbidly fascinating figure in a film that will have limited theatrical exposure but, like the director's earlier work, will likely enjoy a cultish afterlife.
The film might suffice if you're looking for something to watch on cable TV some early morning. But it isn't worth the hassle and expense of going to a theater.
| Original Score: 1.5/4
Getting acquainted with what Steven Jesse Bernstein left behind, however, feels like an implicit homework assignment.
| Original Score: 2.5/4
Sillen finds nobility in the poet's ceaseless commitment to observation, self-examination, and what he called just plain "doing your job."
While I Am Secretly an Important Man skims the surface of Mr. Bernstein's life, it's a surface with more than enough texture to keep you interested.
Sillen ennobles the havoc of his life with a measure of down-and-out romance, but no moments really puncture a viewer, and the darkness is all too easily shaken off.