Glass: A Portrait of Philip in Twelve Parts is exactly what the title says -- almost no more and no less. Director Scott Hicks's documentary looks at Philip Glass's life and doesn't necessarily reveal the insight behind the composer's unique brand of music so much as display the working mode of a passionate artist so automatically devoted to his art and pursuits that the activities of a normal human being's life almost feel like a necessary distraction.
To Glass, music is literally a calling -- he claims he doesn't create it, he searches for and finds it -- and yet, as a personality he isn't off-putting but rather easy-going and genial. This makes the movie quite engaging, although we never quite see what makes his own creative process so unique, except that he very much marches to the beat of his own drum (and has been influenced by very particular teachers and personalities). We can assume that, for Glass, his music would speak for itself and that would be the way he prefers it.
Meanwhile, Hicks has given us a peek into the artist's world, which on the surface seems anything but spectacular -- and yet perhaps that's the way it ought to be. Art should always speak for itself, powerfully, from a source hidden from the mundane, otherwise it may have little merit as art; and that is what this film might best convey. (Capsule review)
(Released by Koch Lorber Films; not rated by MPAA.)
Review also posted at www.windowtothemovies.com .