Documentary Now! preview: See Cate Blanchett have a performance artist meltdown

Cate Blanchett in Documentary Now! Pic credit: IFC
Cate Blanchett in Documentary Now! Pic credit: IFC

Cate Blanchett is a two-time Academy Award winner and is featured on the next IFC subversive comedy Documentary Now!

In our preview clip, you will witness her esteemed acting chops on full display as she channels her inner Marina Abramovic, a temperamental performance artist with a penchant for theatrics.

To understand where the comedy comes from, one must know who Abramovic is and why channeling her intensity was a ripe comedic opportunity for the writers and producers of the IFC breakout series.

In this episode titled Waiting for the Artist, Blanchett taps into the Marina portrayed in the groundbreaking 2012 documentary Marina Abramovic: The Artist Is Present.

A description of  Abramovic also shows her fearlessness in causing bodily harm and even setting fires for the sake of her performance art gives the background to appreciate the satirical swipe Documentary Now! takes:

Abramović first settled in Amsterdam, where she met her future partner in art and life Frank Uwe Laysiepen, or Ulay. A performance artist from Germany, Ulay would become Abramović’s alter ago and collaborator for 13 years, until their artistic and personal relationship crumbled.

Abramović and Ulay found each other at a turning point in both of their respective lives. At that time Abramović’s radical performances were increasingly self-destructive, threatening her mental and physical health; by then, she had already injured herself while repeatedly stabbing her fingers with a blade (Rhythm 10, 1973) and passed out during a performance for which she had engraved a star on her chest before lying, bleeding, inside a flaming star (Rhythm 5, 1974).

She had also allowed the public to play with her and abuse her body while she was lying still for six hours next to potentially lethal tools such as a loaded gun and various saws (Rhythm 0, 1974). This, she said, was a traumatic and masochist experience that helped her set boundaries in her future works.

The episode will show Blanchett cast as the acclaimed performance artist Izabella Barta who is preparing her gallery owner for a major career retrospective. But it goes south quickly as her assistant obeys her orders and sets fire to the diorama miniature that she uses to plan and explain her gallery showing to the gallery manager.

In the episode, her character also will reconcile her relationship with her former lover Dimo (Fred Armisen) – described in the press notes as “an infamous provocateur of the art world.”

This documentary titled Waiting for the Artist was written by late night host and comedian, Seth Meyers.

IFC’s Documentary Now! is in its new run and has six new groundbreaking docs after more than two years away on hiatus.

These stunningly on-point tributes to classic documentary films are created and executive produced by Portlandia and SNL veteran Fred Armisen, Seth Meyers, HBO Barry star Bill Hader, and SNL chieftain Lorne Michaels.

This season looks to be the most “out there” and twisted yet.

Documentary Now! debuted to rave reviews from TV critics and won a huge cult-like fan base.  The episodes are hosted by Dame Helen Mirren, who brings the viewers back in time to honor groundbreaking non-fiction work. Awards have been heaped upon this original premise series, twice it was Emmy nominated for Outstanding Variety Sketch Show.

This year boasts award-winning actors such as Michael Keaton, Owen Wilson, Michael C. Hall, and Wednesday’s upcoming film featuring Cate Blanchett in her savagely funny portrayal of Abramovic.

One of the segments was featured heavily at the recent Television Critics Association winter press tour in Pasadena, as Richard Kind was on a panel to talk about The Great White Way, a doc spoof on a Broadway cast recording session. Kind plays a Broadway actor who has trouble with his lines.

During the panel for IFC, Kind shared a riotous insider story with Monsters & Critics and the TV critics in attendance about the now wrapped HBO series Luck which starred the late Dennis Farina and Dustin Hoffman about life in the horse racing world.

Kind said:

Because you’re TV critics, I have a pretty fantastic cancellation story.

I did a show called Luck and Dustin Hoffman was gonna direct a movie in England so the start date of the second season got pushed by quite a few months. So, we’re waiting all that time.

Finally, we start shooting months after, I mean like almost seven months after we should’ve been. It’s the first day of shooting the very first episode of the second season. I had the last shot of the day, it was done as the sun was going down.

I pull a car into Santa Anita parking lot. I pull into a parking space, I’m listening to the radio. I turn the radio off and I get out and I shut the door. I did that about three times, banana into the parking space, I’d turn it off, yell, “Cut” and the First AD goes “That’s a wrap on the day, on the episode, on the season, on the show.”

First day of our second season, 12 episodes closed. I had the last shot. Turn it off and we turned it off.  That’s a hell of a story.

The fourth episode of Documentary Now! premieres Wednesday, March 6 at 11/10c on IFC. 

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