In 1979, American artist Ed Ruscha allegedly made a fake rock out of resin and hid it among real ones somewhere in California's vast Mojave Desert. Named Rocky II after the Sylvester Stallone film, the work is never spoken about publicly, nor is it listed in any catalogue of Ruscha's work. Obsessed with this mystery piece, Academy Award–winner Pierre Bismuth sets out to find it. It's clear from the outset of this fantastical tale that Bismuth, the writer for Michel Gondry's Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind, won't take a conventional approach. Instead, he hires a hard-boiled private investigator and two acclaimed Hollywood screenwriters to pick up the trail in their separate and distinctive ways. Each constructs theories and deduces motives, muddying the few known facts with highly plausible and deeply engaging "fake fiction”. Probing and inventive, Where is Rocky II? is as enigmatic as the puzzle it seeks to solve. Bismuth’s quest for Ruscha's Rock is primarily an alibi to reconnoitre the landscape of today’s art world, raising questions about the creation of myth and the general Hollywoodisation of modern life in a brilliantly fake documentary about an authentic artist.
Where is Rocky II? | Dir. Pierre Bismuth | Documentary | 93mins | France | 2016 | Sydney Premiere
“There aren’t many films out there like Where is Ricky II? Bismuth ties the film’s three narratives together into one cohesive piece of meta-storytelling. The film works on multiple levels; cinephiles will appreciate Bismuth’s brilliant craftsmanship and his deconstruction of Hollywood chicanery, while others will be drawn into the mystery at the center of the movie. Where is Rocky II? is a bizarre, surreal, and enjoyable look at how off the mark art can be when imitating life.”
“Donald Kaufman would approve.”