director Don Hardy Jr.
Winston Churchill is said to have described Russia as “…a riddle, wrapped in a mystery, inside an enigma…” and maybe that’s an apt approach to what or whom The Residents are. Theory of Obscurity is a documentary that delves into their history, output, and following while keeping their particular riddle still wrapped in semi-anonymity.
I’m supposing how much you can deduce and know here may well have to do with how much you know about the band/art collective coming into the film.
I’ve had friends who were pretty serious fans over the years, so though my experience is more through contact highs than direct interface, I’ve always had an appreciation for the mysterious entity.
Though they originated in Baton Rouge, LA, they didn’t fully germinate until landing in the San Francisco Bay Area in the early 1970’s. Their avant-garde strategies share some elements of other interesting radical art groups, but are at the same time vastly different. Not fully classifiable, their records and video art fit in well with the then burgeoning punk, post-punk, and new wave aesthetics, all while been far more rigorously non-commercial.
One thing for sure, it’s lit a fire under me to get a chance to see them when they perform in San Francisco next April.