SCRAP – Review by Cate Marquis

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Stacey Tenenbaum’s Scrap is the kind of documentary film that invites you into its world, to look closer at something seemingly ordinary which suddenly becomes intriguing, and perhaps even a bit profound. In this case, it is the realm of metal objects whose useful lives have ended – scrap metal – but which are being re-used, restored or reborn as art.

This charming, low-key documentary starts in an untamed forest grove, but one in which old cars are being reclaimed by nature. Once a junkyard yielding spare parts, it is now the “World’s Oldest Junkyard Jungle,” run by the now-elderly grandson of the scrapyard’s original owners, where a perfusion of large trees grow all around and through rusting cars.

A sense of history and a bit of humor runs throughout this appealing documentary, as we globe-trot to Asia where an airplane junkyard has been transformed into a home for the homeless and then become a tourist attraction that helps support them. Then, we move on to visit a North Dakota sculptor whose metal-work creatures of the Plains were once old farm equipment, to a photographer in India creating affecting, artistic images of factory workers at an e-waste recycling center, to an architect in Spain using rusting old ship parts to build a church, to a British man restoring discarded old iconic red phone booths into decorative objects and a Midwestern American one restoring trolley cars to put them back in service.

Surprisingly relaxing, contemplative and deeply human, Scrap casts a spell as we watch these resourceful people give new life to old objects in creative, even affectionate ways.

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Cate Marquis

Cate Marquis is a film critic and historian based in the St. Louis, Missouri area. Marquis reviews film for the St. Louis Jewish Light weekly newspaper and Playback: stl website, as well as other publications. The daughter of artist Paul Marquis, she was introduced to classic and silent films by her father, as well as art and theater. Besides reviewing films, she lectures on film history, particularly the silent film era, has served on the board of the Meramec Classic Film Festival and is a long-time collaborator with the St. Louis International Film Festival, serving on various juries.