Amargosa | Chicago Reader

Amargosa

Todd Robinson wrote and directed this lavish 2000 documentary about Marta Becket, who gave up her life as a moderately successful dancer and artist in New York City in the early 1960s to renovate and reopen a small theater in the old borax-mining town of Death Valley Junction (population ten). Stung by a difficult youth, she made the theater a shrine to an imaginary past, covering the walls and ceilings with elaborate and whimsical murals featuring a Renaissance-era audience; thousands of people have since visited the structure, where Becket, now in her 70s, continues to perform and create with the help of the town's eccentric residents. Robinson portrays Becket as a fiercely independent visionary, though it's hard to tell whether the afterimage of a woman pathetically unable to relinquish her past was intentional. Becket's work is well served by Curt Apduhan's lovely cinematography, the story ill served by some dreadfully pretentious narration. 93 min.

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