Shoestring doc Strad Style is blessed by its main focus, Daniel Houck.
Eccentric violin maker Houck has a particular eye for detail as he faces difficult odds constructing an imitation of a classic violin for highly-respected violinist Razvan Stoica. Daniel’s personality is comparable to American Movie’s filmmaker Mark Borchardt in the sense that both men have fascinations that develop into passionate would-be careers. Houck makes Strad Style naturally funny and interesting in the same way Borchardt did with American Movie.
Despite some gratuitous montages featuring Daniel at work, director/producr/cinematographer/editor Stefan Avalos is able to control his documentary well. However, I couldn’t help but feel that Avalos was competing against Houck for attention. Random sequences that are supposed to inject more humour and pizazz into the film seem forced when Avalos is using them to sandwich humbling talks with Houck.
Strad Style is a fly-on-the-wall film best left alone for its subjects to unfold for themselves. As soon as an outsider starts noodling around with the narrative, the project starts to feel manipulated. Strad Style is a solid crowd-pleaser, but it should also act as a reminder for Stefan Avalos to cautiously keep his distance in future documentaries.
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Addison Wylie: @AddisonWylie