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Australia 2009
Directed by
Kenta McGrath
79 minutes
Rated EXEM

Reviewed by
Bernard Hemingway
3 stars

Three Hams In A Can

Three Hams In A Can follows three Australian “experimental” musicians to Tokyo where they are taking part in a festival of like-minded souls making a god-awful racket in the name of art, or something similar.

Given the off-the-wall nature of the musical endeavours on display here it is entirely appropriate that director/producer/videographer/editor Kenta McGrath does not take a conventional approach to his task.  As such, to call the result a documentary is somewhat misleading and if one approaches it with the expectations of being informed about its apparent topic, probably frustrating. There is no exegetical narration, no to-camera interviews and only the bare bones of a narrative structure. But for those who are happy to shift mental gears this will be precisely the charm of the film.

Rather than being a document of a real life music tour, Three Hams In A Can is better regarded as a parallel perception as McGrath, a kind of non-participatory fellow-traveller, takes us on a journey that is both connected to and disconnected from its protagonists and their putative mission. In fact the film works much better if viewed as a fictional construction, with questions about who, what and why being set aside.  

I could not help but think of those films of Gus Van Sant that resolutely refuse to buy into character-centred, plot-driven story-telling and dramatic action but rather embeds their subjects in the oblique, haphazard nature of the everyday that only the non-discriminatory camera can see. Which is not to say that this is in any sense a point-and-shoot exercise. McGrath shapes his material both in the camera and in post-production and the result is as much highly entertaining as it is frankly banal. In other words, much like life itself.  If that kind of creative fidelity means something to you then you’re probably going to find Three Hams In A Can highly congenial. 




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