When Thax was fourteen, a mystical vision told him that he would become a famous poet. By the time his beard went gray, he had performed thousands of times. Right before the band comes on, he recites a spontaneous poetry portrait to bless the stage. His paternal white beard, round belly, and thick glasses make him appear, perhaps, as a rock&roll holy man; a shaman from the pre-MTV era, when the cause of independent music seemed to reach beyond the individual. In Chicago, he is singular and unmistakable.
Thax is growing tired of this image. The truth is nobody knows him. He wants to be appreciated for more than just what he appears to represent. He wants to be seen as a person, not a concept. He wants to be recognized for what he writes, not how he looks. Like a baseball mascot removing his head to yell at the crowd, Thax tells us the real story, whether or not we want to hear it. The result is stranger than fact.
In act III, as the film breaks from its direct-cinema roots, to examine Thax’s tumultuous past through home video and family testimony, we come to a new understanding of the darker, subtler, divergent meanings of poetry and rock&roll in the 21st century. This film examines the mysterious line that separates the underground from the mainstream, poetry from advertising, fantasy from prophecy, and success from celebrity. Like CRUMB, AMERICAN MOVIE, BURDEN OF DREAMS, and GREY GARDENS before it, THAX is a film about the true cost of individuality. “–Alex MacKenzie