Posted on 03 May 2021
You have poorly prepared your table all this time. It’s clear after Scott Gawlik Adjust!, a great dive into the competitive table setting scene in California.
The film follows attendees through the six months leading up to the Orange County Tableware Show, for which they prepare with the same intensity and determination that one imagines Tom Brady could do for the Superbowl. The forks should be placed just that way, fingerprints on the glass won’t do, and if your menu refers to “soup” but you have a bowl of consomme on the table, you’re as good as beer. toast.
Gawlik focused on an eclectic group, including Bonnie, a veteran of the table scene, Hilarie, the button pusher who thinks she is an artist, and Crystal, the happy reigning champion. While the subjects of the film are fun to watch, things never get as ruthless as promised, but he still triumphs as a compelling Slice of Life doc with an awesome sense of humor.
Perhaps more the result of a liminal narration than a direct questioning, Adjust!The subject of ‘depends as much on the class as on the creative will (perhaps even more). Tablescaping is apparently an affluent suburban sport, and the film’s most obvious effort to get focus on Tim, a young man who has all the passion but none of the income available to invest in his hobby.
Just by letting the cameras roll Adjust! serves a hot dish of cultural idiosyncrasies. A big scene starts off as a table for friends and sort of turns into a commentary on the sexuality of middle-aged suburban women. At other times, Americentrism shines through, with Hilarie noting her safari-themed table, “We don’t want it to be too clean because they’re in Africa, after all.” (His display is draped in cartridge pouches of bullets and insulting taxidermy.)
The layout of the table means different things to different people, and Adjust! approaches it as an outlet to deal with grief, to build self-confidence or to piss people off, depending on who you are. “What could be riskier than taking your very creative being and showing it to someone else to judge it?” Bonnie asks. That’s one hell of a line – and, in a way, a fitting observation on setting up a competitive table.
Hot Docs takes place online from April 29 to May 9, 2021. Get more information on the festival website.
(Crazy Cow Productions)