Employees at Manhattan’s Angelika Film Center had been warned about what was going to happen, but they didn’t know when it would start. And then, at noon on Tuesday afternoon, part-time actor and full-time agent of chaos Shia LaBeouf settled into an aisle seat in the theater’s smallest auditorium and began to watch — in reverse chronological order — all of the 27 feature films in which he’s appeared over the span of his career. The marathon event began with Dito Montiel’s brand new, yet-to-be-released Man Down; it’ll end 58 consecutive hours later when the credits roll on 1998’s Breakfast with Einstein, around 10pm on Thursday night. What LaBeouf is attempting would be an act of extreme masochism for any performer, let alone someone who’s starred in three different Transformers movies.
Once thought to be an innocuous goofball who parlayed a broad comic charm into a blockbuster-star career, the 29-year-old seemed to grow profoundly disoriented towards the end of 2014, as if he realized that fame was a minotaur’s maze in which he’d lost his way. But this hasn’t been your average episode of Behind the Music; LaBeouf’s curiously counterintuitive attempts to escape from the public eye have been far more artful than any of the things he did to put himself in it. Everyone thought he was having a nervous breakdown. Now his meltdown increasingly seems more like a calculated plan to confront — and perhaps destroy — the modern concept of celebrity.
Unsurprisingly, LaBeouf’s latest stunt was revealed to be a new piece of performance art called #ALLMYMOVIES, a new work from the actor’s arts collective (his collaborators Luke Turner and Nastja Säde Rökkö could be seen scrambling through the foyer; they officially declined to comment for this piece). Complemented by an unblinking live-stream of the actor’s face and brought to life by an open invitation for the public to drop by for as long as they want, the “installation” mixes equal parts Christian Marclay, Marina Abramovic, and David Blaine — an event fueled by the same electrical storm of fame that it ultimately exists to embarrass and dismantle.
Rolling Stone arrived just after 1pm on Wednesday and found all the fanfare that you’d expect at a movie screening on a rainy weekday afternoon. Two guards stood outside the door to the auditorium, and the piercing beeps from their security wands announced the arrival of each new attendee. Inside, twenty-odd twentysomethings were watching a melodramatic WWII drama (Fury) in reverent silence; someone sitting towards the front had a large camera pointing directly at his face.