Shia LaBeouf is watching every movie he's ever made in a row in a theater in downtown Manhattan right now.
If the live feed is working (it's been broken on and off since it launched this morning), you can watch him as he watches himself, the light from whatever he's currently viewing flickering on his upturned face. And if you're in New York sometime in the next three days, you can join him in person as he marathons his way through his filmography in reverse chronological order while the world, or at least the portion of it able to log on, bears witness.
Earlier today, that's what I did.
The stunt, #ALLMYMOVIES, is LaBeouf's latest foray into performance art, a collaboration between the sometimes troubled 29-year-old actor and artists Luke Turner and Nastja Säde Rönkkö. The three were also responsible for #IAMSORRY, in which LaBeouf silently received visitors in an art gallery in Los Angeles's Fairfax District with a paper bag over his head reading "I AM NOT FAMOUS ANYMORE," and #STARTCREATING, in which a skywriter was hired to spell out the words "START CREATING" over L.A. Unlike those happenings, #ALLMYMOVIES does not seem to be prompted by any recent scandal, plagiarism-related or otherwise, in LaBeouf's life (though he did reportedly get into a physical altercation with his girlfriend in late July).
He's made a lot of movies. He's screening them, in one 72-hour marathon.
It's free to go to the Angelika Film Center in Greenwich Village and take a seat in cinema six with LaBeouf, and easy, at least in the early afternoon on a rainy Tuesday. There was no line to deal with, just a lecture on photos not being allowed and a quick metal detector wanding. The theater was only half full, and the crowd seemed to be mostly made up of students and, inevitably, other entertainment journalists (I ran into a friend who works for Rolling Stone on the way in and one covering the event for The Guardian on the way out).
LaBeouf was seated on the aisle in the middle of the theater with a camera on the seat in from of him aimed at his face, and for the end of Man Down and the first act of Fury, I sat three rows behind him, watching the movies and the back of his famous head.
#ALLMYMOVIES is better as art than as a moviegoing experience, given that people are constantly tramping in and out of the room — you're allowed to stay as long or as briefly as you like. But all the better for your mind to wander to questions like, What, exactly, constitutes a Shia LaBeouf joint? Will he screen the anthology film New York, I Love You, though he only appears in one of the 11 sections? What about shorts or the made-for-TV Even Stevens Movie? (Yes, no, and yes, according to a copy of the schedule a reporter put on Twitter I found after this post was initially published.)
Other pressing questions: Is LaBeouf allowed to eat anything other than the popcorn on which he was enthusiastically chowing down when I first turned on the live feed? If he falls asleep sometime during Transformers: Dark of the Moon in the wee hours of the morning, will anyone wake him up? Is he allowed to pee, or is he going to Marina Abramović his way through three days and nights, and if so, using what technology? That last question I got an answer to when the credits rolled for Man Down, a movie that doesn't even have a distributor yet and was projected with a watermark on its lower third, and LaBeouf bolted from the room and presumably headed for the bathroom. The other two queries the publicist for the project has yet to clarify.
A well-behaved audience member, LaBeouf didn't talk, and no one around him tried to engage him, though someone did take the seat next to him. After all those lectures on photography being forbidden, I watched a man go up to the actor, crouch down, and point a phone at his face in order to take a flash photo while the security guard stood by, indifferent. Lousy theater behavior, but provocative testing the boundaries of the project, I guess? It was a dick move, but also the most interesting thing that happened while I was there. LaBeouf, who's been acting since he was a child, has a long filmography to get through, one that covers more than 15 years of his life. #ALLMYMOVIES will doubtlessly be more interesting a day or two in, when it feels more like an act of endurance than one of narcissism.
Though, really, the point of this all is to watch LaBeouf and to attempt to figure out if his reactions to his own work are real, which you can do better online than in person, at least when the feed is working. While I was in the theater, a colleague told me that LaBeouf had started crying in response to the end of Man Down, which was, admittedly, full of angst, even if, as a latecomer, I didn't know the context. It made me think of #IAMSORRY, in which multiple people reported seeing LaBeouf cry — moving in each immediate instance and calculating as a larger phenomenon, in which it was revealed to be clearly part of the act.
Will there be anything of the real LaBeouf in #ALLMYMOVIES, or is it just a performance about watching performances, mirrors all the way down? Who knows, but I'm looking forward to watching a groggy LaBeouf contend with Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull after a day indoors. It's tempting to think some flicker of the truth has to show through.
Here's the full list of titles screening as part of #ALLMYMOVIES: