Saturday, May 25, 2013

"Stories We Tell": a meta-movie

Stories We Tell” is a meta-movie: it is as much about the process of making a movie about unearthing family secrets as it is about the family (a Jewish family straddling both Toronto and Montreal) itself. 
Sarah Polley sometimes uses actors for the characters, and sometimes intermixes the “stories” with suoer-8 footage from the family members themselves.  The process of setting up the interviews, in a Toronto condo, is shown with some technical detail.  I will have to consider similar efforts when I make my own DADT video soon.
The film offers non-stop chatter, as the stories go from one member to the next, much of it about a matriarch who has passed away, and who may or may not have had affairs that resulted in children not being completely sure of their fathers. 
I could imagine such a film being contemplated about my late mother’s side of the family,  There is her own story, as to how she came to Washington in 1934 (born on an Ohio farm in 1913 and surviving appendicitis during the WWI years) and met my father while working for and living in the Y (as was he), in days when single people didn’t have their own apartments.  The lineage dies with me, but would culminate in a bizarre or ironic set of events connected to the end of “don’t ask don’t tell”.  How many people know this story of my family?  Some, including a few in Hollywood (at least they’ve read it online).  But one could imagine a film like this about my Mother’s last years, and about my approach to eldercare, and about the different ways people perceived my actions.  It gets into from very sensitive matters that I won’t detail here, but I can imagine what Polley could do with it.
I saw this before a small crowd late night at the AMC Shirlington in Arlington VA (still in the largest auditorium).  Some of the audience seemed quite engaged in the details of the story, as if an English teacher could give a video quiz on them!
The film, from Roadside Attractions (and Lionsgate?) has link here. The original production company is the National Film Board of Canada. I wonder if my movie would be a good "roadside attraction". The little company has embellished its trademark trailer with more music.  

I walked out of the theater “in the moonlight”. Never saw so much detail on our nearest astronomical neighbor with the naked eye as last night.  

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