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Τετάρτη, 26 Νοεμβρίου 2014

Stories We Tell (2012)

Director: Sarah Polley
Writers: Sarah Polley, Michael Polley (narration)
Stars: Michael Polley, John Buchan, Mark Polley, Harry Gulkin
Production: Canada
Duration: 108'

This is a story of a family and their mother, whose personal life affected everyone around her. She is the mother of the director, Sarah Colley, an acclaimed Canadian filmmaker who decided to dive into her own past, her family's history in order to create one of the most breathtaking and deepest documentaries of our times. 

"Stories We Tell" talks about Diane, a young ambitious actress whose energy and vitality is contagious to the people who know her. One day, at a play she was participating, she met a young guy named Micheal who was meant to be her husband. With him she lived a happy shared life, along with their four children - two from a previous failed marriage of Diane - when Sarah was born. Their life didn't change that much, not until Diane passed away from cancer, when Sarah was still quite young. 

The youngest and most different of all, the director herself, gives the necessary space to her interviewees to unfold their own side of their family story, revealing - what started as a joke in the beginning - the possibility that Sarah might be the result of an short affair her mother had. After searching, Sarah will discover that her mother had indeed an affair when she played in a play years ago. What will she come across after this revelation that changed everybody's life? Who is the father and what will happen to Micheal if he finds out?

The unfolding of the many stories is not necessarily narrated with that order. What starts as a portrait of Diane and a family, slowly turns into a deeper and stronger story. Nothing is what it seems in the beginning and Sarah knows that. The interviews she held with her brothers and sisters, her father and friends of Diane, are revealing, through the powerful effect of the editing, a magnificent story about family bonding and love. 

The main story is being narrated by Micheal, Sarah's father, as a monologue that he wrote himself. He talks about his life and his relationship with Diane with pure honesty, displaying only particles of the stories we are being told. Sarah takes over the narration at times, leaving many of the protagonists to tell their own. Along with the interviews we see real footage of Diane through the years, but also reconstruction of her life with actors. Those glimpses of memory lost in time provide a melancholic and nostalgic tone to the film, like all these are happening to somebody else, anyone in this world, like those images are part of anyone's life. 

The way this personal documentary is filmed and edited is the main core of its importance. How she put the fragments together and how she managed to build this tension and this depth - without even trying to be sentimental - it is remarkable. Pieces of personal stories come together and create a mosaic that talks further from the obvious. It is not just a personal story anymore. Because the stories of each and everyone's lives are a mere reflection of our own current self. 

Sarah manages to talk about her own life with such an objectivity. She magnificently unfolds the stories of her own life without even intervening. It is like she is letting us do the judgment on either what is being told or the characters and their actions. The fact that we don't really see her clear point of view shows only the artistic and cinematic magnitude of her existence. Nobody could ever do this more successfully than Sarah Polley. 

While the stories unfold, we see how Sarah gives equal narration space to both of her fathers - the biological and the one who raised her. This decision does not minimize the importance of the story and it exalts the director even more. Michael is the father who raised her and loved her. A man who put his family first, neglecting at times his wife, is a lonely person with immense wit and humor. The biological father, a drifter who stares now at the past and the life he could have had, is someone quite different and yet a bit the same. The sure is they have one thing in common: their daughter. 

"Stories We Tell" is an immense proof of pure cinematic art and human influence. It changed the way personal stories are told by making the "my story" into an "our story", by making it universal. This documentary talks bravely about true love and life itself. How the course of our lives is so closely connected with the one of our families and our friends. This documentary is about us all, and not Sarah alone. It is about our own stories and the way they influence our very own future. This humanity and universality you discover here is and will be beyond comparison. 

Παρασκευή, 31 Ιανουαρίου 2014

My week in movies #2

And after a long January and a tiring week, I present to you, my beloved readers, some of the latest movies I have watched this past week. Most of them are quite new, compared to my last list, where some oldies were there. So, read these small reviews and enjoy your weekend with some more cinema.

(You can find detailed plots through each title linking to Imdb)

Strong performances for a movie I thought was boring in the beginning. Then it got my attention and I watched it till the end. Reese Witherspoon is astonishing as June Carter and along with Joaquin Phoenix they created a burning couple trying to get through life's difficulties. The music and the drugs, the fall and the rise of a great musician and this wonderful woman's integrity, with which she managed to save him. Amazing. They loved each other till the end.

So lyrical and magnetic direction from this extremely intelligent woman, named Sarah Polley. The story of one family unravels so effortlessly, their feelings and sides of the same story are so different, but at the same time so alike. Very very very good documentary. So honest. Polley isn't afraid of the exposure it gives to her personal life and family, but instead she pushes everything to the limit, like a constant need to get it all out there. Maybe that way all of these people, among the director, can find peace with their past.

Extended film critique coming up soon.

As a traveler myself or at least one who is on “travel break” now, I deeply fell in love with this movie and the story of this guy. The freedom he felt, the rebel he deeply was and the kindness he offered where elements that make everyone envy this man. Even though he got defeated by what he loved deeply, he still teaches us great life lessons. Is officially in my favorite's list. Truthful cinema doesn't deserve anything less.

Unfortunately, it fails in every attempt to reveal the Butler's story in a decent way. The narration has gaps, the scenes change abruptly. There is no proper flow. The direction doesn't allow its characters to unfold properly. They are suffocated in a long and boring story. Except for the admiration one can feel for the real butler's integrity, there is not much that the character can tell us. A much more fascinating figure is his son and his actions, leaving the mother (a decent acting by Oprah) drift through fuzziness. Quite disappointing.

This true story of rivalry is so righteously presented that you cannot do anything but admire. Its essence is so strong and powerful. The direction is so intense that lets the story unfolds easily. Except some fast editing in the beginning this movie deserves more attention and acclaim. What a figure Niki Lauda is. What an athlete.