02 October 2013

Nobody's Business (1996)

          Essential plot rundown:  Filmmaker, Alan Berliner, tries to find out more about his family history by interviewing his father.  I had to watch this for a documentary class I'm taking.  And I don't write a lot about the movies I watch in class so I thought I'd do this one.

          I have mixed feelings about this film.  I liked some parts and disliked others.  First of all, I liked the style.  Alan takes the audio from the interview with his father and plays it with archival footage, home movies, b-roll and photographs.  Other than making for a visually interesting film, I think that the video grounded the interview in reality.  It made Alan's father, Oscar, and the people he was talking about real and not just some person from a story.  He also adds a lot of sound effects that add to the style.

          However, after a while, the style starts to get boring and repetitive.  The film is only an hour long, but he uses the same sounds and footage over and over again.  I think it would have worked a lot better if the film had only been 20 minutes long or so.

          I also felt like Alan was trying to manipulate me.  Because we actually see very little of the interview, I felt like he was editing sound bites together out of context.  Without a visual cue, audio can be edited together to make the speaker say anything the editor wants.  And I felt like this was happening.  I'm sure an audio professional could listen to it and hear if there were changes in the audio that would indicate that they were taken out of context, but I can't.  But I sensed that they were.

          And the interaction between Alan and Oscar felt off to me too.  They seemed to be getting mad at each other for no real reason other than to spice up the interview.  Alan seemed like he was provoking his father into getting excited.  I don't know, that might as well be how they really interact (and it probably is) but it seemed like to was a little staged and unnatural.

          But, overall, it's a decent documentary.  It was interesting to learn about Oscar and I could relate to him.  I liked the style but it eventually became redundant.  It's worth watching, but not a must see.

     But that's just my opinion...

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