A blog about movies and filmmaking.

How Can No One Tell You About CATFISH And Still Want To Make You Go See It?

In Documentary on September 11, 2010 at 11:17 pm

I’ll tell you how; you just need one good friend – like myself for instance – to have already seen in, and have them tell you that no matter what you have to go see this movie. There’s free screenings all around – check it’s Facebook app – or try and catch it when it’s released soon. Personally, I believe that the whole “keep it all a secret” thing is a little over-blown and could wind up causing a big anti-hype backlash. But, what’re you going to do?

So let me tell you about the movie…and if you want to stay true to the marketing, then don’t read any further. But believe me, this movie is absolutely fantastic.

So, the movie is a documentary about a man – named Nev – whose brother and close friend start filming him for a half-assed documentary. Nev, just happens to be a photographer that has landed a couple photos on newspaper covers and other miscellaneous places. One day he gets a present from an 8 year old girl, who has seemingly taken a photo of his and turned it into a watercolor painting. It’s good enough, and fairly impressive for an 8 year old. So, Nev sends her some other photos and he develops a relationship through gmail, Facebook and over the phone with this girl – Abby – and her family. He gets more paintings, sets up arrangements to meet – which circumstances tend to get in the way of – and eventually even falls for Abby’s older sister, Megan.

This is where the documentary seems to gain a focus; the relationship that this man develops with this family – that live in upstate Michigan – and specifically the idea of carrying out a long-distance relationship with someone you’ve never met. And it does it marvelously, from the close-ups on Nev watching him be surprised, looking like a lost little puppy in love, and then of course the disbelief when a big secret is revealed.

While, I’m not afraid to have said the above, I won’t spoil what happens next. Not because there’s anything actually that shocking – well, it is, but it’s played in a way that doesn’t turn the movie into THE SIXTH SENSE or whatever. (ie. no one’s a ghost.) What I will tell you is that the movie performs and delivers in every way. It helps to have a leading man (dare I call him a character? Which, actually isn’t too easy of a question to answer, with both the subject of this movie; and well, the genre of documentaries in general.) as cool – sure, good looking too – and utterly sweet as Nev seems to be. The movie which is shot by his brother Ariel Schulman and his friend Henry Joost, are pretty spectacular with getting right in Nev’s face. Questioning him and filming even when it starts to impugn the relationship between brothers versus documentarian and subject.

There are moments of out-right hilarity, especially during the scenes where we – the audience – and the filmmakers on-screen are just left slack-jawed at some of the revelations in this story. There’s moments of sadness and tenderness, and a look into some lives that in their own ways are sad and tragic. In a lot of ways, that’s what makes CATFISH seem like it might actually be a good double-feature with BEST WORST MOVIE. (If they could stop showing that infernal TROLL 2 with it, for five minutes.) Just the look into lives that have through choice, or in-action, become sad shadows of those people’s dreams or fantasies.

Finally comes the one thing, that through no fault of these guys’ own, I have an issue with. And it’s been discussed earlier with the movie EXIT THROUGH THE GIFTSHOP, about the validity and reality of what we see on the screen. I’m not saying the movie is fiction, nor am I saying that the whole thing is hard to swallow. Just that there are moments where certain things seem to come together a little too neatly. And it’s in there that this all leads to a smidgen of doubt. Despite any of that though, I absolutely loved the movie.

As I spoke of in my discussion of EASY A, there isn’t any cynicism here. The topics that are touched on are dealt with fairly, and honestly; and it’s amazing that these guys managed to finish filming despite some of the situations they found themselves in. (Which all makes the movie sound so much more mysterious.) But, it’s a joy to see a movie where people can actually talk out differences, deal with each other as humans, and in the end; still use Facebook.

Hmm, maybe this movie would make a better double-feature with THE SOCIAL NETWORK when it comes out? A love/hate relationship with Facebook marathon. But, definitely check out CATFISH. It’s hard to say at the moment, but it might be my favorite movie, so far this year. (Or just this week…Actually, I don’t know that there’s a question about that. See earlier reviews of other movies on just what a good week it’s been.)

And here’s the trailer that you can either watch, or not watch. I leave it up to you. I do feel like it misleads the audience a little – especially with that whole “best Hitchcock movie, he never directed.” WTF? Whatev’s, it doesn’t make me love you any less, CATFISH.

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