Over two days, my "Movies To See" list is unspooling on The Dissolve. Here's your chance to check them off,…
Stories We Tell
Filmmaker Sarah Polley interviews members of her family as they look back on decades-old events.
This movie was even more beautifully sad than watching a guy on the subway ride home eat an entire Papa John's pizza by himself.
And let me tell you my friends, that was a mighty sad sight (he was using the dipping sauce -- or at least that's how I remember it).
Stories We Tell is a moving and incredibly candid family portrait as filmmaker, Sarah Polley, explores the mysteries surrounding her mother. Beginning as a rather traditional biography of her late mother it gradually transforms into a far richer documentary that touches on identity, memory, the fallibility of truth and the power of storytelling to create a deeply personal yet universal work.
As with all the best stories it is better to experience Stories We Tell with as little prior knowledge as possible. Yet whilst the film’s narrative takes a series of surprising diversions and features several revelations there is something refreshingly ordinary about this personal discovery. One of the contributors even questions why other people would be interested in their…
The only way this movie could have been more made for me is if the opening credits included a dedication that read: "This movie was made for Adam Kempenaar."
Full discussion available here.
A few notes that didn't make it into the conversation:
- A perfectly Polley-esque touch that I failed to mention about my autobiographical short film... My wife, then girlfriend, played the younger version of my mom.
- A key to the success of this film, I believe, is Polley's obvious fairness, generosity of spirit and lack of guile. Everything we see is a capital-C construct with her as the puppet master, but there's no overriding sense of calculation that might come through with other directors. It's all…
Completely riveted by Polley's reconstruction of a family secret from multiple angles until the degree to which she was aestheticizing her life became clear. At a certain point, she comes out and tells us the themes of the documentary—in that respect, the last 20 minutes of the film are like the psychiatrist scene in Psycho.
"i swatted my fly!"
yes. unremarkable by nature, remarkable by design. Kiarostami 101, but indelibly articulates schism of being / remembering.
works in spite of itself, at times. but then again, don't we all?
also, it may not really count, but Polley includes what i'd like to consider to be the greatest credits stinger of all time.
2014 is turning out to be a rather meagre year for music in my opinion, but one of the albums that does stand out thus far is How To Dress Well’s ‘What Is This Heart?’ One of my favourite songs on the album ends with the following utterance: “A truth like that that opens up, kind of begets other truths, and when you discover truths like that, how you think about truths within that are concealed, it does sort of make you alter the way that you look within, and that opens up.” Little did I know that this quote was taking from ‘Stories We Tell’, a 2012 autobiographical documentary in which director Sarah Polley interviews her father(s), sisters, brother…
Sarah Polley's Stories We Tell is the most deeply personal filmmaking I've seen since the work of Ross McElwee, and like McElwee she is a masterful storyteller. Taking the perspectives of several people — some close to the story, some at a distance — Polley forms the story of her deceased mother. Without ruining anything, there's several surprises along the way. Using interview footage, old super 8 footage and surprisingly effective re-enacted footage, a complex and emotional narrative appears. I love this particular breed of biographical filmmaking, and there's hardly any directors brave enough to attempt it, let alone create something successful. I can't wait to see what Sarah Polley directs next.
I was absolutely floored by this film. A dissection of not only the documentary genre but of storytelling in general. Polley has crafted a beautiful film that, as the layers are peeled back, feels like the closer you get to the truth, the further you travel from it. An important film, no doubt about it.
Sarah Polley constructs a self-reflective documentary about her mother, borrowing stories from people who knew her, and explores how their stories clash with one another's.
Starts off with Bon Iver's Skinny Love and I have an issue with that.
I was very surprised by this documentary. From the buzz I had expected a good film, but nothing prepared me for its brilliance. Right now, for me, all other documentary techniques - and there's scads of good ones - pale in comparison to the way Sarah Polley told her story. And it's the story I am stilling mulling over, 5 days later. Brava Sarah!
I could not get why it has all the praises.
Really interesting and personal documentary from Sarah Polley. I had tried to watch this with my fiance and she tapped out early, stating she was bored, but I decided to watch it on my own. I had heard a lot of this when it came out and I always wanted to catch up with it. Although I don't quite think Polley succeeds in her goal of making it about conflicting stories and the varied nature of people's memories, I still think it's a gripping look into her life and a shocking family secret.
"When you are in the middle of a story it isn't a story at all, but only a confusion." - Margaret Atwood.
Sarah Polley's career has hardly been orthodox. A young Canadian actress who attained her popularity through a burgeoning television career, she hit the big time with a role in Atom Egoyan's 1997 Academy Award-nominated The Sweet Hereafter. With the odd exception (namely her roles in 1999's Go and 2004's Dawn of the Dead), her acting career often saw her escaping the attention of the mainstream Hollywood machine, whilst still developing an exceptional resume for herself and continuing to maintain the attention of Canada's film industry (the highlight being an award-winning turn in 2003's My Life Without Me).
This review reportedly contains spoilers. I can handle the truth.
Sarah Polley explora uno de los grandes secretos y enigmas de su familia (y de su vida) a través de una serie de entrevistas con familiares y amigos cercanos a la figura de su madre, cada uno dando su punto de vista particular. Un documental original, sorprendente y emocionante que busca la verdad dentro de una historia personal, y que reflexiona sobre la huella que deja alguien importante en nuestras vidas.
Mezclando imágenes reales y falsas grabaciones en vídeo, Sarah Polley recuerda la figura de su madre repasando los momentos más destacados de su vida, como el matrimonio con su "padre" o el nacimiento de sus hermanos, explorando su persona a través de entrevistas con sus familiares, amigos y varios amantes. Lo que al final la llevará a desvelar uno de los grandes secretos: su padre no es realmente su padre.
"Stories We Tell" is a fascinatingly candid film from Sarah Polley that not only engrosses, but also raises questions about the nature of memory and the complexities of interweaving recurrences from multiple parties that make up the imprint we leave behind.
In my opinion, of course!
And only including films that I've seen.
Hardly in order after the top fifty.
The Dissolve recently released their picks for The 50 Best Films of the Decade, Letterboxd'ized here for my benefit (and…