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.
"I will go on, I WILL go on...''
It is difficult to find words to express the significance of this work, but it is with no doubt the most wonderful cinematic achievement I have seen this year and as demonstrative of this rollercoaster we call life as I have ever seen on projected on the screen.
Blossoming filmmaker Sarah Polley takes us on a journey into the tangled web of her family life, and the result is deeply personal and emotionally tender even as it brushes against the rawest nerve endings. This is obviously a labour of love and a passion project for Polley, and all I can think of as she pulls back the curtains on her private life…
More than just a documentary about uncovering your past (and questioning if that's even possible) this film is an exploration of storytelling. What happens when we turn someone's life into a story? What are we saying about them; what are saying about ourselves? It takes so many people to piece together the life of one woman who can no longer tell her own story, but in telling hers, the speakers also reveal themselves.
"I was being so real."
Third time watching, countless hours thinking about it.
This time was the first since I saw it originally where I watched it with someone else. It was an interesting experience, because you see it through new eyes - the background information, mystery, and suspense of the first act that leaves you thinking "WHAT DOES THIS ALL MEAN?!", before, in an instant, it reaches a turning point and everything in the first of many layers falls together.
There's so many staggering parts of Stories We Tell, parts where you're overcome with incredibly raw emotion, realisation, and wonder (that Marriage Italian Style bit. What a crazy coincidence) from a story that is, on the surface, pretty ordinary.…
A little long and a bit uneven, but it deals with very interesting subjects and brings some interesting ideas up.
My favorite film of 2014. The first film to make me cry in years. I loved the way Polley structured the interviews and the narrative, using her father(-figure) as narrator. I loved the meta-narrative of her biological father wanting to make the film himself, and the film about himself. It is a film about memory and story-telling, how we each interpret ourselves as the center of the story and how we all play supporting roles in each others' lives. Films have shaped the way we portray our lives, and "Stories We Tell" is structured to investigate portrayal and grandeur within the intertwined lives of Sarah, her mother, and her two fathers.
Well, this is a bloody genius piece of filmmaking, isn't it? I mean, for a film to have you convinced that it is one thing only to reveal itself as something completely different at literally the very last possible moment...
Who's story is this, really? That unanswerable question is the entire point of this film. It appears to blur the line between truth and fiction, but the fact is that maybe there's no line there at all.
I really and truly thought that I had this film figured out, right up until the credits started rolling. And now, I have no idea what exactly it is that I've just watched. I feel deceived and enlightened at the same time.
Genius. Just genius.
This documentary from Sarah Polly has received what can only be called rapturous praise, and while I found some things to like about it, I can’t say I fully understand why people are so enamored with it. The film is about Polly’s own family, and focuses in on the revelation that the man who raised her was not her biological father and that she was actually the result of an illicit affair between her mother and an actor named Harry Gulkin. To be blunt, I don’t think the story of Sarah Polly’s family is inherently interesting. I suppose it would be odd to learn that you were the child of an extramarital affair, but it isn’t all that unusual and…
Cleverly constructed, very moving exploration of identity, family, infidelity, and, at the same time, the art of storytelling itself. Okay, okay -I cried. Three times.
Sarah Polley's third film is a documentary that ostensibly seeks to tell the story of her late mother Diane, who died of cancer in 1990, and her husband Michael. This is all you need to know before you start. Like recent documentaries like Catfish and Searching for Sugar Man the less you know going into the film, the more fulfilling your viewing experience will be.
Suffice to say that Polley isn't so much examining her family as the nature of storytelling itself. One of family asks why anyone would be interested in their story, and this is a valid question that I would argue is more than answered by Polley's style. By mixing talking heads, Michael's memoirs (read by himself…
As soon as I saw that this was a Canadan film I was going to walk out but we stayed and this doco got better. But it is a film that sees the situation from all sides, and does make you think a little deeper.
- Beyond the Hills
- Spring Breakers
- Upstream Color
- Stories We Tell
- Before Midnight
- Only God Forgives
- 12 Years a Slave
- The Rover
- Jeanne Dielman, 23 Quai du Commerce, 1080 Bruxelles
- Almayer's Folly
- A Girl Walks Home Alone at Night
- Border Radio
- Gas Food Lodging
A list of films directed by women, in alphabetical order by director. The notes show the director's country, name and…