The best that cinema has had to offer since 2000 as picked by 177 film critics from around the world.…
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…
An honest and open-minded attempt of telling a story about one's family. Yes, you will be manipulated and bombarded with many different standpoints and narratives, but in the end you will get a story about the real family's history and at least a small insight into its secrets from the past.
After watching this film I was incredibly moved because it reminds me so much of my family story, very unusual and interesting. Sarah's determination to discover her true self was a search to find her own identity. Why do you think Sarah felt the need to find out the whole story and tell it from a perspective in which she interviews her family and friends? Do you think the story would have been different if Diane was alive, and how did her decisions affect the family after the truth was discovered?
This idea that a persons life so thickly interwoven through the lives of many can only fully be conveyed through the perspectives of each individual is what makes Sarah Polley's documentary soar. What starts out as a calm and thoughtful exploration/discovery of a woman's life through the eyes of her closest and most dearest becomes something much more complex; not in a way that is shocking or revealing to the audience, but through Polley's unique sensibilities in her approach to this wonderfully thought out and constructed family documentary.
Sarah explained that she hoped that the documentary gave everyone an equal opportunity of explaining his or her sides of the story. Do you think she was successful in this endeavor, or do you believe that certain members of her family had larger roles than others?
When telling stories, it is inevitable that you leave out certain details. How aware are you when you do this? Do you leave certain details out on purpose?
What do you think Diane would think of the documentary if she saw it?
This review may contain spoilers. I can handle the truth.
ETS 146 Discussion questions:
1) What internal conflicts did Sarah face when deciding whether to tell her dad Michael about the truth of who her actual biological father was? What do you think was the deciding factor that allowed her to so? What roles did her siblings have in making her feel comfortable (or not) in this decision?
2) What validity, or not, do you see in Harry's opinion about his side of the story being the only one that mattered? Why do you think he felt this way, and/or do you think it was warranted?
3) How do you think Harry and Michael felt about one another? More specifically, do you think there was any potential for them to…
This documentary contained multiple interviews. Each person being interviewed held a different connection to the subject and offered a different point of view. How did this affect the overall modality of the film? Was there a certain interviewee that portrayed a greater sense of modality? How/why?
This is a breath of fresh air of a documentary. It takes the classic "I'm gonna make a documentary about my family because they ****ed me up in the head," and spins it around.
It's filmed by Sarah Polley, who is an actor turned director (she directed "Take this Waltz") and the movie is her interviewing her relatives about the history of her family, but it plays more like a detective story with a bunch of twists and turns along the way. It is great to hear everyone's own little spin on the events that took place and how they don't always sync up. I don't want to give anymore away because I think that would detract form the experience, but believe me that it is engrossing and never boring.
Enjoyed the movie greatly. The different perspectives and pure truth of this film made it very enjoyable and real to watch through my eyes.
My question to the audience watching this movie would have to be, why do you think the film portrayed to have no negative influence on Polley's life? Every person that she interviewed and talked to seemed to be enjoying themselves with her and vice versa, even though some of the questions Polley asked were very personal. Why is that?
The story of our lives belongs to us and nobody else and we're really sensitive to that. Everybody in my family has their own version of their upbringing as well and it's always awkward to hear all the various stories brought up around Christmas. I am impressed that Polley brought hers to the screen at all with less impressed by how she brought it.
Here are some #DirectedbyWomen Film Viewing Possibilities... Will add MANY more soon...
Also building a major list here: