Much effort went into ensuring that I would recognize that I am being presented with unreliable details. The film goes Rashomon-lite (viewer must be like: which of you narrators can I trust?), which was ultimately an underused narrative element. Unfortunately, pitting narrator against narrator is not effective when the truth being picked apart is the most minor details (like what Person A was wearing during Incident A).
I had a bad attitude about all that because the cleverness/multiple perspectives/documentary-frame truly only…
1. In biopic terms, the story and structure is understated and not unnecessarily contrived. Except that one scene.
2. Casting Steve Carell seems risky, especially considering when this film came out. But it turns out that he was perfect for this role. Funny, a stressful person to engage with, but never a character worth laughing at.
3. Casting everyone else turned out weirdly well. Channing Tatum and Mark Ruffalo play incredible brother-foils. Although, maybe the actors playing du Pont's associates…
Episodic films are attractive to me: they are prone to lyrical tangents and memorable portrait. Crooklyn brings exactly that to the table, but not without losing its hyper-focus on the Carmichael family. Nothing about the household feels like a caricature.
While it's a pleasure to see the Carmichaels' home-life, the film's scope doesn't stop there. We get a sizeable look into their 1970s Brooklyn neighbourhood, then the satisfying (and shockingly ultra-wide) juxtaposition of somewhere suburban in the South. Things don't stop happening, and the music barely ever stops.
Lacks self-consciousness; justifiably nostalgic. Mekas offers casual, extensive familial and historical context—more than necessary, but with the softest touch.
We are brought along into Mekas' extensive travels: from New York City in the 1950s, to the Lithuanian countryside of the 1970s, to the Lithuanian countryside of the 1940s, and then somewhere in Vienna in the 1970s. But at no point are we tourists.