Tuesday, April 21, 2009

Father Time

The past is a tricky thing. So are fathers. I used to hate my dad for making me listen to talk radio. Now I download and listen to at least three radio podcasts a day. I used to despise the music my dad would choose for our family vacation road trips. Now I am thankful to him for expanding my musical knowledge beyond the 80's and well into the 70's and 60's. In middle school I didn't having anything in common with him, at all. Now, 10 years later, I hope nothing more than just to become half the man he is. This transformation fascinates me. When does the past go from being boring and unimportant to nostalgic, cool, and vital.

When I see the footage of Berliner's father on that date with his soon to be wife I see a time that was simpler. He picked her up from her house wearing his finest clothes. He opens the door for her to the car and...well, thats it. They get married. Part of Oscar's reservation to do the movie is more than just his quirky/angry/hilarious personality. He grew up plain and simple. So what's interesting about that? Berliner does a great job at structuring this movie so that it could be anyone's family. He doesn't want to make his father's life out to be more than it was. Instead, he had me thinking of my family. By telling every detail, no matter how benign, it makes the story more relatable to everyone. What Oscar didn't understand was that Alan was making this movie for himself. He knew he had the talent to dig an interesting story out of anything, so why not learn something about himself along the way.

I got sad looking at Oscar's life now. As I watched it I thought it was a tragedy that Oscar did not realize (at least in the end) that his son was creating something extremely relevant. It also made me sad that they just don't make people like Oscar anymore. Although I can't fully explain why. I just know that with the amount of exposure in our society where anyone can know everything about everyone, its tragic to see a man like Oscar pass out of society. A man who truely saw everything for exactly what it was.

Now with media and movies we can be so meticalously nostalgic. We can turn any moment of old film into something hopelessly romantic. We can make an audience cry using tricks and a good selection of music. We can turn a man like Oscar into a multi layered protagonist of his own epic life story. We have to be careful with this. Alan does a great job of handling this resposibility. He isn't simply a consumer of the past. He makes into something beneficial for himself and us.

Anyway I have too many thoughts on this particuliar topics to fully discuss here. This movie was great!


  1. It was sad that Oscar did not realize the value of his son's work, but wonderful that Alan did and transcended his father's opposition and became a great and successful filmmaker.


  2. I too fully agree. The film was fantastic and extremely innovative and creative. It was very clever in the sense that most of time we never really saw Alan or Oscar, but rather heard their argueing. The audience was able to understand each of the characters just by listening to him. THe conversations alone gave a huge insight to the type of characters in the film. Alan certainly lucked out with having a "perfect" character being his own father.

    It was interesting to me because I wondered if Alan ever got frustrated with his father thinking that what he was capturing was just horrible, because he father was so bitter and angry. In all actuality though, the lack of story and subtance WAS the story. His father did not want to talk about things, and it made the audience wanted to know more, and why. His stubborness created the story.

    Alan really had a creative eye while making this film. There was the scene when Alan was talking to his father about his death. He said that when you die, all your records are stored in a massive vault (I believe Nevada), and you become a number and statistic. Every single human on the earth has been recorded on file. The entire conversation was spoken while the image was a long tracking shot down the aisle of the very same vault. It was such a long shot and gave an idea of the magnitude of the amount of people who are on file. It reall made you get the feeling that one day, you too would be locked away as a number in history.

    What intrigued me about the film, was that I was exhausted. It was so up tempo because of the fighing that is just never ended. I was mentally spent on the film. It was almost as if I was there with Oscar. It really helped me understand Alan and his family more because it was as if we were part of Oscar's family as well, listening to the bitterness. It was overwhelming and I began to feel sorry for him. While this could be seen as a negative I feel it was rather an asset. Maybe the fueds dragged out a little to long, but that was almost the nature of the film, in that Oscar's unwillingness is neverending. There is no stopping point.

    Again, I applaud Alan for creating such a wonderful film over a subject so simple, his family.