Monday, October 17, 2005
This weekend we watched Tarnation, which I’d read a number of good reviews about but was still unprepared for, in the sense that although it totally told a cohesive story, it was an extremely unconventional film, very much above and beyond your more straightforward documentary and crossing over into something that almost belongs in a museum. The filmmaker, Jonathan Caouette, has a riveting family story to tell, not the least of which is that he’s made some sort of film of his life since he was a kid, but the way he puts it together is gorgeous, disturbing, heartbreaking, and unforgettable. It’s a collage, in many ways, and he frequently uses titles on the screen to tell the story, and he also uses some great music in an extremely evocative way. Plus, as intense as his story is, there’s a universality to it that makes it easy to identify with, and also I had the strong sense that this guy, as a kid, was so intensely creative and found these various ways of expressing himself that in large part it was what saved him from the difficult aspects of his life. Maybe I’m projecting that on him, but I know now that writing as a kid was an important place for me to put stuff I had noplace else to put and my life was not in any way as unusual as his. I think the thing that really struck me about it is how much it speaks to how many ways there are to tell our stories. Movies like this just remind me there are no limits to what we can do with a narrative.