Comments on watching and making films.

Tuesday, February 15, 2011

DVD - Catfish

The advent of digital video recording has forever changed the field of documentary filmmaking. For twenty years, or more, people have been making docs on Beta Cams, Digi-Betas, Mini-DV's, and, now, High Def camcorders. Digital video has made documentary more open and easier to capture, and though there are now amazing doc's that would not have existed twenty or thirty years ago (because shooting them on film would have been too expensive), there is also a ridiculous increase in boring and self serving material. While the documentary, Catfish, can come off this way early on, it eventually develops into an extremely fascinating commentary on the online age, where identity is no longer something that can be controlled, but rather something that can be used fluidly, or flat out stolen.

Catfish follows Nev Schulman, a New York City photographer, who strikes up a relationship with a young prodigy painter, and, eventually, her whole family. As time passes, he begins to explore an online romance with the little girls much older sister. Things never seem quite right, though, and Nev's suspicions lead him, and the filmmakers to travel to Michigan to meet the family he's been involved with, online and over the phone, for the last several months.

Catfish is a really interesting film, but one must go into it expecting to figure out the "twist" early on, in order to not be disappointed. In fact, I would go so fa as to say that there really isn't a twist at all, but simply a roll out of reality as the doc progresses. The fact that the doc was marketed as a mystery, I think, caused a lot of people to be pissed off, but doc's are rarely mysteries, and they'll never give you the kind of rush or satisfaction that a carefully crafted fictional story has the capability of giving you. Catfish is absolutely worth your time, just don't expect it to be mind bending.

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