Thursday, June 4, 2009

Must Read After My Death

I need to write about how amazing Must Read After My Death is.

More and more when I see movies I feel like I have to eventually integrate film into my classes when I'm actually a true professor teaching somewhere, probably way down the road.

The film is a pastiche of old Super 8 movies and Dictaphone recordings from a family of six in Connecticut in the 1960s. Morgan Dews apparently somehow found his grandmother's package of all of this (you'll see all of it at the beginning of the film) marked "Must Read After My Death."

It's one of the most sad and beautiful films I've ever seen. Reminiscent, technique-wise, of 51 Birch Street, Tarnation, Capturing the Friedmans, About a Son, and probably some others, the point here isn't originality.

But what makes the film powerful is what's culled together to make it. The images don't necessarily speak for the narrative shred we're listening to, but there are some that won't leave your mind, some that keep playing over different parts of different voices. You can tell this was a labor of love for Morgan Dews, and until close to the end you wonder how he's related to the family at all (you'll see what I mean as you're watching).

And with fifty hours of recordings, winnowing that down to a little over an hour would not be the easiest task. Then we're left to wonder what was left out, and what dictated the choices Dews made in compiling every recording and image.

Another thing is the score, which wouldn't have even needed to be a part of it to make it so powerful. But the score of Paul Damian Hogan the Third somehow combines the guitar washes of Eluvium, the key and tonal glitch of Fennesz, and the warped, warm repetitions of William Basinski. I wouldn't be surprised if someone wanted to put this out as a 70-minute album, with just the voices and the soundtrack. It could easily work that way too.

See it. See it. See it.