1 How did you first come to see this movie?
I think this was about the time that I was just going to the library and systematically going through the documentary section. I like documentaries, especially ones about odd people who obsess over normal things (e.g.: King of Kong, Word Wars, Cinemania, etc.). But this movie isn’t like that.
2 What makes it a movie worth owning?
I think I was overwhelmed by the fresh style, just an onslaught of images and information.
3 What are your favorite parts?
I specifically remember the documentarian filming himself lip-sinking to Marianne Faithful./ (from after) Jonathan has a dream he finds his father and his father says “I didn’t know you existed.” This moment really hit me. At the same time Low sings: “I fell down the stairs. I wished I were dead.”
4 What do you relate to in the movie?
I have a strange affinity for homosexual narratives. I am not homosexual, but their struggle for identity and acceptance is one I can relate to. They have been outsiders and forbidden to express a natural human emotion. I suppose we all have a story in which we come to terms with our sexuality, however it may manifest itself. And I suppose the majority, or what used to be considered the majority, sort of just fall into social norms without question. But I know I struggled./ This search for self identity is echoed in the mother’s descent into mental illness and the loss of herself.
5 Who is your favorite character and why?
I only remember the subject and filmmaker of this movie. I am not sure if he is my favorite character. I think his mother had some mental instability and he cared for her. But on the other hand, I seem to remember him being kind of self-indulgent.
6 How did this movie make you feel?
I think it made me feel inspired because he created this lovely movie out of his own effort and the tools at his disposal.
After the movie
1 How accurate were your memories of this movie?
Well, it was much more focused on the mother, which I only remembered as I started answering these questions. Or at least it was supposedly focused on the mother. But of course it is his story.
2 How much had you forgotten?
A lot of the details. I don’t think there was any one thing, specifically.
3 Do you still like this movie?
I think so. I felt drawn into it even if it was at times drawn out.
4 Did you have any new feelings or experiences?
It was mesmerizing. I could feel myself staring into the screen, losing myself, like his mother lost herself to the shock treatments and like he lost his self to depersonalization. I could sense my self becoming folded in, like I was one part of a many-faceted organism. There was so much happening, and not just stylistically. There were the fucked-up grandparents and the fucked-up mom and the fucked-up kid, and how do they survive? How do they get through it? Well, they don’t.
5 What is the take-away?
Something about family and protecting something. Renee would have never become mentally ill and eventually brain damaged if her parents had not given her shock treatments – and what for? There had never been anything wrong with her in the first place. They invented this horror. And then they just sort of sat back and watched it unfold. The grandparents are these horrible figures, completely lifeless and irreal. Anyways. The takeaway is to find your own path, maybe. If you are oppressed, to get out from under it. If you are miserable, to create alternatives. If you are victimized, to continue hoping.
6 How do you think watching the movie impacted/ will impact your future actions if at all?
I write stories to get around some awful feelings. To re-author my life. I don’t think this movie taught me that. But it encourages me to continue. This movie is mesmerizing and effective. It mines the shit and the horror and everything that ever went wrong and it makes art, it makes coping mechanisms, it makes beauty.