Grade: C –
Directors: Ariel Schulman and Henry Joost
MPAA Rating: PG-13
Running Time: 1 hour, 34 minutes
Another week, another faux documentary? Whereas the import of Joaquin Phoenix’s I’m Still Here transcends its flimsy verisimilitude, the appearance and disclosure of truth lies at the heart of Catfish, one of the most buzzed-about films at this year’s Sundance Film Fest.
As the story goes, in late 2007, filmmakers Ariel Schulman and Henry Joost began filming a burgeoning online relationship that
Months of phone calls, instant messaging, Google Street View, and more paintings eventually lead
The release of Catfish is a tidy bridge connecting
The question is not one of authenticity or topicality. Catfish is a revealing look at the very real zeitgeist of downtrodden, criminal, bored, or just mischievous people reinventing themselves in cyberspace. Is this sort of activity is inherently wrong – as Catfish connotes – or instead a predictable, even reasonable function of the medium? What is worse: lying about whether it’s really your singing voice on an MP3 you email an Internet pal, or a supposedly sophisticated
What guts Catfish is the snarky exploitation the film utilizes. So much of the film consists of three smug, coffee-shop elites gleefully deconstructing the virtual lives of their newfound friends, whose only actual objective was sending lovely free paintings to
What Nev and friend discovers is both provocative and sad, but so is the film’s portrayal of their discovery, never more so than when the camera lingers over Angela’s mentally handicapped stepchildren as they scream and involuntarily hit themselves in the face. When one character apologizes to
Last week, the Full Frame Documentary Film Festival invited their Twitter followers to pick up passes to an early screening of Catfish. The irony is that if this film screened at Full Frame’s annual fest, the informed crowd of documentary fans and filmmakers would utterly lambast this nebulous, nefarious product – Steve James’ Stevie was chastised several years ago for far less.
There is truth swimming around Catfish. But, like various species of its aquatic namesake, the film is both bottom-feeding and parasitic.
*Originally published at http://www.indyweek.com/indyweek/catfish-is-another-dodgy-doc/Content?oid=1684383