Saturday, April 23, 2011

Cinema Verite

Hey there--I'll take a bit of reality with less meta reality, please.

I grew up watching "An American Family." Each week I would tune into Channel 13, the local affiliate PBS station, wondering what outrageous thing Lance Loud might do next. Watching his freedom, glamorized the world of rock and roll/punk for a fourteen year old who constantly proclaimed "the suburbs are the bane of my existence." Punking out with Lance in the edginess of the Chelsea Hotel gave me some relief, realizing that there were other people out in the world that could escape the cult of ordinariness, a place in New York City where there wasn't any judgment. Even though I couldn't name the attractions I felt for other women, seeing Lance out and proud once he found his world in New York City gave me a vicarious sense of relief, even though I didn't know that my sexuality's hiding darkened my world.


When I heard that HBO had finished a docudrama based on the series, I awaited a chance to revisit the real reality tv that marked many weeks of my teens. Watching the original show, nothing felt scripted, nothing felt manipulated--it read real, at least to a fourteen year old needing to get out.

Unfortunately, "Cinema Verite," proves a far removed truth from the sentiment and originality of the series it seeks to understand. Even though stars fill the roles (Diane Lane and Tim Robbins), the script falls flat, feeling like the characters force feed themselves into their roles. I expected more cuts into the reality of the original series, entwining the former series with this interpretation of the original series' intentions. Instead, most of the 90 minutes ends up feeling like a scripted meta fest about the process of breaking ground for the world of reality television. It attempts to be a commentary on a cultural phenomenon, but falls flat into the world of artifice, losing the art that grew out of raw footage of a family.

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