Author Topic: Dear Zachary: A Letter to a Son About His Father  (Read 5964 times)

duder

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Dear Zachary: A Letter to a Son About His Father
« on: February 26, 2009, 07:02:42 PM »
Just wanted to answer this without spoiling it for others.

It is structured so that the emotional impact will be intense and unexpected. I feel a bit manipulated.

Yeah, it is definitely manipulative, but I'm not sure that's a negative thing. As it becomes clear that the movie is as much a means for Kuenne to deal with his own grief and channel his resentment as it is a tribute to his friend, and as it shifts from a letter to Andrew's son to a letter to Andrew's parents, it makes sense to me that he would want us to be hit by every single event in the same way they were. And he succeeds in doing just that, judging by your emotional devastation grade :) Whether that makes the movie closer to a fiction film than a documentary or not I don't know, but I don't really care either. It is what it is.
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skjerva

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Re: Dear Zachary: A Letter to a Son About His Father
« Reply #1 on: February 26, 2009, 07:22:50 PM »
dude, did you actually like this one?

sure it's a sad story, but it's constructed in such a hyper-saccharine (ham-fisted) way that i actually became a bit less caring.

i was really bothered by the dad's repeated statements about "killing that bitch" and this and that "that bitch" - there was a ton of misogyny seeping out of that guy.  while i understand his anger and grief, i still don't think the way he expressed it was appropriate (and i do think the filmmaker is also responsible for perpetuating the misogyny).

any time a film feels the need to use the same footage over and over - and not to make a point about the footage - i get  a bit irritated - that was just hella lazy and irritating.

then there was the overall typical "he was too young to die" crap.  you know what - young folks die all the time - it sucks.  i'd say the movie leaned a bit too heavily on this kind of stuff.

and, as much as it sucks, that doesn't mean that someone has to pay.  clearly this woman was whack, but this movie was too much about vengeance and making her pay.  i thought that was pretty uncomfortable the way almost everything about the film embraced this very conservative philosophy about crime and punishment.

ick ick ick

the only thing the film had going for it was (finding itself in) a sensational story
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FroHam X

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Re: Dear Zachary: A Letter to a Son About His Father
« Reply #2 on: February 26, 2009, 08:07:32 PM »
i was really bothered by the dad's repeated statements about "killing that bitch" and this and that "that bitch"

I'm pretty sure in his grief and anger he is not thinking about the potentially misogynist things he is saying, nor do I think they matter.

At first I was feeling as though the film was being particularly manipulative with regards to Shirley. I don't necessarily mean with regards to making the audience feel a certain way about her (because I felt the hatred immediately,) but more from the perspective of whether this would be right to show Zachary. The "twist" is somewhat manipulative, but at the same time it is not presented in an emotional way (at least not immediately.) I think the point of having the twist was the create a sense of shock that the people involved must have experienced a thousand times over. It also adds to the sense of outrage the film is attempting to elicit with regards to the obvious failings of the Canadian legal system as well as child-protection system. That twist also turned around my opinion on the manipulation of the view of Shirley. Whereas at first I thought it was a bit much to show a son this kind of rage directed towards his mother, when it was revealed that Zachary is no longer alive I understood that the documentary no longer needed to remain silent in its anger. This was both a film to tell a story and to create a feeling that something must be done about this kind of situation. But ultimately this is a film made to deal with the grief of terrible loss in the face of possibly worse circumstances and at that it totally succeeds. The emotions in the film run the gamut from joy to grief to rage to hope to loss to shock, and it is all expressed through the people interviewed for the film as well as the lens of the film itself. It is an emotional experience from start to finish, and that is really what it is meant to be; even more so than simply telling the story that so obviously needs to be told.


then there was the overall typical "he was too young to die" crap.  you know what - young folks die all the time - it sucks.  i'd say the movie leaned a bit too heavily on this kind of stuff.

and, as much as it sucks, that doesn't mean that someone has to pay.  clearly this woman was whack, but this movie was too much about vengeance and making her pay.  i thought that was pretty uncomfortable the way almost everything about the film embraced this very conservative philosophy about crime and punishment.

I sort of take offense to that first statement. The film itself didn't seem to dwell on "too young to die" much at all. It is said by a number of the people in the film, but then what the hell else are they supposed to say? It is a tragedy any time somebody leaves the world too soon and so it is a tragedy in this specific case. Nothing wrong with highlighting that sad fact at least in part.

And as for the second part. Justice encompasses a lot of things, and part of that is retribution in at least some part. There is absolutely nothing at all wrong with the family members wishing she would pay or she would die or to kill her themselves. Nothing at all. In fact they are better people for recognizing that that is not how life should work. The film didn't embrace any sort of conservative leaning. It simply displayed an outrage with a failed justice system that neither delivered justice, nor protected the live of a young child. In fact the major point made on that subject at the end of the film was not that she should have rotten in jail, but that the one judge was fundamentally wrong in not recognizing the dangers posed by Shirley Turner and the need to have her kept off the streets and away from the public.

Also, being a Canadian, I was very happy about how Canada and the Canadian systems were treated with an even hand. The film never puts the blame on Canada as many sensational films might have. instead it places the blame on very specific failings withing the system. They are failings that could easily have occurred the other way around in the US and I was happy to see that the film didn't resort to pointing fingers like that.
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duder

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Re: Dear Zachary: A Letter to a Son About His Father
« Reply #3 on: February 26, 2009, 09:49:18 PM »
dude, did you actually like this one?

sure it's a sad story, but it's constructed in such a hyper-saccharine (ham-fisted) way that i actually became a bit less caring.

Yeah, I did. And I agree, it is ham-fisted. It also made me feel exactly like it wanted me to feel (especially after it changes gears two thirds in). If it didn't work for you, then that's fine, not much I can say. 


i was really bothered by the dad's repeated statements about "killing that bitch" and this and that "that bitch" - there was a ton of misogyny seeping out of that guy.  while i understand his anger and grief, i still don't think the way he expressed it was appropriate (and i do think the filmmaker is also responsible for perpetuating the misogyny).

then there was the overall typical "he was too young to die" crap.  you know what - young folks die all the time - it sucks.  i'd say the movie leaned a bit too heavily on this kind of stuff.

and, as much as it sucks, that doesn't mean that someone has to pay.  clearly this woman was whack, but this movie was too much about vengeance and making her pay.  i thought that was pretty uncomfortable the way almost everything about the film embraced this very conservative philosophy about crime and punishment.

Again, I agree with a lot of what you say, and again (again), it was one of the reasons why I liked it. It is completely biased in how it paints Andrew and Shirley as an angel and a demon, respectively. It is offensive. It is uncomfortable. It is unreasonable. Most importantly though, for me, it's pure, unfiltered human emotion. Primal, instinctive; unapologetically so. That's what makes it special.

But if you want to focus on whether or not these people deserve sympathy/respect/admiration/whatever, I have to say, I don't feel that I'm in a position to judge them. I don't know what I'd do if I were in their situation. I don't lean conservative, but I am human. If you're sure you wouldn't want to see someone pay for taking both your son and grandson away from you, then you're either naive or you're a better man than I am. Either way, not liking the movie because the dad says 'bitch' a lot and the filmmaker shows him saying 'bitch' a lot, and because everyone's really angry at her? I don't know what to say. It's not a question of agreeing or disagreeing; we're not even on the same wavelenght.

any time a film feels the need to use the same footage over and over - and not to make a point about the footage - i get  a bit irritated - that was just hella lazy and irritating.

I thought the editing was the movie's strongest asset :-\

I'm four hours into the 27th; happy birthday :)
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Re: Dear Zachary: A Letter to a Son About His Father
« Reply #4 on: March 01, 2009, 11:40:51 PM »
Just saw this film. and wow.

Yes, it is a bit manipulative.  But once you realize the whole story, I don't understand how anyone could feel any different.   The woman in the film deserves to be shown in a bad light. I would feel a little angry if she was given a fair shake.  Because she doesn't deserve it.

It's a beautifully made film.  I can't remember the last time I was so happy and sad, infuriated and hopeful at the same time.
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Rufish

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Re: Dear Zachary: A Letter to a Son About His Father
« Reply #5 on: March 27, 2009, 03:32:17 PM »
Dear Zachary was quite an experience. I think any movie that can involve me that much is worthy of praise, but I do agree with a few things said above.

Yes, the manipulative nature of the direction was blatant, and at times it was too much (repeating and/or pausing scenes and some of the narration really emphasized the agenda) but it's inevitable that it would be a slanted story. It's a first-time filmmaker's journey into hell, essentially. His emotions are apparent, if not by his own words, by the way he tells his story. It may not be a better documentary because he doesn't let the facts speak for themselves, but it's still good (to me) because he is blatantly a character within the story, too, and he never ignores that fact.

It reminds me of a documentary I didn't particularly like from last year: My Kid Could Paint That. There was a short scene where the filmmaker shoots himself rambling about his personal struggle with how to handle the story at hand, and how it could affect the success of his story. It felt hugely out of place and inappropriate, and was the last straw in what I felt was a pretty forgettable flick. Dear Zachary's director is up front all the time about his intentions and wears his heart on his sleeve the entire time, in the editing, his choices in timelines and the over-the-top music.

I guess what I'm trying to say is, as a viewer, that I knew what he was doing gave me a different outlook on the movie as a whole. If I felt the filmmaker was being subtle or dodgy about his intentions, it would have bothered me more, but all signs pointed to: this is the best representation of how I experienced this crazy CINECAST!ing circus in my life.

I do agree entirely that the repeated use of the grandfather calling that woman a bitch was completely unnecessary. I think it had the reverse effect of what was intended.

Forgive my rambling...
« Last Edit: December 19, 2010, 02:12:34 AM by Rufish »
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TaylorRoesch

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Re: Dear Zachary: A Letter to a Son About His Father
« Reply #6 on: December 29, 2009, 11:04:09 PM »
This film was definitely an experience. 

You could tell that this was his first documentary film.  You were beaten over the head constantly every time something happened.  Nothing was allowed to play out for you.  It all had to be explained. 


That said, the film was consistent, well-structured, and its style matched the story well.  I was enraged after seeing it.


skjerva

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Re: Dear Zachary: A Letter to a Son About His Father
« Reply #7 on: December 29, 2009, 11:10:11 PM »
You could tell that this was his first documentary film.  You were beaten over the head constantly every time something happened.  Nothing was allowed to play out for you.  It all had to be explained. 

But I wish the public could, in the midst of its pleasures, see how blatantly it is being spoon-fed, and ask for slightly better dreams. 
                        - Iris Barry from "The Public's Pleasure" (1926)

oldkid

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Re: Dear Zachary: A Letter to a Son About His Father
« Reply #8 on: December 31, 2009, 11:33:53 AM »
This film was definitely an experience. 

That said, the film was consistent, well-structured, and its style matched the story well.  I was enraged after seeing it.

This.
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skjerva

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Re: Dear Zachary: A Letter to a Son About His Father
« Reply #9 on: December 31, 2009, 12:59:11 PM »
This film was definitely an experience. 

That said, the film was consistent, well-structured, and its style matched the story well.  I was enraged after seeing it.

This.

so not that
But I wish the public could, in the midst of its pleasures, see how blatantly it is being spoon-fed, and ask for slightly better dreams. 
                        - Iris Barry from "The Public's Pleasure" (1926)

 

love