Saturday, November 12, 2005


I recently saw Tarnation and I was so impressed that I'm in shock that I missed this movie when it came out in 2003.

Its a documentary of the life of Jonathan Caouette and his mentally ill mother and grandparents. At first I was a bit skeptical of the style of the film. It opens with Jonathan and his boyfriend in their apartment and they are speaking about a dream that Jonathan had about his mother while he was napping on the couch. I pressed the Info button on my TiVo remote to confirm that I was watching a documentary because the scene seemed too perfect to be in a documentary.

As the film progressed I began to learn that Jonathan had been keeping video diaries of his life since he was eleven years old. The intimate moment with his boyfriend was thus explained, he was still documenting his life. The movie also explains the horrifying manner in which his mother became mentally ill; a result of receiving unnecessary electro-shock treatment for many years of her life. I was captivated by the testimonials he would give as himself and as play characters in his video diaries from when he was a child. For an eleven year old boy growing up in Houston he had an amazing knowledge of the idiosyncratic nature of the people around him.

The best part of this movie is how snipits from Jonathan's video diaries are manipulated and edited and combined with music. Most of the story is told with captions while watching montages of images set to music. I thought it was fantastic.

I highly recommend this movie.


Blogger Jim said...

Damn... how did I miss this one!? I love documentaries. Will have to go look for it. :) Thanks man.

9:50 AM  
Blogger Scott Anthony said...

Tarnation is one of those movies that is just so in a league of its own. What child has the foresight to videotape his whole life, and the story to make that videotaping worthwhile, and then the skill and artistry to edit/splice years and years of tape together?

The movie got a little tedious in the middle, in my opinion, but I'm really glad it was a hit. It was pretty brilliant, and more than pretty unique.

1:18 AM  

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