Nov 24, 2004
My name is Mike Wesley and I live in the UK - I felt compelled to drop you an e-mail having just received the dvd of FAMILY PORTRAITS. I'm stunned!!
Some friends and I were at a film festival in London in March of last year and witnessed CUTTING MOMENTS very early on a Sunday morning. All four of us were in shell shock after it's finale but eagerly discussing in the bar what we deemed as a startling,major,transgressive work...imagine my delight to find out from one of those friends that this dvd of the trilogy had recently been released.
Of the three,CUTTING..is the most shocking,HOME is the most upsetting,in some regards,but the reason I wanted to e-mail you can be summed up in one word:PROLOGUE. For my money,this may be the best short film I have ever seen...spare,perfect control of mood and pace,teasing the disturbing details out of the story in virtual still-life images,and deeply,deeply moving....were you influenced by Atom Egoyan's THE SWEET HEREAFTER? Your astonishing lead actress even looks a little like Sarah Polley.
A truly remarkable piece of work.I'm 38,have seen probably thousands of films,but few have affected me quite as deeply as this.. Anyway,best of luck for the future...should you wish to reply to this,I'd be delighted to hear from you. I gather you may be doing a version of SISTERS? Best of luck for this and hope to hear from you.
Best regards, Michael Wesley
Sep 2, 2004
My name's Miles and we met at the convention in Toronto (promised to buy your disc, you thought I was lyin'). I just finished watching Prologue and thought it was your best work of the trilogy. You managed to bring those feelings of isolation and inevitable change/catharsis/violence perfectly to a rural setting. I loved the use of space in your framing and the editing style is so effective (in all films in the trilogy). I think that your films would have lost nearly all of their "punch" if they had of been cut differently or conventionally. This may be true of a lot of films, but I find it particularly so when it comes to your work. I also was extremely impressed by "Home". In some ways I found it to be even more bleak/hopeless than Cutting Moments despite the lack of extreme (onscreen) violence. Anyhow, that's enough of the complementary whack-off. I do sincerely mean it though. Your films are some of the most important and relevant works being produced in North America today. I look forward to watching "Family Portraits" and seeing how you cut the three films together and I can't wait for your next project.
Take care, Miles Finlayson
Sep 1, 2004
I met you at the Toronto con and picked up a copy of the DVD. I just wanted you to know that I thought it was one of the most intelligent and emotionally impactful films I've seen in quite some time. Well, technically, three of the most impactful films I've seen in quite some time. I felt like I'd gotten my guts kicked out after watching it, but in a good way because it was honest. There are people who live *exactly* like those characters and I have no idea how you captured that. It was completely honest and I'm sure I'll be talking about it for months. I was happy to see that one of your influences was Bergman, because I saw that in the films, especially Prologue. I'm planning to show some of his movies at UB, if they let me. So, if that happens, I'll let you know about it, in case you're in the area at the time.
Aug 28, 2004
I'm a fan you might remember; I waited almost an hour for my wife to bring me money at the Rue Morgue fest. Well, we got home, had a nap, and threw in the disc(individual film disc).
I'm not going to critique or tell you anything you don't already know about your work. I'm just going to say thanks. Thanks for Prologue in particular, which defines why there shouldn't be "backs" on movies to read; let the tale be told.
It's been a long time since I've been afforded the opportunity to let the "quiet moments" wash over me; I guess Haneke's Funny Games and Kerrigan's Clean, Shaven would be my most recent experiences--this is good company, wouldn't you say??
I commit to spreading the vision of Doug Buck; best luck in future endeavours.
Thanks again, Shaun Lindsay.
Jul 28, 2004
I have just returned from viewing your film and I must say that I was impressed. I'm sure I would have enjoyed a genuine film print over the video projection however, which gave it a bit of a dull aesthetic. I sense that part of your intention was a kind of flat realism but more detailed textures were needed to bring it more to life. The acting was for the most part quite good with only a few off moments with the red haired actress playing the mother as well as the main antagonist. The father was excellent as was the antagonist's wife (we really WANTED her to blow his head off!) And of course, the female lead was excellent. It was an absorbing slow paced narrative and character study that became powerfully riveting during the hole digging sequence. And it featured the best use of art to illustrate a disturbing obsession I've ever seen in a film. The paintings did not feel like they were specifically comissioned for the film. Same goes for the photos. Very nice art direction throughout. I saw a few striking similarities to BLANKET OF SECRECY (Hey. Didn't I send you my script a couple of years ago. Hmmm... Kidding pal.) You'll see what I mean when my film is completed next year.
Regarding crowd reaction, I'd say the theatre was at half capacity and when your film ended there were murmurs of approval as there were for LA BOUCHE DE JEAN PIERRE which was also very effective and a good companion piece to yours. A double dose of sombre anxiety left us all pretty drained. Anyway, you are definitely developping in the right direction and deserve all the support you can get for your future personal projects.
Jul 28, 2004
Hello Douglas -
I wanted to let you know that I attended the Fantasia screening of your film 'Prologue' this evening, which double-billed with Lucile Hadzililovac's 'La Bouche de Jean-Pierre,' and was thoroughly impressed by it. Actually, the pairing of your film with Hadzililovac's film made for a very interesting screening. I will thank Mitch Davis for his insightful programming.
I found 'Prologue' to be quite daring in its thematic focus, but more than that, I was deeply moved by the film's pauses and silences, and by its deliberate pacing and quiet introspection. I was moved by how the film reaches deep down into the guts of small-town America in order to reveal its many pains, its complex sufferings, its haunting memories, and its cries of anguish. Actually, the Greek word used in the New Testament for compassion is 'splagchnizomai,'which comes form the noun 'splagchna,' which means guts, entrails, insides... In other words, compassion was understood as an emotion that is so visceral it can only be described in somatic terms (can you tell I'm a graduate student in religion?). I think your film achieves this kind of gut-experience with both characters: the young victim and her victimizer. And this is no easy task when your subject matter is a serial-killer, a man who must live with the creeping reality of all the suffering he has actualized in his community, and in his family.
The emotions your film portrays are often white-washed and domesticated in middle-class contexts. What I liked about the film is how these emotions are revealed in the gaps, or in-between the spoken words of your characters; it is here that compassion (from the Latin to suffer with) is often revealed. It's a powerful film. The last shot floored me. I guess I simply wanted to thank you.
Pax - Mario
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