July 28, 2005

Enough About Me, Let's Talk About Me

There's something about the autobiographical impulse that is so darn appealing. Not for the audience always, but surely for the artist. Because really, is there anything more fascinating than ourselves and our neurosis? Certainly not says the essayist, memoirist, blogger and autobiographical documentarian.

Cinecultist watched tonight Sherman's March by Ross McElwee, a movie from 1986 about McElwee's travels through his native South following the route of Sherman's March to the Sea and about McElwee's search for a wife. The film won best documentary at the Sundance Film Festival that year and it's not hard to see why, as it's an incredibly compelling navel gazing that runs over 2 and half hours long.

It sort of feels like a Nick Hornby book on screen with less pop culture references and is much better than like minded ilk such as that dreadful 50 First Dates* or My Date With Drew (which CC hasn't seen yet but just looks sucky). There's a fine line between self-absorbed and universal in it's miniscule examinings. Fortunately this movie stays on the good side of the law.

We particularly loved the looks everyone's sporting without any self-consciousness. 1986 was a fashion minefield, people -- if you don't recall. High waisted jeans, huge sunglasses, feathered hair and roller skates as the height of sporty chic. Ye-ouch. Also, McElwee is a bit obsessed with Burt Reynolds in the movie, after one of the girls he's dating who's an actress thinks meeting Reynolds would help her floundering career. CC kept picturing the old guy in promo pictures for Dukes of Hazzard wearing Tom Wolfe's white suits but in '86, Reynolds was hot stuff especially to Southern women. He's like their Brad Pitt, but with a mustache.

Despite the dating of the material with these silly references, Sherman's March is wonderfully human and engaging. Trying to find lasting love, and hopefully yourself in the process, is a subject that doesn't get old even if the hairstyles and celluloid hunks do.

* We're thinking not of the Sandler/Barrymore rom com but that documentary from 8 or 9 years ago where the guy filmed all of his first dates and then met a nice girl and settled down? Is this ringing a bell with anyone? Please email if so. Update: readers Kristi and Josh clued us in that we mean 20 Dates (1998). Thanks guys!

Posted by karen at July 28, 2005 11:20 PM