Family MattersFilmfest movies explore domestic pain
Each unhappy family, observed Leo Tolstoy in his opening line to “Anna Karenina,” is unhappy in its own way. With so many varieties of familial misery, then, Aspen Filmfest could not possibly portray them all. But Filmfest 2004 has squeezed in about as many portraits of domestic intranquility as possible.Jonathan Caouette’s “Tarnation” (to be screened today, Friday, Oct. 1, at 9 p.m. at the Wheeler Opera House) lays bare the filmmaker’s life of struggle with mental illness, abuse and misfortune. The low-budget film – made, reportedly, for $218 – is a self-portrait of Caouette’s life, from his childhood outside of Houston to his current existence in New York City, that shies away not an iota from his schizophrenic mother, his tormented grandparents, and his own struggles with his identity.In “Dear Frankie” (which was screened in Aspen Wednesday night, and shows at Glenwood Springs’ Springs Theatre Saturday, Oct. 2, at 7 p.m.), a mother (Emily Mortimer) goes to extreme lengths to protect her 9-year-old deaf son from the truth about his absent father. The documentary “Born Into Brothels,” which was screened yesterday, looks at the abused, outcast, but surprisingly resilient children of prostitutes in Calcutta’s red-light district. On Wednesday, as part of the Spotlight on Michael Douglas segment, Filmfest showed the 1993 film “Falling Down,” with Douglas as a disillusioned, delusional father, fighting his way through the Los Angeles ‘hood and against his ex-wife’s wishes to get to his daughter’s fifth birthday party.”The Wool Cap” (today, noon, at the Wheeler, offered as the Free Community Preview) stars William H. Macy – who also co-wrote the script – as a mute building superintendent who becomes caretaker of a troubled young girl. “Around the Bend” (Saturday, Oct. 2, 5 p.m., at the Wheeler; and Sunday, Oct. 3, 7 p.m. at the Springs Theatre) is a portrait of four generations of the Lair family, focusing on the strained relations between a single father (Josh Lucas) and the father (Christopher Walken) who abandoned him years earlier.Stewart Oksenhorn’s e-mail address is email@example.com
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