Friday, September 05, 2008

The Tapes of My Father

The Tapes of My Father
Directed by Robert Parrish

“In a way that familiar feeling of disappointment makes your new house a home.” Such are the documented words of a man whose life has been nothing short of miserable. And thus is the tone for this dark, inventive gem of a short film.

Robert Parrish’s The Tapes of My Father is (on paper) a man’s sympathetic tribute to his deceased father. We learn through archival footage that his dad worked as a newscaster for a television station. Later we are introduced to traces of his father’s troubled past through archived tapes. The tapes feature historically ambiguous black and white photos and video narrated by an artificially deepened voice assumed to be his father.

After a tongue-in-cheek, laughably cheesy opening homage to his father, Parrish immediately yanks our hearts from our bodies and corners us into a futile world of bitterness and extreme depression. The compilation of his father’s tapes begins with: “Statues make me depressed…because I’ll never do anything good enough to merit my own statue.” After spending a few seconds with his father we aren’t sure whether to cringe, laugh or cry.

But as time continues to pass…and his father’s grief remains constant…there is no longer any alternative but to submit to your gut, which is inevitably rooting for a belly laugh.

And if you’re not laughing then the joke’s on you. Parrish brilliantly utilizes seemingly random archived footage to construct a story without actually having any true-to-life characters. The dramatic contrast between the intensely melodramatic approach at the beginning of the film and the morbid second half which follows effectively positions the viewer in an emotionally uncomfortable position. And yet the uncompromising nature of the filmmaking makes it easy to acknowledge those who are indeed buying into the legitimacy of this piece.

Tapes of My Father was an official selection for the DC Shorts Film Festival and Rosebud Film & Video Festival. Its success stems from its original, experimental style of storytelling and brilliant execution in manipulating the hearts and minds of its viewers.

--Charlie Wachtel


Anonymous said...

The guy talking sounds like he should be in a horror movie. Maybe Saw 4. The guy sounds very depressed. It just goes to show you, however, that people aren't always what they appear from the outside. Although people in real life may not be as drastic as this guy, I'm sure many of us have our own secrets that no one else knows. That's what make people different.

Dr. Shirley said...

The impression one gets from the son's narrative is that of a loving tribute to a man whom the son views as ordinary but heroic. However, once the journal begins, we encounter a man who is haunted by his inner demons. Even the voice seems demonic! One has the urge to reach out to this man, to show him the beauty of life. But, alas, he is deceased--without even a statue to honor his memory.

Anonymous said...

There are more coherent ways to honor your dead father than by cursing repeatedly in a demonic voice. I'm not sure if this film is supposed to be a sarcastic attempt at helping the filmmaker experience closure with his father's death, or if, instead, it is the product of a filmmaker who is seriously demented. I don't think the film is funny at all. I also don't think it serves as a tribute to this guy's "father". In fact, the only thing I like about the film is the father's Selleck-esque moustache in the first 30 seconds.

Anonymous said...

at first I thought the video was drab and contrite but when then after sitting through the first minute, the video took a turn for the best. The language used was anything but boring and put a new spin on video about a loved one. I loved it.

Anonymous said...

clearly a dark attempt at humor

it appeared to be really boring and dull at first, i was pleasantly surprised by its dark twist