Jump to content

Catfish (2010)


Persona
 Share

Recommended Posts

I really liked this one... But it's the second time I've used the "F" word this year. I thought I was only creating a term this time. Will you love me or hate me for it? :)

From the most recent Non-lollipop-Docs at Filmsweep, the little place I now call home...

There's a moment in the middle of Catfish when it hits you that the film could go practically anywhere. It's a fun moment because you're never really certain where you stand with the film anyway. Is it a documentary? A prankumentary? A f***-u-mentary? What kind of a "mentary" is this?

With Exit Through the Gift Shop and I'm Still Here, 2010 has already given its fair share of new school thought that says, "I am going to tell my story whether it's true or not. I hope you enjoy the story." It was a blast of artistic irony and comedy in Banksy's hilarious offering Exit Through the Gift Shop. It was insufferable, miserable, a life gone wrong and right in your face in I'm Still Here. Catfish differs from both of these. It's neither a comedic delight nor an assaultive mess, but for what it's worth, I think I actually smiled through the entire first half of it.

The moment I mentioned is so much fun because you realize that honestly, at this point in the story, anything can happen, which is weird to think in a documentary-style film. We don't normally think that a monster or a serial killer is going to pop out of the woods during a Michael Moore film. We don't think an ATF helicopter might descend on an investigative Errol Morris-type scene of some young men from NYC driving in upper peninsula Michigan at night. A deer might cross their path, and they might hit it and wreck their rental -- but surely that'd be found in a Herzog doc -- not here. Right?

What really amazed me at the end of Catfish was the division of emotions segregated inside me as I watched from beginning to end. I followed the main character Nev from surprise and astonishment, to amazement and infatuation, to fear, to discovery and back to fear (a different kind), to identifying with another, to sadness and wonderment and finally astonishment again -- all in 94 minutes. Many movies do this. They play with our emotions and take us on a roller coaster ride of feeling. But for some reason in Catfish it feels like each emotion is its own chapter. It's divided so clearly it feels like the emotions are running the show.

And perhaps they are. Perhaps there's more manipulation here than at first we were led to believe. But I don't think it matters, if we surrender to the story. All art is a lie, yes? All art has to lie a little to get to a form of truth.

So Catfish is a story, whether truth or lie, that kind of piggy backs off The Social Network, a social myth of sorts, fusing into a first person My Kid Could Paint That (a great docu-DVD rental), and kind of round off as a make-up session after all the dumb Immatures just exploded on an ego-fueled reality show. It's the story of a talented eight year-old painter, maybe. Or maybe it's the story of painter girl's 19 year-old sister, who is just too good to be true. (Note the forum.) It is definitely a story of internet sociality and deceit, but above all it's about dealing with that great big Hole -- that needing, searching Hole you've felt when something was stolen from you, or when a relationship falls apart. It's the -- "what happened?" that's left unanswered, trying to find out where things went wrong.

It's that nagging need to figure out just how you were duped, and why. Film it in DV and send it from New York City to Michigan, cuz that's really what Catfish is about.

In an interstellar burst, I am back to save the Universe.

Filmsweep by Persona. 2013 Film Journal. IlPersona.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

  • 1 month later...

The Last Psychiatrist reviews analyzes Catfish.

"The problem of perspective is the true caution of the movie, missed by everyone. We value Nev's perspective more because he made the movie, but also because it features (not just uses) cameras, Google Maps, all of which are signals of neutrality, objectivity. If someone else made the movie about him and these events, you'd be aware of his insanity immediately. But by cleverly making the movie a POV, you're drawn into seeing things only his way."

And my favorite line:

"The critics will deftly signal without spoiling that this isn't really a horror movie. Let me correct that right now: it is absolutely a horror movie. Fortunately for Angela, the psychopaths just happen to be pussies."
Link to comment
Share on other sites

Haven't read the full review, but from those quips, he dudn't get it.

In an interstellar burst, I am back to save the Universe.

Filmsweep by Persona. 2013 Film Journal. IlPersona.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

  • 2 weeks later...

EXCLUSIVE: New Lawsuit Seeks to Expose Truth Behind 'Catfish'

Ever since Catfish premiered at Sundance in January, the documentary has engendered controversy. Made for just $30,000, it grossed more than $3 million and has left audiences scrambling to figure out whether the amazing story being told is just an elaborate hoax.

We might get an answer to that question, thanks to a lawsuit filed today in U.S. District Court in Los Angeles against distributors Universal and Relativity Media, as well as the directors and producers of the film. The lawsuit filed by Threshold Media seeks statutory damages and profits from the defendants and an injunction. . . .

In one of the crucial scenes of Catfish, Angela-posing-as-Megan sends Nev a song that she claims to be hers. It wasn’t, of course. In truth, it was a YouTube version of the song All Downhill From Here by singer-songwriter Amy Kuney, who is signed to Spin Move Records, owned by Threshold Media Corp. Later in the film, during the closing credits, Kuney's entire song is again played.

At first, Spin Move seemed proud of Kuney’s quasi-involvement in the film, touting it on its website. But the record label soon removed the post.

For some time now, Threshold has been attempting to get filmmakers to pay licensing fees for the song. According to the new copyright infringement lawsuit, the producers have rejected doing so. According to Threshold’s LA lawyer, Neville Johnson, the producers claimed that since the song was part of a real-life documentary, it was a “fair use” of the copyright.

But what if those were staged scenes – and filmmakers knowingly exploited a copyrighted song? Wouldn’t the “fair use” defense crumble? . . .

Hollywood Reporter, December 3

Suit claims 'Catfish' isn't a doc -- and that filmmakers should pay up

Threshold is seeking statutory damages, profits and an injunction. The company maintains that "Catfish" is not a documentary, and therefore the fair use doctrine -- which would allow her song to be used without compensation -- does not come into play.

"I don’t think it’s a legitimate documentary because they’re filming a movie about themselves and there was no public interest in this," explained Neville Johnson, one of Threshold's lawyers.

Reached at his office Friday, Ariel Schulman said Johnson's logic was flawed.

"That's pretty interesting. I didn't realize that was not allowed in the definition of documentary," said Schulman, co-director of the film. "I think a documentary is the account of a true story, which this is."

But Donald Zachary, an intellectual property lawyer who teaches media law at the University of Southern California, said that legally, the question of whether the film is a documentary is pertinent.

The fair use doctrine, Zachary said, looks at the "purpose and character" of the song's use.

“The filmmaker will argue it’s a documentary: It serves an educational purpose. It’s designed to elucidate some aspect of society. It’s more like news than entertainment,” he said. “The other side will argue that this is just people filming themselves. It’s a vanity project. Boy pursues girl, boy loses girl, who turns out to be someone she said she wasn’t.” . . .

Los Angeles Times, December 3

"Sympathy must precede belligerence. First I must understand the other, as it were, from the inside; then I can critique it from the outside. So many people skip right to the latter." -- Steven D. Greydanus
Now blogging at Patheos.com. I can also still be found at Facebook, Twitter and Flickr. See also my film journal.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

  • 2 months later...

Fascinating film. I was shocked how much tenderness I felt toward some of these characters at certain points in the story.

I watched the movie on my laptop. If anybody hasn't seen the film, and is interested, may I say that is DEFINITELY the way to watch Catfish.

I've posted a couple hundred of my Soul Food Movies write-ups at letterboxd

Link to comment
Share on other sites

  • 1 month later...

I watched this last night, and I'll agree with Ron. On a laptop is the way to watch it. FWIW, the DVD has an interview with the three director/stars in which they all insist everything in the movie is real and nothing was staged or reshot. I'm not sure if I believe them, but I don't care too much, either; it's a fascinating story either way.

It's the side effects that save us.
--The National, "Graceless"
Twitter Blog

Link to comment
Share on other sites

I watched this last night, and I'll agree with Ron. On a laptop is the way to watch it. FWIW, the DVD has an interview with the three director/stars in which they all insist everything in the movie is real and nothing was staged or reshot. I'm not sure if I believe them, but I don't care too much, either; it's a fascinating story either way.

The lawsuit keeps their mouths tightly shut at this point. Even if they wanted to come out and tell an audience what was staged, they couldn't. "Fair use" of the song would be out of the picture, and the courts would rule in favor of infringement of copyright laws.

Letterman noted the same thing when Phoenix appeared on his show, claiming that the makers of I'm Still Here owed him "a million bucks" due to the fact that his show was used in a faux documentary without a licensing fee paid for the Letterman footage in that movie. The difference perhaps being that Letterman is too well known to get his show tied down in what may be viewed as a trivial lawsuit, but Catfish and its makers and the people suing over the infringement have no loving public to take interest.

Edited by Persona

In an interstellar burst, I am back to save the Universe.

Filmsweep by Persona. 2013 Film Journal. IlPersona.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

  • 4 months later...

Relativity Hit With Second 'Catfish' Lawsuit as Legal Fight Becomes More Bizarre (Exclusive)

Ryan Kavanaugh's company is blaming a top Hollywood lawyer for spawning a quickly developing legal campaign over music used in the film.

Hollywood Reporter, August 19

"Sympathy must precede belligerence. First I must understand the other, as it were, from the inside; then I can critique it from the outside. So many people skip right to the latter." -- Steven D. Greydanus
Now blogging at Patheos.com. I can also still be found at Facebook, Twitter and Flickr. See also my film journal.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

  • 1 month later...

MTV Orders Two Scripted, Four Reality Series

On the unscripted front, MTV added Catfish, based on the Sundance darling by the same name. It will be shepherded to the small screen by original filmmaker/star Nev Schulman. Produced by RelativityReal, Tom Forman, Schulman, Ariel Schulman, Henry Joost, Marc Smerling, Andrew Jarecki, Brad Bishop and Jonathan Karsh will executive produce. MTV's Dave Sirulnick, Marshall Eisen and Nomi Leidner will exec produce for MTV, with Jonathan Mussman serving as the executive in charge for the network.

"The great thing about Catfish for us it¹s an incredibly 'now' topic, and I think it will really impact our audience exactly where they live, which is online," Janollari told THR. "So much of our audience is meting people and fostering relationships and conducting lives on the Internet. In the way that the movie exposed the good and the bad of the mystery of online relationships, the series will do the same thing." . . .

Hollywood Reporter, September 16

"Sympathy must precede belligerence. First I must understand the other, as it were, from the inside; then I can critique it from the outside. So many people skip right to the latter." -- Steven D. Greydanus
Now blogging at Patheos.com. I can also still be found at Facebook, Twitter and Flickr. See also my film journal.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Join the conversation

You can post now and register later. If you have an account, sign in now to post with your account.

Guest
Reply to this topic...

×   Pasted as rich text.   Paste as plain text instead

  Only 75 emoji are allowed.

×   Your link has been automatically embedded.   Display as a link instead

×   Your previous content has been restored.   Clear editor

×   You cannot paste images directly. Upload or insert images from URL.

 Share

×
×
  • Create New...