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film review: Catfish

Reviews
by Leonard Maltin
September 17, 2010 3:58 AM
4 Comments
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If nothing else, Catfish may win awards for the most effective advertising and promotional campaign of the year. The buzz on this movie has been exceptionally loud, which is all the more unusual because no one seem to know what it’s about. Several people who have seen the trailer (HERE) have told me it’s reminiscent of The Blair Witch Project, which in fact it isn’t.

It’s a difficult film to review because I don’t want to give too much away. Maintaining its central “secret” isn’t a gimmick; it’s essential to a viewer’s ability to enjoy the picture. That said, I watched it for a second time last week with my class at USC and actually liked it better than I did the first time around: I took note of the clever way the filmmakers presented their story (including use of music, graphics, etc.) and appreciated more fully how they dealt with the unexpected events that presented—

—themselves as their spontaneous story unfolded.

Catfish is indelibly a product of the modern era of communication and technology. Filmmakers Henry Joost and Ariel Schulman find that their habit of continually shooting video of each other—and especially Ariel’s brother Nev—has resulted in a great story that just might be worthy of a feature film. Nev’s obsessive texting and e-mailing to an 8-year-old girl in Michigan, and her family, is just the first step in this high-tech adventure. But as technology gives way to human contact, all three participants realize that the material they’ve stumbled onto is sensitive and potentially hurtful; it’s how they respond that makes Catfish so interesting and worthwhile.

I’m sorry that this review is vague, but if you see the film I think you’ll understand. Catfish may not be an “important” documentary, but it is an emblematic (and cautionary) story of our times, and well worth seeing.

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4 Comments

  • phil | September 9, 2011 8:12 AMReply

    i started to watch it on satalite and at first was totaly glued to my remote.every time i changed the chanel, i had to change back. once the ruse was un-covered i felt like a bigger idiot than the morons that traveled half way cross country,by planes, trains,and automobiles! i cant think of any film that i sat and watched, with an initial interest,that turned out to be a total waste of time. perhaps something promoting sarah palin or michele bachman, thats the feeling i was left with.i think the only reason that it possibly could have been released had to be to recoup the money these two fools spent chasing some internet fantasy that they couldnt believe they fell for. dont waste your time, i feel i should send them a bill for wasting mine!

  • jazz | September 21, 2010 11:30 AMReply

    Want to see the Catfish Movie in your hometown? Demand it here: http://bit.ly/9V2vk1

  • mcg | September 21, 2010 3:58 AMReply

    okay...so is there no 8 yr old girl????? just a sick old card carrying member of the "Hair on your pupil club"

  • DAVID BURTON MORRIS | September 17, 2010 9:16 AMReply

    THAT TRAILER AS FAR AS I COULD TELL HAD ABSOLUTELY NOTHING IN COMMON WITH THE FILM'S SYNOPSIS THAT I JUST READ FROM MALTIN. IT'S A BIG HUH?

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