By twhalliii | THE BACK ROW MANIFESTO by Tom Hall October 18, 2006 at 6:52AM
51 Birch Street, which opens today at the Cinema Village here in New York City, is a marvel. I was fortunate enough to see the film at last year's Toronto Film Festival and after talking with Director Doug Block at the festival, I was able to have the film and the film's subjects, Mike and Kitty Block, at the Sarasota Film Festival this past spring. I am so excited that audiences will be able to see the film on the big screen because it is a really rewarding cinematic experience; Bravo to Doug and Truly Indie for getting this wonderful film in theaters where it belongs.
Wedlock: Mike and Mina Block in Doug Block's 51 Birch Street
From my 2005 write-up:
"Block uses his camera to document his parent's marriage and, after his mother's death and his father's quick re-marriage to a former secretary, to uncover the hidden secerts of his parent's lives. This film should become a huge hit because its central question is universal; if you could learn everything about your parents' lives, would you really want to know? Block confronts this issue head-on when, upon his mother's sudden death, he discovers 20 years worth of her highly detailed journals which expose her unhappiness in her marriage to Block's father. The film is structured around the central mystery of the parent-child relationship, of our tendencies to idealize out parents, and Block's editing ends up making the film play almost like perfect fiction; by the time the movie has ended, our alliegances to the characters, our understanding of own desires, our opinion of Block himself have all shifted significantly."
Essential documentary filmmaking. Go and see for yourself.