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Home Theater Movie Renter's Guide - January, 2011

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"Catfish" (Blu-ray) - Reviewed by Chris Eberle

movie-january-2011-catfish

Synopsis

Two young filmmakers decide to make a documentary about the life of Yaniv Schulman their co-worker (and brother).  In the course of the project, Yaniv becomes involved with an eight-year-old artist, her mother and her 19-year-old half-sister.  They maintain a long-distance relationship through Facebook, and with texts and the occasional phone call.  After a few months, Yaniv decides to surprise them by showing up in Michigan unannounced.  What happens next is something the filmmakers never expected.  Let’s just say it will make you question what you think you know about people on the Internet.

Specifications

  • Universay Studios
  • 2010, Color, Rated PG-13, 1 Hr 28 min
  • Aspect Ratio:  1.85:1
  • Codec:  VC1
  • 1080p
  • English, DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1
  • Starring: Yaniv Schulman, Megan Faccio, Melody C. Roscher, Ariel Schulman
  • Directed by Ariel Schulman, Henry Joost
    Rating
  • Entertainment:
  • Video:
  • Audio:
  • Extras:
  • Violence: No
  • Sex: Suggestive
  • Language: Mild

Commentary

Catfish is shot in a freeform documentary style.  It is meant to be a reality-type look at Yaniv’s life as he lives it.  Mostly he interacts with the person behind the camera but you see him talk to other people in the shot as well.  Even though the camera is handheld, shaking is minimal.  I did not experience any fatigue from excessive movement.  This film genre is not really my thing but I did find myself being drawn in and within a half hour or so, I really wanted to see how it turned out.  Yaniv is not really a character I identified with but I was impressed at the maturity he showed in a difficult situation.  There is some speculation online that this entire project was staged and scripted but it sure looked real to me.  If the people in this movie are actors, they did an extremely convincing job playing their roles.  Perhaps Catfish will become one of those great Hollywood mysteries.  Was it fake?  Was it real?  We may never know.

Technical

The entire movie was filmed with consumer-grade handheld video cameras.  The image therefore ranges in quality from poor to OK.  Color is natural and consistent throughout.  There is one nighttime scene which looks pretty good given it’s only lit with a car’s headlights.  Indoor clips show moderate noise in keeping with the cameras’ poor low-light performance.  As I said above, shake was kept to a minimum and the action remains stable most of the time.

Audio is OK given that only small clip-on or camera mounted microphones are used.  Music is sparse and only present during transitional material.  The score is written by Mark Mothersbough and makes great use of mallet percussion.  Other sound effects are simply environmental; nothing seems added or faked.  Dialog is often muffled or distant but subtitles are used whenever this happens so you won’t miss a single word!

Extras

The only bonus feature is an on-screen interview with the filmmakers.