Last night, I worked on a post as the strenuously empty Working Girl playing in the background; Mike Nichols, are you the same guy who directed the perfect Graduate? Sigh. Anyway, I stood up at movie’s end as a new HBO show premiered: The Neistat Brothers. I had every intention of turning it off, but after standing rooted to the spot for 5 minutes, I sat down.
It’s a confessional age. Some folks have a problem with the confessions themselves, something I’ve discovered lately; keep it to yourself, I’ve been admonished more than once. But art is life observed and then expressed with a particular point of view. Anyone who creates it can only work with what they got. So I don’t mind people baring their souls, lives, and even random obsessions; I just get annoyed when they present them sloppily.
What’s great about the Neistats is the care and delight they take with their subjects. Their work couldn’t really exist in an age that didn’t have a digital bag of tricks and a resource like the Web at its disposal. That’s a large part of the beauty of what they do; they are both completely of the moment and timeless. By being able to make a movie anywhere, about anything, and even more importantly to be able to complete it while your consciousness is still hot with impulse, you end up with work that is intimate, honest, and just plain new. The inevitable criticism – “Anybody could make these movies!” – is easily answered by “But nobody else did.”
The brothers’ unique autobiographical expression reminds me of what DP is doing now. Go to their site, click on a movie, and see if you can look away. And try to catch the HBO show. The choices of what films get chosen for a particular episode add another narrative element. The series is a quiet gem that can easily get lost in all the crap on that particular network. Try to catch it.