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Friday, August 19, 2016

'Papirosen' DVD: This Argentinian Family

The awesome trio of August 23, 2016 DVD releases (including the Unreal TV reviewed documentary 'The Other Side') from foreign film god Film Movement includes the 2011 documentary 'Papirosn.' Movement nicely summarizes this film by describing it on the back cover of the release as follows. "Masterfully edited from nearly 200 hours of footage, 'Papirosen' represents a decade of filmmaking, and four generations of Argentine director Gaston Solnicki's family history."

The accolades for this documentary that meets the genre ideal of being equally informative and entertaining extend beyond the festival circuit awards to earning the distinction of being a 'New York Times' Critics' Pick.

As Movement additionally notes, Gaston directs (no pun intended) a great deal of the focus of "Papirosen" on his eccentric father Victor and on young Mateo, who is the nephew of Gaston and the grandson of Victor. An especially notable sequence has both Victor and Victor's mother making a shopping trip a day from Hell for the mother of Mateo. General crankiness and criticism are the related themes for that outing.

Other related (pun intended) universal frustration comes in the form of a discussion regarding the extent to which Mateo being a nephew entitles him to adoration, Victor getting amusingly fed up with both the lack of enthusiasm at a Passover Seder and his being filmed for the documentary is another highlight. The hilarious sarcasm that Victor directs at the camera man further contributes to the entertainment value of "Papirosen."

The charming scenes between aforementioned stars Victor and Mateo include Victor rousing a sleepy and cranky Mateo out of bed and Victor singing this grandson a song that is central to the title of the film. These moments validate the theory that people often make better grandparents than parents.

On a more serious note, Gaston's grandmother Pola tells the distressing story of hiding out in Europe during the rise of the Nazi party and then fleeing to Argentina with some relatives; learning of family members who do not make it out is powerful. Vintage home movies (including charming footage of what looks to be a '70s era Bar Mitzvah) and old photos add wonderful depth to the reminiscences.

Channeling the voice of Movement regarding the "why we choose ..." essay that typically accompanies the DVD selection in the awesome Movement "Film of the Month Club," "Papirosen" is an excellent portrait of four-generations of a family in a county that becomes their home out of a need to flee their country of origin. Further, each member of that clan is just like our grandmother, our father, our nephew, etc.

Anyone with questions or comments regarding "Papirosen" is encouraged to email me; you can also connect on Twitter via @tvdvdguy.