Tell Them Who You Are

"Excellent"

Tell Them Who You Are Review


Unlike most independent film directors, I have a pretty great relationship with my father. We meet once a week for dinner, we are very open about our work and our relationships, and, maybe most important, we understand each other on a very equal plane. I doubt this would have been very different if he had been famous in any right, but who am I to make such projections. What I know is that we're both very impressed and happy with how each other have turned out. Whether Mark Wexler and his appropriately named father, Haskell, see each other in these terms is a question that becomes the focus of the documentary Tell Them Who You Are.

The title comes from an insistence of Mark's mother when he is too shy to say hello to a celebrity; she says "Tell them who you are! Tell them you're Haskell Wexler's son!" For those who don't know, Haskell Wexler has been widely recognized as a great cinematographer. He worked on films like American Graffiti, Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf?, and last year's Silver City, and was fired from both Francis Ford Coppola's The Conversation and Milos Forman's One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest. Why was he fired? More than likely, it was because he's a pain in the ass the likes of which have never been seen. He's judgmental, quick to call names, impatient, quick tempered, and a mighty big liberal, although he'd probably lose it if you called him that. Mark documented the relationship between he and his father from 2002 till the beginning of 2004, using interviews with Haskell and several high-end celebrities.

Mark loves Haskell, Haskell loves Mark, and there's no arguing that. The film wants to look more at how they work in terms of identity and belief. Haskell is as liberal as they come and questions authority like it's his job (it sorta is). Mark is much more on the right and believes in America as it is. Haskell, with age and wisdom, understands his son trying to get a rise out of him by telling him that he is going on air force one with Bush Jr. and giving him a picture of himself and Bush Sr. for his birthday. He is still a frantic troublemaker, but he understands the situation more and therefore, reacts to things with a much calmer heading. If this wasn't enough, Tell Them Who You Are is also an expert study on the job of a cinematographer. Easily one of the most overlooked jobs in the business; we see how close the director and the cinematographer worked together and how close they are in skill. Haskell insists that he could have directed all the films he worked on better than the people who actually directed them. You can't help but be impressed by Haskell, however; he's still a complete rebel at the age of nearly 84 and he doesn't seem to be slowing down at all. There are few scenes this year that will hit you like Haskell's visit with Marianne, Mark's mother (an Alzheimer's patient). It's the one scene where we see Haskell without the politics or emotion shielding and see him as a vulnerable male. It's stunning.

If you really want to see Jane Fonda's comeback, watch this film. She, among a slew of the Hollywood who's who, gives the most insight into the differences between father and son, along with what one has to prove to the other. You can't help but feel a little sad at the film's inclusion of the late, great Conrad Hall, without a doubt my favorite cinematographer of all time. Hall and Wexler were best friends for years and the film takes time to see Hall's personal relationship to both Haskell and his son, even though he was outspokenly apolitical. Tell Them Who You Are is a film about getting over our beliefs and centering on people as people. Without being judged or condemned, we see Haskell, Mark, Conrad, and all their high-end friends without the shroud of celebrity and with a palpable air of honesty. It's a rare film of startling sincerity.



Tell Them Who You Are

Facts and Figures

Run time: 95 mins

In Theaters: Friday 2nd June 2006

Distributed by: ThinkFilm

Reviews

Contactmusic.com: 4 / 5

Rotten Tomatoes: 88%
Fresh: 56 Rotten: 8

IMDB: 6.9 / 10

Cast & Crew

Director:

Producer:

Starring: as Himself, as Himself, Simon Wexler as Himself, as Himself, as Herself

Contactmusic


Links



Advertisement

New Movies

Murder on the Orient Express Movie Review

Murder on the Orient Express Movie Review

The latest adaptation of Agatha Christie's 83-year-old classic whodunit, this lavish, star-studded film is old-style...

Paddington 2 Movie Review

Paddington 2 Movie Review

The first Paddington movie in 2014 is already such a beloved classic that it's hard...

A Bad Moms Christmas Movie Review

A Bad Moms Christmas Movie Review

Everyone's back from last year's undemanding adult comedy, plus some starry new cast members, for...

Brawl in Cell Block 99 Movie Review

Brawl in Cell Block 99 Movie Review

Filmmaker S. Craig Zahler brought a blast of offbeat creativity to the Western genre two...

The Death of Stalin Movie Review

The Death of Stalin Movie Review

Fans of the film In the Loop and the TV series Veep will definitely not...

Call Me By Your Name Movie Review

Call Me By Your Name Movie Review

Set in northern Italy in the summer of 1983, this internationally flavoured drama is a...

Thor: Ragnarok Movie Review

Thor: Ragnarok Movie Review

The most riotously enjoyable Marvel movie yet, this action epic benefits hugely from the decision...

Advertisement
Breathe Movie Review

Breathe Movie Review

While this biopic has the standard sumptuous production values of a British period drama, it's...

The Snowman Movie Review

The Snowman Movie Review

With a cast and crew packed with A-list talent, this film seems like it should...

The Party Movie Review

The Party Movie Review

Comedies don't get much darker than this pitch-black British movie, written and directed by Sally...

The Meyerowitz Stories (New and Selected) Movie Review

The Meyerowitz Stories (New and Selected) Movie Review

Noah Baumbach (Frances Ha) is on his way to becoming the new Woody Allen, which...

6 Below Movie Review

6 Below Movie Review

Based on an astonishing true survival story, this film is subtitled "Miracle on the Mountain",...

Mother Movie Review

Mother Movie Review

Darren Aronofsky doesn't make fluffy movies, and has only had one genuine misfire (2014's Noah)....

Blade Runner 2049 Movie Review

Blade Runner 2049 Movie Review

It's been 35 years since Ridley Scott's 1982 sci-fi classic, which was set in 2019....

Advertisement
Artists
Actors
    Filmmakers
      Artists
      Bands
        Musicians
          Artists
          Celebrities
             
              Artists
              Interviews
                musicians & bands in the news
                  actors & filmmakers in the news
                    celebrities in the news

                      Go Back in Time using our News archive to see what happened on a particular day in the past.