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

Swallows and Amazons Movie Review

Swallows and Amazons Movie Review

After a number of films, TV series and stage adaptations, Arthur Ransome's beloved 1930 novel...

David Brent: Life on the Road Movie Review

David Brent: Life on the Road Movie Review

The original BBC sitcom The Office ran for 14 episodes from 2001 to 2003, and...

The Childhood of a Leader Movie Review

The Childhood of a Leader Movie Review

Bold and intelligent, this dark drama is a challenging portrait of the making of an...

Pete's Dragon Movie Review

Pete's Dragon Movie Review

This hugely enjoyable adventure is a loose remake of the 1977 Disney hit that blended...

The Shallows Movie Review

The Shallows Movie Review

With a simple premise and plenty of visual style, Spanish filmmaker Jaume Collet-Serra (Unknown) takes...

Mike and Dave Need Wedding Dates Movie Review

Mike and Dave Need Wedding Dates Movie Review

Watching this gross-out comedy, it's clear that the gifted cast and crew had a great...

Nerve Movie Review

Nerve Movie Review

With a premise that feels almost eerily current, this stylish thriller revolves around a phone...

Advertisement
The Carer Movie Review

The Carer Movie Review

Brian Cox gets the role of a lifetime in this warm comedy about living life...

Born to Be Blue Movie Review

Born to Be Blue Movie Review

Writer-director Robert Budreau takes a stylised approach to this biopic of the legendary jazz artist...

Jason Bourne Movie Review

Jason Bourne Movie Review

It's been nine years since Matt Damon and Paul Greengrass collaborated on The Bourne Ultimatum,...

The Commune [Kollektivet] Movie Review

The Commune [Kollektivet] Movie Review

Veteran Danish filmmaker Thomas Vinterberg (Festen, The Hunt) returns to a smaller homegrown story after...

The BFG Movie Review

The BFG Movie Review

For his adaptation of the Roald Dahl classic, Steven Spielberg reunited with screenwriter Melissa Mathison,...

Finding Dory Movie Review

Finding Dory Movie Review

It's been 13 years since the release of the Disney/Pixar hit Finding Nemo, and filmmaker...

Star Trek Beyond Movie Review

Star Trek Beyond Movie Review

This is where the Star Trek franchise officially shifts from thoughtful drama into thunderous action....

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.