Friday, June 19, 2015

The Wolfpack: The Boys Who Can

As the brothers' father opines sadly at one point in Crystal Moselle's astonishing documentary, "Boys are gonna [break away]."  In their case, it was more like breaking out of a kind of prison in a Delancy St. public housing apartment, to which dad held the only keys. The young men, who now range from age 24 to 16, and their younger sister (who suffers from Turner Syndrome) were allowed out with their parents only a few times a year, and some years (like that of 9/11), never at all.  Nor was their mother.  In many ways, they suggest that she was even more of a prisoner--she had more "rules" from her husband, who drank a lot and would slap her around; clearly the entire family suffered from the domestic violence.

But their mother, who home-schooled them, is their hero and salvation (she has also now gained her independence).  Their father, a Hare Krishna, wanted to shelter them from the contamination of society, yet ironically and inexplicably allowed and encouraged them to watch movies, many of them R-rated, violent ones.  Among the boys' favorites were The Godfathers, Pulp Fiction (two of the brothers performed the hash bar scene at an Arclight Q & A on June 19), JFK, Reservoir Dogs, and The Dark Knight.  They would fashion elaborate costumes out of cereal boxes and yoga mats (e.g., Batman), act out the scenes, and often film them.

At the Q & A, they revealed that they've formed a production company called Wolfpack Pictures (although one teaches yoga and dances, and two others are aspiring rock musicians).  Only one, who aspires to be a cinematographer, has moved into his own apartment.  Highlights of their trip to Los Angeles were, aside from the weather, meeting Werner Herzog, David O. Russell, Billy Friedkin, and John Bailey.

Filmmaker Moselle first came upon them over five years ago in Delancy Street; the boys were out strolling dressed like the characters in Reservoir Dogs.  She hung with them for about a year before the film started taking shape.  She was able to incorporate their home movies.  She and the filmmaking process functioned as a kind of therapy for the young men, a couple of whom truly open up on camera, not surprisingly (at one point the city made them see therapists; one practitioner seems to have done little but show her patient how to use email; the other boys said they remained mum with their therapists).

That the boys had what D. W. Winnicott  referred to as "the good enough mother" was their salvation and the key to their resilience.  That they had each other appears to have been crucial to their creativity and to the lack of peer social interaction.

As for the movies, they provided, as one of the young men described it, "a window to the world" that "unites everything...all types of art."  Of course, once they all first ventured outside into that actual world, as one says in the film: "This is like 3-D, man!"

This is one of the great films of the year.  Don't miss it.  The trailer:

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  1. Thanks for the recommendation! I'll keep it in mind. By the way, I just read your post about While We're Young and it was great. You seem to be a bit of an expert in Noah Baumbach. Anyway, I also wrote about the film in my blog (wich I encourage you to visit):

    I hope you enjoy my review, and please feel free to leave me a comment over there or add yourself as a follower (or both), and I promise I'll reciprocate.



  2. I did, thanks. Noticed you liked Seven Psychopaths. In that case, you'd probably love his In Bruges if you haven't yet seen it (with Colin Farrell, Brendon Gleason, and Ralph Fiennes).