What in Tarnation? | Letters | Chicago Reader

What in Tarnation? 

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Ms. Brody,

Your glowing review of this "film" propelled me to get myself over to the Music Box to see Tarnation [Section 2, October 22]. As a mental health counselor working in the foster-care system, the subject matter is of great interest to me. In fact, based on your review, I mistakenly recommended this film to several of my colleagues, a mistake I have learned from. I was sorely disappointed in this movie. I found it a trite, self-serving plunge into narcissistic mediocrity. The feel of Tarnation was more like an erratic MTV music video than a documentary. Caouette made a pathetic attempt at identifying himself with the talent of John Cassavetes and Roman Polanski by stealing actual scenes from Rosemary's Baby. That wasn't an "echo," Ms. Brody; that was using a master filmmaker's work to give the impression of talent.

I realize as a movie reviewer your voice is subjective; however, your words affect whether or not someone makes an effort to see a film they wouldn't ordinarily see. Next time you're compelled to use a descriptor such as "masterpiece," perhaps you'll consider its weight with your readers.

This shallow film gave no insight into Caouette's actual life experience, nor did it touch upon any genuine feelings; rather it left me with the conclusion that at age 31, Caouette is clearly more interested in barraging his audience with insincere self-portrait montages than in showing a life truly examined.

Against my every desire to run fleeing from the theater, I stayed in the hopes of Caouette redeeming himself. Instead I wasted 105 minutes and $9.

Bernadette Hayes

Children's Home & Aid Society of Illinois

Therapist, foster care

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