Doug Block (shown at right, more currently, and below with wife and daughter a decade ago) gave us one of the seminal family-with-secrets documentar-ies 51 Birch Street. (Andrew Jarecki's fine Capturing the Friedmans came two years earlier, but Birch Street beat it out in terms of sheer surprise, exposé and the underside of "normalcy." This year's wonderful Phyllis and Harold, by Cindy Kleine, continues the trend.) Unlike his Birch Street story, however, Block's Kids has nary a "gotcha" moment. No "mystery" is revealed -- except maybe another interesting look at those mysteries we call life and family.
Peter Pan complex also gets a mention, and indeed may have been one of the subconscious reasons he embarked upon this film, but it receives no further exploration from the filmmaker. You can only do so much in one 92-minute movie.
Maeve O'Boyle): scenes of daughter Lucy traveling in a car -- one moment she's a little girl, the next a young woman. This makes an amusing, near-shocking visual equivalent of how quickly kids seem to grow up. Later, at Lucy's school, a pile of catsup packets from her locker takes on a wonderful, strange resonance.
We see and hear from the father who was at the center of 51 Birch Street, and his new wife/ex-secretary, as well as from the filmmaker's sisters and Lucy's half-brother. Together the documentary and its people bring up everything from life and parenting to loss, aging and death -- calling the film's viewers, as well as themselves, to account for their failures and successes. Finally, The Kids Grow Up questions, intentionally or not, the very point and worth of the documentary film as a route to truth. (Daniel Burman's lovely Argentine film, Empty Nest -- more allusive and artful -- deals with some of these same issues but in narrative form. See it if you haven't already: It can be streamed now via Netflix.)
The Kids Grow Up begins its theatrical run on Friday, October 29, at New York City's Angelika Film Center and will open in Los Angeles at Laemmle's Sunset 5 on November 12.