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Cinema Verite

20 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

Product Description

Decades before housewives had screaming matches with each other on camera in public, the Loud family became a television sensation of a new kind when they appeared on the groundbreaking 1973 PBS documentary series An American Family. Witness the birth of reality television as Diane Lane, Tim Robbins and James Gandolfini star in HBO Films' presentation of Cinema Verite.

Excellent performances give weight to Cinema Verite, a fictionalized behind-the-scenes look at the making of the mother of all reality television, An American Family. Producer Craig Gilbert (played here by The Sopranos' James Gandolfini) wants to document middle-class life the way anthropologists examine primitive cultures. With a blend of seduction, flattery, and burning vision, he persuades Pat and Bill Loud (Diane Lane and Tim Robbins) to let a camera crew capture their family's daily life for months--an act that may not have caused the family's implosion, but certainly accelerated it. Cinema Verite's script feels awkwardly compressed, trying to squeeze months of filming and finagling into a 90-minute story, and the suggested intimacy between Pat and Craig is questionable. But the actors pack a lot of confusion, doubt, regret, and a myriad of other emotions into their concentrated scenes. The movie revolves around Pat, and Lane does her justice, but Robbins and Gandolfini give performances just as strong, playing much less sympathetic personalities. Thomas Dekker is also good as the eldest son Lance, the first openly gay man on television. Glimpses of the real footage and the real Loud family are tantalizing and will make one want to watch the original documentary; regrettably, as of 2011, it's unavailable. --Bret Fetzer

Special Features

The Making of Cinema Verite
Audio commentaries with Diane Lane, Robert Pulcini, and Shari Springer Berman

Product Details

  • Actors: Diane Lane, Tim Robbins, James Gandolfini
  • Format: Multiple Formats, AC-3, Color, Dolby, NTSC, Subtitled
  • Language: English (Dolby Digital 5.1)
  • Subtitles: English, French, Spanish
  • Region: Region 1 (U.S. and Canada only. Read more about DVD formats.)
  • Number of discs: 1
  • Rated: Unrated
  • Studio: HBO Studios
  • DVD Release Date: April 24, 2012
  • Run Time: 90 minutes
  • Average Customer Review: 4.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (20 customer reviews)
  • ASIN: B0041KKZI2
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #32,197 in Movies & TV (See Top 100 in Movies & TV)
  • Learn more about "Cinema Verite" on IMDb

Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

Format: DVD
It's hard to imagine a time in the television landscape before the phenomenon known as reality programming. But there was a simpler period where it was inconceivable that turning an eye towards ourselves could ever be considered entertainment. Now, of course, the claims of entertainment value may be overstated in many cases of modern reality TV (as well as the fact that it has veered decidedly away from realness)--but, there's no denying, it has become a genre that has proliferated beyond any reason. The PBS documentary series "An American Family" aired in 1973 over twelve weeks and shattered all viewership records for the educational station. This alleged sociological presentation was meant to depict an average American family--but in choosing the Loud clan, the cards were stacked to provoke maximum interest. With a marriage at the brink of dissolution, open philandering, and a flamboyantly homosexual son (in a time where this was not a common TV subject)--this American family knew little of the impact the experiment would have on their lives or on America. HBO is revisiting this historical and cultural milestone with "Cinema Verite," a fascinating examination that captures the period with great specificity.

Whether or not you are familiar with this tale, there is much to recommend the film. First and foremost, the cast expertly captures the rhythm and mannerisms of their real life counterparts. Tim Robbins, as Bill Loud, is all bluster and showmanship even as his life is being stripped away before the camera and Thomas Dekker does well with the larger-than-life son Lance. The movie, however, all but belongs to Diane Lane as matriarch Pat. Pat is a study of contradictions as both a housewife and mother and a quasi-feminist.
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Format: DVD
When we see a Christmas card depicting a family portrait festooned with smiles illuminating the American Dream, we rarely ponder what goes on when they're not posing. What happens in that house on a day to day basis when things do not fall into place as they seem to have immaculately done so for their family photos? Craig Gilbert (James Gandolfini) posited a much darker hypothesis than most. This very "real" depiction of social Americana was captured in this HBO film...that their smiles are ephemeral and their happiness may be just as fleeting as the flash of the camera that captured the facade.

As Gilbert, Gandolfini tests our trust as he double-plays both confidante and silver-tongued devil in his dealings with the parents, particularly the mother (Diane Lane). Gandolfini emcees the plot intrigue well, but Lane is the real star of this gripping film. As the victem in their marriage, she serially outshines Tim Robbins (playing her husband), who does his job and does it well, but simply lacks the scenes and lines to win our favor or sympathy. He simply plays a character that was not designed to win our support.

Set in the early 70's, before reality television had become the over-scripted, sensationalized farce we know today, this true story reveals the process behind the Gilbert's PBS documentary miniseries "An American Family". This was a controversial 10-hour saga that followed the relationship between the parents and children, and readily transformed into an exposé on the problems between the parents.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By Chris Wilson on January 28, 2012
Format: DVD
There's good ideas lurking near the surface of "Cinema Verite," an interesting 2010 made-for-HBO film with a rushed screenplay creating forced drama. Sometimes it works, but "Cinema Verite" continues a tradition of HBO films investing in strong casts but average screenplays and cut-rate production values (Cheaters, The Rat Pack, RKO 281 - The Battle Over Citizen Kane). I must admit I was not familiar with this film's subject, the epic PBS examination of the Loud household American Family: Anniversary Edition. A groundbreaking 1971 experiment combining documentary tradition with what would evolve into today's Reality TV, for six months filmmakers camped in the suburban Santa Barbara household of the energetic Loud clan, as colorful as anything seen in the fictional "The Brady Bunch." With four teenage children, a philandering father and a sultry, rebellious housewife, the documentary was evidently an incredible sensation breaking all records for PBS viewership (American Family: A Televised Life (Visible Evidence)).

Substantial effort has been made to recreate the Loud household and their 1970's lifestyle. The casting of Tim Robbins and Diane Lane as the parents guarantees interesting performances and they do not disappoint.
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