Tuesday, April 12, 2016

Tell Them Anything You Want: A Portrait of Maurice Sendak

Directed and shot by Spike Jonze and Lance Bang, Tell Them Anything You Want: A Portrait of Maurice Sendak is a forty-minute documentary short that chronicles the life of the children’s author through a series of interviews. The film has Jonze and Bangs talk to Sendak about his work including some of the controversy that he unknowingly created through his books that are meant for children. The result is a fascinating and touching film from Spike Jonze and Lance Bang.

Shot in the span of nearly five years beginning in 2003, the film is a look into the life and career of children’s author Maurice Sendak as he is interviewed by Spike Jonze about his work and views on life. With an appearance from actress Catherine Keener during a visit and conversation with Sendak, the author discusses some of his work and some of the experiences he had in his own life that would translate into his work as a writer. Some of which such as the widely-regarded Where the Wild Things Are have received some criticism as did another book called In the Night Kitchen as the latter featured a boy showing his genitals. Sendak also talks about his own sexuality where he admitted to struggling in coming out for many years as he wouldn’t put into his work but much of the darkness and anguish that he feels as a gay man would be the source for much of his writing.

The film also has Sendak talk about his own experiences in his family including a memory he had about the case that involved the death of Charles Lindbergh’s baby where he claimed to have seen a picture of the baby’s deceased corpse and some years later. He was talking to a man and tell him practically everything about the case where the man revealed the picture from that newspaper which proved that what Sendak saw as a child was true. With the aid of co-cinematographer and editor Jeff Buchanan and sound mixer Paul Hsu, Jonze and Lance Bangs maintain an intimacy into the film while providing different stages of Sendak’s numerous comments of his work from certain points in his life. Even as Sendak would showcases images of his book and how they would relate to bits of his life as well as guess into why his work is so revered though he spent many years trying not to take himself so seriously. What Jonze and Bangs would eventually unveil is a witty yet compelling portrait of a man that is just trying to capture a sense of realism that isn’t seen in a lot of children’s books.

Tell Them Anything You Want: A Portrait of Maurice Sendak is a brilliant film from Spike Jonze and Lance Bangs. It’s a documentary short that manages to say a lot about the life and work of a fascinating individual while doing it with so little time that it leaves the viewer wanting for more. In the end, Tell Them Anything You Want: A Portrait of Maurice Sendak is a fantastic film from Spike Jonze and Lance Bangs.

Spike Jonze Films: Being John Malkovich - Adaptation - Where the Wild Things Are - Her - My Mutant Brain

Related: The Auteurs #54: Spike Jonze - The 25 Essential Videos of Spike Jonze

© thevoid99 2016


Anonymous said...

I'm super pumped to check this one out!

p.s. we played pictionary with movie titles this weekend and tried 'being john malkovich' - you can guess how well that went

thevoid99 said...

It's available on Hulu for free if you can find it. I watched it as part of an Auteurs piece on Spike Jonze that I'm working on as it's 2/3 done at the moment.

ruth said...

I'm not familiar w/ Maurice Sendak at all but I'm still curious to check this out!

thevoid99 said...

@ruth-Well if you know the book for Where the Wild Things Are, that is all you really need to know about him.