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Dead People2005

  • 3.6
Filmed in 1974 and edited and released in 1983 (and then rereleased by its director in 2005), DEAD PEOPLE purports to document the final years of Frank Butler, a local fixture in the depressed burg of Ellicot City with a particular fondness for drink and tales of the dead. Over hazy 16mm footage two decades later, Deutsch adopted a painfully unsentimental view of his early approach, colored as it was by notions of ethnographic film and an undercurrent of fetishism for a man he considered somehow more "alive" than himself. While it chafes against notions of authenticity in documentary and incisively hints at the complicity of the subject in inventing his own history, DEAD PEOPLE simultaneously oozes nostalgia, transcending its own judgment as a gauzy memorial for the man Deutsch once called a friend. - Jackson Scarlett

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2 members like this review

A fascinating cinema verite study of a young white filmmaker's attempt to document a old black neighbor. Frank Butler is a character that only small somewhat isolated towns can create. He may be the only U.S. slave born in the 20th century. He may be a man who lived his whole life panhandling. Or maybe he fooled everyone with his stories. Using discarded grainy 16mm film the filmmaker creates a powerfully enigmatic portrait of a discarded person.

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Member Reviews (1)

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top reviewer

A fascinating cinema verite study of a young white filmmaker's attempt to document a old black neighbor. Frank Butler is a character that only small somewhat isolated towns can create. He may be the only U.S. slave born in the 20th century. He may be a man who lived his whole life panhandling. Or maybe he fooled everyone with his stories. Using discarded grainy 16mm film the filmmaker creates a powerfully enigmatic portrait of a discarded person.

2 members like this review