THE MANOR: THE REVIEW

THE MANOR is part of the ANTENNA DOCUMENTARY FESTIVAL. Antenna Documentary Festival is back for another year with a program bigger and better than ever. The festival was a huge success in 2012 with over 5000 people attending. Now in its third year the annual festival will take place in Sydney from 2nd to 7th October, it screens at the CHAUVEL, THE ART GALLERY and BERKELOUW BOOKS. You can get all the information you need from HERE and now enjoy our review of THE MANOR, kindly reviewed, by Salty Kernel, Dara Shashoua.

 

The Manor, The Manor Review, Antenna Documentary Festival, Shawney Cohen, Documentary, Laurie Gwen Shapiro, Paul Scherzer, Mike Gallay, Paul Scherzer, Dara Shashoua, Film Festival
THE MANOR – THE SALTY POPCORN REVIEW FOR THE ANTENNA DOCUMENTARY FESTIVAL

 

You have to wonder why people decide to make a documentary about their family. Why would you put them on display for public scrutiny? Why show all of their problems in such a public way?

I went into watching The Manor, thinking that it was going to be a fly on the wall docco showing a family run strip club. Unfortunately it was the story of an egomaniacal obese patriarch who refuses to better himself and inflicts his own baggage onto everyone else around him.

Honestly, this doco was less about The Manor and more about the Cohen family. There was no hero, there was no emotion. It was a family in crisis and yet no one really wanted to do much. Shawney the oldest son and film maker did try to help but it felt strained and emotionless.

 

The Manor, The Manor Review, Antenna Documentary Festival, Shawney Cohen, Documentary, Laurie Gwen Shapiro, Paul Scherzer, Mike Gallay, Paul Scherzer, Dara Shashoua, Film Festival
THE MANOR – THE SALTY POPCORN REVIEW FOR THE ANTENNA DOCUMENTARY FESTIVAL

 

Rodney, the father is a 400 pound Israeli immigrant, who after 14 different jobs decides to buy a strip club. That was 30 years ago, and his family have paid the ultimate price. Being obese apparently makes him unhappy and he tells everyone that he can’t even put his own socks on. He blames his weight on the fact that he grew up in a very poor household and swore to himself that he would never go hungry again. And he didn’t. Ever. In fact, every time we see him he is shovelling food into his mouth. Half way through the film he pays $16,000 for gastric banding surgery so that he can lose some weight. Unfortunately, as with anything in life you actually have to stick at it so that he can keep losing weight. We watch him shovel more food into his mouth.

On the flip side, his wife Brenda is an 89 pound anorexic who looks like she would blow away. Clearly the strip club and her relationship with her husband is to blame for her emaciated frame. To see them together is almost comical, the morbidly obese man with his painfully thin anorexic wife who is constantly preparing food for the family but refuses to sit down and eat. The only moment of emotion in the film was when she was talking to Shawney about her disease and confesses that maybe she just wants to die.

 

The Manor, The Manor Review, Antenna Documentary Festival, Shawney Cohen, Documentary, Laurie Gwen Shapiro, Paul Scherzer, Mike Gallay, Paul Scherzer, Dara Shashoua, Film Festival
THE MANOR – THE SALTY POPCORN REVIEW FOR THE ANTENNA DOCUMENTARY FESTIVAL

 

The younger brother Sammy manages the club five nights a week and pretty much loves it. Loves the lifestyle and we see him purchasing a new car and vacillates between the top of the Jaguar and a Range Rover. The Range Rover wins. He is dating one of the strippers who is ironically a nutritionist as well.

Shawney, the protagonist, older brother and director of the film seems to be void of any emotions.. His narration is deadpan, he sees his father’s faults but doesn’t stand up to him, even when asking him to pay for treatment for his mother he only gets a little angry with his father for refusing to pay. He interacts with the strippers but they seem to walk all over him as well.

Overall, I wanted to turn this film off but I held out hoping that there would be something else. Something that would make me root for someone or something in the family, but there wasn’t. At the end you just ask, What was the point?  Shawney had clearly spent about 2 years filming and yet the film just seems to be a sad sad story about his family and the price that they have paid by owning a strip club for 30 years. I do wonder what they all think watching the film and how they are going since then.

The tagline for the film is ‘an intimate portrait of people struggling to call themselves a family’.

Yep.  That about sums it up.

 

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