MISTAKEN FOR STRANGERS | DVD REVIEW & GIVEAWAY

Kernel Andrew follows up his awesome music documentary review on BB King: The Life of Riley from yesterday with another superb music rockumentary review for THE NATIONAL: MISTAKEN FOR STRANGERS. To be honest, I have never heard of them, but I am musically challenged but Andrew assures me the band is AWESOME (just like all things Lego). THE NATIONAL: MISTAKEN FOR STRANGERS is out now on DVD, is rated M and runs for 75mins and thanks to the awesome peeps at MADMAN you can win one of 5x copies we have up for grabs. If you fail to win then you can always buy it right HERE.

 

MISTAKEN FOR STRANGERS MOVIE POSTER
MISTAKEN FOR STRANGERS | THE SALTY POPCORN REVIEW | MOVIE POSTER

 

REVIEW BY ANDREW BRUSENTSEV

Those expecting MISTAKEN FOR STRANGERS to be a documentary about The Nationals 2010 “High Violet” album world tour should probably look elsewhere. This is instead a very quirky, hard to pin down, documentary about the relationship of the singer Matt Berninger and his brother (the movie’s) director Tom. Perhaps at some point it may have started off as a backstage no holds barred docco. But it quickly morphs into something else. We are more than grateful for that.

What would you expect from Tom Berninger, the cameraman/director whose previous efforts in cinema have been Z-Grade horror outings? At what point did Tom think he could make a traditional vanilla flavoured tour manifest? Who knows? But what is striking is the initial minutes where the differences between the two brothers is established. We have Matt, a driven, charismatic lead singer of a rock ‘n roll band and Tom. Tom appears to be a very talented slacker whose worst enemy seems to be his own ability to self-sabotage. So much to the point that it appears he has never really completed any projects. This is the story of this relationship with perhaps The National tour as convenient backdrop. Why was Tom chosen you may ask? Perhaps Matt was attempting to give his brother a leg up or as Tom says during the movie “a ride on his coat tails”. Perhaps this was an attempt to lessen the gulf between them? A gulf created by one’s great success and the other’s countless failures.

 

MISTAKEN FOR STRANGERS IMAGE
MISTAKEN FOR STRANGERS | THE SALTY POPCORN REVIEW |MATT AND TOM BERNINGER IN AN AUDITORIUM

 

Don’t fret National fans, there are plenty of scenes of the band playing, rehearsing, recording and performing live. But these scenes seem to only punctuate Tom’s inexperience in putting a traditional music documentary together. After a while we begin to question what the hell is Tom trying to achieve? This leads to a funny interview where Matt asks his brother in one of his truly meandering clueless interviews “Do you have any kind of organisation and plan for this film?” I was beginning to ask the same thing?

There is a method to the madness though. So that Tom could “pay his way” and smooth the way with the band and crew he is hired as a roadie. The documentary is something that he is supposed to be achieving once he has completed his other tasks. There is one issue; it seems that Tom is truly inept at doing this job. He actually has no clue what is expected of him. He moves equipment, provides refreshments, takes the bands coats, hands out towels and water and makes sure they are comfortable. Problem is Tom is completely hopeless at these tasks.  The tour manager is frustrated with this bumbling roadie and there are many examples of some serious stuff ups caused by Tom’s inability it seems to follow instructions. Whilst he is busy slacking on the job though he has no problems taping himself drinking, interviewing anyone who is anyone from the band to the crew (peppering them with some of the worst interview questions you have ever heard) and it seems generally getting on everyone’s nerves.

 

MISTAKEN FOR STRANGERS ALTERNATE POSTER
MISTAKEN FOR STRANGERS | THE SALTY POPCORN REVIEW |ALTERNATE POSTER

 

I found myself getting completely frustrated with this man. What is more ironic is that everyone is aware of Tom’s failings but attempts to tolerate him. That being said there is something you can’t help but like about Tom. If he only believed in himself a bit you feel the man could actually be one hell of a documentarian. When the film finds it rhythm you begin to realise something that Tom perhaps hasn’t. That this is ultimately a movie not about The National but about Tom and the differences between a black sheep and the family golden boy.

When the film finally reaches this groove it truly becomes interesting. Matt on and off stage is a professional. He is married, has a young daughter and is a complete gentleman with everyone around him. Tom doesn’t own a “pot to piss in” as they say, feels unready to settle down and is the diametric opposite of his brother. What is refreshing though is the genuine love and care that they both have for each other. I think Matt sees something in Tom that he himself doesn’t. Tom is lackadaisical, often thoughtless and insecure about his ability to do just about anything. Matt try’s to pick him up constantly telling him that he is talented if only he himself would believe it.

 

MISTAKEN FOR STRANGERS IMAGES
MISTAKEN FOR STRANGERS | THE SALTY POPCORN REVIEW |MATT AND TOM BERNINGER IN A YARD

 

A crisis occurs towards the middle of the film when Tom is kicked off the tour when he forgets to get aboard the tour bus after drinking in a bar. This causes a delay to schedules and has him fired by the Tour Manager. Matt takes this in his stride though. Rather than that being the end of the movie, Tom moves in with his brother in NYC. Matt and his wife who obviously both have a lot of affection for this loveable goofball tell him he can stay for as long as he likes in order for him to finish the movie. Once the movie is finished there is one final near disastrous hiccup. At an early screening the movie fails to play properly. Tom is heartbroken and wants to stop right there and then. Once again walking away from another project. But Matt once again comes to the rescue. Matt admits that in The National’s early years they also faced disaster and doubt but worked through it. This beautiful scene finally sees the penny drop for Tom. He changes the focus of the documentary and makes it what it has been all along a movie about his relationship with his brother.

The results speak for themselves. Tom is a hopeless traditional film maker but that is his charm. When he finally believes in himself what he salvages is a golden bit of cinema about relationships, brotherhood and perseverance. This failure to make a traditional documentary probably landed him the opening-night spot at the Tribeca Film Festival. It turned what could have been another movie about bands on tour into something else a movie about brotherly love.

 

4 Pops

 

With special thanks to MADMAN to win one of the 5x copies of the DVD of THE NATIONAL: MISTAKEN FOR STRANGERS you need to either like and share this post on Facebook or retweet/ favourite it on Twitter, you then need to leave a comment below stating the answer to the following question:

What is your ROCKUMENTARY (MUSIC DOCUMENTARY) and why?  

If you do not have Facebook and Twitter then get with the times old timer haha – You can still enter, leave your entry below and email me at jkdigitaldesigns@gmail.com telling me you don’t have social media 

Prizes will be awarded based on skill and selected purely on the thoughts of the judges, said judges being the Salty Kernels.

The prizes will be sent in the next week or two. Good luck! Oh, and minor housekeeping – huge apologies for overseas readers, this competition is only available to Australian residents.