Eye For Film >> Movies >> Caesar's Park (2000) Film Review
Reviewed by: Keith Hennessey Brown
In 1995 Sarah Price - one half of the team who made American Movie - moved into a new neighbourhood in Milwaukee, Wisconsin. Over the course of the next year she got to know her neighbours through filming them. Some are eccentrics, others more normal.
Foul-mouthed Jessie is a Polish war bride who came to America after the Second World War. Lois and Diane live next door with their elderly mother Tillie. Charles speaks incomprehensibly - it's English, Jim, but not as we know it - and plays the guitar out-of-tune. From the tower block opposite Richard, who sees the world through the lens of his camera like some real-life Pecker, watches over them all.
It has to be said that Caesar's Park probably won't repeat the success of American Movie. It's not that there's anything wrong with the film. It's more that American Movie - being about the attempts of a completely unselfconscious motormouth to complete his no-budget film - was a dream subject. None of the characters in Caesar's Park comes close to American Movie's Mark Borchardt for humour value, though Jessie, Charles and Richard all have their moments.
Price's failure to contextualise Charles and Richard hurts the film. Without knowing that Charles was traumatised by his Vietnam experiences or that Richard is a recovering alcholic, one is more liable to laugh at them and less likely to empathise with their plights. Perhaps the problem - as revealed by the film - is that these neighbours really don't really know each other that well. If someone elects not to reveal something about themself there's no one else to do it.
Overall, Caesar's Park suggests that, while American Movie was an unrepeatable one-off, the Sarah Price/Chris Smith partnership has a bright future ahead of them in producing entertaining documentaries.Reviewed on: 19 Jan 2001