Caesar's Park

Caesar's Park


Reviewed by: Nicola Osborne

When you move into a new neighbourhood it's natural enough to start wondering what the people around you might be like.... When Sarah Price - producer of critical hit American Movie - moves into Caesar's Park, Milwaukee, she decides to follow up her natural curiosity and actually find out what her neighbours are like - and get it all on film. What results from this is an hour of intensely intriguing delving into her neighbourhood and the many oddballs she finds living there.

There is the polish war-bride who has a permanently grumpy Walter Matthau-style presence, seemingly only happy when she is miserable and swearing like a sailor at the rest of the neighbourhood. There are Lois (who seems to be a friendly but marginally deranged Doris Day) and Diana, sisters of around 60 years old who have never left home and now care full-time for 94-year-old Tilly, their aged (and mostly extremely out of it) mother. We also meet a magnificently tone-deaf musician, a town oddball obsessed with his camera and a retired husband concerned only with golf (something he shares with his wife), ants, big onions and the sex-lives of some of the neighbours.

Copy picture

In putting together this affectionate portrait of small-town America, Price has been careful to maintain the interest and patience that was shown to the subjects of American Movie. She does not patronise her neighbours or bombard them with questions merely letting them talk to her and the camera (she is usually noticeably present whether off camera or wandering round with the microphone a la Nick Broomfield).

This approach gives them time to chatter at will and respond to wonderfully revealing questions like "Who would you go to for help?". She also finds out what the neighbours really think of each other which makes this especially watchable.

The film ably compliments the work of documentary makers obsessed with American living including Errol Morris (profiled in the documentary A Brief History of Errol Morris) from whom Price seems to have taken a few interviewing tips.

This is a quiet, but friendly and engaging little film indicating that Price is someone to watch out for in the future.

Reviewed on: 19 Jan 2001
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A filmmaker documents her new neighbourhood.

Read more Caesar's Park reviews:

Keith Hennessey Brown ***

Director: Sarah Price

Year: 2000

Runtime: 58 minutes

Country: USA


EIFF 2000

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