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My Son My Son What Have Ye Done [Import]

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Product Details

  • Actors: Michael Shannon, Willem Dafoe, Chloë Sevigny, Udo Kier, Michael Peña
  • Directors: Werner Herzog
  • Writers: Werner Herzog, Herbert Golder
  • Producers: Ali Rounaghi, Austin Stark, Benji Kohn, Bingo Gubelmann, Chris Papavasiliou
  • Format: NTSC, Import
  • Language: English
  • Subtitles: English
  • Region: Region 1 (US and Canada This DVD will probably NOT be viewable in other countries. Read more about DVD formats.)
  • Aspect Ratio: 1.33:1
  • Number of discs: 1
  • MPAA Rating: R
  • Studio: Millennium
  • Release Date: Sept. 21 2010
  • Run Time: 91 minutes
  • Average Customer Review: 3.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (1 customer review)
  • ASIN: B003JOOTW4

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By Matthew on Nov. 6 2012
Format: Blu-ray Verified Purchase
Different, reflective but lacking any clear explanations. Stunning and reflective much like herzon's nonfiction work but the whole thing feels a little smaller and unfulfilling
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on Amazon.com (beta)

Amazon.com: 28 reviews
15 of 18 people found the following review helpful
Brilliant, hypnotic, unconventional, and tragically underseen Sept. 20 2010
By A Customer - Published on Amazon.com
Format: DVD Verified Purchase
In 2009, Werner Herzog delivered a stunning one-two punch with "Port of Call New Orleans" and this movie. I would rank "My Son, My Son" right up there with "Aguirre" in the Herzog canon. If you're looking for standard conventional Hollywood product, avoid this one. If you're looking for something that will keep you fascinated, confused, and thrilled by its originality, see it ASAP. As a portrait of insanity, "My Son, My Son" throws Hollywood's standard treatment of the subject in the wastebasket: You're never given an "explanation" for the main character Brad's descent into insanity, and he doesn't come off as a merely normal guy with some problems (let's face it, Russell Crowe in "A Beautiful Mind" is the most RATIONAL paranoid schizophrenic in the history of mankind!). I see and hear mentally ill individuals at the bus stop nearly every day, and their words make just as little sense as Brad's. This is a powerful, compelling, and sadly overlooked masterwork.
2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
Stanislamesky. March 18 2013
By Robert Beveridge - Published on Amazon.com
Format: DVD
My Son, My Son, What Have Ye Done? (Werner Herzog, 2009)

I have spent years singing Werner Herzog's praises every time I see one of his movies. I think the last of his movies I have less than an enthusiastic review to was The Mystery of Kaspar Hauser, and I saw that, what, ten years ago? (Actually, I looked it up--eight years ago, in August of 2005.) Man, I even defended, and strongly, Bad Lieutenant: Port of Call New Orleans. But every streak must come to an end, and the architect of this one's demise is the 2009 film My Son, My Son, What Have Ye Done?. (For the record: over the past ten years, I have seen nine Herzog films. This is the first to which I have given a below-average review.)

Supposedly based on a true story, the film tells us the tale of Brad Macallam (Michael Shannon, who like most of the cast stayed on with Herzog after BL:PoCNO wrapped to make this one), a man who seems to have gone insane during a recent trip to South America, and who just killed his mother (Twin Peaks' Grace Zabriskie) with a sword, taking the whole Stanislavsky thing a little too far (he's playing Orestes in a community-theater play). The bulk of the film is told in flashback, as detectives Havenhurst (Antichrist's Willem Dafoe) and Vargas (End of Watch's Michael Pena) try to piece together the events leading up to the murder by interviewing neighbors and tracking Brad, who left the scene before anyone realized he was the perp.

I have to admit, I'm kind of amused by the meta level of "Brad's acting drives him nuts" contrasted with Willem Dafoe's portrayal of Max Schreck in Merhige's Shadow of the Vampire, in which Murnau (John Malkovich) tries to convince the cast that Schreck (who, in the film, really IS a vampire) never appears out of character because he's a Stanislavsky devotee. And the scenery in this flick? Oh, man. I have a tendency to lust after distinctive houses in movies. (That awful 1999 remake of The Haunting? Its only saving grace was the house.) But the movie itself feels soulless to me. Maybe it's Michael Shannon's flat affect, which I'm sure was intentional--Shannon is far too good an actor not to have to work at coming off this horribly, and Herzog is exceptional at getting actors to do exactly what he wants them to do. (How else could he have worked so well with Klaus Kinski all those years?) It works for the character, and if that "based on a true story" gig has this running anywhere close to reality, it's probably in the personality of the main character...but that ends up making for a ponderous movie with a desperately unlikable main character. Many folks who saw this movie found him fascinating, and I am willing to put this down to personal bias, but he just didn't do it for me. Which is all the more frustrating because so much of this cast is comprised of people I adore--Dafoe, Shannon, Zabriskie, Brad Dourif, Loretta Devine, the list goes on. And yet...I just couldn't find a way to grab onto this movie and hold. In my eyes, it was an exceptionally rare miss for Herzog. Your mileage may well vary. **
2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
An unconscious examination of who we are, the madness inside us June 29 2012
By A fellow with a keyboard - Published on Amazon.com
Format: DVD
To appreciate this movie, you need to understand the point of its weirdness. I think David Foster Wallace said it best when describing another David Lynch film, Blue Velvet:

"Blue Velvet captured something crucial about the way the U.S. present acted upon our nerve endings, something crucial that couldn't be analyzed or reduced to a system of codes or aesthetic principles or workshop techniques. The movie helped me realize that first-rate experimentalism is a way not to 'transcend' or 'rebel against' the truth but actually to *honor* it. It brought home that the very most important artistic communications take place at a level that not only isn't intellectual but isn't even fully conscious, that the unconscious's true medium isn't verbal but imagistic, and that whether the images are Realistic or Postmodern or Expressionistic or Surreal or what-the-hell-ever is less important than whether they feel true, whether they ring psychic cherries in the communicatee."

The important question is whether it succeeds at ringing psychic cherries. I can't speak for you, but for me the scene (beginning around the 20th minute) where Ingrid is trying to "straighten" the bed, and Brad comes and sits on it and wants to play music for her, and the mom barges in with brownies, "I'm just so happy for you both. ... Brad, can't you see that Ingrid is trying to straighten the bed?", the momentary look back before she leaves, "can't she ever knock?", and then she barges in again a few moments later, this time with wine, and then the prolonged, eerily-adoring stare--hoo boy that was one of the creepiest and realest and most magical scenes I've seen.

You cannot watch this as a normal movie, expecting clear answers, logic, or even linearity. It only works as an unconscious examination of who we are, the madness inside us.

P.S. - Other than the straightening the bed scene, the most magical scene in this movie begins around the 62nd minute, when Brad wanders around a crowded outdoor market in Kashgar, Xinjiang province, China. "Why is everyone staring at me?" It's a scene with no narrative ties to the rest of the story but somehow still fits perfectly. I learned from Wikipedia that this sequence was shot "guerrilla style" with a small digital camera because Herzog did not wish to endure the lengthy process to obtain shooting permits in China. So all of those faces you're seeing are genuine and unscripted (and slightly illegal).
1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
Another failed attempt at story telling April 5 2013
By Carlos Icaza Estrada - Published on Amazon.com
Format: DVD
The problem with Werner Herzog since he moved to the US is that he has tried to adapt to standard story telling film making after a long absence from anything like it (Berg's play Wozzeck, Nosferatu, etc in the 70's), and ended borrowing the worst tendencies in American cinema, including schematic scripts and cliches. Unlike in his docs, one has to strain to find a thematic or stylistic thread running through the film. Take the scene of the oatmeal tube running down the garage ramp during the siege of Brad's suburban home: the camera chases it as if it were a grenade, but there has been so little buildup in suspense, that the whole take feels out of place.

Also the flashback structure - Herzog has nothing new to add to what has become another cliche. The cinematography is unexceptional, limited mostly to still shots. Given Brad's arrogance and increasing lunacy, the love of his girlfriend Ingrid (played decently by Chloë Sevigny, given the flaws in the script) feels forced and artificial. There seems to be little tenderness of any kind between them, and I don't think the actors are to blame. His mother, played by Grace Zabriskie, an actress that has often worked with David Lynch, demonstrates the mastery of awkwardness she has displayed in some of his movies, such as Inland Empire, but overall her portrayal of Brad's mother is pretty realistic, specially in the scene with Brad and Ingried in his bedroom, where she stands at the threshold for what feels like hours. What in Inland Empire would be exaggeratedly sinister, here was plainly sad. Given her looks, you would think she's custom made for Lynch, a niche-character actress but here she has proven to be pretty versatile. I was looking forward to Udo Kier's performance, as I have seen him do some pretty good stuff in von Trier's films, but here he's given little to work on - his playwright character comes across as pretty conventional.

Production values are good, but at the level of cable TV material - if it had not been for some stars of the arthouse circuit, this could have easily been mistaken for a "straight to video", but certainly not the kind you expect to see on HBO. Aside from that, the DVD's overall quality is pretty good.

I think this is an improvement on Rescue Dawn, which was even more schematic and conventional, another typical made for TV film, but there's little to make this film worth your time and money. I don't harbor much hope for Herzog's future attempts with standard story telling films. Unlike his fellow Austrian Haneke, Herzog hasn't benefited from exile, even though the former is in a more refined Paris. Perhaps the problem lies in being strange as portrayed in France and the US. In the former you have Huppert's La Denteliere and Sandrine Bonnaire in Chabrol's La Celebration, while in the US you have cliched celebrations of lunacy or the typically American identity politics of freak culture. Yet, while Lynch has serially produced masterpiece after masterpiece while drinking from that artistic poisoned chalice, Herzog can only come up with worthless fluff.

Given how original Herzog has been in the past, and still is with his docs, it's possible he may have some epiphany during his travels to the ends of the planet, and come up with some world-historic masterpiece of cinematic storytelling, but I wouldn't bet on it. After watching this mediocre piece one needs a Panglossian optimism to believe Herzog will once again come up with films as fantastic as Fitzcarraldo or "Aguirre: the Wrath of God".
11 of 16 people found the following review helpful
Stunningly amazing Sept. 20 2010
By Dagmar - Published on Amazon.com
Format: DVD
One of the years best titles.
Werner Herzog puts Michael Shannon and Willem Dafoe under your skin, like an itch hard to scratch.

The extra material is great as well, with interviews with Werner and behind the scenes footage.
There is also a nice little short film narrated by Mr. herzog himself.

This film will keep you thinking for days

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