Sometimes we have to do things we don't like. Maybe for you this includes humoring your father while he documents every minute of your day with a video camera. For most of my fellow writers, it entails seeing and then reviewing stuff like Grown-Ups. For me, as a documentary critic, it means bucking up and watching Doug Block's latest film, The Kids Grow Up, despite my immense distaste for his self-indulgent style and subject matter. I hadn't planned on including the film in my Silverdocs viewing and admit I only forced myself after walking out of something else, but what I came away with was at least an appreciation for this as a follow-up and compliment to 51 Birch Street and the qualification to honestly recommend it to at least fans of that earlier doc, of which I disappointingly know there are plenty.
Like Block, who is more of a home movie maker than a journalistic documentarian, I often explore things about myself that I don't quite understand. While he has made films in order to investigate what it's like to lose a parent and now what it's like to let go of a child, I attempted to work out my hatred of first-person films that serve as family therapy not by seeing them but by attending a Silverdocs conference titled Documentary Ethics Inside the Family. It was a fitting panel given that along with The Kids Grow Up, there were three other subjective docs of this sort (Monica & David, Family Affair and Beyond This Place) playing the festival, yet I unfortunately left the event no more tolerant of such narcissistic and nepotistic works. If anything, I was more annoyed at Block for claiming that his films are not made to be personal therapy but they end up being personally therapeutic. Surely, the latter is always to be expected and must somewhat drive him as a filmmaker.