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Friday, October 18, 2013

Brothers, the National, and Mistaken for Strangers

Posted by Ned Lannamann on Fri, Oct 18, 2013 at 10:10 AM

Here's the trailer for Mistaken for Strangers, which screens tomorrow at the Whitsell Auditorium (basement of the Portland Art Museum) as part of the Northwest Film Center's Reel Music festival. I loved this movie. Here's what I said about it in last week's paper:
[It's] a hilarious and heartwarming documentary from Tom Berninger, younger brother of the National's lead singer Matt Berninger. Tom, an amateur filmmaker who still lives with mom and dad, is enlisted to join the National's tour as a roadie. He brings his camera along, intending to make the definitive backstage tour documentary—but most of what he captures is his own failure to fulfill the simple tasks assigned to him. While the younger Berninger's initial buffoonery is roll-on-the-floor hilarious, watching him mature on film and deal with sibling rivalry turns Mistaken for Strangers into something far better than another rock 'n' roll road doc. The result is a thoughtful, transformative, honest, immensely loveable movie.
While I am a fan of the National (and I was slow and reluctant about it, but good god, have you heard "Mr. November" and "I Need My Girl"?), I don't think you need to like the band at all to like this movie. There's barely any National music in it, for starters. And it's more about brothers and family and growing up and sibling rivalry and failing to live up to expectations and, you know, real shit than it is a glitzy rock-doc. Tom Berninger (who will be present at tomorrow's screening UPDATE: NW Film Center says he is unable to attend after all) is nine years younger than his brother Matt, so the two were far apart enough in age to perhaps miss some of the typical brotherly conflict that comes with growing up together. When they go on tour together, there's a lot of catching up to do. Better than practically any film I can think of, Mistaken for Strangers captures what it's actually like to have a brother (I have two). It's vicious, moving, and so, so funny.

Mistaken for Strangers (introduced by director Tom Berninger), Whitsell Auditorium, 1219 SW Park Sat Oct 19, 7 pm, $9


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