Catfish (DVD)

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Catfish (DVD)

Love and identity become twisted across the lines of the Internet in this documentary from filmmakers Henry Joost and Ariel Schulman. Nev Schulman is ...

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Review of "Catfish (DVD)"

published 29/05/2011 | thedevilinme
Member since : 13/05/2008
Reviews : 2560
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About me :
Ciao made $2,200 profit last year, about $37 bucks a day.
Pro Intriguing stuff
Cons Slightly contrived
Did you enjoy it?
Characters / Performances
Special Effects

"A Fishy Tale..."

Can you stage reality?

Can you stage reality?

We read what we want to believe and want to believe what we read.
87 minutes
Certificate 13

Blue collar Michigan worker:

"They used to tank cod from Alaska all the way to China. They'd keep them in vats in the ship. By the time the codfish reached China, the flesh was mush and tasteless. So this guy came up with the idea that if you put these cods in these big vats, put some catfish in with them and the catfish will keep the cod agile. And there are those people who are catfish in life. And they keep you on your toes. They keep you guessing, they keep you thinking, they keep you fresh. And I thank god for the catfish because we would be droll, boring and dull if we didn't have somebody nipping at our fin".


The internet allows us the ultimate fantasy - to be someone else, the themes and topics of this intriguing documentary delving into that cyber world. Few will admit to role playing online but it's that other taboo life that is so exciting and tempting about the net. It's disruptive and dark too, a candy shop for paedophiles, cyber bullying rife and almost all 16-year-old boys on dating sites really just 45 year-old male perverts enjoying a plentiful supply of 15-year-old girls keen to chat to all sorts to encourage that subterfuge. This is the main reason parents don't want their young children going online as they are the ones doing these things above. It's very worrying, a moral breakdown of society fully underway through the web, and this escapism showing just how much penetration and influences the internets anonymous democracy and freedoms intrude into all of our relatively boring and routine lives. We are being invited to do things online we would never have thought of doing before the invention of the internet, some of it good, some of it bad, some of it terrible, some of it inspiring, hiding behind those cyber firewalls to live our 'other' lives. Anyone who has more than 500 facebook friends who is not famous are definitely the ones to worry about the most.

Catfish tells one such tale, that of the long distance internet love story between a handsome young and geeky Manhattan photographer called Yaniv Schuman, and a pretty 23-year-old from rural Michigan, Megan Pierce. After older brother and filmmaker Ariel Schulman notices his younger brothers growing obsession with a family and their friends on facebook, he and fellow filmmaker Henry Joost decide to make Yani their next project, but biting off more than they can chew as the love story gets stranger and stranger. Yani's original connection with the Pierce family to trigger the connection is the artwork of 8-year-old artist and prodigy Abby Pierce, who Yani thinks is very talented for such an age and wants to do an exhibition of her work. But Abby is never available on the phone and so he increasingly chats on facebook with her older sister Megan to learn more about Abby. Megan tells Yani that Abby has 'painted in some of her hair' to be a unique DNA signature for each piece.

At first Yani is taken in by this likeable Midwest family and slowly falls for the interesting and attractive big sister Megan who lives in the neighbouring Michigan town. After many facebook chats he finally makes the phone call to Megan, short but sweet. But when Megan send some songs she claims to have written for Yani the boys get suspicious, a simple cross-reference on YouTube revealing the songs are not hers and so some serious lying going on. As more anomalies pile up Yani and the guys soon think Megan may not be the sexy girl in the photos, however much Yani wants to believe she is, and so they must decide where they and the film will go from here now the cameras are rolling. Should Yani track the real Megan and her family down and risk crushing both their dreams or is there a far more interesting and elaborate modern day deception going on and one that needs to be explored. After all, Megan could well be the beautiful girl in the picture and the two live happy ever after. It's decided that a drive to Michigan from New York to 'surprise' the real Megan and Abby by knocking on their door out of the blue is the course of faction required to complete their film.

Any good?

So, is it all real or just some up and coming filmmakers trying to make their name with some fakery or exaggeration of actual events, the question blatantly asked of you here? It's certainly odd that Yani shares the same office with the filmmakers that want to make the film about this internet love story that is going to turn out to be so strange, egged on by his brother to keep the relationship going to flesh the film out. The question then is does Yani go along with it as he must know what was coming to confirm their suspicious and concerns or does he ditch on the premises? Should he exploit someone who has clearly been exploiting him?

If you press on the links on of the people in front of camera in this documentary we learn that star Yaniv Schuman has appeared in some short films back in 2007 and produced and art directed on other minor projects a year later, even appearing in two episodes of a couple of rather obscure TV series last year, those on and around the time of Catfish final cuts and film festival release. He clearly has acting intentions. Is Yani really a photographer we wonder? It's the same deal for brother Aerial. But when you watch this it does feel very real and you can relate to both Yani's curiosity for a resolution and Megan's apparent ambiguity. We all enjoy some level of deception online right? There are thousands of Megan's on facebook and social networking sites across the planet and although most don't go to the lengths she did to try hook a cute guy both, as I sais, both women and men want to be more than they are online.

I'm sure the narrative line was contrived to make a neat documentary but I believe the Megan character is very real. What she does in the film is exactly what the internet is used for now. Her domestic situation means she can't have the life she dreamed of after college and so did what she did to escape her humdrum life. The online war between attractive people and ugly people is being won by the beautiful people and so it's best to be attractive when you are online. Ugly people have to pretend their lives are vibrant when they partake in the social network world or live with the tirade of insults, whereas the more popular people in cyberspace are often the attractive ones who we aspire to be, and who love to remind you how popular they are through hundreds of photographs with happy smiles and equally attractive friends on their social networks.

Females under the age of 18 gave by far the highest approval rating on for this film at 8.4 out of 10.0, sympathising with the unrequited love story angle of the underdog. Men over 45 awarded it just 6.7/10, cynicism getting the better of them. Surprisingly I didn't think it was all set up and could warm to both Yani's curiosity and Megans longing to be someone else. Its $.5 million profit suggest the hype worked.
What I found most fascinating was the cringing but sad ending we all knew was coming and the way Yani and his friends deal with it. I'm sure the Aerial brothers had storyboarded it how they wanted it to go from the off but what they found at the end of their journey is a lesson for us all, even the beautiful people, that life rarely turns out how you want it to be, how ever happy you look on facebook...

---The Critics-

The Times - "It really is an intriguing modern tale of communication, intimacy, self-knowledge and the web: a great companion to The Social Network".

The Little Rock Messenger -"The facts in the film are slippery, but the revelation of a human personality is surprisingly moving".

The Australian - "The core story might be legitimate, but too much of the film is so blatantly staged that it is impossible to imagine this is a genuine record of life unfolding".

The Daily Mail -"Whether it's real or not is irrelevant. Catfish is an amazing, tense, charming, soulful, utterly surprising portrait about technology & psychology"

The Cape times - "If Inception had you jokingly wonder what is real and what is fake, Catfish will have you frantically scrambling around for totems to spin just to double check the veracity of the existence of yourself and the people around you"

---Ratings--- - 7.1/10.0 (8,489 votes) - 65% critic's approval rating (71% user's approval) - 81% critic's approval rating (70% user's approval)
Summary: Must see documentry

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Comments on this review

  • jules.34 published 17/05/2016
  • Chippytarka published 17/05/2016
    Great write up!x
  • rolandrat123 published 16/05/2016
    Ah yes, can remember watching - intriguing.
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Product Information : Catfish (DVD)

Manufacturer's product description

Love and identity become twisted across the lines of the Internet in this documentary from filmmakers Henry Joost and Ariel Schulman. Nev Schulman is a photographer who one day received a surprising e-mail message -- Abby, an eight-year-old girl in Michigan, had seen his picture in a newspaper and wanted permission to paint a portrait from it. Nev gave his OK, and when he was given a copy of the painting, he was struck by how good it was, assuming that the girl was either a genius or a fraud. Nev tried to contact Abby's family, and somehow ended up in contact with Megan, Abby's sexy 19-year-old sister. As Nev fell into an increasingly complicated on-line relationship with Megan, he decided it was time to meet her in person, but when he travelled to Michigan and tracked her down, Nev learned that Abby and Megan's family were not at all what he expected them to be. Ariel Schulman, Nev's brother, began filming his brother's adventures from his first contact with Abby, and in CATFISH he and Henry Joost tell this strange story from beginning to end.


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