Barry Sonnenfeld, Call Your Mother: Memoirs of a Neurotic Filmmaker
FFC rating: 8/10
by Barry Sonnenfeld
by Bill Chambers Barry Sonnenfeld is a renowned cinematographer and a director with more than a few blockbusters on his resume (The Addams Family, the original Men in Black trilogy), but the Sonnenfeld who's front and centre in his autobiographical Barry Sonnenfeld, Call Your Mother: Memoirs of a Neurotic Filmmaker is the raconteur who's honed his craft on talk shows with comic tales from his civilian life as the offspring of overbearing parents and husband of the beloved "Sweetie," many of which reach their final form here. Cinephiles may consequently find the book to be something of a disappointment compared to, say, fans of humorists like David Sedaris. While Sonnenfeld does touch on his experiences in filmmaking (including a stint in porn), he skips blithely over some milestones on his CV or remembers them for exceedingly idiosyncratic reasons that won't sate any conventional curiosity one might have about them. For example, Miller's Crossing, arguably the pinnacle of his three-movie collaboration with the Coen Brothers, is reduced to the production that climaxed with his wedding. On the other hand, there's value in Sonnenfeld's somewhat dumbfounded consideration of his unlikely journey up the Hollywood food chain, which shows that fate and, let's face it, white male privilege can play major roles in launching a film career. His utter lack of sentiment when it comes to his achievements makes for a tonic against the typical showbiz-dreamer's success story.
It is also a very, very funny book.