51 Birch Street - Movie Reviews - Rotten Tomatoes

51 Birch Street Reviews

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September 2, 2012
Documentary making is an art form! Very moving and heart felt, and not depressing.
July 27, 2011
For every intriguing moment about losing a parent or discovering one's parents as individuals or the true strife of a marriage, there's a sub-Carrie Bradshaw comment from the director that displays either a seeming lack of historical cultural knowledge or a shallowness in feeling or expression.
May 26, 2011
just finished this incredible film. riveting.
December 20, 2010
Documentarian Doug Block would rather made a decent film with a better use of editing, music, and narration techniques.

Someone wrote the storyline on IMDB : " Documentary filmmaker Doug Block had every reason to believe his parents' 54-year marriage was a good one."
Really ? Did i miss something?
what did he found in his mother's diaries we didn't know already ?
½ December 1, 2010
I feel that the underlying concept of this documentary is very dated, in addition to being banal, and underwhelming. And maybe it's a sad commentary on American society and the state of modern marriage that I am able to say this. So much of American literature and film in recent history has already been devoted to expl...oring divorce, infidelity, and incompatible marriages where the partners are afraid to leave. It just seems like a simple enough concept that an entire documentary did not need to be devoted to it.

And beyond the concept of the movie and its argument (some of my favorite documentaries I have disagreed with every word of) I felt that there was not much redeemable of the movie. It explored a mundane, unimportant, and inconsequential family who in my opinion had mundane problems. The documentary didn't even provide many facts, or appear to have done much legwork or research on the issues presented. I wasn't even impressed with the cinematography and production values. It was a generic single camera documentary, consisting mostly of interviews, and devoid of engaging visual effects and music that bring a film to life. The only interesting advanced techniques could be found when they were actually reading the diaries, which I appreciated. Overall, I found it to be little different than a reality show, only replacing people over 100 years old with orange skinned people from New Jersey.

I want to qualify my review by saying that I may have to be a baby boomer to fully appreciate it, and that maybe that's why it was loved by all of the older critics. I can understand that, so I inflated the rating that I would have given to reflect this fact. And the fact that our generation is desensitized to these issues is even more disturbing. Sadly, I feel that the film's conclusion and message will only further gratify and add fuel to the fire of those who find see marriage as something of convenience, and something that can and should be easily entered into and terminated at will.
½ November 29, 2010
Very human,thanks for the ride.
½ September 23, 2009
Amazingly personal documentary about the parents of director Doug Block and their 54 year marriage, which comes to an end when his mother passes. Almost immediately his father begins a new life and Block realizes he doesn't exactly know his parents, and thus begins an odyssey to find out just who they are. It's touching and deeply felt.
September 19, 2009
Wow...Anyone who is in an unhappy marriage should watch this.The filmaker annoyed me but the story was very sad yet interesting. It really makes you think about how many people waste their lives being miserable when they don't have to be. It's sort of like American Pie but a documentary.
September 2, 2009
Seemingly happy aging couple with so many layers of untold stories and secrets. Wow... This movie made me rethink about relationship as husband and wife for my parents who will soon celebrate their 40th anniversary. What about my own? Hmmm...
½ June 7, 2009
Doug Block uncovers some family secrets that anyone would find juicy, and to him they are unfathomable. We watch as he tries to come to terms. There's also a memorable but subtle feminist / political angle in this film, about a woman in the 50s-60s struggling with her role in the family and society. Very cool.
Super Reviewer
April 4, 2009
Interesting because it's so personal. The director obviously wanted to make a documentary about his family but found out more than he was ready for.
March 30, 2009
i hear this is something i would like. i'll see it one day hopefully
March 25, 2009
Wow. Don't watch this and then listen to any pink floyd, you'll never survive. I really really enjoyed it but it brought up some heavy life questions for sure.
½ January 27, 2009
This is what happens when you discover your parents are also human beings, with the same aspirations, desires and disappointments that all people inevitably have. Despite low budget camera work, the story and content more than make for an engrossing tale of sacrifice, loss, happiness, and bonding.
December 24, 2008
After his mother dies suddently, her son begins to examine his parents' lives and makes some interesting and poignant discoveries, about them and himself and all of us. Well worth your time, very moving and introspective. Modestly filmed, heart felt and honest. I was surprised at how my initial feelings completed turned around by the end of the film. No one is perfect, no marriage ideal, but how do we cope, how do the choices we make affect those around us, those we love? So moving at the end, when the mother lights the big candle on the anniversary cake that says "50" - fifty years of marriage. This is a deeply felt, unassuming film that will move you to tears.
November 10, 2008
Filmmaker Doug Block takes footage from his own family and forms a documentary about his parents after the unexpected death of his mother. Very close and insightful (and often uncomfortable) look at his parents, their relationship, how that wore on their children; as well as some revealing though sad information on his mother that was found in her many hundreds of journals she kept over the years. There was some discussion even in the documentary if she would have wanted that to come out; but if you write journals and hang onto them for decades knowing full well if you do that someone is going to find them someday? You want them found. I would suggest watching "Who Knew?" which is a short on the special features of the same disc after viewing the documentary to see the reactions of the various family members once the movie premiered. That is the icing on the cake. Enjoy.
September 24, 2008
A producer and director of documentary films, Doug Block turns his camera on his own parents, Mike and Mina. The latter is warm and talkative, the former benevolent but rather withdrawn, secretive and difficult to relate to. It is obvious who Block feels closer to.

But then tragedy strikes. Mina catches pneumonia and dies within a fortnight. And no more than four months later, Mike has reconnected with a secretary he knew decades earlier, has married her, and is selling the family house on 51 Birch Street to move to Florida and live with his new wife.

The film documents Block's gradual discovery of his parents' marital secrets through his interviews with his father, siblings and family friends, and, more
importantly, the reading of three full boxes of his mother's obsessively self-absorbed diaries.

"51 Birch Street" is an interesting story of the marital problems of two atheistic Jews (Mike declares himself "within the Humanistic tradition", and Mina was the sexually emancipated, pot-smoking peace
activist), who happened to get married in 1947, right as Kinsey was engineering the sexual revolution in America (his name is not mentioned in the film, but the man must have been behind Mina's reoccupation with "orgasm" and "fellatio", two words highlighted by her son in her diary), and who fell prey to the influence
of the personal Saviour and Redeemer of the modern atheistic Jew: the psychoanalyst ("Everybody falls in
love with their therapist", a lady friend comments at one point.)

As a family mystery, the film is worth watching, just like an episode of the British genealogy series "Who Do You Think You Are?", but I wish Block had tried to delve into the broader socio-cultural currents that impacted on his parents' marriage. Being himself a modern atheistic Jew who shares his parents' basic outlook (he describes himself as "not that religious" and turns to a psychoanalyst for answers), he is only critical of the traditional gender roles and expectations of the 40's and 50's, which bear the blame for whatever may have gone wrong in his parents' marriage, and is very casual about the pathologies of our era - such as drugs, divorce and adultery.
September 15, 2008
Documentary filmmaker Doug Block always thought his parents' 54-year marriage was a good one. But when his mother dies unexpectedly and his father swiftly marries a former secretary he discovers a family history far more complex aNd troubled than he ever imagined. 51 Birch Street is a riveting personal documentary that explores a universal human question - how much about your parents do you really want to know?
September 6, 2008
Great documentary about something very close to a lot of people... Parents...

What happens when you stop looking at your parents as your parents, but see them as a man & woman who had/have the same emotions and desires that you do... This film does a GREAT job at making you think differently.

Another question raised is what if you find your mothers journal, and it goes completely against everything you originally thought of her?

And what do you do with it if you are a documentary filmmaker???? Do you share her innermost thoughts with the world for the "greater good"?

Its an awesome movie, where you cant help but see many parts of your own family in it...

I rented it, but I have to buy it now!!!
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