We take a look at this year’s weirdest documentary and ask one of its cinephile subjects about his favourite movies.

You might have heard of The Wolfpack. It’s the bizarre, sometimes devastating, often heart-warming story of the Angulo children: six brothers (and one mainly off-screen sister) whose cultish and frankly cruel father kept them inside a Manhattan apartment for most of their lives. We’re forced to piece together the backstory gradually as we catch unilluminating glimpses of the father and strangely enigmatic interviews with the mother – who home-schools her children and lives off the income the state grant her for it. By the end, we’re still not entirely sure of the reasons and exact circumstances of the boys’ strange existence.

But really that’s just one dark aspect of Crystal Moselle’s engrossing documentary. Yes, it’s an exploration of a problematic social experiment in parenting that has left the Angulo brothers eccentric and in some ways damaged. But it’s also a testament to the strength of brotherhood, the resilience of creativity and, of course, the power of cinema. The brothers (some young men, some still in their early teens) are fully fledged film-obsessives who spend their time re-enacting their favourite movies together – they’re particularly keen on Reservoir Dogs, unsurprising given that they look similar and love working a black suit and sunglasses ensemble.

From recreating a remarkably accurate Batman costume out of yoga mats and cereal boxes, to shooting their own original film in the confines of the apartment, they live and breathe movies. More than that, they see the outside world through a movie lens; their first visit to a sandy beach is understood as akin to Lawrence of Arabia and tall trees are like the fantasy forests of The Lord of the Rings. They even speak in a kind of mobster-meets-hardboiled-detective cinema-patois that could only come from limited time in the real world and plenty of hours spent staring at celluloid.

Although by the last scenes of the film the Angulo boys are on the road to a kind of strange normality – and the documentary’s success has afforded them opportunities they surely could never have dreamt of – watching The Wolfpack is frequently moving and deeply uncomfortable. Still, the kindness, passion and innocence of the brothers is uplifting and, at times, even funny. Imagine our joy, then, when Wonderland got the opportunity to ask Govinda Angulo (one of the oldest of the clan) about his all-time favourite films: The Wolfpack is a movie that blurs the lines between reality and the movies, so what could be more in the weird meta-cinematic spirit of the whole thing than this?

Govinda’s Top 5 Movies

Blue Velvet – The only movie that you experience like a dream, complimented with an ominous symphony. You don’t have to understand or scrutinize it like a book. It encompasses all the arts: direction, acting, music, color direction, camera movement…everything is perfectly orchestrated by the director – David Lynch…You can just feel the velvet… like a dream it needs no explanation.

Cinema Paradiso – The first movie that brought me to tears. A story about a friendship blossoming through the cinema. A projectionist and a boy who grows up to be a filmmaker. Incredible Italian soundtrack by Ennio Morricone and strong storytelling by Tornatore…scenes like the film strip fire just ache your heart – Pure movie magic.

Apocalypse Now – One of the greatest cinematographers (Vittorio Storaro) showed his talents and it became one of those movies that was revolutionary in its making. It takes a lot of risks… there isn’t a single war film like it. Very philosophical… an astounding biblical slice of epic madness that became Vietnam…Walter Murch, Vittorio Storaro. Marlon Brando, and Francis Ford Coppola…need I say more?

Taxi Driver – a true New York story unlike any other. A character who is the anti-hero but a hero at the same time. He’s a loner in New York city just like everyone is…social and psychological themes lie beneath a vast and ugly surface of urban reality. The movie is extremely beautiful despite it’s on location lensing, lighting, and sound of the big apple… creepy jazzy score by Bernard Herrmann really emulates the melancholy mood…a real pinnacle of 70’s movie mania.

Citizen Kane – The movie that broke all the rules in terms of storytelling, cinematography and movie making in itself. Orson Welles set the standard of a young rebel directing in his own voice. The plot is told through other character viewpoints… depth of story and character is revealed through people’s memories or written memorabilia. Deep focus cinematography became a tool that played a major role in mood setting and storytelling….this is a must for all movie buffs and film study.


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