Monday, May 11, 2009

Diary of a Times Square Thief

Klaas Bense | 2008 | 60 min | Netherlands

It's not that this film is totally incompetent, it's just that it lies to you. Director Klaas Bense begins his story with the Ebay purchase of an ostensibly mysterious diary written by a young man in early 1980s New York. The writer worked in the Times Square Hotel, a former flophouse, and detailed his many run ins with its colourful characters, as well as his own creative struggles, and his petty thefts of patrons and strangers.

Bense travels to New York to track down the names mentioned in the diary in the hopes of tracing the steps back to the writer. He interviews current residents of the Times Square Hotel, now a hip downtown address, and rations out a few details regarding the era, city, and building we are to believe he is investigating.

The greater issue with the film arises when Bense does "find" the writer and interviews him. The diarist is a wonderful and engaging storyteller, but he does let slip one detail: he is the Ebay seller of the diary. The director was in direct contact with him from the original moment of purchase. The film's narrative is a sham, and the lack of detail in tracking down the other interviewees is not a mistake, but a purposeful omission.

Even if it were not for this detail the film would be clumsy, too thin on information, and too in love with itself to be a success. But, since it erodes all credibility and structure within the film, considering that detail as I left the theatre made me furious.

7 comments:

Claire said...

that is not a thing i noticed! and anyways, the amount the guy loved making this one trumps quibbling. (quibbling!)
there were bits where he took an interview, learned something, and picked a picture to go with it. its nice! the bubble from the balcony as he has his big premise question, the clown fish and symbiotic sea bush with the lady who lived off her room. some kind of very nice simplicity, seeing how someone thought a thing. sure!

aaron said...

QUIBBLING?! How dare you.

However, I will add this bit of info I received from my friend Steven regarding a prior screening of the film: "At the screening I went to, during the Q&A the director said that it wasn't actually the subject he was in contact with (the eBay seller) but that it was a 'middle man' who wouldn't answer any questions about where the diary came from.
Just thought you'd like to know.
*shoulder shrug*"

Bense wasn't present for a Q + A at my screening, so thanks for filling in the film's blanks, Steven. But I gotta say, it sounds like bullshit to me.

Claire said...

strong word? hey, kicks from the making trump lies about premise any day.

another good thing from the q+a, he was talking about the interviews, that he had an hour an a half to win some cagey strangers and get suuper personal answers. he said this was because he asked questions that meant they had to go back to their memory, and from that he would get these answers that were honest and were in the context of their lives up to the point of asking, from which he could follow up on details. charming guy!

sue kaufman said...

You were very kind to this film, generally it was a garbage documentary in terms of production values, and the dishonesty you point out is unforgivable. This guy should never be allowed to make another film again!

Pablo said...

Ok guys film by definition is not truth, so whether the guy was already in contact with the author or not is totally irrelevant; the film has it's own truth.@Sue, you must be insane; no production value. How about the stunning imagery the helikopter shots etc. What do you expect 2012? It's a documentary, remember?

sue kaufman said...

Based on a clip from this "documentary" that has been posted on YouTube that includes close-ups of pages from the "diary," the object in question was created circa 2001 -- 1999 at the very earliest.

The evidence is incontrovertible and I encourage anyone to contact me for the proof, as I intend to expose this fraud in a larger arena shortly.

You may draw your own conclusions, but as for my own: The diary is a fake, the film is a hoax, and the "director" is a fraud.

Note to Klaas Bense (AKA "Pablo" from the previous post on this page we are looking forward to scrutinizing all your work in the future for fraudlent practices.

Roderick said...

Sue, do you really believe this film is about a diary found on ebay??

The film is about us all, how we live our lives, cope with difficulties, but in most cases, find the right direction. This was all shot in beautiful interviews with just ordinary people who found this right direction.

Blaming Klaas Bense for fraud shows your still looking for something, I hope you find it someday...