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.