The Reeler

Recent Comments


A Girl and a Gun
Ain't It Cool News
Alliance of Women Film Journalists
Anne Thompson
Art Fag City
Better Than Fudge
Big Picture Big Sound
Bitter Cinema
Blank Screen
Brian Flemming
Bright Lights
Celluloid Eyes
Chutry Experiment, The
Cinema Confidential
Cinema Eye
Coming Soon
Cool Cinema Trash
Cyndi Greening
Dark Horizons
Drew's Blog-O-Rama
Esoteric Rabbit
Film Detail
Film Experience, The
Film Journal, The
Film Journey
Film Stew
Film Rotation
GreenCine Daily
Hacking Netflix
Hammer to Nail
High Sign, The
Hollywood Elsewhere
House Next Door, The
IFC Blog, The
In the Company of Glenn
IndieScene Movie Marketing Blog
indieWIRE Blogs
Jay's Movie Blog
JoBlo's Movie Emporium
Kaiju Shakedown
Like Anna Karina's Sweater
Last Night with Riviera
Light Sleeper
Long Pauses
Masters of Cinema
Matt Zoller Seitz
Midnight Eye
Milk Plus
Mind Jack
Movie Blog, The
Movie City Indie
Movie Hole, The
Movie Poop Shoot
New York Cool
NY Post Movie Blog
News of the Dead
No More Marriages!
Notes From Underdog
Out of Focus
Persistence of Vision
Queer Film Review
Reel Roundtable
Screen Rush
Screener (Film Journal Int.)
Screening the Past
Self-Styled Siren
Short Sheet, The
Slant Magazine
Slant Magazine Blog
Still in Motion
Stranger Song, The
They Shoot Pictures, Don't They?
Tisch Film Review
Vince Keenan
World Film (at
You Know, For Film

The Reeler Blog

What I Learned at Summercamp!

The headline is a little misleading, I admit. But only sort-of: Summer camp might have always appeared to be a far bigger deal in the Midwest and on the East Coast than it ever was for a California kid like me, but that big deal is crystallized in Summercamp!, opening today at IFC Center. Directors Bradley Beesley (The Fearless Freaks) and Sarah Price (American Movie) took their cameras to northern Wisconsin, trailing a spectrum of kids, overextended counselors and one particularly philosophical clown through the unalloyed seasonal drama of Swift Nature Camp.

To call Summercamp! honest is to understate its accomplishment; it's not hard to point cameras at a gathering of kids and get something eminently viewable. What Beesley and Price achieve, however, is a kind of invisible confessional that would make Al Maysles proud; between the handful of snapshotty Q&A interludes and cloying Flaming Lips tunes is a collage of an experiment. The filmmakers see everything, from the social development of communities, cliques and romance to the self-conscious ordeal of young Cameron, an overweight adolescent whose decidedly anti-social component is three-dimensionalized even as he strives for distance and, ultimately, isolation. A precocious Tom Clancy devotee emerges emboldened from the receiving end of a wedgie. Nothing is off-limits; pharmaceutical regimens are as commonplace as daydreams, and you are there on the gruesome occasions of fish hooks finding eyelids.

It's all rather fantastic, really, anchored by 20-something camp counselors whose child-psych backgrounds are quickly deduced during wracking episodes of discipline and comfort, alienation and fatigue. Another camper eschews Swift's clowning lessons lest she compromise her maturity, yet pride is a zero-sum game in Summercamp!, and everyone gets a chance to lose. But that's growing up -- whether or not you ever set a flip-flopped foot on the splotchy forest floor, these are your immediate and bittersweet memories. In its shuddering truth, Summercamp! dares to suggest that the grand disaster of youth as we knew it was actually... fun.

Posted at July 18, 2007 1:15 PM

Post a comment

(If you haven't left a comment here before, you may need to be approved by the site owner before your comment will appear. Until then, it won't appear on the entry. Thanks for waiting.)


TrackBack URL for this entry:

Search The Reeler
Join the Mailing List

RSS Feed


Send a Tip