Barry Sonnenfeld, Call Your Mother Lib/E: Memoirs of a Neurotic Filmmaker (Compact Disc)

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By Barry Sonnenfeld (Read by)
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Staff Reviews


There’s a Spanish saying, “Al pan, pan y al vino, vino.” This “dicho” or saying means that one should speak frankly and with clarity about the subject at hand. Director, producer, and cinematographer Barry Sonnenfeld’s memoir, Barry Sonnenfeld, Call Your Mother, does this like no other filmmaker’s or actor’s autobiography I’ve read. It’s a cringer, but that’s how I like it, too! I realized that much of what I hear and read in popular culture and mainstream media is packaged so as to avoid the unvarnished truth. Perhaps the varnish looks prettier and sells more products or ideas or people. Additionally, directness feels, well, too direct. 

Sonnenfeld, director of Men in Black, Men in Black II, Get Shorty, Addams Family, and Wild, Wild, West, discusses his unusual childhood and how he inadvertently became a filmmaker. I didn’t know I knew him. As a cinematographer, he has also been connected to many important films, for example, Blood Simple, Raising Arizona, Big, When Harry Met Sally..., and Misery.

Sonnenfeld attended film school to avoid getting a job. In a recent interview he said, “I went to [New York University] graduate film school literally only because it kept me out of the job market for three additional years. I had no interest in film.” His plan was to become a still photographer, but he discovered that he was good at cinematography. This is how he landed his first professional shoot. I’ve never encountered a more harrowing description of a porn film shoot, actually nine films made over the same weekend in a loft in New York City. His description is unsparing. I never understood how important good lighting is until now.

Sonnenfeld also names names on many of the film sets. He developed a strong working relationship with Will Smith, even though the making of Wild, Wild West hardly went as planned. Penny Marshall told him he wasn’t a very good cinematographer and tried to fire him from her film, but the production company wouldn’t let her. He says Marshall also thought Tom Hanks wasn’t a very good actor, but the film turned out to be a good one anyway. Here we’re talking about the film Big.

Recently, he appeared on Alec Baldwin’s radio show, Here’s The Thing, which I highly recommend. It doesn’t give away much, and you’ll get a sense of Sonnenfeld’s tender quirkiness. He has his own brand of neurotic humor, too. When he survived a 1999 plane crash, he said, “The weird thing is that I hate to fly, and the quote that I give people is that every time I get off a plane, I view it as a failed suicide attempt." To prove that his story of that crash is true, he includes the NTSB recording from the black box, which has the co-pilot saying things like, 'Yee, haw,' and 'I don't think we're going to make it.'

You never know where Sonnenfeld will take you in this memoir. I couldn’t anticipate his choices. It’s a book for film lovers, for those who enjoy nonfiction, and for people who want to know how the film industry really works. Get ready for the close up.

— Patricia

Description


Film and television director Barry Sonnenfeld's outrageous and hilarious memoir traces his idiosyncratic upbringing in New York City, his breaking into film as a cinematographer with the Coen brothers, and his unexpected career as the director behind such huge film franchises as The Addams Family and Men in Black, and beloved work like Get Shorty, Pushing Daises, and A Series of Unfortunate Events.Barry Sonnenfeld's philosophy is, Regret the Past. Fear the Present. Dread the Future. Told in his unmistakable voice, Barry Sonnenfeld, Call Your Mother is a laugh-out-loud memoir about coming of age. Constantly threatened with suicide by his over-protective mother, disillusioned by the father he worshiped, and abused by a demonic relative, Sonnenfeld somehow went on to become one of Hollywood's most successful producers and directors.Written with poignant insight and real-life irony, the book follows Sonnenfeld from childhood as a French horn player through graduate film school at NYU, where he developed his talent for cinematography. His first job after graduating was shooting nine feature length pornos in nine days. From that humble entr e, he went on to form a friendship with the Coen Brothers, launching his career shooting their first three films.Though Sonnenfeld had no ambition to direct, Scott Rudin convinced him to be the director of The Addams Family. It was a successful career move. He went on to direct many more films and television shows. Will Smith once joked that he wanted to take Sonnenfeld to Philadelphia public schools and say, If this guy could end up as a successful film director on big budget films, anyone can. This book is a fascinating and hilarious roadmap for anyone who thinks they can't succeed in life because of a rough beginning.
Product Details
ISBN: 9781549131646
ISBN-10: 1549131648
Publisher: Hachette Books
Publication Date: March 10th, 2020
Language: English