Confessional intimacy of claustrophobic “Wolfpack”


Quentin Tarantino may not have kids of his own but if he did, they might look like “The Wolfpack.”

Imagine a tribe of people for whom Tarantino’s films and any others they could get their hands on became the foundation of their sense of the world. “The Wolfpack” is one such group.

awolfpackThey are brothers, all in their older teens, who grew up on New York’s lower East side but left their apartment and experienced the outside world perhaps once a year.

Their shamanistic father had the only key and their mother home schooled them. They seem to enjoy each other’s company, as if they had any other choice.

Other than that details about their lives are sketchy in the documentary by first time director Crystal Moselle, who is the only guest the youths ever entertained in their home.

However they did have movies, dialogue of which they memorized and scenes of which they re-enacted and filmed, and which are seen from over the years in scratchy VHS home movies.

“Reservoir Dogs” and “Pulp Fiction” are their go-to films. One proudly proclaims the first two “Godfather” films his favorite. And from watching them they develop various technical skills such as making realistic looking props and costumes. One makes a Batman outfit out of cereal boxes.

Life inside the apartment looks as you might expect; numerous people moving around a claustrophobic warren of hallways and rooms. The way Moselle disappears within it and develops a confessional intimacy with the youths, who come across as pensive and thoughtful, is impressive.

But the youths are hard to tell apart and a little of Moselle’s jumpy murky, palette goes a long way.

Similar to “Grey Gardens” as a portrait of lives lived on the periphery, and “The Stanford Prison Experiment” (due at the Downer Theater Aug. 7) as an example of behavior shaped by circumstances “The Wolfpack” is most effectively a glimpse at the concept of shared identity within a family unit.


*** Three Stars

With Bhagavan Angulo, Bovinda Angulo, Jagadisa Angulo, Mukunda Angulo, Narayana Angulo. Produced by Hunter Gray, Crystal Moselle, Alex Orlovsky, Izabella Tzenkova. Directed by Crystal Moselle. Approximate running time: 80 minutes. Rated R: language.

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