"A horrible thing happened here, and you want to celebrate that? Haven't you ever lost anybody?"
- actress Suzanne Ford portraying the modern day owner of LaBianca house in Manson Family Vacation"Their actually better than a real family cause they went out and found each other"
- Linas Phillips (As Conrad) explaining "The Family" to his nephew in Manson Family Vacation
Much love and gratitude, as always, to Patty for turning me on to this movie. I was so anxious to see it, that I originally watched it as soon as I got home, in the middle of the night, after a long flight back from the West Coast. I was tired, and catching the "Good-nite buzz", so by the time the movie hit its last 45 minutes- I was not in the proper condition to comprehend what ended up happening. So, I then watched it again the next morning to make sure that I had not somehow misunderstood. After realizing I hadn't, I watched it a third time...
This is not a comedy or road-trip buddy movie. I thought that is what it would be, and for the first 40 minutes, it sort of was. It does have elements of both of those types of films throughout. But, ultimately, there is more going on here than that. A lot more. I waited a few weeks to type this review so as to give the people in the community so inclined the chance to see it before revealing the ending. I am going to do that now. So, if you wish to take this trip on your own - now is the time to bail.
For the rest of you...
Before I go into the full review and my commentary, I want to take a minute to make some general comments. First of all, the average score for this movie on Rotten Tomatoes is a 6.9. A good score. It has received some recognition in the form of positive reviews and awards as well. Partly funded by kickstarter- this Duplass Brothers movie has been obviously well received by the general public who have screened it. This wasn't a big budget production, and the marketing is not likely to attract the mass audience awareness to get this movie the type of attention I think it deserves. That is a shame.
Next, there was a movie made not too long ago called "Waiting" starring Ryan Reynolds. It was about one day at a T.G.I. Fridays/Bennigans styled restaurant. It was a semi-funny comedy that most people got a few laughs from and then forgot all about. However, if you have ever worked in the restaurant business- watching that movie was an entirely different experience for you. There is a set of terms, expressions, and phrases that are almost like another language going on inside of a kitchen that most people in the general public would think was from another planet. A sub-culture among the staff exists in those types of restaurants that only people who been part of one will understand. Manson Family Vacation will feel a lot like that to most of you in this community. If the general public gives this move a 6.9- then in our world you can add another point or two for things we understand that the general public will just never get. As a recent visitor to every location they used in this film- I can tell you that they are fairly accurate. They go to the exact street intersections of both the Tate, and LaBianca homes, but when they film the close up scenes in and in front of the actual houses- they are not the actual houses ( I guess that is understandable lol). They have central characters named "Blackbird and Sunshine" ( Tobin Bell and Davie-Blu) who are clear references to Greywolf and Star. There is mention of going to Death Valley to join an " Environmental group." Most of the general public won't get that means ATWA or understand the real relevance of those two characters. So, I guess my point is that there are probably going to be a few people who might make the same mistake I made of paying too much attention to the trivia and not paying enough attention to the road ahead and bigger picture. This movie takes a serious turn. I had no idea where it was headed and it ended up having an impression on me when it got to its conclusion. A real catharsis takes place at the end of this film. But before we get into that, let me start at the beginning....
The two main characters in this film are brothers. One is a successful corporate attorney named Nick ( Jay Duplass) who is married with one 7 year old child. The other brother, Conrad ( Linas Phillips), was adopted. He is a frustrated artist type who, we learn early on, has just quit his job. Conrad has sold all his possessions, and is heading out to Death Valley to join an "Environmentalist group". On his way to Death Valley, Conrad is going to stop by his brother Nicks' house to visit for a couple of nights.
Sidebar - Nicks wife ( Leonora Pitts) - Either by coincidence or not- reminds me very much of what a modern day "Cosmo" type Manson girl might look like lol. Maybe its just me?- or this intentional casting? Sort-of-Plain, yet somehow sexy. Vulnerable but strong... I was smitten with this actress lol
The film begins with some older footage of Charlie giving an interview about the Children. You have seen this one before. He explains why he stays relevant to Children. He does the wild arm-flagging dance for the reporter, He is "Brand new" he tells the interviewer. He is one of them...
We then get introduced to both of our main characters. Conrad is hitchhiking up towards his brothers house with not much success. Nick is at his office explaining to his secretary, and by extension to us, who Conrad is and what his situation is. Then soon after, Nick is at home having the same discussion, with a little more detail, with his wife. During this conversation we learn that Conrad was adopted and that he has missed their recent fathers funeral. Conrad has been an edgy, irresponsible child who was always very interested in death and conspiracies, and his art work is very dark. I felt the first time around this scene was written to explain why the two brothers were so obviously different, and to set up why Conrad might have such dark interests. It sort of was- but not for the reasons I thought as we will see later. Anyway around the time they have given up wondering when he would get there...
Conrad finally shows up at Nicks house. He hides under a table and startles him by jumping out and grabbing him with one arm and thrusting a ( anyone?) buck knife at him with the other. After saying hello, and having Conrad explain he has quit his job and is heading out to Death Valley, Conrad and Nick go outside of Nicks beautiful home to talk privately. After requesting to sleep in the back yard in a tent, Conrad reveals to Nick he has a plan for them for the following day. He wants to visit some sites around town related to the Charles Manson murder cases. After showing some initial reluctance, Nick succumbs as Conrad is able to use guilt- a common theme here with Nick- to convince him he only has one day in town before he leaves and it is something they can do together. There a few moments in this film where Nick is forced to make a choice between common sense and doing something questionable out of a feeling of guilt about how he has treated Conrad. Again, with his wife constantly pushing him in Conrads direction, Nick goes through more changes in this movie than any other character. There is a strong indication early and often that Conrad has been treated as an outsider his entire childhood. Nick is constantly agonizing over the role he played in that. This will lead him down a challenging path later when trying to reconcile major revelations. But at this early point- Nick simply agrees to chauffeur his brother to a few local locations. It is important to note that the contrast between the brothers is emphasized strongly early on. Nick was the real child, and the overachiever. Conrad was the outsider, who nobody ever seemed to care much about. At one point in an early conversation Nick points out to Conrad that "Your whole dynamic is this everyone hates me thing." To this Conrad simply asks him back "Well don't they?" The question goes unanswered. It is apparent that Conrad has always been an outsider in his adopted family. Nick acts very condescending towards Conrad frequently in the early part of the film.
The next day is more or less what I thought this whole movie was going to be. They go on a laugh a minute, embarrassment a minute for Nick, furious tour around LA of the major Manson related locations. One noticeable omission was the Spahn Ranch. But again, as a recent visitor, there isn't much there anymore to see. They went to the front of the gate at Cielo, and the front yard at Waverly. They ate at El Coyote. They cruise around the locales, as Nick points out to Conrad at one point, "Your enthusiasm for all of this is frightening." After embarrassing Nick at the Tate house to a neighbor by taking off his sweatshirt to reveal a Manson T shirt and screaming, Conrad calms him down in the car by using guilt again, along with a few hits of weed. By the time they get to Waverly, a buzzing Nick is helping Conrad get into the house by making up a lie to the present owners about being the Labainca's grandkids. This back and forth with Nick is constantly happening. He is primarily repulsed by the subject matter. On the other hand, he is constantly trying to pacify and make things right with his brother who he feels is running away in part due to a life of neglect he in part caused. So he repeatedly helps Conrad get into and around these places, and later people, which repulse him. "People died here. you have to respect that." Nick tells Conrad outside of the Tate house. Yet 30 minutes later, he is lying trying to help him get pics in front of the LaBianca's refrigerator.
It is an interesting question. Where do we draw the line? Where do I draw my own? I am repulsed by what the murderers did, and what happened at these places. But, I too was at that gate....
During the day we see that Conrad knows a lot about the case. He carries around a copy of Helter Skelter, but people in the community will hear Conrad say things which indicate a much more thorough understanding of the events which took place than that particular book offered. Someone did their homework. I will get to more about this shortly. At one point when looking it over Nick comes across a pic of the babies and asks what happened to them. I never paid attention to Conrad's muted answer the first screening around. A sort of theme starts to develop where Conrad reveals more and more about his actual destination, and his involvement with Charlie as time goes on, and Nick starts to realize that there is more to this situation than meets the eye. At the end of the nite, back at Nicks house, they end up arguing about Conrad's involvement with Nick's young son- who has been having some trouble at school. However, after another heart to heart with the wife and another guilt ridden trip down memory lane, Nick agrees to drive Conrad out to Death Valley so he wont have to hitch. Interesting that later Conrad is able to offer some sage advice to Nick about how to handle his son...
When they get out to Death Valley Nick realizes quickly that Conrad is joining up with a group of "Manson People." By now, Nick is more or less on a rescue mission. It has become apparent that Conrad's entire agenda has been to join a group of people who all have some type of a connection to Charlie. Nick is disgusted, but feels partly responsible, so he sticks around to both help Conrad in his quest to find the leader of the group ( Blackbird), as well as to sort of watch out for him. We start to see now that Nick is feeling responsible for all of this. His own guilt along with the constant reinforcement from his wife ( who constantly refers to Conrad sweetly as "Connie") has manifested. Now add in that Conrad has played his own situation beautifully. Actor Linas Phillips does a perfect job as Conrad of looking menacing and dangerous, but coming across as sweet and gentle. He says just the right things to Nick at the precise moments they will deliver the most impact. He is always playing the sympathy card perfectly, and never aggressive. On the ride up there are a few funny moments. At one point Conrad plays a few tunes from the LIE CD, and lets Nick compliment them, before telling him who is singing. This is a trick I have done myself a few times lol
This brings me back to the point about someone doing their homework. The leaders of the group they are trying to find, and ultimately do, are two characters named "Blackbird and Sunshine" who seem to run the environmental group. This, again, is an obvious reference to Greywolf, and Star. The group itself is an obvious reference to ATWA. At one point in Death Valley Blackbird takes Conrad to see the "Black Bus". There are a few mentions in this movie the casual viewer probably would not get like some of the rest of us would. One wonders who may have helped with this movie, or where they got their information?
Anyway- the final act of this movie takes it in almost a completely different direction. The laughs are over. It seems that Charlie has been waiting patiently for Conrad to show up, and is asking about him every day. The Sunshine character takes an immediate sexual interest in Conrad and everyone in the environmental group treats him with deference. That nite in Death Valley culminates with a party for Conrad with the whole environmentalist group. As more and more people heap praise and adulation at Conrad, Nick wonders around taking it all in, and trying to figure out a way to get his brother out of there. Then the "Blackbird" character takes Nick aside and delivers the zinger. He shows a picture of the babies from "The Family" similar to the one Nick had seen earlier in H/S and goes into a little more detail about what happened to them. Then he shows Nick another picture of a woman and a baby and tells him that this baby is Conrad.
Conrad is Charlie's son.
Now this may sound like it could go off the rails at this point, but somehow it works. Tobin Bell does an amazing job in his role as 'Blackbird", and by now Linas Phillips has reeled you in. You care about Conrad. And now it all makes sense. The adoption, the dark art, the scary eyes blended with the easy manner. Nick, who by now isn't looking nearly as smart or cocky as in the first part of the film, is shocked and appalled. The roles have reversed now. Conrad is confident and in charge of his destiny and Nick seems out of place and lost. All I can say is that this transition happens so slowly in front of you that, to me, it just worked ( At least once I watched it semi-straight lol). Nick tries to convince Conrad that he has a "real" family, and he needs to come back with him. He lays it all on the line and takes full responsibility for the years of pain he has caused Conrad. But, Conrad gets a call from Charlie at that exact moment and has to make a choice. He takes the call. A furious and disappointed Nick is left to go home alone. Nick thinks things through during the long ride home, and then after having one more talk with the wife, Nick knows that there is only one thing that he can do. So, he heads back to Death Valley to rescue Conrad for once and all. This sets up the final confrontation of good versus evil. Right versus wrong. Real Family versus "The Family"...
He gets to the prison where Conrad is about to meet Charlie for the first time just as Conrad is about to enter. They have one final brilliantly acted conversation, which almost brought a tear to my eye, outside the entrance to the prison. And then.....
Well, lol- if you are still interested- you will have to go watch for yourself!
The Manson Family Vacation starts and ends with audio of Charlie. This movie takes place in a world that some people reading this belong to, and others of us reading this flirt with. It floats from location to location with Charlie looming over the entire story-line, but I believe not at its core. I believe, at its core, this a movie about family. Family and interpersonal relationships. What is a real family? Who are your real brothers and sisters? Is it as simple as blood and biological parents? What happens when you have two groups of people you belong to, or have ties to? What counts more when it comes to loyalty to people- where you come from or where your going? In the case of this movie- what if you dont even feel attached to one group at all, but have been tied to them through no choice of your own? How do you make these choices? Well, this movie ends with the idea that there might be hope there is a way one wouldn't have to choose. If we can open our hearts just a little bit to compassion and understanding it may be possible to have it both ways. Conrad ends up teaching Nick a few lessons in this movie, and after the first 30 minutes of it- if you saw that coming- your a lot more perceptive than I. This movie made me laugh, think and even a little sentimental. What else can you ask for from a flic?
Saint Circumstance says: On a scale of 1 to 10 Coors Lites - 8 pack :)
Thanks again Patty :)
-Your Favorite Saint
Saint, I look forward to seeing this movie. Oh, btw, the Ryan Reynolds movie "Waiting" was hilarious. "Don't F*CK with people that handle your food!"
I usually love a good indie film. And with that title, I was very intrigued.
But I just didn't think it was a good movie. The acting was very "C" grade and wooden. The pacing sucked. And the whole ending was really out there. A weird movie. I doubt this will gain any cult status. I watched it twice, to make sure I wasn't just too tired the night before. I hated it even more the second time around. LoL.
I really wanted to like this movie. But I hate it.
Sure, the locations, and research was all there, but the rest? Meh.
But like Dirty Harry said in "The Death Pool," "Opinions are like assholes. Everybody's got one." And many may enjoy this movie. I just can't see it gaining much interest.
BTW, I'm addicted to this blog. At least 3 years now. THE BEST "Family" related site hands down on the internet!
Thanks for putting this blog together! GREAT group of people on here. Er, except for scary Vera :-)
There is a "litmus" test to determine whether any Manson Family movie or book is constructed with facts OR with a significant amount of IMAGINATION.
Watch for the words: Vietnam, Black Muslims and whether there are "DIRECT" quotes expressed in context with NAMES of the actual "speakers."
That's NOT to say "fiction" is BAD - it actually works wonders on the troubled mind.
BTW: Yesterday, in San Berdu, California WE got our 15 minutes of "climate" CHANGE. In France, THEY have already SHUT-DOWN (3) Mosques.
Thus, isn't it time for Obama to invite EVERYONE involved over to the "White" house for a Coors Lite ?
John, thank you!
yeah, the benignly bombastic Saint is a bit off on this one. John Segar is dead on, the wooden pacing obfuscates what is an intriguing concept. A good film carries you somewhere tastey. Watching this one was like wandering the aisles of CVS with a bad back.
Is that an actual photo of Austin Ann? She's a stunner. Austin does have an abundance of wonderful women.
I hope your health is well Leary.
Stoner is convinced that this movie is about him. Lol
Leary, that is very kind thing to say about me. Thank you....
Saint, of course I meant 'benignly bombastic' as a total compliment - some of my favorite characters, such as Foghorn Leghorn, are benignly bombastic. Your writing the past year or so has been top notch.
Health is always a battle, Saint, but I'll be damned if Charlie outlives me. I bet that pissed Vince off. Anyone know anything about VB's send off?
You're welcome, AA. I love women with intelligent eyes and yours are summa cum laude.
Wow! They made a movie about you guys.
Did Buster get a role?
I'll have a look at this movie for sure. However, I wont get my hopes up. I just find that it's a rare thing when a movie about the Manson Family , or related material, really captures the "vibe" , if you know what I mean. Still, I'm keen to check it out.
Yeh, makes you wonder where they got the idea, right?
Looks pretty stupid. Couldn't be as bad as Live Freaky, Die Freaky though. That was so stupid I didn't make it half way through.
Manson Family Archives, Patty rather liked that one.
what a fabulous avatar Fiddy has...the Tom Brady as a criminal sketch. Priceless.
Hello all... I appreciate the feedback very much. As John Seger fairly pointed out- everyone will have their own opinion. I guess this movie may have had some special appeal for me, BUT please let me tell you why lol ;)
Would you believe that...
My best friend from high school ended up being a Corporate Attorney in LA? Yep- partner in his firm. He has a multi-million dollar house in the hills of Malibu overlooking the Ocean. What if I also told you another guy who I knew from the same high school Ran a business renting out Mansions, Yachts, and Exotic Sports Cars in Beverly Hills.
I know who cares lol Saint is Bragging.... maybe - I'm buzzed and butt hurt nobody agreed with my review lol BUT..
This is all true. It is also true that I had made plans to go out there and spend some time with both of them, for the first time in over 25 years, about two weeks before I found out the dates for last years Manson Tour. It ended up the trips were ten days apart.
So I went twice.
I spent a week with people who are real loyalists to Charlie and "The Family'.
Then I went back and spent time visiting some of the most exclusive areas, homes and restaurants in Hollywood and Beverly Hills. I have pics of myself with reality TV actresses, and in homes with backyards that have private tennis courts, and pools that have underwater views from the downstairs rooms in the guest houses out back... I really lived out the lives of both of these characters personally just a few days apart.
Again not bragging- but just thinking that maybe all this personal shit had an affect on my judgement of the movie?
I get what happens when both of these worlds collide. I am sure I am not the only one lol- but this movie really brought this home to me.
The contrast between the romanticism of the times, places, and lifestyle and the reality of what really went down are confusing to say the least . Look- if your in a position in life where telling people you are into Charles Manson publicly is not going to cost you- what I am saying will sound like BS. But to others- it might make some sense.
Again it all just opinion at the end of the day lol. Everyone will have their own. I just hope everyone gives this film a chance and decides for themselves. In that vain- I am not a professional critic, but here are the opinions of some who are:
has anyone truly defined the Manson "vibe". Susan? I suspect there has to be an accompanying odor to it. I wonder if a Manson cologne would sell?
A familiar relational dynamic — the responsible square vs. the hopeless screw-up — gets an affecting workout in “Manson Family Vacation,” a tale of two bickersome brothers who find tentative reconciliation awaiting them at the end of a long, strange trip. With fewer bigscreen acting credits to his name than his own brother and frequent collaborator Mark, Jay Duplass makes a welcome co-lead here as an uptight family man dealing with the latest shenanigans cooked up by his visiting older sibling, a death-obsessed drifter played with equal assurance by Linas Phillips (“Bass Ackwards”). Their persuasive chemistry should generate modest attention for writer-director J. Davis’ slender but engaging seriocomedy, while providing an early test of Netflix’s potential in the feature-distribution arena.
ay Duplass's wayward brother Linas Phillips has a puzzling obsession with the cult leader.
L.A. residents hosting visiting relatives might be expected to grin and bear it through another trip to the Walk of Fame, Rodeo Drive or Universal Studios. But what do you do when your aimless, middle-aged brother shows up wanting you to explore sites of the Manson Family murders with him? Jay Duplass handles that chore with as much grace as possible in Manson Family Vacation, J. Davis's writing/directing debut. Far less sensationalistic or cutesy-provocative than its title suggests, the film borrows its subject's infamy to add gravity to some family drama but does so in a good-hearted way. Funny and modestly charming, it will expand Netflix's investment in the Duplass brothers (the company picked this title up after its January four-film deal with their production company) but isn't likely to make a tremendous impact on its own.
Written and directed by J. Davis, the dramedy Manson Family Vacation cleverly delivers a funny and heartfelt story about two brothers at odds with one another, which is set to the odd backdrop of them following the history and philosophy of notorious criminal Charles Manson.
I honestly didn’t know what to expect when going into Manson Family Vacation, and I must say I was pleasantly surprised with the outcome. The humor is mostly dry and understated, never silly, and the strong performances from Duplass and Phillips especially aid in nailing this unique dysfunctional family story.
Saint, I had read the Variety review, which dissapointed me more when I actually viewed the movie.
I think the difference between Critic's opinions, and the public's opinions are they are getting paid to state their opinion.
Some films have catchy titles going for them and not much else. Fortunately, in the case of the brilliantly titled “Manson Family Vacation,” there’s much more going on than just tossed off allusions to the ‘60s psychopath. In fact, Charles Manson permeates the entire fabric of this film, which is a surprising gem of a brotherly love charmer that explores the real meanings of “family.” Just with, you know, notorious imprisoned cult leaders to guide the way.
Katie Walsh The Playlist
Hey John- fair enough lol I am just a passionate person about my opinions and this movie did it for me lol
I get it if It didn't for you :) I respect your opinion.
All good- Thanks for the comments and complimenting my favorite blog site brother
Saint, ok ok. We get it. You love this movie and so do the critics you'vve posted. LoL. That's dedication! LOL. By the way, your trips to LA sound awesome
I get it though, Saint. I've been a follower of Stevie Nicks since 1982, and been to 35 concerts, and even met her 2 years ago. I worship the ground she barely walks on as she twirls! LOL. But I know not everybody else agrees. We all have our faves and own things that make us feel great, or hit a nerve.
Stevie Nicks Rocks lol
All the way back to Buckingham Nicks ;)
Buckingham Nicks is amazing. That guitar solo in "Frozen Love." Stevie's newest 24 Karet Gold: songs from the vault" is fantastic!
Off topic (Sorry Saint)
After reading an ebook account of unsolved disapearance of Kristen Modafferi I searched with her name to see whether she'd turned up after the story was written. That's when I ran into Paul Dostie and Buster.
Haha...a cologne? Perhaps called "Unwashed Arse" ?
Re "vibe" I can only say I had to pause the "approach to the Tate house " scene in Helter Skelter 2004. My nerves were so on edge in the lead up to it. Then came the LaBianca murder scenes. I was freaked out.
Never a bad time to talk about Buster. When I met Dotsie I think he mentioned that Buster was sort of retired lol
Glad you didn't take offence, Saint. Buster seems to be having a fairly active retirement.
Maybe I'm wrong. I was s little buzzed by the time we met with him. Buster want there though and I thought someone said he was not really too active anymore? Lol. My memory isn't what it used to be. But an awful lot happened on that trip lol
I just read the link... Buster only has three legs. That is what I heard that day and I guess I must have just assumed he was semi-retired...
FLASH forward 50 years, "ISIS Family Vacation" - up for 3 Academy Awards.
We're both making assumptions. I figured he was fairly active because he was sniffing around for the girls body. I think I heard about him doing some nose work somewhere else too. It could have been this same case my memory never was very good.
What might be throwing you guys off is that most articles about Dostie and Buster say that Dostie is a retired police officer from Mammoth Lakes. But both are still active in the cadaver finding thing which, I believe, is volunteer. Dostie and Buster have gone overseas to Tarawa look for missing WWII soldiers and have also sniffed out the former Hodel property in LA looking for evidence that George Hodel killed the Black Dahlia in the past year or so.
greatest movie ever !!!!!...lol....
Thanks Deb !!
Patty met Buster while he was still four legged we have photos somewhere on this blog of that day. It was the very first tour.
Thanks! Both the Black Dalia and Tarawa sniff expeditions both sound familiar. I'd probably heard of both.
Was the 20012 tour the one where Buster tried to hump the Grump's dog?
Lol yes indeed
That little doggie should be ashamed of himself.
Maybe he sniffed up some evidence of the Family's "free-lovin in the dirt" days and couldn't resist getting into the spirit of things...? If so, go Buster!!
I just watched a very interesting documentary about National Lampoon Magazine called:
Drunk Stoned Brilliant Dead: The Story of the National Lampoon
In it... Director Ivan Reitman says that he based the original script of the Movie "Animal House" on the Manson Family and using them in relation to a popular High School Reunion issue of the NL magazine.
How my high school years might have been different lol
Hey ST you mean this?: http://www.mansonblog.com/2012/01/harold-ramis-manson-movie-that-never.html?m=0
Apollo fought The Law...and The Law won.
Thanks Leary for comment about avatar.
I wonder if the European set even know who Tom Brady is, but I'm sure they know who Foghorn Leghorn is!
PS. The equiptment attendant for the Patriots who got fired wrote a book: *Will You Deflate For Me?*.
Fiddy, deflategate did get passing mention here on sports pages. I expected flaccid puns about projectile disfunction but thankfully there were none. Some of us do like to keep up to date with American matters, like Hillary and her shemale scandal, that guy Ben Ghazi she was having an affair with, Donald Trunk and his threat to ban Mexicans from radicalised London etc. Yeah we're pretty well informed here.
Just watched this movie over the Christmas holiday. After all, Christmas is all about family.
I think Saint gave a wonderful review, but here are some of my thoughts.
This particular family lives right in the center of Dysfunction Junction. The "successful" brother, Nick, is called into school because of a disturbing picture drawn by his son. The audience never gets to see the picture, but then, Nick has gone his whole life without really seeing the picture that he has drawn of his own life and relationships. He calls his son a sociopath, but, never tries to initiate any kind of fatherly bond with the boy. A young boy with early sociopathic tendencies and a tenacious father figure.....hmmmm...sound like anyone?
On top of this, his brother Conrad drops in for a visit. Conrad, with the big puppy dog eyes begging for a morsel of acceptance that he has been waiting for his whole life to receive.
The movie reveals that Conrad was adopted, and his adopted father, a military man, was distant and emotional abusive. Shades of Bruce Davis. (and Lynette Fromme. Her family was blood and not in the military...he was just a sadistic nutjob who abused Lynette.)
As the brothers go on their Manson sites road trip, Nick is condescending and snarky, and Conrad alternates between unbridled enthusiasm and sneaky little jabs at his brothers' lifelong disgust with him. Nick has always been the top dog in the family, and his head is so far up his own ass that he doesn't notice when the emotional see-saw begins to move. Slowly, Nick is coming down to face his own meanness and abuse of Conrad, and Conrad is going up and away from his brother and his brothers love and approval.
The movie got real personal when the brothers visited the Tate and LaBianca residences. I completely understood the owner of the LaBiancas house, when she berates the brothers for "keeping her a prisoner in her own home because of people like you. Don't you realize someone died here?" I totally understood her point of view....except I want to see those places as much as Conrad did. And one day I will be outside of the LaBiancas house, feeling the same awe and guilt as I did during that scene.
So Nick and Conrad finally get to the house of other Mansonites, and you know instantly that Conrad is home. There is a small needlework hanging on the wall that says, "Home is Where You are Happy." The Manson girls sang that song 50 years ago, and its now a song that sings in Conrad's heart. Most of the girls look like younger versions of Sadie and Katie and Lulu and Squeaky...
By the end of the movie, its clear that Nick finally realizes he needs his brother, and Conrad finally realizes that he no longer needs his brother. They have lost each other permanently.
Conrad, for the first time in his life, feels love, acceptance and a part of a family. Damn, Charlie's still got the touch.
So, in the end, its a judgment call...is Conrad better off being a part of "Family" or feeling alone and unloved out in the world? How far will COnrad go to prove himself to CHarlie? To the Family?
Conrad's journey no doubt has elements of the journeys of his predecessors. Good movie for understanding how Tex and the girls ended up with Charlie. I guess its true...at the end of the day, "Home is Where You Are Happy."
Wow. That was better than mine and not as long and drawn out lol.
Very impressive. Thanks very much!
You flatter me, Saint. Thank you. Love reading your posts.
Thank you and Happy New Year :)
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