The Sweetest Sound

Continuing the spirit of wrenchingly funny kinfolk trilogy "The Family Album," "Intimate Stranger" and "Nobody's Business," fearlessly self-revealing documaker Alan Berliner turns the camera on himself in "The Sweetest Sound."

With:
With: Alan Berliner, Alain Berliner, Allen Berliner, Alan S. Berliner.

Continuing the spirit of wrenchingly funny kinfolk trilogy “The Family Album,” “Intimate Stranger” and “Nobody’s Business,” fearlessly self-revealing documaker Alan Berliner turns the camera on himself in “The Sweetest Sound.” Exploration of what’s in a name has all the crowd-pleasing, wide-eyed wryness of previous work, which means phone will ring for fests, cable and homevid.

A self-described “genealogist wannabe,” Berliner got to thinking about the often arbitrary nature of naming — “Alan,” for instance, 24th on 1950s list of most popular names, means “peace” in Gaelic but also may come from word meaning “rock.” Getting no help on family origin of moniker from notoriously prickly father (subject of “Nobody’s Business”), and tired of getting calls for “Ma vie en rose” helmer Alain Berliner, he invites a dozen Alan Berliners to his home for dinner, with mixed results.

Inherent narcissism of subject is avoided throughout, as genial narrator Berliner explores various societies (the National L.I.N.D.A. Convention), frets over what to call this project and explodes myth about Ellis Island immigrant renaming.

Tech credits are imaginative, with emulation of computer interface, an update of “Intimate Stranger’s” typewriter motif, imbuing pic with sprightly pace.

The Sweetest Sound

Production: A Cine-Matrix production. (International sales: Jane Balfour Films, London.) Produced, directed, written, edited by Alan Berliner.

Crew: Camera (color/B&W, 16mm), Richard Dallett; sound, Ian Vollmer. Reviewed at Berlin Film Festival (Forum of New Cinema), Feb. 15, 2001. Running time: 60 MIN.

With: With: Alan Berliner, Alain Berliner, Allen Berliner, Alan S. Berliner.

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