51 Birch Street

51 Birch Street

Director: Doug Block

Cast: Doug Block, Mike Block, Mina Block, Carol "Kitty" Block

     
 

When documentary filmmaker Doug Block's mother dies unexpectedly and his 83-year-old father reveals plans to move to Florida with his onetime secretary shortly thereafter, the confused son travels to his childhood time to seek out the secrets of his parent's presumably happy 55-year marriage in a film that explores just what happens when everything you think you knew… See more details below

Overview

When documentary filmmaker Doug Block's mother dies unexpectedly and his 83-year-old father reveals plans to move to Florida with his onetime secretary shortly thereafter, the confused son travels to his childhood time to seek out the secrets of his parent's presumably happy 55-year marriage in a film that explores just what happens when everything you think you knew about your family is suddenly thrown into question. As a child Block always assumed that his parents were content in their relationship, but as close as he was to his mother growing up, his father remained a constant mystery. Now the home he grew up in is suddenly on the market, and in order to seek out the secrets of his family history Block will travel to Long Island, camera in hand, to peel away decades of secrecy. As 60 years and three generations of carefully guarded secrets finally come into focus with the discovery of his mother's detailed diary, Block's fundamental assumptions about the lives of his parents gradually give way to a poignant meditation on the themes of fidelity, love, and marriage while revealing that the relationship shared between his mother and father was much more complicated than he ever imagined.

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Editorial Reviews

All Movie Guide
It takes a bold filmmaker to read the diary of his dead mother and make a film about the revelations contained within. We should be thankful Doug Block let his natural inquisitiveness take him down that road, because the resulting documentary, 51 Birch Street, is not only fascinating to watch, but respectful in a way not indicated by that inflammatory and callous-sounding description. Block actually started out with the harmless enough project of filming interviews with his parents for the sake of posterity. His mother's sudden death dealt a fatal (as it were) blow to that original agenda, and Block's adaptation to the changed circumstances has resulted in a far more interesting movie -- one that would actually have interest to an audience beyond his own family. In fact, so committed is Block to exploring the intimacy of his discoveries, he even puts his own marriage -- imperfect but generally happy -- under the microscope. 51 Birch Street is clearly personal filmmaking at its most personal. But by using the specific residential address of his family home as his title, to represent any family or any marriage in the world, Block underscores the universality of his themes. The eternal marital conflict, between the desire for a stable family life and the desire to find true bliss, plays out in thought-provoking ways. The unadulterated outpouring of thoughts and feelings in Mina Block's diary sheds light on occurrences that are otherwise hard to publicly justify, such as Mina's widower taking up with his former secretary soon after her death -- the secretary-boss dynamic only adding extra scandal to an already scandalous-sounding relationship. However, as 51 Birch Street explores, love takes many forms -- including the instinct to protect a person who loved you very imperfectly, even at the expense of your own good name.

Product Details

Release Date:
08/14/2007
UPC:
0014381418422
Original Release:
2005
Rating:
NR
Source:
Image Entertainment
Time:
1:28:00

Special Features

"Who Knew?" - the Block Family Reacts to 51 Birch Street; "I Flunk Adultery" - the Music Video; Trailer

Related Subjects

Cast & Crew

Performance Credits
Mike Block Participant
Mina Block Participant
Carol "Kitty" Block Participant
Ellen Block Participant
Karen Block Engwall Participant
Marjorie Silver Participant
Natasha Saltzman Participant
Rabbi Jonathan Blake Participant
Samuel Osherson Participant

Technical Credits
Doug Block Director,Cinematographer,Producer,Screenwriter
Lori Cheatle Producer
Otto Gain Sound/Sound Designer
Machine Head Score Composer
Sheila Nevins Executive Producer
John Priddy Executive Producer
Ed Priddy Executive Producer
H. Scott Salinas Score Composer
Amy Seplin Editor,Screenwriter

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Scene Index

Disc #1 -- 51 Birch Street
1. Introduction; Mike and Mina [4:34]
2. The Reality of Marriage [3:51]
3. Alone With Dad [8:57]
4. Throwing a Curve Ball [9:40]
5. Uncle Josh [1:39]
6. Samuel Osherson, Ph.D [2:47]
7. The Discovery [8:33]
8. Therapy and Self-Reflection [11:02]
9. Feelings For Ben [8:08]
10. Struggling Relationships [5:52]
11. Making Accomodations [7:40]
12. Real Love [8:00]
13. A New Connection [2:43]
14. Saying Goodbye [2:42]
15. End Credits [1:46]

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