Sunday, April 25, 2010

Candyman: The David Klein Story [Hot Docs review]

76 min ~ New Zealand & USA
Director: Costa Botes ~ Producers: Bert Klein, Jennifer Klein, Costa Botes

Rating (out of 4 stars):
trailer & Hot Docs showtimes

David Klein made a lot of money selling JellyBelly jellybeans, starting in 1976. He's driven, smart and successful. He's also a super mensch--generous and kind. Maybe too kind. He sold his beloved jellybeans for peanuts and today that company earns millions.

This film nicely captures Klein's personality, and his invention will likely attract audiences. However, Candyman lacks a deeper issue to justify its feature-length running time. Are there other sides to Klein's personality? What exactly was the schism between Klein and his son after he gave away the company and now lives in a modest house? With one of its producers being Klein's son, the film only hints at those threads that it should've explored more. Candyman is too sweet for me.

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Anonymous said...

Bert, who recalls learning his colours with Jelly Bellies, analyses, confronts and interrogates his father, bringing into the open the resentments that brought about their years of estrangement. Bert rankles at his father’s naivety in “selling magic beans for a cow” and he’s hurt and angry that, as he grew up, David was never happy because “nothing else compared”, taking his anguish out on his son, bullying him (though unsuccessfully) into following in his footsteps as a candy inventor. Most telling is Bert’s version of his father’s generosity to outsiders. As he sees it, Dave Klein is a glory addict, hooked on the unattainable high of winning unconditional love and loyalty from his beneficiaries, giving things away to gratify not others, but himself. So is it because he can never be satisfied that David Klein is always eating candy, we begin to ask? And is it because his only power is in giving that David Klein can’t even get his dog to obey him?
It’s intriguing, confrontational stuff, satisfyingly explosive and familiarly banal. It’s Biff Loman finally facing up to his father Willy, it’s you and me finally looking that transgressive parent in the eye and saying, “You fucked up.”
In the OnFilm interview Costa Botes says “I found most of the film while I was making it.” Beautifully enlivened by Tom McLeod’s musical score, Candyman exemplifies documentary filmmaking at its very best – a great ‘found’ story, brilliantly told, satisfyingly redemptive (with the redemption coming largely as a direct result of the film making project) and, ultimately, really uplifting.


Anonymous said...

Candyman:the David Klein story will air on the Documentary channel on Nov 27,,,,,,,