Thursday, March 26, 2015

Short Subject: Leonard Nimoy’s Boston (2014)



Well I couldn’t let this day pass without a nod to Leonard Nimoy on what would have been his 84th birthday.

I picked this little film rather than something he has directed or acted in largely I think because this is a fun, funny, and intimate piece of work that I find comforting now since the feelings regarding his passing are still very raw.  For anyone who hasn’t seen it this work is basically a documentary that details the first 18 years of his life growing up in Boston; where and how his family lived.  The odd jobs he worked over the years and the theatre work he did during that time.  He and his son Adam go to various areas around Boston and he talks about things he did there like selling newspapers or the time his mother bought him leather shoes for a formal portrait, had him wear the shoes while the picture was taken, and then put the shoes back in a box and returned them to the store.  

Now my understanding is that this film was primarily meant for his family and not as a commercial venture so the titles and the credits aren’t anything to write home about, but despite very modest production values it looks really good.   I think the music is great.  I love the side by side clips used for transitions, and the great overhead shots of Boston.  The intercut posters, postcards, and photos of a younger Leonard, his family, and the West End neighbourhood really help with the contrast between what was then and what is now. It’s all great.  It’s also sad to know that basically all of the West End is just pictures now and what looked to me like a very unique neighbourhood was lost and today looks like every other neighbourhood I’ve seen that has condos in it. 

I enjoy the inclusion of his convocation address to class of 2012 at Boston University as well here even if the different haircuts are jarring on first watch.  It serves as a great reminder that Mr. Nimoy valued and supported the arts in all their forms, and it’s great to spot touching things during that speech like the shot of his wife Susan and great-grandson Charlie.

Of course the best thing about this movie is that Mr. Nimoy’s memory was amazing.   I don’t think I could remember that much about my first jobs and childhood and I haven’t even turned thirty yet.  The way he can remember names and tell all these stories about himself and people he knew it’s so wonderful to listen to.  Then again the man was a great orator he could have read a phonebook and the audience would be enraptured.

To conclude really quickly I love this documentary.  Everything from the music to the photos, and every great memory he shares with his son and with us.  It’s a great look back at Leonard Nimoy’s early life in the city and the impact that Boston had on him.

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