Hello, Bookstore (2022) Poster

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An amiable, unstructured look into the life of an indy bookstore
gcsman27 June 2022
Matt Tannenbaum owns and operates an indy bookshop in Lenox, Massachusetts named simply "The Bookstore". This documentary is an amiable and rather free-form tour of daily life in the store during and after the pandemic. It's kind of like an extended 'interview' with Matt (except that the camera simply watches what's happening while Matt interacts with his local customers, works with books, orders books, talks about books, recommends books, and sometimes just quietly ruminates on life the universe and everything). It's all very enjoyable in a low-key way.

The director (A. B. Zax, whom I know nothing about -- is this a pseudonym?) must have shot a lot of film and then lots of editing down and selecting how to put scenes in some kind of order. The result is little or no order at all. The effect is to encourage you to just sit back and let things flow past. If there's a greater message, I guess it's just that Matt stands in for any long-time self-employed business person who loves what he's doing so much that he just can't imagine doing anything else. And his devoted local customers obviously feel the same way.

Fun film. Nothing major, but personable and captivating.
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Story arc submerged in sea of repetitive talk
tireless_crank16 May 2022
Warning: Spoilers
I grew up in Massachusetts, attended college there and love the place. I love books, love bookstores and so I had hoped to love this movie but was dramatically disappointed.

There was little background of the main character and much too much of the movie was a talking head - his - reciting poetry or making off target remarks about random books.

The book business must be interesting but little of the inherent process came across.

Interactions with long time customers were obviously staged and repetitive. The time line was confusing, sometimes customers were in the store, sometimes, during the pandemic, they were locked outside, doing business through a closed door. There were many too many shots of his back as he talked through the closed front door, and collected credit card information for the occasional customer.

He even states that all the other stores in Lenox and down in NYC were open for customers, but he wasn't but no mention of why.

I lived in NYC through most of that time and saw the struggles of small stores - not much of his struggle came across.

The cinematographer was seemingly baffled on exposing the shots when the outdoors was bright and the inside dark.

The film was supposed to be a documentary but the movie came across as a completely staged collection of shots and the editors only realized in the editing process that the story was really thin.

When was the decision made to make the movie? Without the pandemic and the fundraising, there was no story. When were the 'pre-pandemic' shots actually done?

The final film was too much of the main character talking to the camera, making believe he was spouting wisdom to his customers and very little that was interesting.

All in all, save the price of admission.

The two stars are for the occasional lovely shots and because I love western Massachusetts.
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