Doug Block’s parents had been married 54 years when his mom, Mina, died suddenly in 2002, leaving his dad, Mike, a retired engineer, all alone in the family home on Long Island.
So it was a bit of a shock when, just months after Mina’s death, 83-year-old Mike cheerfully announced he was heading to Florida to move in with his former secretary, Kitty, and that he was marrying her.
Doug, as it happens, is a documentary filmmaker, so he promptly started interviewing and filming his dad and his new stepmother (the awkwardly long, passionate wedding kiss is something to behold) and other members of the Block clan, and pulling together decades of home movies and family snapshots. All in an effort to figure out who his parents really were.
And then he discovered the motherlode: four decades of his mom’s astonishingly intimate diaries. (No spoilers here; see the movie.)
The appeal of the resultant sweet, sad documentary 51 Birch Street is how simultaneously idiosyncratic and universal the Blocks are — and the way Doug deftly unpacks the hidden emotional lives of his classically buttoned-down American parents.
“>VIEW the trailer for 51 Birch Street
“>CHECK opening dates (rolling release in 22 cities through October, November, and December; New York premiere, October 18)
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