Wednesday, January 25, 2017

Now on Netflix: My Own Man (2014)

My Own Man (2014) - Directed by David Sampliner

By Kenny Howell

A man tries to find his inner alpha male in this Netflix original documentary.

David Sampliner has always been a sensitive guy. For some reason, I guess societal pressures, he sees that as a bad thing. Because we have this idea that men need to be big, brooding, emotionless breadwinners, not scared of anything, and telling other people to shut up if they cross them.

What a perfect time to have a documentary like this.

When Sampliner finds out he is going to have a son, he decides he needs to be more of a man for him, so he can raise him in what society's idea of a man is. He does things like shoot guns, workout and go to something called a Man's Group, where he learns to be a man. However, there may be more to his anxieties about fatherhood, and it may come from his own relationship with his father.

I think My Own Man would have worked better if Sampliner approached it differently. He should have taken that pressure he was feeling, and examined why he should feel that pressure in the first place. Why can't he be himself? He is married. He doesn't have steady employment, but he has carved out a living as documentary filmmaker. If he wants to be sensitive, then just be that. His friends and family accept him, so what more does he need? He's good friends with Edward Norton (Birdman), so that's a pretty positive thing. That's not totally an alpha male approach to it, because I am the farthest thing from a dominant figure, but I have never understood why we try to stick to these archetypes, and I've always kind of rebelled against it.

Instead he strives to be that ideal, something he will never be. The documentary does veer into his relationship with his father more, which kind of turns into another film altogether. There are moments of insight, but the scattered nature of the film really holds it back.

My Own Man is now streaming on Netflix.

Rating: **

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