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      Five Wives, Three Secretaries and Me

      Released Oct 8, 1999 1h 22m Documentary List
      Reviews 80% Audience Score 500+ Ratings In this documentary, Tessa Blake receives $1 million from her father, Thomas Walter Blake Jr., and decides to make a film about the man who gave her the money. A wealthy Houston attorney, Thomas is lecherous, unguarded and unrepentant, gleefully recounting his sexual exploits to his grown daughter, who does her best to convene the various women in her father's life. Some of the ladies are more forthcoming than others, but all provide a glimpse into Texas wealth and privilege. Read More Read Less

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      Audience Member I'm reviewing the DVD release of Tessa Blake's Five Wives, Three Secretaries, and Me, which, as the Q&A with Tessa on the DVD reveals, has at least one clip of extra material, a card commemorating the death of one of its subjects, Robert "Blakey" Blake Jr., in 2001. Considering that's when he died and that's when the Q&A takes place, I'm not sure why IMDB says this is a 1998 movie. Yes, she began making it then, but I'm guessing it was released in 2001, so I don't know why they're dating it 1998. Ah well. That's beside the point. This is a great film, and there are any number of ways to review it, but I want to use this opportunity to talk about Michael Moore. Michael Moore has caught a lot of heat from people who sound like they've only seen one documentary film, either on the Discovery Channel or PBS or in school, because he's a "part" of his movies and he's not objective about them. Of all of the documentaries I've seen, I think the /only/ ones I saw as "objective" were the ones on PBS, The Discovery Channel, or school. Most of them had a perspective, and the better ones had the filmmaker as a part of them. While my favorite documentary is Hoop Dreams (1994, Steve James), in which the filmmakers try very hard not to inject themselves at all, every other documentary I've liked has been really personal. I'm thinking in particular of Always a Bridesmaid (Nina Davenport, 2000), Supersize Me (Morgan Spurlock, 2004), and of course, all of Michael Moore's films. I LOVE these movies, and they ain't objective worth shit. The filmmaker wouldn't even bother to make them if they meant nothing to him / her, and I think to say that it's not a documentary unless it's slow and boring takes away the authorship of these films. They're not stock footage collections. They're attempts by filmmakers to capture pieces of real life and say something about them by editing them together and making you look at them. You can't "say something" if you're not authoring. Which is exactly what Tessa Blake is doing here. Tessa Blake is a debutant, the daughter of wealthy oil man Robert "Blakey" Blake Jr., who has had five wives, three secretaries, and of course, her. He was older than her grandmother, in his late fifties, when he married her mother (wife #3, I think), who was 22, and he continued marrying, chasing women, and essentially living the good life long after that. Tessa had a great childhood, it seems, though her father was absent from much of it, and in spite of her background, seems to have grown up to be a really great person. Thanks to a housekeeper, she spoke Spanish before she spoke English, and despite her father's old skool racism had a long and satisfying relationship with a Black man. Her mother is cool, she turns out to be a great filmmaker and artist, hangs out in Austin (natch), and has seemingly no regrets about any of it. And that's what makes this film so great. When you walk into a movie like this, you're expecting some kind of angry attack on an absent, womanizing father by some spoiled rich brat. Instead, what you get is a realistic portrayal of this relationship between a daughter and her exceptional father. What I loved about this film is how bottom line, what you can say with confidence is that in spite of everything, this man loves his daughter and vice versa. She grows up to be her own person, very different from him and the family, but she's still his daughter, and he and the family knows it. It's very life-affirming and shows you, IMO, the way life should be. These people aren't spoiled by their wealth. Nor are they separated by it. It's just a part of who they are. And as the film goes on, Tessa stays out of it as much as possible, giving you as good a picture of her father and the life he gave her as she can before finally bringing herself in to drive the point home. They're father and daughter, very loving, and the film is a wonderful celebration of that. And to return briefly to the point I started this entry with, again, that's what this film is /really/ about - this woman, Tessa Blake, exporing a part of her life that's very important to her. This is the best reason to do /anything/, IMO, let alone make a documentary film: becuz /you/ want to do it. She uses it to explore a part of herself the way Mario Van Peebles uses Baadasssss (2004) to do the same. Documentary filmmaking doesn't have to be about taking moving pictures the way film began in the Lumiere days. Like mainstream Hollywood cinema, it's usually narrative, and the narration is usually about some real thing. When you make it personal like this, it becomes special. And this movie is. Rated 5 out of 5 stars 02/08/23 Full Review Audience Member FIVE GAYS, THREE GAYS AND GAY! Rated 0.5 out of 5 stars 02/10/23 Full Review Read all reviews
      Five Wives, Three Secretaries and Me

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      Movie Info

      Synopsis In this documentary, Tessa Blake receives $1 million from her father, Thomas Walter Blake Jr., and decides to make a film about the man who gave her the money. A wealthy Houston attorney, Thomas is lecherous, unguarded and unrepentant, gleefully recounting his sexual exploits to his grown daughter, who does her best to convene the various women in her father's life. Some of the ladies are more forthcoming than others, but all provide a glimpse into Texas wealth and privilege.
      Director
      Tessa Blake
      Producer
      Jason Lyon
      Screenwriter
      Tessa Blake
      Distributor
      Anchor Bay Entertainment, Castle Hill Productions
      Production Co
      Asset Pictures
      Genre
      Documentary
      Original Language
      English
      Release Date (Theaters)
      Oct 8, 1999, Wide
      Box Office (Gross USA)
      $4.5K
      Runtime
      1h 22m