A Dog’s Life - A Dogamentary
by Howie Green
EDGE Entertainment Contributor
Thursday Dec 8, 2005
So Gayle Kirschenbaum is a nice Jewish girl filmmaker who lives in New York City with her little foofoo dog Chelsea and mostly what Gayle wants is to find a husband. So knowing that dogs attract people she is never seen without Chelsea as the two of them haunt the lower sections of New York with Chelsea wearing a camera on her collar. The two “ladies” stop men on the street and ask if they’re single and flirt a bit all in hope of finding Mr. Right, or even Mr. Maybe already. Jeeze what’s a nice girl gotta do to meet a guy these days?
Ms. Kirschenbaum has documented this all in what she calls a "Dogumentary" entitled A Dogs’ Life that was initially shown on HBO/Cinemax and has just been released on DVD. This short movie starts out was a wacky look at being single in the modern world and suddenly in the middle changes tone when the 9/11 World Trade Center attacks take place.
Kirschenbaum, like a lot of New Yorkers, felt helpless but needed to do something so she volunteered to help in the shelters and brought along dog Chelsea as her constant companion. When she saw the calming effect Chelsea had on people Kirschenbaum got the pup registered as an official therapy pet and starting making the rounds of old age homes and hospitals. When word of Chelsea hit the newspapers Kirschenbaum and Chelsea make guest appearances on ’The Today Show’ with Al Roker and Katie Couric.
Chelsea enjoyed the therapy visits as much as anyone and she quickly became a pro at making cheering people up. As these visits grew more frequent, Kirschenbaum’s focus shifted from her own search for a man to helping people. She got emotionally attached to one charming elderly man who died unexpectedly and shook Kirschenbaum’s stoic and buoyant personality to the core. After that she eased off the hospital visits a bit and the film ends with her once again resuming the search for a potential husband when she meets a man on the street who is walking his dog in hopes of meeting a girl.
So what’s not to love? How could anyone not be affected by this short, charming film? Think of it as a cinematic hug from a funny lovely woman and her adorable dog.
At one point Kirschenbaum she seeks out her former teacher and noted documentary filmmaker Albert Maysles to include him in the film and get his comments on the final product. The personable Maysles even so taken with her “film in progress” that he offers to help out as a cameraman for some of the hospital visits scenes.
At some 30-minutes, the movie is certainly brief; but the DVD contains extra features such as the Director’s Cut, a Question and Answer featurette with the director and interviews and reactions from the great and the humble; and anyone Kirschenbaum could rope in for an interview. Also included is a music video with footage and sounds from the film. "A Dog’s Life" is a simple small personal film, but sometimes those are the ones that really touch you. As La Streisand recently said "What comes from the heart goes to the heart" and this film will go to your heart.
- Director’s Cut (runs 52 minutes)
- Questions and Answers featurette
- Music video
Howie Green is an artist, multi-media designer and author of several books including "Jazz Fish Zen: Adventures in Mamboland" - and he once sang back-up for the opening act at a Shaun Cassidy concert in Madison Square Garden. He loves Peggy Lee, Dusty Springfield, Star Wars, and any movie where a car flies through the air, something big explodes and pretty people do nasty things. A self-described media slut, he sees over 100 movies a year, hears over 100 music albums a year and reads 30-40 books a year, not to mention concerts, live shows, DVDs and TV. He is currently working on a book about live action movies based on comics.