Family Business (review)

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The word hero gets thrown around so much that its use has lost much of the intended impact. Indie filmmaker Denise Ohio restores a bit of the word’s luster with this surprisingly compelling portrait of Frank Minden. Who? An ordinary, hard-working man, a WWII vet and master diesel machinist, the 76-year-old Minden has never signed a multimillion-dollar contract with a sports franchise or refused an Oscar in honor of the worthy cause of the day. But in the short space of thirty minutes, Ohio illustrates what makes this St. Louis man so admired and respected by those around him. Interviews with Minden’s wife and seven adult children reveal the kind of family anecdotes and obviously oft-told tales that shouldn’t be of interest to anyone not Minden, but the sincere adoration of his family lends a potency to them, perhaps by reminding us of our own familial bonds… or highlighting a lack thereof. Reticent and staid, Minden doesn’t have much to say for himself, but Ohio’s artfully simple footage of him at work in his shop says more about the stolid nobility of this ordinary man than words ever could. Shot partially in digital form and edited digitally, Family Business is a lovingly produced family album, a high-tech movie about a decidedly low-tech hero… yes, hero.

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