I love a good documentary, as much as the next man, in fact, maybe more than the next man (or woman), I suppose it just depends on who they happen to be. Like the next man could be Werner Herzog, or Michael Moore, and they probably like documentaries more than me, probably. Of course I can’t be sure, I haven’t asked them, but it is a fair supposition in my mind, after all, they have made many documentaries between them, and I have only attempted to make one, and failed in spectacular fashion. What I am trying to say is, I like documentaries as an art form, and I don’t care who the next man (or woman) is, I wanted to write a little something about my favourite ones. These are in no particular order, but all are quite, quite brilliant.
KING OF KONG: A FISTFULL OF QUARTERS
This is an old fashioned tale of good vs evil, David vs Goliath, Steve Wiebe vs Billy Mitchell. The basic story is, Mitchell set the Donkey Kong world record in the 80’s, a record that stood for 25 years. Wiebe, a likable unemployed teacher becomes obsessed with breaking the record, and does, only for a bitter rivalry to begin. I won’t spoil anything else about this wonderful film, you need to experience the highs and lows for yourself. This isn’t a documentary solely for gamers, anyone can enjoy this story and I have shown it to many people who didn’t give a shit about Donkey Kong before hand, but at the end, the high score seemed like the most important thing in the world. This doc definitely has a villain, rich, cocky and perhaps crooked Billy Mitchell, matched against our hero, family man, Steve Wiebe, and like the best stories, we invest massively in the characters and story. Watch this film, it is simply brilliant.
BEYOND THE MAT
We all know that wrestling isn’t ‘real’ right? Well, tell that to Mick Foley. Beyond the Mat is a look into many aspects of the world of wrestling, the stars, the WWF/E, the indie scene, the men who put their bodies on the line for entertainment. The star of the show is Mick Foley/Mankind/Dude Love/Cactus Jack, but here we see Mick’s family life, here we see how his kids and wife react to some of the most brutal matches in WWF history. I love wrestling, and seeing this gave me a greater appreciation for the guys in the ring. The doc also focuses on Jake the Snake Roberts, who is very much at the twilight of his career and the problems he has faced by being a wrestler. I recommend this doc to anyone who loves wrestling, and anyone who thinks wrestling is stupid and fake. Yes they know who is going to win, but if you see some of the things that Foley goes through, I don’t think you could call it ‘fake’. One of my favourites, I have watched this numerous times, highly recommended.
Originally an HBO documentary on real life superheroes, I caught this on DVD. This film follows the stories of some remarkable, some clearly mentally ill people, who dress up in costumes and seek to right the wrongs of society, or get drunk a lot and walk the streets. This is at times hilarious and sad, touching and hopeful. The people featured are striving to make the world a better place, and do manage to do some good. I watched this along with Confessions of a Superhero (a doc about the people who dress like superheros on Hollywood Boulevard), and whilst they are both interesting, Superheroes is a far more positive and rewarding watch, Confessions depressed me a little bit. We must have all dreamed of being crime fighting superheroes at some point, and these guys took their dreams, and made it a reality, even if the reality wasn’t quite what the fantasy promised.
The man in the picture above, Timothy Treadwell, was killed, along with his girlfriend, eaten by a grizzly bear whilst filming a documentary of his annual summer expedition trying to live with, and protect the bears. Werner Herzog directs the film, as he investigates Treadwell’s motivations, and his last few months of life, that he filmed himself as he tried to live with the bears. Now the footage in this film is amazing, not only stunning landscapes, but footage of grizzly bears that defy belief. Now Treadwell is incredibly brave to interact with these bears, but his bravery comes from his clear mental health issues. It is clear that a man who will stand up and tell a bear off, isn’t all there. This is a fascinating and heartfelt doc, and quite sad, but well worth your time.
THE SHARK IS STILL WORKING
I have only recently watched this, as it comes on the JAWS Blu-Ray release, but it is quite simply fantastic. I am a massive JAWS fan, and obviously this is going to play in my favour whilst watching a doc all about the making of the film, but it is a brilliant look into a movie that wasn’t working, a director that was out of his depth and the ways in which these production problems helped create perhaps the greatest action-thriller film ever made. I can not recommend this enough, and is worth the price of the Blu-Ray on it’s own, but you have to own JAWS on Blu-Ray anyway, because it is genius and amazing.
That’s the first 5 of 10 docs, I’ll be writing up the next 5 in time for Thursday. Catch you then.