Framing your nuts: Three documentaries you didn’t know you needed to see by doctor documentary

Three documentaries that you didn’t know you needed to see.

Do you think you’re nuts? Sometimes it’s nice to put your insanity into a new frame of reference.  Here’s a few entertaining and therapeutic documentaries…

Big River Man (John Maringouin, 2009)

With extreme sports, it’s more sad than crazy when you watch a good doc and the protagonist doesn’t make it, like Andrew McAuley (R.I.P.) didn’t quite kayak across the entire Tasmanian Sea, and Ken Carter (R.I.P) didn’t quite fly his rocket-powered car over the St Lawrence River. But in this case, the outcome is success. Still, the smell of death lingers because the guy’s nuts. I mean that with respect. Martin Strel’s a fat, drunk gambler from Slovenia. He drinks two bottles of wine each day, followed by a few stiff drinks. He drives way too fast. And he holds world records for long-distance swimming, mostly in polluted rivers. Martin’s son shot this document of Martin’s latest dip into insanity, a 66-day conquest of the mighty Amazon (5,268 km). Preparations include buckets of blood that are used to distract the piranhas. Martin becomes one with nature. Swimming 18 hours a day, a bottle of whiskey floating along next to him. Perhaps the most illuminating story is how Martin developed his stamina in the first place: as a child he learned to outrun his angry father.

Martin Strell conquers the Amazon (the river not the bookstore)

The Slasher (John Landis, 2004)

We all have problems. And, growing up, we often sublimate our neuroses into careers. I have a theory that salespeople and politicians are suckers for affirmation but they don’t really know when they’re getting it because they’ve gotten too good at faking emotions. Blockbuster director John Landis started to make this documentary about the sleazy similarities between used car salesmen and presidents. But he got distracted after meeting Michael Bennett, a travelling super-salesman who swoops in and revives dying car dealerships across the nation. Bennett is fast-talking, hilariously entertaining, and somewhat realistic (“If you keep walking straight ahead, and there’s a fucking wall, and you keep bumping your fucking head into it, and you don’t turn left or you don’t turn right, Hello!”). He smokes constantly, doesn’t know what city he’s in, and might be a manic-depressive. Watching Bennett’s nervous anxiety makes me feel like Cool Hand Luke. Thanks for the frame-of-reference therapy!

Kevin the DJ, The Slasher, and Mudd the closer

Général Idi Amin Dada: A Self-portrait (Barbet Schroeder, 1974)

If you think you’re nuts and you happen to be the leader of a small country, then you ought to measure yourself up against this lunatic. The stories about Idi Amin are now legendary: he feeds his cabinet members to crocodiles; he challenges a foreign dignitary to a boxing match; he plays the accordion.  He became dictator of Uganda by rising through the army ranks and eventually staging a coup. When famed French director, Barbet Shroeder, proposed to make a TV biography of the icon, Idi’s narcissism took over the production. The TV show became a feature-length movie full of staged ceremony and almost-behind-the-scenes footage. When Shroeder screened the film in France, Idi had spies in the audience. Unhappy with the editing, he took a hotel full of Frechmen as hostages, threatening to kill them unless new cuts were made. It’s not called a self-portait for nothing!

“Sometimes people mistake the way I talk for what I am thinking.”

Feeling better about your location in the ranks of human nut jobs yet?


3 art documentaries by doctor documentary
November 22, 2010, 8:46 pm
Filed under: Top 10 lists

Exit Through the Gift Shoppe (2010, Banksy)

How to Draw a Bunny (John Walter, 2002)

Le mystère Picasso (Henri-Georges Clouzot, 1956)

5 suicide documentaries by doctor documentary
July 10, 2010, 8:18 pm
Filed under: Top 10 lists | Tags: ,

The Bridge (Eric Steel, 2006)

Deep Water (Louise Osmond and Jerry Rothwell, 2006)

Dream Deceivers – The Story of James Vance & Judas Priest (David Van Taylor, 1992)

How to Draw a Bunny (John Walter, 2002)

Kevorkian (Matthew Galkin, 2010)

TO WATCH: Boy Interrrupted [re Evan Scott Perry], Suicide Killers, The Suicide Tourist, Surviving Suicide,…

See also: Flight from Death, Jonestown, Solo: Lost at Sea [re Andrew McAuley]

5 very disturbing fiction films by doctor documentary
July 10, 2010, 3:25 pm
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These films are so tense, I get a headache just thinking about them!

Angst [Fear] (Gerald Kargl, 1983)

Cutting Moments (Douglas Buck, 1997)

Haze (Shinya Tsukamoto, 2005)

Seul contre tous [I Stand Alone] (Gaspar Noé, 1998)

Tras el cristal [In a Glass Cage] (Agustí Villaronga, 1987)

12 Herzog documentstories by doctor documentary
June 28, 2010, 10:20 pm
Filed under: Top 10 lists | Tags: , ,

Mein liebster Feind – Klaus Kinski / My Best Fiend (Herzog, 1999)

Even Dwarves Started Small (Herzog, 1970)

Fitzcarraldo (Herzog, 1982) / Burden of Dreams (Blank, 1982)

Beobachtungen zu einer neuen Sprache / How Much Wood Would a Woodchuck Chuck… (Herzog, 1976)

Incident at Loch Ness (Penn, 2004)

La Soufrière (Herzog, 1977)

Lektionen in Finsternis / Lessons in Darkness (Herzog, 1992)

Little Dieter Needs to Fly (Herzog, 1997)

Plastic Bag (Bahrani, 2009)

Stroszek (Herzog, 1977)

Werner Herzog Eats His Shoe (Blank, 1980)

The White Diamond (Herzog, 2004)

10 sports documentaries by doctor documentary
April 12, 2010, 9:11 pm
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Man on Wire / Who Skied Down Everest

The Backyard (Paul Hough, 2002)

Endless Summer (Bruce Brown, 1966)

The King of Kong (Seth Gordon, 2007)

Man on Wire (James Marsh, 2008)

The Man Who Skied Down Everest (Bruce Nyznik, Lawrence Schiller, 1975)

Murderball (Henry Alex Rubin, Dana Adam Shapiro, 2005)

On Any Sunday (Bruce Brown, 1971)

Touching the Void (Kevin Macdonald, 2003)

When We Were Kings (Leon Gast, 1996)

Zidane, un portrait du 21e siècle / Zidane: A 21st Century Portrait (Douglas Gordon, Philippe Parreno, 2006)

Bigger Stronger Faster
Dogtown and Z-Boys
Hoop Dreams
Les Chiefs (Jason Gileno, 2004)
Olympia (Leni Riefenstahl, 1938)
Pumping Iron

Need to see:
Tokyo Olympiad
The Heart of the Game

10 mock documentaries by doctor documentary
March 24, 2010, 9:55 pm
Filed under: Top 10 lists | Tags: ,

Yes Sir! Madam…

C’est arrivé près de chez vous / Man Bites Dog (Rémy Belvaux, André Bonzel, Benoît Poelvoorde, 1992)
Dai Nihonjin / Big Man Japan (Hitoshi Matsumoto, 2007)

Fubar (Michael Dowse, 2002) – “baissez le sucer”

The Larry Sanders Show (Garry Shandling, 1992-1998)

Interkosmos (Jim Finn, 2006)
Sacha Baron Cohen: I’d like to see Ali G moderate a debate between Borat and Bruno

This Is Spinal Tap (Rob Reiner, 1984)

Waiting for Guffman (Christopher Guest, 1996) – “Je travaille à DQ”

Yes Sir! Madame… (Robert Morin, 1994) – Oh! Canada…

Zelig (Woody Allen, 1983)

Best in Show (Christopher Guest, 2000)
The Blair Witch Project (Daniel Myrick, Eduardo Sánchez, 1999)
Bob Roberts (Tim Robbins, 1992)
Curb Your Enthusiasm TV series (Larry David, 2000)
David Holzman’s Diary (Jim McBride, 1967)
The Delicate Art of Parking (Trent Carlson, 2003)
Forgotten Silver (Costa Botes,  Peter Jackson, 1995)
Hard Core Logo (Bruce McDonald, 1996)
Haxan (Benjamin Christensen, 1922)
Incident at Loch Ness (Zak Penn, 2004)
It’s All Gone Pete Tong (Michael Dowse, 2004)
Kenny (Clayton Jacobson, 2006)
The Office (UK and US) (Ricky Gervais, 2001)
Paper Heart (Nicholas Jasenovec, 2009)
Trailer Park Boys: The Movie (Mike Clattenburg, 2006)
The War of the Worlds (Orson Welles radio show, 1938)

Need to see:
Az igazi Mao (Szilveszter Siklósi, 1994) – where can I find this?
Bontoc Eulogy (Marlon Fuentes, 1995)
CSA: The Confederate States of America (Kevin Willmott, 2004)
Dill Scallion (Jordon Brady, 1999)
Drop Dead Gorgeous
The Falls (Peter Greenaway, 1980)
Fear of a Black Hat
The Forbidden Quest (Peter Delpeut, 1993)
Opération lune / Dark Side of the Moon (William Karel, 2002)
Paranormal Activity
Surf’s Up
Trailer Park Boys TV series
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