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?


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]

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 neat documentaries by doctor documentary
March 14, 2010, 7:20 pm
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Powers of Ten

Ashes and Snow (Gregory Colbert, 2005)

Chelovek s kino-apparatom / The Man with a Movie Camera (Dziga Vertov, 1929) – wowwee!

Det perfekte menneske / The Perfect Human (Jørgen Leth, 1967) – j’ai bon bon

Die große Stille / Into Great Silence (Philip Gröning, 2005)

For All Mankind (Al Reinert, 1989)

Olympia 1. Teil – Fest der Völker / The Olympiad (Leni Riefenstahl, 1938)

Picture of Light (Peter Mettler, 1994) – c’est froid, eh

Powers of Ten (Ray and Charles Eames, 1977) – les schémas

A State of Mind (Daniel Gordon, 2004) – superorganisme

Unser täglich Brot / Our Daily Bread (Nikolaus Geyrhalter, 2005)

Baraka (Ron Fricke, 2002)
Encounters at the End of the World (Werner Herzog, 2007)
Kinoglaz / Kino-Eye – Life Caught Unawares (Dziga Vertov, 1924)
Gambling, Gods and LSD (Peter Mettler)
Koyaanisqatsi / Powaqqatsi / Naqoyqatsi (Godfrey Reggio)
The Revenge of the Dead Indians (Henning Lohner, 1993),
Soy Cuba / I Am Cuba (Mikhail Kalatozov, 1964)

11 political documenties by doctor documentary
March 14, 2010, 6:16 pm
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Soy Cuba

+The U. S. versus John Lennon
The Corporation (Mark Achbar, Jennifer Abbott, 2003) – le psychopathe

Cry Freetown (Sorious Samura, 2000) – cinéaste courageux

The Fog of War: Eleven Lessons from the Life of Robert S. McNamara (Errol Morris, 2003) – peut pas apprende

Hearts and Minds (Peter Davis, 1974)

Nuit et brouillard / Night and Fog (Alain Resnais, 1955)leurs chaussures

Promises (Carlos Bolado, B.Z. Goldberg, Justine Shapiro, 2001) – espérer

Soy Cuba / I Am Cuba (Mikhail Kalatozov, 1964) – publicité

Triumph des Willens / Triumph of the Will (Leni Riefenstahl, 1935)

An Unreasonable Man (Henriette Mantel, Steve Skrovan, 2006)

The World According to Sesame Street (Linda Goldstein Knowlton, Linda Hawkins, 2006) – l’esprit des enfants …et puppettes

The Yes Men (Dan Ollman, Sarah Price, Chris Smith, 2003) – nous

Born Into Brothels: Calcutta’s Red Light Kids (Zana Briski, Ross Kauffman, 2004)
Bowling for Columbine (Michael Moore, 2004)
Control Room (Jehane Noujaim, 2004)
Darwin’s Nightmare (Hubert Sauper, 2004)
Enron: The Smartest Guys in the Room (Alex Gibney, 2005)
everything by Adam Curtis
everything by John Pilger
Fahrenheit 9/11 (Michael Moore, 2004)
Flight From Death (Patrick Shen, 2003)
Indoctrination (Harun Farocki, 1987)
Lake of Fire (Tony Kaye, 2006)
Manufacturing Consent: Noam Chomsky and the Media (Mark Achbar, Peter Wintonick, 1992)
No Impact Man (Laura Gabbert, Justin Schein, 2009)
One Bright Shining Moment (Stephen Vittoria, 2005)
Super Size Me (Morgan Spurlock, 2004)
The Thin Blue Line (Errol Morris, 1988)
Unser täglich Brot / Our Daily Bread (Nikolaus Geyrhalter, 2005)
Up the Yangtze (Yung Chang, 2007)
Waco: The Rules of Engagement (William Gazecki, 1997)
War Dance (Sean Fine, Andrea Nix, 2007)
Who Killed the Electric Car (Chris Paine, 2006)
…I should probably see:
The Take (Avi Lewis, Naomi Klein)
Shoah (Claude Lanzmann, 1985) – thanks for the tip, mrsemmapeel

10 insane documentaries by doctor documentary
March 13, 2010, 12:54 pm
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Tierische Liebe

Big River Man (John Maringouin, 2009)
Crazy Love (Dan Klores, Fisher Stevens, 2007)
The Devil and Daniel Johnson (Jeff Feuerzeig, 2005)
The Devil at Your Heels (Robert Fortier, 1981)
Général Idi Amin Dada: Autoportrait (Barbet Schroeder, 1974)
Grizzly Man (Werner Herzog, 2005)
Sick: The Life & Death of Bob Flanagan, Supermasochist (Kirby Dick, 1997)
Tierische Liebe / Animal Love (Ulrich Seidl, 1995)
Titicut Follies (Frederick Wiseman, 1967)
Wisconsin Death Trip (James Marsh, 1999)
Asylum – R.D. Laing (Peter Robinson, 1972)
Brother’s Keeper (Joe Berlinger, Bruce Sinofsky, 1992)
The Backyard (Paul Hough, 2002)
Dear Zachary: A Letter to a Son About His Father (Kurt Kuene, 2008)
Deep Water (Louise Osmond, Jerry Rothwell, 2006)
Hell House (George Ratcliff, 2001)
Jesus Camp (Heidi Ewing, Rachel Grady, 2006)
Jonestown: The Life and Death of Peoples Temple (Stanley Nelson, 2006)
The Man Who Skied Down Everest (Bruce Nyznik, Lawrence Schiller, 1975)
Slasher (John Landis, 2004)
Touching the Void (Kevin Macdonald, 2003)
We Live in Public (Ondi Timoner, 2009)

10 quirky documentaries by doctor documentary
March 13, 2010, 11:05 am
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American Movie (Chris Smith, 1999)
Crumb (Terry Zwigoff, 1994)
Gates of Heaven (Errol Morris, 1978)
Gizmo! (Howard Smith, 1977)
Les glaneurs et la glaneuse / The Gleaners and I (Agnès Varda, 2000)

Grey Gardens (Ellen Hovde, Albert Maysles, David Maysles, Muffie Meyer, 1975)
Project Grizzly (Peter Lynch, 1996)
Sherman’s March (Ross McElwee, 1986)
Slasher (John Landis, 2004)
This American Life TV series (Ira Glass, 2007)
Cinemania (Angela Christlieb, Stephen Kijak, 2002)
First Person TV series (Errol Morris, 2000)
Fishing with John TV series
A Galaxy Far, Far Away (Tariq Jalil, 2001)
Home Movie (Chris Smith, 2001)
The King of Kong (Seth Gordon, 2007)
Marjoe (Sarah Kernochan, Howard Smith, 1972)
Mr Vig and the Nun (Pernille Rose Grønkjær, 2006)
Trekkies (Roger Nygard, 1997)
We Live in Public (Ondi Timoner, 2009)
Wonderland (John O’Hagan, 1997)