I am eternally grateful to people who over document everything, without people who hoard images (moving and still) then movies like Holy Hell would not be possible, and it's great and needs your attention post haste. Just reading the synopsis on Netlfix, it had me with the word "cult." [Tangent: Maybe because my father shared the name of an infamous cult leader or because I came of age in the Marshall Applewhite era, but I have always been fascinated with learning more about people that sign on to join into these types of inclusive yet ostracizing arrangements. Though Ive written tons of papers about it during my educational process, I seriously cannot research the topic enough; it's a never ending black hole of 'what the fuck.' It's no shocker that I love getting sucked into movies about it. I loved the Source Family and Going Clear and even The Who's Tommy...which I am aware is not based in realism, but is one of my fave movie representations of falling under a charismatic leader.] I dare you not to fall under the spell of Michel, the speedo-wearing ex Rosemary's Baby extra who runs a flock of lost souls. He is giving me equal parts Tommy Wiseau from The Room and Ricardo Montalbahn's Kahn in Star Trek. Although his mind control and way he abused his followers was disturbing, I dare you not to laugh hysterically at the shot of the the creep-tastic cult leader wearing a neon french cut swinsuit and tossing grapes into the mouths of his adoring sheep. So again, immese thank you to the film student/cult member who brought this story to film. I was under its spell.
Jiro Dreams of Sushi - A
Since my innaugural doc post two years ago, people have been all, "you gotta watch Jiro." It checks all my boxes: adorable old people, passion and delicious food [Tangent: Sushi is my kryptonite. I love it, but I understand it doesn't melt everyone's butter. If you're not down with seeing a cavalcade of raw fish bits and up close shots of dead octopi being massaged at length, then maybe you'll be turned off. Honestly that would be the only way you may not love this.], it's unconscionable that I have been so damn resistant. OK, that's not exactly true- I can tell you exactly why it has taken me a while to get around to...I'm a multi-tasker by nature and often I absorb docs whilst partaking in other activities...like writing this very blog post. Therefore, I have started watching this Oscar contender roughly 19 times before realizing I didn't speak Japanese and was losing track of the subtitles and missing huge plot points because I was trying to do two things at once. I knew it needed undivided attention so I waited until I could afford it that. I'm so glad I did and even more relieved that it lived up to the hype that it was given from various trusted sources. Thankfully I dont have to report back that my movie peeps have shitty taste. Truthfully the message of throwing yourself into your art and leaving a legacy that is true to you and your high standards is one that can be applicable to things beyond sashimi. Give it the attention it deserves.
Vernon Florida- B-
This is one of those docs that has been festering in my queue for over a year, and even though it was under an hour, I was having a hard time pulling the trigger. Apparently even though I LOVE Grey Gardens (which was born in the 70s and is pure magic) with every shard of my soul, I am a bit of an ageist when it comes to documentary films. This is based on almost nothing other than many of my faves are the age of toddlers, so when my non-fiction movie isn't slick and modern, I lose my film boner. I'm such a jerk, but at least I am well aware of my blaring faults and prejudices. After all Vernon, Florida has one of my favorite aspects a film can have- a band of weirdos showcasing their weird unabashedly. [Tangent: If you follow +FloridaMan on Twitter, then you know the reputation of Florida men being a little on the bizarre trainwrecky. This doc only proves that the notion is rooted in some semblance of truth. Sorry male Florida readers...I'm alienating you with these words. Come back!!!] This movie gives the floor to a handful of residents of the small swampy town and allows them to share insights about their vaired lifestyles. It reminded me very much of talking story with some of my North Carolina family members, so maybe the concept wasn't as novel to me as it would be to some. It's a charming little movie, but if you're interested in this, I'd definitely recommend Finder's Keepers as a good plan B.
Who Took Johnny - C
True Crime docs and stories are among my favorites because I love an unraveling mystery and uncovering new information and clues in the span of 90 minutes, but because I love this genre so much- I am hard on it. I had super high hopes for this doc, but just thought it was OK. The case was not one I was familiar with prior, a boy named Johnny goes missing while delivering papers in the early 80s and the film showed the investigation/or lack thereof that ensued. It has everything you come to expect from these kinds of movies: a frantic mother and his endless quest for truth, a bumbling police departments, twists and turns. All the usual suspects for the true crime genre. Honesty I have probably seen episodes of 20/20 that I got more excited about. I know that's probably a terribly calloused view of a true tragedy, but it left me wanting more.
Raiders!: The Story of the Greatest Fan Film Ever Made - A+
I have been waiting for this film to hit streaming channels so I could sing it''s praises because technically I am cheating and saw this at The Belcourt as part of it's grand reopening week. Despite sharing a surname with Sir Indiana, I had somehow escaped childhood without seeing any of the movies in this franchise, [Tangent: I know...I know...pick your jaw up off the ground. It was on in the background noise of my home, but I likely protested it because I would rather be watching Full House or Revenge of the Nerds 2: Nerds in Paradise for the 100th time. Clearly, my taste was questionable, but my resolve was tireless. However, I did ride the Indiana Jones adventure ride at Disney Land, so I lived it, right?] so when my movie bud, Ryan (aka Fuckable Milhouse forever and always) said he wanted to see this with Jamie and I, I had to admit that fact to him...and myself. Therefore, I pregamed for this outting by introducing myself to Raiders of the Lost Ark, which I loved and which made watching this doc 100x better. The movie is about a crop of latch-key kids who spent every summer of their childhood doing a very impressive shot-for-shot remake of their favorite film. It becomes more than about simply that though, as you get to see how they fueled their tumultuous childhoods into this diversion...which took them on many an adventure and became much bigger than they imagined. I found myself tearing up many times and falling in love with every member of the cast, especially the dog (who plays a fun role). It will make you nostalgic for childhood and your love of film.
Animism: People who Love Objects- A
First off, let it be known that I love any chance to sit mouth agape staring unblinkingly at a subculture that I don't partake in but yearn to understand, so when I saw a movie about people who are sexually attracted to inanimate objects- I watched it the first day it was available. [Tangent: My feelings about this movie are almost identical to those I felt watching the disturbingly and not intentionally hilarious: My Monkey Baby- it could have been double the length and I would have hung on every batshit crazy moment!] If you live for docu-series like Taboo or My Strange Addiction or My Crazy Obsession- I promise you will be on board. So many moments are not xerox'd into my brian wrinkles- the woman who fell for the Berlin Wall and very seductively stuck her palm through its holes...or the woman having a commitment ceremony with the love of her life, Bruce, a carnival ride. This is not a spoiler, there are many more moments that will be conversation fodder for you at parties for months to come...at least if you go to a party with me...because WE WILL TALK ABOUT IT!
What should I watch next? I am am taking your suggestions!!
Also if you live in Nashville, go check out The Belcourt's lineup for Doc-tober!