Tuesday, March 13, 2012

"We Got a 2-Year Cowboy Degree" Off-Beat Documentaries To Love

ne of my top favorite films of all-time is the documentary HOOP DREAMS, which for four years follows the high school basketball careers and turbulent home lives of two young basketball whiz kids from Chicago. (Heh, I said whiz kids.) Anyway. It is brilliant on every conceivable level, and even if you're not a sports guy (I sure ain't) you will get sucked in. It also inspired one of the greatest Mr. Show sketches of all time.

Still, Hoop Dreams is easy to relate to. Some docume
ntaries... you gotta work for a bit. Maybe they'll twist you up some more. Whatever, I am so addicted to sociocultural-theme documentaries it's a bit sick. Here's some of my faves!

This o
ne breaks my cold, brittle heart. We have a man with Asperger's (Jeff), who has a long history of stalking 80's pop singer Tiffany. Then we have Kelly, an intersex woman whose life (at the time of filming) seems to revolve completely around her love of Tiffany. I mean, we get scenes of an apartment filled solely with printed out photos of Tiffany, some kind of bike helmet retro-fitted to read Tiffany's mind, and... well that should really be enough of an intro for you.

What gets me is the desperatio
n and full belief of these two people: Tiffany was meant to be with them, and if it weren't for things like husbands and restraining orders she'd run off with her One True Love immediately. When I try to put myself in that emotional view it's so fucking lonely I immediately need to watch some Futurama. The human heart and mind are complex things and I hate calling people "crazy"- I just hope everyone finds their own happy way in life. Fun Fact: Tiffany and I totally share a birthday!!!!!!

Buy the DVD (Co
ntaining commentary with both Jeff and Kelly, which I am dying to hear.)

Cat Dancers

What happens when you mix sex and tigers? Not sex WITH tigers, as that would be a swift and gory tail indeed. (Did you get my spelling there? Oh, so much clever.) Ron and Joy Holiday were a successful and flamboyant (seriously, if Liberace ever played with dolls these guys would be the stars of his dollhouse) trainers of large cats and had a successful show. They eventually took a young hunk named Chuck Lizza under their wing. He lived with them, trained with them and they had a sexually open relationship between the three of them. That alone is fascinating enough, but it ends it deaths that are both so expected yet shattering you forget the laughter you had at the glitter costumes and you just feel all soggy inside from the crying your heart is doing.

Watch the trailer

Strictly Background

I love behi
nd the scenes stuff about Hollywood, because nothing about that business makes any sense at all. This is a super delightful look at extras- professional ones. Tricks to getting more than just your arm on camera and upstaging the fancy schmancy actors... it's all here. I seriously love these people, and it's a great companion to Ricky Gervais's EXTRAS. Seriously, you guys are already stars to me, but I hope you all get your own regional CSI shows.

Watch da trailer
Confessions of a Superhero
Morgan Spurlock did not make this movie, but you'll still have to see his dumb, smug ass dressed as a superhero at the opening, anyway. Moving on, this follows a small group of Costumed Performers that hang out on the streets of Hollywood, taking pictures for change with tourists. As it always goes, Superman and Batman get the main focus; one of my favorite scenes is when we follow "Superman" to a convention and see how fully seriously he takes his role. (Spoiler: It's very.) We see the highs (The Jimmy Kimmel show!) and the lows (passing out in a Hulk costume in extreme heat), and the whole time I'm just impessedterrified by how much seem people want to be actors.

The weird thing is, all these guys ended up here in Vegas on Fremont Street- including the Batman with the bad temper. Boy do we bitch about them.

Oh, and the Wonder Woman lady in this? I saw her as an extra in It's Always Sunny in Philadelphia and I actually jumped up in excitement, so, yeah. I get invested.

Watch the trailer

Plagues & Pleasures on the Salton Sea

I will watch a
nd read anything John Waters had a hand in, so him narrating this is what initially got me to pick this up at the library. I'm so glad I did, because I learned all about a weird little part of US history I knew almost nothing about. "Where utopia and the apocalypse meet to dance a dirty tango", the sexy voice of Waters clues us is.

What began as an accidental man-made body of water created a tony resort town in the 50's and 60's. Sadly, nature eventually bit back and turned the famed vacation spot into a near ghost town. We're talking dead fish, unbearably salty and smelly water, bird disease and natural disasters of every water-related strip.

So, who's left? It's a pretty clea
n split between the very impoverished (last time I checked the highest priced houses being sold were around 6k) and the delightfully eccentric. There are a few level-headed people running cafes that kind of shrug at the whole place, but it's mostly elderly nudist arty types. AWESOME. I'd love to have a weird vacation there and if you read this you are agreeing to join me.

Watch the trailer

I can name SO much more, so let me know when you catch all of these. Happy viewing!

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