A blog about movies and filmmaking.

It Was The Best Of Movies, It Was The Worst Of Movies

In Documentary on May 19, 2010 at 2:21 am

I’ve been waiting to do a post on some documentaries that are currently making the rounds; three of them in fact – mostly because I haven’t been able to see all of them. (I’ve now seen two.) So, instead of putting it off any longer, I’m just going to say that everyone should just go see EXIT THROUGH THE GIFT SHOP, despite my having not seen it yet.

It’s a film by/about the “street artist” Banksy. It follows a guy that seemingly videotapes everything and falls in with some artists – the likes of Banksy, Shepard Fairey, and whoever else is big in that world. Then the movie changes and becomes about the original videographer, who, himself becomes a famous street artist. It’s an intriguing look into that world and it’s also a study about consumer art-vs-non-conformist art, or something. It all sounds fascinating and apparently has some pretty great deeper meanings. I can’t wait to see it.

Secondly, is the documentary called WHEN YOU’RE STRANGE. It’s about the band, The Doors – in case you didn’t get the reference from the title, and it only includes footage of that actual band and clips from a couple of films that Jim Morrison made while he was still alive. Put together and directed by Tom DiCillo (LIVING IN OBLIVION), it’s a fascinating look at the band, Morrison himself, and the perils of stardom.

The movie, which starts out with a bearded Morrison in the desert, walking around; then hitch-hiking, builds a sort of fictional story that builds along with Morrison’s true to life….well, life. Narrated by Johnny Depp, we learn all about the band, the ups and downs. It’s completely fascinating, and revelatory – if not in that we don’t learn much information that wasn’t already available – but just in how the movie seems to be of it’s time. Without any current day interviews, or journeying very far from the band itself, the movie just seems more visceral and more in the vein of Oliver Stone’s biopic, than of something more documentary.

Finally, we have a documentary that is about another movie. In 1988, a group of Italian filmmakers went to Utah to make a movie called GOBLIN. What it turned into, is today considered one of the worst movies ever made. TROLL 2, which features not a single troll and is indeed hokey and awful enough to rightfully claim that title; right beside other infamous movies by the likes of Ed Wood. Well, the movie BEST WORST MOVIE, takes a look at that movie and mainly focusses on it’s cast. People like George Hardy, who in TROLL 2, played the father, Michael Waits; he’s a dentist that lives in Alabama and with TROLL 2 being the only movie he’s ever made, he’s still considered a superstar in some circles. Some very strange, and geeky circles. (Of which, I can now say, I am a part of.)

The story follows George and his co-star in the original movie – and director of BEST WORST MOVIE – Michael Stephenson, as they travel around the world. Going to screenings and conventions and meeting up with the other cast and crew-members of the movie. A lot of it is funny, very funny in fact. Other parts are heart-wrenching and touching. There are moments where we spend time with the write and director of TROLL 2, who while being Italian, speak about the movie as if it accomplished everything they set out to do, and while they appreciate the status that it currently has a cult favorite; they don’t quite understand why people laugh at the parts that aren’t supposed to be funny. The director especially, Claudio Fragasso (or Drake Floyd as he’s credited in the actual movie), shows what seems to be a lot of anger and resentment towards his former crew, that now talk about how awful the movie is, and how bad the experience was making the movie. Granted, while noting that it was a ridiculous shoot, they never speak ill of the movie.

But, the most interesting moments are seeing how some of these people are stuck in their lives and not able, or willing, to put a full effort into following their dreams. One of the actresses that is interviewed, is pretty much a recluse that lives in her house with her mother; surrounded by cats and photos of cats, talks about still returning to acting one day, but won’t leave her house to even meet the fans that already adore her and would gladly reap praise and adoration upon her. The other fascinating part – which is any part that has him in it – is when we see George going to different conventions. One’s where TROLL 2 would not be the appealing kind of movie for that crowd, and how depressing it is to go to these places and see the people who have only ever done one thing. One thing that made them famous, even to the smallest group of people, and they make a living just from exploiting something they did 15, 20, even 30 years previous. George calls it, when he says it’s sad. But, it’s also sad to see that I don’t think he’d be that upset if it was flipped around and he was doing that for a living – if he didn’t have a thriving dentistry business and surrounded by family and friends that care about him.

Which really hits on, what I think, all of these documentaries kind of say. It’s nice to want super-stardom, but it can be a real drag once you get it and see that it’s not all you thought it’d be. Each movie goes about expressing this in different ways; through the biography of someone that lived through it and suffered the ultimate consequence. Through a community that try to convey a message, but can quickly see that message turned into something for profit and transformed into the very thing it was meant to speak out against. Or through a group of people that never got there, and only now get tastes of it, and are confronted by the true people that love what they’ve done, and don’t want anything more from them than what’s already been given.

I also have to say, that it’s hard to see TROLL 2 as the worst movie ever made, after you’ve seen BEST WORST MOVIE. It’s sort of like how watching AMERICA’S FUNNIEST VIDEOS is hilarious when someone gets whacked in the nuts, or falls right on their head; but when you know the person that it happens to – while it might still be funny – it’s not quite so.

All of these movies are currently playing in theaters, somewhere. Go see them and I’ll work on seeing EXIT THROUGH THE GIFTSHOP.

By the way, I just have to note, that I saw BEST WORST MOVIE, at a screening presented by Creative Screenwriting Magazine – I wrote about their podcast before – and after they showed the movie, and had a Q&A with Stephenson and Hardy, they then showed TROLL 2. Which I may have seen as a kid, but I don’t remember. But despite that, I have to say, you really should watch these two movies together.


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