Rightwing Film Geek

Born yesterday and I don’t mean Judy Holliday

Did you know that you can die without having seen a single nonfiction film made before 1988? Well, obviously you CAN — though in that same sense you need never have seen one made after 1988 either. But the whole premise of the Current TV series “50 Documentaries To See Before You Die,” which concluded last week, is that the nonfiction/documentary film is a worthy enterprise and that there ARE 50 such films. And stipulating that there are, this list is, excuse me, a born-yesterday travesty.

Here is the list, after the jump:

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September 3, 2011 Posted by | Documentary | 5 Comments

The dumbest guy in the room

GONZO (Alex Gibney, USA, 2008) — 6

Former work colleague Stacy and I went to see GONZO together last week, in part so he could review it for the American Spectator. I have long known that Stacy loves Hunter S. Thompson and had written several times for the newspaper on him, so I figured he’d get a kick about at least seeing GONZO.

But it made for an odd experience. Usually, when it comes to movies, I’m the Smartest Guy in the Room. Here, not so. Stacy knows far more about Thompson and his career than I do (most of what I know is filtered through the Doonesbury character Uncle Duke) and so he was uniquely equipped to write the kind of kick-ass review of GONZO that I never could.

The nub of Stacy’s complaint was that the film was too heavily focused on Thompson’s political involvement in “the Sixties,”¹ and thus skrimped heavily on large chunks of material, both from earlier and later.

Gibney … seems determined to force the square peg of Thompson idiosyncrasies into the round hole of contemporary liberal passions. It’s an awkward fit. At times, Gonzo seems more like a celebration of George McGovern’s 1972 presidential campaign than of Thompson’s journalism career. …

These political choices might be more easily forgiven if they did not result in Gonzo giving short shrift to other aspects of Thompson’s career.

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July 15, 2008 Posted by | Alex Gibney, Documentary, Stacy McCain | Leave a comment

Life inspires life


If the art didn’t exist, life couldn’t have inspired life — I think that’s the point.

Last week, I watched an old (1991) Bill Kurtis documentary on the movies and copy-cat crimes, on one of the history/documentary channels. I started retching at the end, with all the talk of “positive role models” and whatnot. Still, there were plenty of examples, and I don’t think it’s possible to deny that violent images encourage violent behavior, however mediated.

But one example was really very very VERY ill-chosen. Jaw-droppingly ill-chosen. There was a whole segment devoted to a French-Belgian couple who bilked people selected from lonely-hearts ads out of their money and killed them. They were supposedly inspired by the movie THE HONEYMOON KILLERS. Except … that the film follows a true story, even giving the characters the same names as their real-life counterparts. How can you blame life on art, when that art imitated life in the first place?

November 28, 2006 Posted by | Documentary | Leave a comment