Tag Archives: documentary

Werner Herzog interview

When I see those words (above), “Werner Herzog interview,” I immediately look for the link and click vigorously–mit Elan. Because Werner Herzog always gives wonderful interviews. This one, over at Vulture, is no exception. He talks about ecstatic truth, little people, Klaus Kinski shooting a hut full of extras with a Winchester, Muhammad Ali, Mel Brooks, David Lynch, languages vanishing thanks to tourism (but not tourism by foot), and how happy he was to grow up without a father.

Herzog and Kinski
People let me tell you ’bout my best friend, He’s a warm hearted person who’ll love me till the end.

Thanks, god. Thanks, god. What a blessing! What a blessing that there was not a Nazi as a father around telling me what to do and how to conquer Russia! And how to be a racist! Thanks, god! I thank god on my knees everyday.

Enough waiting: Here’s the link.

Your shitty movie of the week… this week A Band Called Death

The visionary. And the two other guys.
A Band Called Death is a documentary about the three Hackney brothers who form a punk band in Detroit in the 1970’s. One of them, David, is a visionary. A genius. The other two are competent musicians who are along for the ride, and don’t understand David’s vision. Long story short: David wills them into a legendary recording studio, makes a brilliant album which is then shunned by everyone in the recording industry because they don’t like the name of the band: Death. David does not fold. Twenty years later, before he dies, he hands off the master tapes to one of his brothers and tells him that people will demand to hear the record, but only after his death. He was right.

A Band Called Death was fine while it talked about the brother who had the vision. But once it was down to the two surviving dullard-Jesus-loving brothers, and the kids, it got to be a drag. By the end, while the hipsters were doing their “I was into them before you” dance, I just wanted to stick a gun in my mouth.

The main thing I got out of this documentary (in the last third) was that fame starts with one well-connected hipster (a sort of Patient Zero) who has decided that your work is so rare that you are worthy of his hipster attention. The hipster gushes on a blog over how rare it is and how only he appreciates it, and puts your work up on E-Bay for some ridiculous amount of money, which will make other douchey hipsters stand up and take notice. The fame then spreads like a plague until you have Kid Rock on camera squawking about you. The only thing you can do on your end is have an “unwavering faith” as one of the surviving Hackney brothers said of his brother “in what you are doing.”

No matter how much Indian food I eat, or post-rock I listen to, or foreign films I enjoy, I’ll never be a part of the ruling elite. Is there a better word than “hipster” for a rich-kid parasite/dilettante? I don’t know. They don’t create… they latch on to people who do, and then claim them like they own them. That’s what made my teeth grind in the last third of A Band Called Death. David Hackney was a fucking genius. But first he needed to be validated by the ruling class before anyone could deign to take him seriously, and it helped that he died first. Helps with the exclusivity part of it that Hackney, by being dead, has a limited output of art, and therefore his work is essentially rare. Ah, fuck it.

One other irritating thing about this movie: The same still photos were used over and over and over, with the same bullshit special effect of pulling one of the people out of the picture and zooming him away from the others. Is this something taught in MFA in Documentary Making programs? I don’t know. I guess that a still photo is not enough visual stimulation for our current crop of Young Adults. Whatever.

[Aside from your trusty editor JK: blame Ken fucking Burns for that photo shit.]

But now that Death is famous, the rich kid parasites can move on to their next rare gem “discovery.” We await your next ruling breathlessly, overlords!


The Best Bukowski Documentary

I remember back when it was out in theaters, I saw Born into This, a documentary on the life of Charles Bukowski. I, like many of you, am an unapologetic Bukowski fanboy, and can’t get enough about him.  This was the highest-profile film about the man, and it was… mixed.  It started out solid as hell, and then the last third fell off quickly.  And they let Bono speak.  They pulled a lot of punches, and my feeling was that because his last wife was involved, they scrubbed his history a bit, polished things up too much.  It’s a decent flick, but when the bug hits, I’m always hunting for something better.

There’s a documentary that I like a lot more, and you can watch it online for free.  Check it:

That’s the link to part one of five of a 1973 film that Taylor Hackford did for PBS.  It’s a great view of the gritty LA of the early 70s, Buk driving around in his beat up VW, right after the Post Office and before he really hit it big.  It looks like it was shot on one of those early black-and-white video cameras, where you had to drag around a giant pack containing a full-sized tape drive and a battery that belonged in a diesel truck.  The quality of the scan isn’t great, but this was impossible to find for a long time, and is well worth the 46 minutes.  Enjoy.

What does the future of these here United States of ‘Merica look like?

Let us travel to the Happy Dystopia… to the Great Steaming Heart of our Nation… to the city of Detroit. It’s a delightful place, mostly empty now. For kicks, some of the residents like to burn down big portions of what was once the car capital of the world. What is Detroit now? It is our future. Take sequestration, the solution that is now the law of the land, and go forward in time to about ten years from now, when the Federal government no longer has money to maintain any Federal property (that includes the Interstate system, by the way, and all the ships in the Navy, and all the airplanes in the Air Force, and our national parks and… you get the idea), and has no one employee left to turn out the lights (no money for that either), and what you will have is a National Detroit.

But don’t worry. Robocop will be here by then to save us all. There’s a documentary that follows a Detroit Fire Engine company called, appropriately enough, Burn. It’s on Netflix instant. Go watch it.

Our future, and Detroit's present.