Thursday, January 05, 2006

Android #1--best documentary of 2005

Rather than do one film, here's my top five so you can see the others in consideration for the ANDROID for best documentary of 2005. Agree? Disagree?

5—Mad Hot Ballroom. This was a lively look at some schools in New York as the kids enter a ballroom dancing competition with various results. This is kind of like last year’s Spellbound but with dancing instead of spelling. It got me in the heart and made me eager to learn how to ballroom dance—something I’m always saying I want to learn to do.

4—The Aristocrats. Hands-down the funniest thing I’ve seen all year. It’s not even close. This is a doc about how different comics tell this old joke and how they each try to make it as filthy as possible. It is filthy but is often uproarious at the same time.

3—Grizzly Man. Maverick German director Werner Herzog compiles footage of oddball and bear lover Timothy Treadwell as he lives in Alaska part of the year amidst bears. And when I say lives with the bears, I mean the guy comes in day-to-day contact with them. Treadwell films a lot of his encounters with a digital camera and some of the footage is absolutely amazing to watch. Treadwell is kind of off his rocker a bit and thinks he’s part bear and the film has a macabre feel to it because we know early on the bears eat him but this is a strange, powerful film with some of the most fascinating grizzly footage you’ll ever see.

2—Z Channel. This was a completely riveting look at an early pay movie channel in Los Angeles in the 1970s that had an incredible array of programming thanks to its eccentric programmer Jerry Harvey. This film is a treasure trove for film geek/robots like myself and makes me wish I’d spent my youth with access to the channel. What makes this interesting on multiple levels is Harvey’s damaged and deadly turn in his private life.


MURDERBALL. I absolutely loved every second of this doc about a group of quadriplegics who play a sport known as “murderball” because of its violent nature. I knew nothing of the sport so loved learning about it but there is a great rivalry created in the film between the United States team and the American coach of the Canadian team. What I loved about Murderball is it is a completely empowering look at these men and just how “normal” they are despite the debilitating injuries/illness they have suffered to put them in a wheelchair. These are regular athletes who are profane, chase women, party and have a good time—like any other athlete might and that’s the best thing about this film—it throws off any kind of stereotype you might hold onto regarding people in wheelchairs and stomps it. Murderball is one of the more thrilling and exciting films of any genre, fiction or non-fiction, you will see all year and is deserving of the first ANDROID of the year.


Anonymous said...

Excellent choices!! Only seen two, now I gotta see the others.
Murderball rocks!!

One documentary I saw this year, but I think was made in 2004, is Word Wars. Excellent!! Follows 5-7 different professional Scrabble players through the professional Scrabble curcuit. Max prize, less than $25K, interesting array of characters.


Replicant said...

I saw Word Wars in 2004...I enjoyed it. There is a book called Word Freak about scrabble players that is even better in my opinion.

Anonymous said...

3-iron and oldboy rocked the house! so did kung fu hustle. great choices. i have yet to see miyazaki's latest but i'm sure i will.

Cameron said...

Great list, but Z channel over anything else...