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Incredibly heartening to see edgy/quirky films achieving a considerable amount of mainstream success over the last year or so, many of which are documentaries. Top 12 below, no special order; all killers!
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CAPTURING THE FRIEDMANS
Heavy. Compelling. Insane.

Andrew Jarecki set out to make a clown documentary; Stephen King's 'It' & John Wayne Gacy should have warned him that behind the smile always watch out for the dark under-belly. The Friedmans dysfunctionally disintegrate right before your eyes after Arnold Friedman (Dad) & Jesse are charged with child sexual assault with no proof apart from circumstantial evidence of a porn mag stash.

What makes this modern-day witch-hunt so riveting is how the family were documented thru the whole ordeal by their own home-movie camera filming.

Funniest, weird quick moment is Grandma kvetching about a lawyer calling up on a Sunday during Passover dinner (!)

Still plenty of Friedman film-heat as Jesse fights strong.
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MONSTER
Another dark one. This biopic on Aileen Wuornos (the highway hooker who killed 7 men in Florida during the 1980s) should be your hors d'oeuvre & Nick Broomfield's 'Aileen' the main-course. You won't want desert after watching the Broom-meister's gripping documentary on Aileen where he's granted her last interview, minutes before Death Row did its thing.
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WONDERLAND
The only one I haven't seen yet (tomorrow!) but with great soundtrack & Val Kilmer playing Johnny The Wad - big up your c*ck!!!! Can't wait.
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TOUCHING THE VOID
Harrowing true story of 2 climbers, Joe Simpson & Simon Yates whose 1985 perilous journey up the west face of Siula Grande hit serious life/death setbacks on their descent. Both men are tied to each other and when Simpson breaks his leg and falls over a ledge, Yates cuts the lifeline sending Simpson into a deep crevice -dohhhhh!!!

Surreal film moment no. xxxx when Simpson explains how, practically at death's door, Boney M's "Brown Girl In Ring" jumps into his head for no reason and he "f*cking hated that song"!
Delighted it won a BAFTA .
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SPELLBOUND
Riveting documentary following 8 American youngsters who undergo serious gruelling Olympics-style training for the 1999 National Spelling Bee contest.
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SPIRITED AWAY
Game over!! Yes, Finding Nemo and the like are all good but Hayao Miyazaki has given it the truly mind-blowing rinse!!! Respect for nabbing the Oscar too.
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21 GRAMS
Sean Penn runs tings.
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KILL BILL 2
So does Tarantino.
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THE PASSION OF THE CHRIST
2 hours asserting that Monica Belluci is fit & takes on another mad film-role ('Irreversible' anyone?!!) and 2 hours of Christ getting totally mashed-up/pumelled/mullered/beaten/add your word here.

Also, love the fact that this Texan dude was so moved by the film, he confessed to murder.
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AMERICAN SPLENDOR
Magnificent biographical docu-film about moody comic book writer/clerk, Harvey Pekar who adds USP by playing himself. Boy does Harv keep it real, check his blog!!! Awesome!
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THE GOOD OLD NAUGHTY DAYS
Had to become a member of London's Other Cinema to check this as it's R18. I was told to read the rules too before joining whilst a finger emphasized Rule 17:

"No Member or guest shall be permitted to undertake any sexul act, either by themselves or with other people, on the premises at any time." OK, understood!

After waiting a day before being allowed to return, the screen showered the audience with short, surreal 1920's porn films which were pretty hard-core and when the dog got involved with a nun and priest, our reporter made his excuses and left.....
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ETERNAL SUNSHINE OF THE SPOTLESS MIND
Michel Gondry hits celluloid jackpot; I've not read one bad review. Basic story - Joel (Jim Carrey) & Clementine's (Kate Winslet) relationship fails, both independently visit Lacuna Inc. who offer brainwashing to heal the pain.

Respect to Gondry yet again - during filming he un-nerved the cast by leaving the camera running in between takes - actors not sure when they were "on". Off on a train-spotting tangent, learn dis one:- Gondry created the "Bullit-Time" special effect in his 1996 Smirnoff ad. 'Smarienberg'. Spike Jonze paid homage to 'Smarienberg' in Being John Malkovich, the Matrix films 'borrowed' it and made a killing.

Gondry's genius is beautifully captured on DVD - buy it NOW if you haven't, buy it again for a friend, buy it once more for another friend, buy it for your kvetching Grandma etc.

Posted on May 06, 2004 at 05:47 PM

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