by Bob Sham
Our very first two-in-one episode dropped mere days ago. Stuart Von and Bob Sham pitted the two Fyre themed documentaries head to head as Hulu’s Fyre Fraud battled Chris Smith’s long awaited Netflix doc Fyre: The Greatest Party That Never Happened. We never spoke of the subtitle to the latter doc. We’re assuming that ever since Smith’s other Netflix doc, Jim & Andy: The Great Beyond (our very first episode – sorry about that audio quality), Chris Smith documentaries will all be “coloned” and sub-titled from this point forward. Not the most egregious issue of this Chris Smith documentary. We were shocked at the results of our Fire vs. Fyre Fraud episode. Despite Chris Smith’s better shot and better edited Netflix feature, we felt the doc’s symbiosis with Fuck Jerry (not a cool punk band, unfortunately) was so ethically compromising that it dipped just under Jenner First & Julia Willoughby Nason’s Fyre Fraud.
That said, Fyre Fraud’s penchant for Alex Gibney-esque stock footage transitions is something that needs to be fucking done in documentaries forever and ever. Chris Smith will always have the 10 Herzog masterpiece American Movie. I’ve hyped that movie so much that I’m thinking about building a church.
Our last two full episodes for the month of January are appropriately wintry. The Friday following our Fyre vs. Fyre Fraud episode will feature one of the most notorious silent films out there. A huge hit in its day for the former gem hunter Robert J. Flaherty. Robert went way up in North Quebec with his fancy schmancy motion picture camera, met an Inuit tribe, knocked up an Inuit woman, and tamped down the modernization of the Inuit people. All this to show some “authenticity” in the 1922 film that kind of invented documentaries: Nanook of the North. Nanook (not his real name) would prefer to murder those walruses with a gun, but that cracker asshole Robert wanted some spears. Kind of ironic considering the generations of systematic colonization perpetrated on the native peoples by whites in the United States and Canada. Here is a guy who suddenly wants to go backwards in order to obtain some credibility. Regardless, the film was unlike any other in its day. Stuart and I break it down for you Friday. Watch it here: https://youtu.be/m4kOIzMqso0.
The following Tuesday we will be dropping our very first G-rated episode, as my 6-year-old cousin Lexi helps discuss one of the most successful documentaries of all time. Luc Jaquet’s March of the Penguins. So nice of Luc to throw unknown actor Morgan Freeman a bone and let him narrate the film. While this doc is rated G, it is also a nature documentary. That means the brutal whims of nature are apparent. Lexi handles it like a pro. Probably better than me, really. I’m not very mature, in case you haven’t noticed. We didn’t even touch on the attempted kidnapping that takes place in the film. Hoo-boy. In any case, there are technically NO BAD WORDS in that episode. Feel free to listen with your whole family with no fear of your kids being taken away. Though be prepared to hear some harsh criticism of sea-horses. I prefer to call them “ocean freaks”.
The day Fyre vs. Fyre Fraud dropped also happened to be the day the 2019 Oscar nominations were announced. The nominations for best documentary are as follows:
RBG by Betsy West & Julie Cohen
Hale County This Morning, This Evening by RaMell Ross
Free Solo by Jimmy Chin & Elizabeth Chai Vasarhelyi
Minding the Gap by Bing Liu
Of Fathers and Sons by Talal Derki
We already have episodes for Hale County This Morning, This Evening and Free Solo that you should definitely listen to if you know what’s good for you. Two other nominated films on this list will be covered this February as the Documenteers make up their homework by hitting up some critically lauded films we missed in 2018. The Ruth Bader Ginsberg biographical doc RBG and the powerful study of violent domestic cycles in Bing Liu’s Minding the Gap will be discussed, respectively, in the first two weeks. Angela will join me for RBG and Documenteers theme-song composer Eldridge will join for Minding the Gap. The last two weeks in February were failed guesses as to what may have been nominated leading up to the Oscars. Week three will feature Akil as we discuss the biographical doc Whitney by Kevin Macdonald (not the “Kids in the Hall” cast member, unfortunately). Week four features Jonni discussing Sandi Tan’s incredibly unique story of film love and film theft in the Netflix original Shirkers. It’s a film we have not been able to stop thinking about since we saw it. We have yet to see Talal Derki’s Of Fathers and Sons (originally released in Germany and titled Kinder des Kalifats). Maybe someday soon. We can’t watch them all. Get off our asses! Damn!
Some snubs in this year of great documentaries: Sandi Tan’s Shirkers, Robert Greene’s Bisbee ‘17, and Morgan Neville’s Won’t You Be My Neighbor? to name a few. People are fucking losing their mind over Won’t You Be My Neighbor? not getting a nod. In fact, I predicted the Fred Rogers biographical documentary to win. It had emotional, crowd-friendly moments that were done well. Watching it was practically a therapy session. Most of the episodes that will be released after the nominations are announced were already completed. All February long you will hear me incorrectly predicting a Won’t You Be My Neighbor? Oscar win. So when you hear that, ignore it. My post-nomination prediction is Free Solo. Serves my dumb-ass right for attempting to predict. Did I not learn anything from the 2016 election?
Despite my incorrect prediction, Won’t You Be My Neighbor? was not my personal pick for best of the year. As much as I enjoyed the Morgan Neville film, we had plenty of fine documentaries in 2018. Hale County This Morning, This Evening and Minding the Gap are far more worthy of the title of best of 2018. The biggest snub in my mind easily goes to Sandi Tan’s Shirkers. Everyone I know that saw this movie got very excited about it. Unique in its creative energy and terrifying to those who have the compulsion to create, Shirkers is a documentary unlike any other and you will hear us discuss it at the end of February. Plenty of Shorties will be dropping along the way. Subscribe, recommend, and listen on.
As for any of the other Oscar category nominations? Who fucking cares. Nobody watches that shit anyway.
Thanks for listening. Thanks for reading. Keep on Doccin’.