Back when I was into the idea of being a “pro-blogger,” increasing my readership and gaining more traffic I used to read a lot of articles about how to have a better blog. They would often say that it was important to give something to your readers, to give them information that they hopefully couldn’t get anywhere else. I was never very good at it, a photo of me in the newest ASOS dress doesn’t really count as “information you couldn’t get anywhere else”. But something I do have a bit of knowledge about is documentaries. I love documentaries and I’ve watched an awful lot of them. I’m still not sure if this counts as important information and I really don’t care very much about increasing my readership but I thought you guys might enjoy some recommendations for some good documentaries that you might not have seen. Sometimes blogging feels very selfish and narcissistic like, “Hey here’s my thoughts about things, here’s some photos of me, you can write a comment and tell me how you feel about ME and how pretty I look,” so this is hopefully something where I’m kind of giving back to you guys who still bother reading it. Most if not all of these are available to torrent on The Pirate Bay and quite a few of them are on YouTube.
Hit So Hard: The Life and Almost Death of Patti Schemel
This documentary is about Patty Schemel who was the drummer for the band Hole (my favourite band in case you haven’t been paying attention). There is lots of interview footage combined with footage filmed by Patty while touring with Hole in the 90s and some really heartbreaking home videos of Courtney, Kurt and Frances. If you’re a fan you’ve probably already seen it but if you’re not a fan you should watch it anyway because you might just become a fan. So much great music and awesome babes.
If you’re in a good mood, don’t watch this. But if you’re in a really shitty mood, probably don’t watch it then either because it might just about send you over the edge. I don’t know where that really leaves you, how about if you’re in a moderately bad mood you can watch it. It’s so sad, it starts off sad and then there is a twist towards the end and things just get even sadder. I had to pause it because I was sobbing so loudly that I couldn’t hear the dialogue. I know, I’m really not selling this one at all. It’s really good, it’s really well made and it’s a very interesting story but I would not watch it for a second time. It is on YouTube in full.
It’s about the grunge music Seattle scene of the mid-90s. Lots of good bands – Mudhoney, Screaming Trees, L7, Pearl Jam, one of the first ever performances of Smells Like Teen Spirit. This was my favourite period of music so obviously I love it. If you’re not into grunge you’re probably going to be a bit bored, but with the current 90s fashion revival going on you might get some good fashion ideas.
Madness In The Fast Lane
This documentary is SO CRAZY! I don’t really know how much to tell you about it that’s not going to totally give it all away. It’s about these twins who basically have a death wish and try to jump in front of cars on a freeway multiple times. And that’s just the beginning, shit gets crazier and crazier as it goes along, which is really interesting but I found the ending a little unsatisfying. There didn’t seem to be any real explanation as to why any of it happened.
Teenage Heroin Epidemic
Some of the Vice documentaries are good and some are really shit but I liked this one. It’s sad, I mean obviously anything about teenage junkies is going to be a downer. But it’s well done and it’s interesting. Other good Vice documentaries: Krokodil, Spending a night with a NYC drug dealer, and the one about fraud.
The Weather Underground
The Weather Underground were a radical group in the 70s similar to The Black Panthers or the People’s Liberation Army (who kidnapped Patty Hearst). They were against The Man and decided to bomb some buildings to get back at The Man. Their whole thing was about destruction of property, they tried to make sure the buildings were empty when they bombed them because they didn’t want to kill anyone. However one of the bombs exploded while they were making it so some Weather Underground members were killed. There are good interviews in this, especially with the members who were on the run from the law for like 20 years.
This one was made in 1967 about the inmates of Bridgewater State Hospital, an institution for the criminally insane. Did you watch American Horror Story season two? This is basically the true life story of that. Well kind of. It’s very disturbing, you see patients being forced to strip naked, being force fed and being bullied by the staff. The conditions are horrible and for some reason I had it in my head that the hospital was closed following the release of the documentary but I was wrong! It’s still around today. I definitely hope the patients are being treated better these days.
Paradise Lost Trilogy
These are three documentaries about the West Memphis 3. Quick recap in case you haven’t heard of them. In 1993 three young boys were found murdered in West Memphis. In 1994 three teenagers; Damien Echols, Jessie Misskelly Jr and Jason Baldwin were found guilty of the murders. It was basically a big witch hunt and the three teens were accused of being into black magic and killing the boys in some kind of ritual sacrifice which all really stemmed from a lot of lies and the fact that Damien Echols in particular was ‘weird’, dressed in black and listened to heavy metal. All three have finally been released because it was pretty obvious that they didn’t do it but they were in prison for 18 years and it was all really fucked up. If you liked these you can also check out the documentary West of Memphis and Damien Echol’s book Life After Death (I thought it wasn’t that good but you might like it).
About A Son
This is such a nice film. I watched it for the first time in Winter last year at my old apartment. It was raining and I had these huge floor to ceiling windows and I put this documentary on and kept the curtains open and it was just so nice. It was also a bit sad because anything Kurt Cobain related is always sad in retrospect. It’s basically just a tape of Kurt being interviewed played over the top of related footage. Like when he’s talking about being a kid and going to the timber mill with his dad, there’s footage of a timber mill. In theory it doesn’t sound like great but in practice it really, really is. In a lot of interviews Kurt was quite sarcastic and stuff but in these tapes he’s really genuine and insightful.
Timothy Treadwell lived with grizzly bears for thirteen years and shot a lot of amazing video footage of them. He was a really eccentric guy and this documentary was directed by Werner Herzog who is always great at depicting eccentric people. Eventually Timothy and his girlfriend were both killed by the bears. There are interviews with park officials who thought what Timothy was doing was dangerous and stupid, and interviews with his friends and family. There is audio of the fatal bear attack which is, thankfully in my opinion, not played in the film.
This incredibly important documentary explores the under-representation of women in leadership positions and in mainstream media. I think this should be shown to all young women, it’s so important to be aware of how skewed the representation of women is in the mainstream media. There are some amazing interviews with young women and some horrible clips from mainstream tv shows with disgustingly sexist comments.
Louis Theroux’s Weird Weekends
Louis Theroux is an English journalist who, due to his disarming charm,s is able to ask a lot of questions that other people just could not get away with. His programs are funny, informative, and mostly non-judgemental. Some of my favourites are: UFOs, Swingers, and Porn.
This one is about the urban legend of the murderer Cropsey of Staten Island. Was he real? Was it just a myth? When 12 year old Jennifer Schweiger disappeared in 1987 it raised a lot of questions about Cropsey and this documentary attempts to answer some of them. After watching this my boyfriend and I called each other Cropsey for about six months, I don’t really know why.
Black Tar Heroin: The Dark End of the Street
Another heroin addiction one. I apparently just like watching things that are huge downers. This one follows five young black tar heroin addicts in San Francisco in the late 90s. There are ODs, HIV, and crime. It’s interesting and very sad. I’ve heard people say that they should show kids movies like Requiem For A Dream to keep them away from drugs but I think they should show they actual documentaries like this, not necessarily to keep them away from drugs, but so that they can see what can really happen.
Behind The Music
There are lots and lots of episodes of Behind the Music telling about the ‘dark side’ of fame and musicians with addictions and stuff. It’s trashy as hell but usually pretty enjoyable and a huge number of episodes are available in full (and often annoying in about eight different parts) on YouTube. My favourite episode is obviously the Courtney Love one.
The Invisible War
Apparently getting raped in the U.S armed forces is an occupational hazard. I learned that, along with a lot of other disturbing things, from this documentary. The statistics in this documentary about women being raped and sexually assaulted in the U.S army, air force, navy etc are just horrifying but really important to be aware of.
This post was getting a bit long so I’ve decided to cut it into two posts, I’ll be back with the second part in a week or two. In the mean time, I hope you’ve found something interesting to watch!