Kathy Griffin: A Hell of a Story (2019) – Powerful

Released: 13th August
Seen: 13th November

On May 30th 2017, a photo was uploaded on the internet that would change Kathy Griffin’s life forever. The photo was of Kathy in a blue dress holding a mask with piss-yellow hair covered in ketchup, clearly a reference to a certain president whose name I won’t mention because it’s my review and I get to do stuff like that. The photo was immediately condemned on all sides and Kathy went through the standard cancellation procedure where she lost all her current gigs and had to do the apology tour we send comics on when they make a bad joke. None of this was asked of photographer, Tyler Shields, who not only never apologised, but who continues to work to this day (not saying he should’ve gone through it too, just pointing out that he seems to be doing fine while Kathy’s the one dealing with everything). Anyway, for Kathy this went far beyond your standard “Cancel culture” reaction, this was a steroid induced destruction of a life and career because of one photo. I want to state up front that I did not like the photo in question, I thought it went too far and wasn’t funny… I’m also aware that it was a joke referencing a comment the person depicted in it said and that, at least at the time, Kathy was apologetic for it. What followed was a reaction that even literal rapists don’t have to go through, and this year Kathy finally said “ENOUGH” and let the world know what happened in one of the best and most heart stopping concert films I’ve ever seen.

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Crystal Lake Memories: The Complete History of Friday the 13th (2013) – Ki-Ki-Ki Ma-Ma-Ma

When I was reviewing the Sydney Underground Film Festival films, I talked about one called Memory: The Origins of Alien. In that review, I talked about my love of the 6-hour superdoc Crystal Lake Memories. I figured since we’ve entered October, it seemed only right for me to talk about that documentary. If nothing else, I know the length is a barrier to entry so my hope is that I can encourage you to give it a go.

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I Used To Be Normal: A Boyband Fangirl Story (2019) – What Makes You Beautiful

Released: 17th September
Seen: 28th September (Copy provided by TriCoast)

When I was going through school, the main boy bands that everyone talked about were N*Sync and the Backstreet Boys. It’s weird to think about now but back then you had to pick a side, there was a boy band war where everyone would clearly pick a side and stick to it. You would know instantly who was on what side of this totally real war that was totally important. I still have memories of hearing Backstreet Boys playing all the time, Backstreet’s Back was the first song of theirs I ever heard which constantly made me wonder where they had been before they came back (I was not a smart person, to the shock of nobody). It was a big thing but I was in the exact age range to understand what was going on, even if I wasn’t a part of it. Then I became an adult right around the time One Direction was getting big and had no idea what the deal was… if only there was some kind of documentary to spell out what the heck was going on. Oh wait, there is… now, anyway.

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Romantic Comedy (2019) – *Heart Eyes*

Seen at the Sydney Underground Film Festival

One of the things I love watching online more than I probably should are video essays. If someone’s uploaded a 45 minute deep dive on why they did or didn’t like a movie, chances are I’m interested in seeing it. There’s a real art to it, trying to take film criticism and make something that’s about as long as your average episode of television and make it informative and entertaining. It’s a hard combination to make and only a few people really do it justice. I have this very odd feeling that this documentary is by someone who probably saw a bunch of those video essays and said “Well, I can do that… but longer and get it shown on the big screen”

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Marcel Duchamp: Art of the Possible (2019) – A Fountain Of Ideas

Seen at the Sydney Underground Film Festival

Of all the great modern artists, none of them has delighted me as much as Marcel Duchamp. Like most people, I heard about his work The Fountain and asked the very simple question “What kind of insane person puts a urinal in an art gallery?”. The more I learned about him and about why he decided to do that, I enjoyed him a lot more. After all, who wouldn’t enjoy an artist who basically started an entire art movement out of pure spite? Because that’s what The Fountain is, Marcel was upset about a previous work of his being rejected from an exhibition that claimed to have no judges and so when another artist collective held another exhibition with the exact same rules, Duchamp took a urinal and signed it and that was his artwork. That spiteful piece of art ended up creating an entire movement in the art world and changed the definition of what could be art in a way that’s still making an impact to this very day. I already liked Duchamp just for that… and then I saw his documentary.

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Memory: The Origins Of Alien (2019) – In Space, No One Can Hear You Explain

Seen at the Sydney Underground Film Festival

One of the movies I have probably watched more than any other is Crystal Lake Memories: The Complete History of Friday the 13th. I love a good documentary about film, one that takes on a single movie or franchise and methodically explores its themes and concepts, behind the scenes stories and effectively disassembles the entire movie in front of me. Crystal Lake Memories is my favourite version of this idea as it methodically goes through every film in the original franchise, the TV series, the reboot and the team-up movie… it’s also six and a half hours long and I have watched it at least a half dozen times because I am eager to explore the details that go into making some of the schlocky horror films that were a major part of my fascination with the genre. So, what if someone took on a more intellectual horror film and gave it a similar treatment?

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Amazing Grace (2019) – R.E.S.P.E.C.T.

Released: 29th August
Seen: 1st September

In 1972, Aretha Franklin was indisputably one of the biggest artists on the planet. With massive hit songs like Respect, (You Make Me Feel Like) A Natural Woman and Think, Aretha could lay claim to being the greatest vocalist of her generation. She was an artist so talented that she managed to record a cover version of an Otis Redding song (Respect) and do it so well that we now associate that song with her rather than him. She was one of the greatest artists in the world up to her passing in August of 2018… and then, shortly after her passing, a documentary about one of her albums was released to universal acclaim by critics and while I get that, I have some problems.

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Trixie Mattel: Moving Parts (2019) – She’s the MVP heading up to bat

Seen: 17th June (Sydney Film Festival)

Possibly the most popular thing that I’ve ever done on this site would be the recaps of Drag Race. This doesn’t surprise me, that show is obscenely popular and the fans will read literally anything that has to do with their favourite show. While the show itself is now justifiably labelled a phenomenon, there are a few of the queens who have really taken what the show gave them (a platform to dive from) and used it to its full potential. Easily one of the most popular queens from Drag Race is the Barbie Doll-esque skinny legend herself, Trixie Mattel. Known for her big blonde hair, love of bright pink outfits and the darkest sense of humour that has ever come from someone wearing a giant pink wig and a pink Barbie doll dress. She has become an icon, a legend, a star the likes of which we’ve seen several times before but she does it while in heels and making jokes that would make George Carlin go “Bitch, too far”. She makes albums, she’s a Funko pop (which I own, no judging allowed) and now she has her very own documentary following her life on the road during a tumultuous time in her career.

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Chasing Happiness (2019) – I’m A Sucker For This

Released: 4th June
Seen: 10th June

I first became aware of the Jonas Brothers at the same time that the world became aware of them, Camp Rock in 2008. While I never watched that movie, the image of a trio of dark-haired teens trying to be a band was instantly engrained in my head along with the phrase “Corporate Created Crap”. What can I say; even when I was 20, I was a cynical bastard. They just were not my kind of band, they were a band that seemed manufactured to get the attention of 13-year-old girls, they had dorky songs about a Lovebug that wasn’t named Herbie and had a stupid Disney sitcom and were one step below High School Musical… again, I WAS (and still am) A CYNICAL BASTARD. I just didn’t get their popularity, they came up out of nowhere and I could swear they were another band like The Monkees. You know, created by a label to make a stupid sitcom where a new song would be attached to every episode and the idea was to basically force them into a market that probably didn’t want them. Give me a C. Give me a Y. Give me a –NICAL BASTARD. So anyway, when they released a documentary onto Amazon Prime about their life I, now being a 30 something cynical you-know-what, decided to see if maybe there was more to them. It may have taken me a decade, but now I finally get it.

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Fyre (2019) – I’ll Take You To Burn

Released: 18th January
Seen: 21st January

Fyre Festival.png

In April of 2017, the music festival to end all music festivals was scheduled to happen in the Bahamas. Organised by rapper Ja Rule and “Entrepreneur” Billy McFarland. The festival was a social media phenomenon from the second it was announced. Instagram Influencers and models were promoting it, tickets sold from anywhere between $500 to $12000, it was meant to have huge names like Blink 182 and Little Yachty and go for several days. It was meant to be the greatest music event that has ever been put together… and then the event happened and the only thing great about it was that it was such a great failure that it will go down in history as one of the worst events to ever be put together. It would end with thousands of people not getting money that was owed to them, personal property damage caused by the weather and one of the organisers going to prison for 6 years. Naturally, this was the kind of story that was going to be turned into a documentary, or two. I sadly can only talk about the Netflix one because Hulu doesn’t offer their product to Australians so I can’t compare these two documentaries, although if I’m ever able to do that I will do it later on. For now, let’s talk about the Netflix Documentary.

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