Archive for the Documentary/Mockumentary Category

Love, Lust & Lies – 2010

Posted in 2010, Australian, Documentary/Mockumentary with tags , on December 12, 2010 by filmglutton

In 1975, young director Gillian Armstrong made a documentary about 3 working-class teenage girls in Adelaide, exploring what it was like to be a 14-year-old girl. The girls were Josie, Diana and Kerry, and the documentary provided a brutally honest insight into their lives. What’s life like now that they’re pushing 50?This is the fifth in this documentary series which has followed these women since they were 14 years old. Don’t fret if you haven’t seen the previous ones, because we are given a recap at the beginning to bring us up to speed. I had seen the other instalments and I was very keen to catch up with these women.

 

Gillian Armstrong is one of my favourite filmmakers, and this is just a wonderful documentary, the best of the series (she won the ADG Award for Best Director of a Documentary in 2010 for this film). The women in this are so real, and we really see life unfolding before our eyes. All three women had similar upbringings in a poorer area, but their current lives are very different. Kerry is the most ‘normal’: she married in her late 20s, and has been with her husband ever since. She also had kids later, and as a family unit they all seem very happy. This has been a successful step up in life for Kerry. Diana is the most disappointing of the group. Always outspoken and vivacious, Diana was married with a baby at age 18, and has always struggled to gain her own independence. I don’t want to say too much about her and spoil to documentary for you, but there are a lot of revelations here about her marriage and her children. It’s like Diana is trying to re-live her youth; she is very thin (too thin) and dresses like a teenager. She has gambling problems and just generally seems to be very immature. My favourite throughout the series was always Josie. Josie is warm and honest with a truly beautiful soul. Almost everyone I’ve spoken to that’s seen this film has connected with Josie, and she’s also been the one with the most heartache. Some family skeletons are revealed in this doco (one of her revelations about her mother had me bawling), but generally we already know Josie had it tough. She had two children by age 18, and, in one heartbreaking sequence from 1980’s 14’s Good, 18’s Better, Josie revealed that she sent herself flowers when she was in hospital because everyone else had flowers, so why shouldn’t she? It’s this kind of honesty that makes Josie so endearing . She’s done it tough, but she’s a battler and really trying to make something of herself. Aside from the three women we also see their families, including the next generation. This invites an interesting comparison between the women and their children, and gives us some insight into what effect a lack of education can have on future prospects and happiness.

 

I enjoyed this film immensely. It’s so real and powerful, and I really care about these women and the choices they make. There’s a lot of sadness, a lot of laughter, and it’s an extremely interesting look at life. I made my whole family watch it and they liked it too. The issues here are universal, so if you are interested in documentaries, try to get your hands on this one. You won’t be disappointed.

My rating:

Forgotten Silver (1995)

Posted in Documentary/Mockumentary, Reviews with tags , , , , , , , , , on August 5, 2009 by filmglutton

FORGOTSILVER

Ok, for my very first review I’ll be reviewing Forgotten Silver (1995), which I saw for the first time today. Directed by Costa Bates and Peter Jackson (one of my favourite directors – read his biography if you love filmmaking, I guarantee you will be inspired!), Forgotten Silver chronicles the life and work of Colin McKenzie, an unknown Kiwi filmmaker who (among other things) made the first ‘talkie’ in 1908 and the first colour film in 1911. The film opens with Jackson telling us the story of how he found McKenzie’s film reels in his neighbour’s garden shed. What Jackson uncovers is a trove of amazing archival footage, and it becomes clear to everyone that Colin McKenzie deserves a place among history’s great filmmaking pioneers.

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McKenzie was an innovator cursed with bad luck. His epic film Salome was thwarted by financial problems, and his personal life was also somewhat tumultuous. The story is engrossing, encompassing McKenzie’s original footage, interviews, and sequences with Jackson and Bates searching for the lost set of Salome in the New Zealand wilderness.

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If this is sounding more and more unbelievable, well, it is! The entire thing is made up (right down to the closing credits, where Hannah McKenzie and others are in the cast list). Forgotten Silver is one cleverly disguised mockumentary! There are some pretty obvious clues here and there – why have we never heard of a man that achieved so much!?! – but the story is so grounded in reality that it fooled many New Zealander’s when it originally aired (leading to some disappointment and, in some cases, pure outrage!) There are very convincing interviews with industry heavyweights Sam Neill, Harvey Weinstein and Leonard Maltin, lending veracity to the story, and Colin’s life is woven with real events such as World Wars I & II.

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I’ve been wanting to see this for a while. This is essentially a telemovie, but for a project that aired on local television in New Zealand, the creativity and craftsmanship are superb (do we expect anything less from Mr Jackson?). I watched a behind the scenes clip on the DVD, where the filmmakers go into the history of the project and how it was made. They used some green screen and visual effects, and Colin McKenzie’s archival shots have been treated to look old and authentic – all in all some really great stuff!

If you like documentaries, mockumentaries, early films or just films in general, I’m sure you will get some enjoyment from this!

My rating: 1111