Jiro's documentary guide
Every Monday night I go round to me friend Jiro's house to watch a movie on his projector (he enjoys the full cinematic experience when watching his hentai porn). I eat Monster Munch and drink sparkling water, Jiro eats pumpkin seeds and moans about everything. It's fun times. Recently we've been watching loads of amazing documentaries, so I asked Jiro if he could write a guide to some of the best ones we've seen, thereby allowing you guys to have (almost) as much fun as we do. Below, Jiro will run through five of his favourite documentaries.
I think a common feature among all the documentaries I have chosen (apart from Alone in the Wilderness) is that they all contain subjects who most people would consider losers, outcasts and people to make fun of, whereas I find all of them incredibly inspiring and genuinely interesting.
This documentary follows Mark Borchardt as he pursues his dream of making the film Northwestern. The problem is although he is very enthusiastic about making films, he isn't exactly the most gifted filmmaker. But his dedication, and that of his uncle, Bill, and best friend, Mike, make American Movie one of the funniest, most satisfying documentaries ever. I think if you leave behind your cynicism and appreciate these people for who they are and what they are trying to do, then you will really enjoy this. Below are some of my favourite scenes.
Mark's acid story:
Uncle Bill filming a scene:
Sad scene with Uncle Bill taking about life:
The Decline of Western Civilization II: The Metal Years
Part one may have the cooler bands and be more interesting in terms of the music and scene, but part two is one of the funniest documentaries ever made. It's set during L.A.'s hair metal scene of the mid-80s and interviews musicians/bands of varying success from the well-known (Poison, KISS, Aerosmith, Lemmy and Ozzy Osbourne) to the lesser-known bands who are trying to make it, such as Lizzy Borden, London and Odin. The documentary is brilliant because so many of the people in it are so fucking stupid; it's quite depressing actually seeing all these musicians that are clearly not talented enough to be big try so hard and fail so humiliatingly.
Chris Holmes downs two bottles of vodka, has the coolest laugh/cry for help:
Odin talking about how big they will be (about 50 seconds in):
Poison talking like stupid idiots:
Alone in the Wilderness
One of the most satisfying, humbling and beautiful documentaries I have ever seen, Alone in the Wilderness is an hour-long documentary that follows Dick Proenneke's first year living alone in the Alaskan wilderness, building his cabin (and everything else) while filming everything he does. It makes you realise what a real man is and kind of leaves you feeling like a useless piece of shit compared to him – but in a nice way.
How's Your News?
A documentary about a group of disabled people traveling across America produced by South Park's Trey Parker and Matt Stone may sound like something that will be heartless and cruel but that couldn't be further from the truth. Probably my favourite documentary of all time, How's Your News? follows five people with varying disabilities as they travel across America meeting and talking to strangers on the way. The reason the documentary is so brilliant to watch is because the subjects (Bob, Shaun, Ronnie, Susan and Larry) are possibly the happiest, most positive people you will ever meet and you quickly warm to them and want them to have the time of their lives. Below are some of my favourite scenes.
(Click here to read Vice's entire issue made with the guys from How's Your News? in 2002.)
Sean interviewing a scary Navajo guy:
Susan singing in a weird karaoke booth with Bob and Sean dancing outside:
Ronnie meeting his hero Chad Everett for the first time
Errol Morris made some brilliant documentaries (The Thin Blue Line, A Brief History of Time, Gates of Heaven) but my favourite – probably because it's the least serious and the funniest – is Vernon, Florida. There are loads of documentary makers that go to 'strange' towns to interview the locals and although that's pretty much all this documentary is, the people he interviews are so amazing and unique you cant stop watching it. I guess being English, I find people from middle America fascinating. Pretty much all the documentaries I have chosen are about middle Americans who are just living their lives – which to them seems completely normal and probably boring, but I find it totally engrossing.
Old man thinks his turtle is a gopher and gives it a kick:
Man who loves turkey hunting: