Last week, we looked at pictures about pictures — films about art and artists — and this week we look at movies about movies – documentaries about individual films. These four documentaries — two about classic films and two about films that were never made — are required viewing for cinephiles.
The Shining is indisputably one of Hollywood’s greatest (and most controversial) horror films ever, and with visionary director Stanley Kubrick at the helm it has earned legions of fans. In Room 237 (2013), we meet several people – from film scholars to obsessed fans – who present wildly varied theories behind the film, from secret symbols to the hidden meanings in the film’s fabulous set design. It veers from plausible to preposterous, but you can be sure you’ll be deconstructing The Shining upon your next viewing.
While The Shining is a classic, Troll 2 (1991), sitting comfortably in IMDB’s Worst 100 Movies, is not. Considered by some to be so-bad-it’s-good, it’s earned a cult following and is the subject of The Best Worst Movie (2010). This documentary takes a look at the legions of fans and interviews the director (who still believes he made a good film), but the real star is George Hardy, a dentist from Alabama whose enthusiasm for his starring role in this awful film is infectious.
The beloved sci-fi classic Dune by Frank Herbert has been adapted twice, first by David Lynch in 1984 and then as a miniseries on the Sci-Fi channel in 2000. Both are considered missed opportunities, which makes it all the more sad that grandiose director Alejandro Jodorowsky‘s adaptation never came to be. The documentary Jodorowsky’s Dune (2014) explores what could have been – star turns by Mick Jagger, Orson Welles and Salvador Dali, music by Pink Floyd, set design by HR Giger – and , how it still managed to influence cinema for the past forty years.
Our last documentary is about another wildly inventive director – Terry Gilliam – and his attempt to film another classic novel – Don Quixote by Cervantes. Lost in La Mancha (2003) looks at Gilliam’s ill-fated attempt to bring this to the screen, and the battles he faced – a dwindling production budget, inclement weather, health issues among the cast – that ultimately shut the film down. This hysterical examination of a production gone wrong is as informative as it is funny, providing a behind-the-scenes look at what goes into the making of an epic.
~posted by Frank