Documentary Now!

Discuss TV shows old and new.
Post Reply
Message
Author
User avatar
movielocke
Posts: 2364
Joined: Fri Jan 18, 2008 12:44 am

Documentary Now!

#1 Post by movielocke » Fri Aug 28, 2015 8:04 pm

Anyone else watching this? The first episode spoofed "Grey Gardens", the second spoofed "Nanook of the North" (by way of public television special/DVD bonus feature). Seems like a natural fit for the forums demographic. Pretty funny, but it's the commitment to visuals and style that is really impressive. The first episode opens with spot on camera moves and shots and opening interview from Grey Gardens--I found it amusing at least. But the Nanook episode is really brilliant, particularly when it turns to innovations.

It's on IFC and features Bill Hader and Fred Armison with writing by Seth Meyers.

User avatar
hearthesilence
Posts: 4247
Joined: Fri Mar 04, 2005 4:22 am
Location: NYC

Re: Documentary Now!

#2 Post by hearthesilence » Fri Aug 28, 2015 9:34 pm

I like Bill Hader, but I've been wary of this show - the concept (at least the way it's been sold) looks pretty simplistic and smug. Reminds me of something Sterling Morrison of the Velvet Underground once said about some of Frank Zappa's satirical albums, how musically they were excellent but conceptually problematic for this reason.

User avatar
movielocke
Posts: 2364
Joined: Fri Jan 18, 2008 12:44 am

Re: Documentary Now!

#3 Post by movielocke » Fri Aug 28, 2015 9:56 pm

Grey gardens is essentially an extended snl short, but Nanook I think addresses all your concerns with its more inventive and ranging and extremely on point critiques both micro to the movie, and macro to the genres of doc or of making of.

User avatar
flyonthewall2983
Posts: 8735
Joined: Mon Jun 27, 2005 3:31 pm
Location: Indiana
Contact:

Re: Documentary Now!

#4 Post by flyonthewall2983 » Fri Aug 28, 2015 9:58 pm

I heard they're doing an episode that is essentially a hit job on the Eagles doc from a few years ago.

User avatar
Feiereisel
Posts: 145
Joined: Fri Aug 16, 2013 9:41 am

Re: Documentary Now!

#5 Post by Feiereisel » Fri Aug 28, 2015 10:12 pm

I like it a lot, from the framing device to the highly-specific, cine-literate parody. Certainly a good fit for IFC. I thought the first episode was maybe a little "inside" (how many people are going to chuckle at a fake Janus Films logo, y'know?), but the Nanook riff was inspired.
SpoilerShow
The GREY GARDENS parody also has some interesting implications with regard to found footage horror films, too, though I'm not sure quite what to make of that...
Anyway, I'm way in, but I think Hader and Armisen are geniuses, so maybe take my musing with a grain of salt.

Definitely looking forward to the Eagles hatchet-job.

User avatar
movielocke
Posts: 2364
Joined: Fri Jan 18, 2008 12:44 am

Re: Documentary Now!

#6 Post by movielocke » Sat Aug 29, 2015 2:43 am

I laughed at the fake Janus logo, it even had the same film movement rather than rock solid.
SpoilerShow
I love the way they extrapolated out the Gothic horror undertones of he original grey gardens to a logical conclusion that also "anticipates" the found footage horror subgenre. That first shadowy distant behind rails shot of big Eddy has always struck me as spooky, and Sandy passage uses that "foreshadowing" in a very satisfying payoff.

User avatar
Roger Ryan
Posts: 1910
Joined: Wed Apr 28, 2010 12:04 pm
Location: A Midland town spread and darkened into a city

Re: Documentary Now!

#7 Post by Roger Ryan » Mon Aug 31, 2015 12:00 pm

movielocke wrote:I laughed at the fake Janus logo, it even had the same film movement rather than rock solid.
SpoilerShow
I love the way they extrapolated out the Gothic horror undertones of he original grey gardens to a logical conclusion that also "anticipates" the found footage horror subgenre. That first shadowy distant behind rails shot of big Eddy has always struck me as spooky, and Sandy passage uses that "foreshadowing" in a very satisfying payoff.
It also drew an amusing parallel to...
SpoilerShow
Arsenic and Old Lace.

User avatar
barryconvex
Posts: 316
Joined: Fri Aug 24, 2012 10:08 pm
Location: NYC

Re: Documentary Now!

#8 Post by barryconvex » Sun Mar 27, 2016 12:58 am

this just hit netflix and i have to say i haven't laughed this hard in years. the highlight is definitely the nanook episode...
I've been wary of this show - the concept (at least the way it's been sold) looks pretty simplistic and smug
i was worried about that too-especially the smug part-but its so goofy and everyone is having so much fun with it that it never comes off as elitist. except the episode lampooning VICE magazine which comes with the territory. i know hader is a big film buff and both he and armisen know their rock n roll which also helps a great deal in elevating it above simple parody and into the rarefied Spinal Tap atmosphere. really great stuff...

User avatar
movielocke
Posts: 2364
Joined: Fri Jan 18, 2008 12:44 am

Re: Documentary Now!

#9 Post by movielocke » Sun Jul 31, 2016 5:44 am

I caught up on the other episodes.

the third episode parodies VICE with a dead-on brutally accurate depiction of the show that makes it a very funny send up, even if it is their least funny show, I was particularly amused at the various hipster looks the various hipster journalists wear and the smug way the VICE journalists mock traditional journalists. Sort of Anchorman esque, at times.

The fourth episode is a brilliant rip on The Thin Blue Line, stylistically, interview set ups, even the two main subjects (and all the police are pretty spot on accurate to the film as well), they manage to get in some very pointed critiques of the criminal justice system and prejudice and privilege in ways that wouldn't trigger people sensitive to those p-words. ;)

the fifth episode I can't peg what it's particular target is. There is certainly a subgenre of documentary in which "quirky thing happens in unexpected rural/conservative/foreign place. In any event, in this one, we travel to Iceland where there is an annual "Al Capone Festival" going on in a small village. I kind of love how they let the entire thing live extremely small, I often feel when watching this sort of doc that they're trying so hard to sell the idea that this quirky thing is a really big deal that they often try to hide how small and unnoticed the quirky thing is even within the relatively small town. That they run a lot of wide shots and there are only like ten people attending the festival I found constantly amusing and strangely validating.

The finale is a two part episode that basically takes the rock doc apart. apparently it's a takedown of the Eagles, but the music kept reminding me of Simon and Garfunkle. I have no idea why either act broke up, but the entire thing was pretty amusing and well done, but it actually would work better within the half-hour structure, it feels fairly repetitive and stretched out to make it an hour long.

***

I do wonder if we'll be seeing "Documentary Now!: Season Fifty!" in the November announcements, it'd seem like a perfect fit for the collection.

User avatar
Roger Ryan
Posts: 1910
Joined: Wed Apr 28, 2010 12:04 pm
Location: A Midland town spread and darkened into a city

Re: Documentary Now!

#10 Post by Roger Ryan » Mon Aug 01, 2016 8:57 am

movielocke wrote: ...The finale is a two part episode that basically takes the rock doc apart. apparently it's a takedown of the Eagles, but the music kept reminding me of Simon and Garfunkle.
The target is the whole of the early-to-mid 70s' soft rock/singer-songwriter genre and the faux sincerity that radiated from those performers. The Eagles are certainly included, but that "Gentle & Soft" album cover is pure Seals & Crofts!

User avatar
cdnchris
Site Admin
Posts: 3847
Joined: Tue Nov 02, 2004 2:45 pm
Location: Washington
Contact:

Re: Documentary Now!

#11 Post by cdnchris » Mon Aug 01, 2016 1:43 pm

For those interested in what documentaries will be parodied this season with details: http://www.indiewire.com/2016/07/docume ... 201711834/" onclick="window.open(this.href);return false;

For those that simply want a list of the films being spoofed without episode spoilers (but still in a spoiler tag for those who don't want to know):
SpoilerShow
The War Room
Jiro Dreams of Sushi
Swimming to Cambodia
Stop Making Sense
Salesman
The Kid Stays in the Picture

User avatar
tarpilot
Posts: 639
Joined: Thu Jan 20, 2011 10:48 am

Re: Documentary Now!

#12 Post by tarpilot » Mon Aug 01, 2016 4:54 pm

cdnchris wrote:
SpoilerShow
The Kid Stays in the Picture
Not reading the more detailed details but I know Hader and Armisen are informed enough to include some possibly apocryphal Easy Riders, Raging Bulls (the book) anecdotes that uh didn't make the cut of either, just hope they do...

User avatar
movielocke
Posts: 2364
Joined: Fri Jan 18, 2008 12:44 am

Re: Documentary Now!

#13 Post by movielocke » Sat Mar 11, 2017 5:07 am

I'm just now getting to season two. Juan likes rice and chicken, spoofing jiro dreams of sushi, might be the best thing they've done. It's brilliant, pitch perfect and staggeringly funny in a way almost atypical to the series yet it still manages to capture the sincere tone and dramatic thrusts of the original doc. Just a stunning brilliant synthesis from beginning to end. And not to mention this might be Fred Armisons best performance of his career, incredible work.

Bill haders James carville performance in the bunker, spoofing the war room, is really amazing and the clear centerpiece of that film. It reminds me most of season one with an extremely close recreation of the original

User avatar
cdnchris
Site Admin
Posts: 3847
Joined: Tue Nov 02, 2004 2:45 pm
Location: Washington
Contact:

Re: Documentary Now!

#14 Post by cdnchris » Sat Mar 11, 2017 9:31 am

movielocke wrote: Bill haders James carville performance in the bunker, spoofing the war room, is really amazing and the clear centerpiece of that film.
"They always write the same stuff about me. The Mississippi Machiavelli. Or Sunburnt Succubus. Or, what's the other one? Oh, Suspected Arsonist."

I have to agree with you on the Juan episode as well. I have both seasons DVR'd right now and I've come back to that one more than the others. It's hilarious first off, but Armisen is great in it and the father/son relationship is wonderfully realized, touching even. Another one I also keep coming back to is the Spalding Gray spoof Location Is Everything. Curious for the third season (which I believe I read was to be the last) and really hope the series at least gets a DVD release.

User avatar
movielocke
Posts: 2364
Joined: Fri Jan 18, 2008 12:44 am

Re: Documentary Now!

#15 Post by movielocke » Sat Mar 11, 2017 2:48 pm

I keep expecting seasons 50 and 51 to be released by criterion ala fishing with john, hopefully with a terrible parody cover of Fishing with John. ;)

One of the favorite little touches I missed last season was that the DN logo is a riff on the criterion LD logo. I love watching the opening credits for all the spot on mock styles of different years of DN logos

User avatar
flyonthewall2983
Posts: 8735
Joined: Mon Jun 27, 2005 3:31 pm
Location: Indiana
Contact:

Re: Documentary Now!

#16 Post by flyonthewall2983 » Sat Mar 11, 2017 4:06 pm

cdnchris wrote:
movielocke wrote: Bill haders James carville performance in the bunker, spoofing the war room, is really amazing and the clear centerpiece of that film.
"They always write the same stuff about me. The Mississippi Machiavelli. Or Sunburnt Succubus. Or, what's the other one? Oh, Suspected Arsonist."
He did Carville more directly on SNL, didn't he?

No way it could fit into the show, but I hope someday Hader utilizes his Bob Simon impression.

User avatar
Ribs
Posts: 2929
Joined: Fri Jun 13, 2014 1:14 pm

Re: Documentary Now!

#17 Post by Ribs » Wed May 09, 2018 9:24 pm


Post Reply