Category Archives: mockumentary

[s] Tour de Pharmacy (Jake Szymanski, 2017)

Tour de Pharmacy is a mockumentary short about 1982 Tour de France cycling tournament on which every single participant was doping. After the disqualification of the absolute majority of the cyclists after the 1st day, only 5 remained: Marty Hass, the first white man to represent Aftrica, Juju Pepe, the leader of the race until he died right on the bicycle, Adrian Baton, a disguised woman, Slim Robinson, the first black cyclist, and muscle giant Gustav Ditters. The movie follows the development of the competition between them, witnessing such story turns as sudden uprise of passion between Marty Hass and Adriana Baton, Slim Robinson’s detour, and a chance of Stu Rickman, a reporter covering the race, to actually win the thing.

The film is called Tour de Pharmacy, because using illegal and semi-legal substances to enhance one’s chances of winning is the primary subject of the story. It may have been inspired by the Lance Armstrong story as he was disqualified for doping; curiously enough, Armstrong plays the part of himself in the movie, – I guess, it says a lot about his capacity to self-irony. The film is structured as a typical journalistic investigation and includes multiple interview pieces from various people, most of whom had something to do with the events narrated.

The resulting film is a highly entertaining, funny and uplifting piece of cinema. As is characteristic for most parodies, it sometimes goes overboard with mocking – but in this particular case it doesn’t happen that often, and even when it does it still remains within the boundaries of good taste. The acting is pretty great, albeit not alien to exaggerations. The quality of execution is truly superb.

All in all, this is an exceptionally worthy movie. Highly recommended.

Names and figures

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How Strange To Be Named Federico / Che strano chiamarsi Federico (Ettore Scola, 2013)

Che strano chiamarsi Federico is Ettore Scola’s tribute to his life-long friend and colleague Federico Fellini. It’s a semi-documentary, semi-dramatic memoir of their relationship, and includes some pieces of Fellini’s life that came to happen in direct connection with their friendship.

The film is poetic, ingenious and beautiful. It tells about Fellini with great respect and admiration, and at the same time not in denial of his certain character traits. Which are always forgiven, for he created so many wonderful things.

The narration is very well-balanced; the director alternates various techniques so that none of them can become a nuisance, and moves from one to another with amazing gracefulness at that. The acting – (and there was quite a lot of acting) – is in complete tune with the Scola’s design, not too bright, but perfect within the framework of the concept. All in all, an exceptionally harmonious story, honest and sincere, and light, and funny, and sad, all in one. In other words: highly recommended for all the cinema fans, as well as for everybody else.

Names and figures

End of Watch (David Ayer, 2012)

End of Watch is a drama about life and hard work of police patrol officers. The story tells about 2 cops, partners on watch and friends in life, who carried out their duty with tenacity and strength one can only admire. While doing their job, they nipped at the heels of a Mexican drug cartel on several, seemingly unconnected occasions, disrupting their operation in Los Angeles. Because they were too pure to sell out and impossible to distract, the cartel decided to eradicate them by force.

The film is implemented in the style of mockumentary, although not exclusively – certain scenes were shot in a more conventional manner, but even those are post-processed in such a way that it all produces an impression of great integrity. The photography, the post-production, every detail pertaining to the technical execution part is quite perfect. And the same I can say about the story, which develops in a logical and life-like fashion; the dialogs, which are bright and vivid and funny where necessary; the direction, which sets the story in the incredibly authentic environment; and the acting, which is exactly the way it should be for the sake of the contexture.

In other words, this is one of those films where the balance of components is in harmony so beautiful, it seems if not absolute then rather close to it. It’s deep and powerful, it’s genuine, it’s exciting. Basically, it’s true art.

Names and figures

The Devil Inside (William Brent Bell, 2012)

The Devil Inside is a mockumentary horror about exorcism. It follows the story of a young woman whose mother was confined into a psychiatric institution on account that she murderd several people, and who starts an independent investigation (filming a documentary along the way) after she finds out it happened during an exorcism performed on her.

If look at this film from a technical point of view, it’s actually rather interesting, because there are basically no speical effects, which tends to make a horror more realistic and therefore more scary. No pillars of black smoke leave bodies of the possessed in case of success, nothing like that at all – it looks pretty dull, actually; the authors obviously tried very hard to make this whole thing look realistic.

But all those efforts are virtually futile, because the elephant in the room is never addressed – and how would they address it? The truthful answer would make the story look what it really is – bullshit. You can make a show with good people suddenly turning bad and acting in a supernatural fashion all you want, but if you won’t give good answers to such question as “why the view of catholisism on the afterlife is any better than hundreds of other version?” or “why Latin works, and English doesn’t?”, you would fail miserably. Which is why attaching a story to the concept of religion (any religion) too strongly is a really bad idea – ultimatelly there are too many ridiculous details in them that can be picked on, so it’s a lot like trying to cross a river on a boat that you know has holes in it – if the river is not too broad, you can even make it, but it will look stupid either way.

That’s why this movie is not worth it, even though the acting is fine and all. There’s nothing unexpected there, and that’s what kills it.

Names and figures

Short Anthology

Here’s some shortfilms, none of which is worthy of a separate posting:

Terry Tate, Office Linebacker
(2002 || Directed and written by: Rawson Marshall Thurber || Performed by: Lester Speight, Michael Sean McGuinness, Michael Cornacchia || IMDB || 04:09)

There’s no story, just an idea, but a rather funny one. Very neatly done, too. Still, it’s merely an anecdote.


La barbichette

(2002 || Directed and written by: Kim Chapiron || Performed by: Vincent Cassel, Olivier Barthelemy, Marko Payen || IMDB || 04:48)

Also, no story. The whole film is just one situation, at that it’s outcome remained unclear. I have no idea why it was created, for which purpose exactly, but it was slightly entertaining.


Daybreak Express
(1953 || Directed and written by: D.A. Pennebaker || IMDB || 05:20)

Train comes, train goes – that’s basically it. The director targeted a train that passes on the verge of a rising day, hence all the play with lights and color. But it’s not even a documentary, because you would need an idea for that – it’s nothing but an exercise in editing.

 

(v. 0.1)
®shoomow, 2016

Take the Money and Run (Woody Allen, 1969)

This film is Woody Allen’s directorial debut (there was Tiger Lilly several years before, but it was made out of somebody else’s material, i.e. can be deemed a debut only technically). It’s a comedy, a mockumentary, the classic kind of it, meaning it’s a direct parody on documentary films, and it has a number of funny moments in it. The aсting is nice. The film is light and pleasant.

But all in all it seems like an early attempt to do Zelig, – quite successful in general (although, not with the box office), but a little ackward and crude, because of lack of experience. Fun for a one-time view, but no reason to repeat.

Names and figures

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