Arts Doc Watch ‘06
So, as I stated in My Platform a couple weeks back, I believe documentaries can save the world. With this in mind I have decided to go on a doc-watching binge. Last Tuesday I went to On 15th Video and took advantage of their “Half-Price Tuesday” deal. Four non-new release DVDs cost a mere eight bucks plus change. (Yeah, I know, Netflix is only a dime a month and you never have to leave your house and blah, blah, blah. You don’t run into cute girls on Netflix, dude.) This week I picked up Cane Toads, Word Wars, Hell House, and Trekkies.
Of the bunch, Word Wars was easily the best. The filmmakers follow four word warriors on their way to the Scrabble campionship in San Diego. Now, I’ve played a few rounds of Scrabble in my day, but I had no idea the depth of strategy or obsession involved in this game. Generally, to excel in the world of professional Scrabble one must devote the majority of your day to playing the game and studying the dictionary, leaving little time for such trivialities as regular meals, developing social graces, and being employed. The scene where we see the towering piles of paper cluttering G.I. Joel’s apartment (the G.I. stands for “gastro-intestinal”) hit a little too close to home. A truly fascinating film.
Hell House is a compelling look at that Pentacostal church in Texas that puts on an annual haunted house of the horrors that afflict those not saved. Apparently if you haven’t accepted Jesus as your Lord and Savior you are damned to a violent death involving AIDS, guns, drug-induced gang-rapes, or a perpetually bleeding womb. Oh, and you get to hear them speak in tongues.
Cane Toads is about a species of big, ugly toads that is taking over Australia. They were brought over from Hawaii in the early 20th century to eat the cane grubs that were decimating Australia’s sugar-cane crops. Due to an anomaly of nature, the toads did nothing to stop the ravenous cane grubs, but did succeed in reproducing like rabbits (another problem on that continent) and eating anything else that crosses their paths (you haven’t lived until you’ve seen a giant toad choking down a live mouse). Oh, and they secrete a deadly neuro-toxin as well. Fun! Also, if they are facing you when you run them down in your car, they make a satisfying pop as the air trapped inside them blows their ass out.
Trekkies is a relatively light-weight examination of just how freaky obsessive Star Trek fans can be. A highlight is interview footage with that weird Trekkie lady, a Starfleet Commander no less, who served on the Whitewater jury (and who, I believe, may have inspired the character of deputy Trudy Wiegel, my one true love, on Reno 911). It’s also fun to try and notice how many bits of Star Wars ephemera slip into the mix.
I picked up four more docs last night and I’ll report back with my impressions.
As always, suggestions are encouraged.