Z Channel: A Magnificent Obsession (2004)

Streaming on Amazon Prime | imdb | trailer

The Z Channel was an early pay cable network that was very much like the current Criterion Channel (but began years before Criterion was even releasing laser discs). The story of it’s rise and fall, plus the channel’s influence is fascinating. You also get the tragic story of programming chief Jerry Harvey. I first saw this back when the movie was originally shown on the IFC cable channel. I never would have thought this doc would get remastered and made available again, but I’m glad it was. The filmmakers managed to get so many great interview subjects it’s amazing. The segments with Tarantino are particularly interesting. I didn’t understand the depth and range of his cinema obsession before seeing this movie. If you love independent and arthouse cinema, this documentary is essential viewing. I recall chasing down titles I hadn’t seen for years after.

Not available on Blu-ray.

If you are a fan of Anomalous Cinema please consider donating any amount via Paypal using this secure link. A Paypal account is not required. Thanks!

Made You Look: A True Story About Fake Art (2020)

Streaming on Netflix | imdb | trailer

This is a documentary about $80 million in forged abstract expressionist art that was sold through a major NY art dealer. If you have little to no interest in art, then this will bore the hell out of you. I found it to be very well made, and engaging throughout. It is mostly one-on-one interviews, peppered with some high quality documentary photos and appropriate video / film footage. Oh yeah and there’s that one element that you’ll see in 99% of contemporary documentaries… the animation. There seems to be a rule that there MUST be at least one section featuring animation in every doc. It’s as if there’s a big scary enforcer that shows up in the editing process and says “I ain’t seen no cartoons in dis here picture yet” while showing the director his bloodstained baseball bat. I get why documentary makers feel it’s necessary, but it’s become a cliche. If you just have to do it, please do something really interesting like the animation in Gimmie Danger. Sorry, I had to get that out. Where was I? Ok, here’s why Made You Look is worth your time: you get to learn about rich and powerful people becoming victims of their own stupidity and greed. Enjoy the schadenfreude my friends.

Not Available on Blu-ray.

If you are a fan of Anomalous Cinema please consider donating any amount via Paypal using this secure link. A Paypal account is not required. Thank you.

Kurt Vonnegut: Unstuck in Time (2021)

Streaming on Hulu | imdb | trailer

This is a very good documentary on one of the 20th Century’s most important and iconoclastic writers. It also deals with the struggle that Robert B. Weide (Curb Your Enthusiasm) had in making the film over the course of decades. He co-directed this with Don Argott, the man that brought us Last Days Here and Art of the Steal (all of his films are worth seeing). There was a ton of stories and footage to fit in here, so the movie feels a tiny bit long. However it’s all very well edited together, and absolutely worth your time. If you’re a fan of Vonnegut’s work, you will be delighted. I have been for many years, and I learned a lot.

Not available on Blu-ray.

If you are a fan of Anomalous Cinema please consider donating any amount via Paypal using this secure link. A Paypal account is not required. Thank you.

Last Days Here (2011)

Streaming on Hulu | imdb | trailer 

The singer from the metal band Pentagram struggles with addiction to get back on stage. I have mostly avoided music documentaries because they can have a very limited appeal. This one rises to a level that can be appreciated by almost anyone who isn’t totally square. Last Days Here is a great movie, and the same crew have made several other high quality documentaries including a personal favorite, The Art of the Steal. One note, the video is on the blurry side, but that is well worth ignoring to experience this story.

Not available on Blu-ray.

If you are a fan of Anomalous Cinema please consider donating any amount via Paypal using this secure link. Thank you.

The Act of Killing (2012)

Streaming on Hulu | imdb | trailer

So there’s this documentary where real-life Indonesian death squad members re-stage their crimes for the camera, including lavish song and dance numbers. No really, this exists, and is probably the most Anomalously Cinematic doc made in the last 15 years. I try to avoid Oscar nominated films here, but this is just too perfect to not share. I caught myself with my mouth hanging open several times while trying to absorb the multiple levels of crazy on display. I give The Act of Killing my strongest possible recommendation. Also check out director Joshua Oppenheimer’s follow up The Look of Silence, which is not as over-the-top, but well worth watching.

Available on Blu-ray from Drafthouse Films.

If you are a fan of Anomalous Cinema please consider donating any amount via Paypal using this secure link. A Paypal account is not required. Thank you.

McQueen (2018)

Streaming on Hulu | imdb | trailer

Nearly ten years ago my partner Suzie dragged me to see Alexander McQueen’s exhibition at The Met in New York. I was not psyched to wait in line for something I wasn’t particularly interested in. Once we got into the show, my feelings quickly changed. I loved what I was seeing, especially the dark influences like Jack the Ripper and Joel-Peter Witkin. I walked out of museum an official Alexander McQueen fan. Suzie and I watched this documentary as soon as it cane out and absolutely loved it. This is obviously a must-see for fashion enthusiasts, and I would recommend this film to anyone interested in art as well. Before I saw that exhibition I didn’t understand the two worlds had such compelling areas of crossover.

Available on Blu-ray from Lion’s Gate.

If you are a fan of Anomalous Cinema please consider donating any amount via Paypal using this secure link. A Paypal account is not required. Thank you.

Minding the Gap (2018)

Streaming on Hulu | imdb | trailer

I was a TERRIBLE skater for three years in the ’80s before I gave it up. I still love to watch skateboarding videos old and new. This is a very deep documentary that just so happens to feature skater kids. Three friends navigate troubled families and becoming adults. It’s very well done and engaging throughout. Highly recommended viewing.

Available on Blu-ray from Criterion.

If you are a fan of Anomalous Cinema please consider donating any amount via Paypal using this secure link. A Paypal account is not required. Thank you.

Kusama: Infinity (2018)

Streaming on Hulu | imdb | trailer

Here we have a good overview of the career of influential Japanese contemporary artist Yayoi Kusama. I thought this doc might be too fluffy as much of her work is bright and polka dot-strewn, but it does not shy away from the artists’ battle with mental illness and other dark corners of her life. Infinity also touches on the many lesser-known ways in which Kusama’s output has made an impact on the history of art. Recommended viewing for those interested in the creative struggle.

Not available on Blu-ray.

If you are a fan of Anomalous Cinema please consider donating any amount via Paypal using this secure link. A Paypal account is not required. Thank you.

Sad Hill Unearthed (2017)

Streaming on Netflix | imdb | trailer

You will need to see The Good, the Bad and the Ugly before you watch this, as fans restore the set from the climax of the film. Thankfully Netflix has Leone’s masterpiece streaming right now as well. I had my doubts that this would be interesting, especially since it opens with Metallica in concert. I’m a die hard fan of the Cliff Burton years and not into much of their output since, some of which is downright shameful. The band is included because they have used the featured scene as their live opening video for a long time. I saw the tour they first used it, and yes, it was very effective. James Hetfield actually does say some very thoughtful things in this movie too. Anyhow, I had forgotten how big and beautifully designed the Sad Hill set was, and this documentary goes into a lot of detail about it. None of it is dull, and by the end, it all gets surprisingly emotional. They also talk about the making of the movie in general, so if you’re a fan, this is a must-see. I was psyched to see Sergio Salvati interviewed in this as well. He’s why the classic Lucio Fulci movies look so good. My only real complaint is that the filmmakers animated almost all of the still photographs. I despise that technique. Leave photos alone people! Ahem… In spite of a couple of blemishes, this is a damn good documentary.

Not available on domestic Blu-ray.

If you are a fan of Anomalous Cinema please consider donating any amount via Paypal using this secure link. A Paypal account is not required. Thank you.

Last Breath (2019)

Streaming on Netflix | imdb | trailer

This is a very good documentary about a saturation diving accident. That may sound boring, but this is a seriously intense viewing experience. The movie is very well made, including excellent moody soundtrack work. I’ll be steering clear of any under sea adventures, thank you very much.

Not available on Blu-ray.

If you are a fan of Anomalous Cinema please consider donating any amount via Paypal using this secure link. A Paypal account is not required. Thank you.