Weird Documentary Movies
If you're interested in weird and unusual documentary movies, then this page is for you. We recommend several odd documentary films on this page. Some of the movies on this page are mock documentaries, and some of the other movies are not documentaries at all, even though they are true stories.
A voyeuristic peek into the lives of two genuine American eccentrics: Edith Bouvier Beale and her 50 year old daughter Edie. The pair inhabit a decrepit mansion called Grey Gardens in the wealthy enclave of New York's Hamptons. They seldom go outdoors. They inhabit one or two rooms of Grey Gardens, cooking on a hotplate, and singing off key show tunes. The house is shared with a herd of cats, an attic full of raccoons, and their attendant fleas. Filmed by the Maysles Brothers (David & Albert) who somehow gained the trust of these unusual members of Jackie Kennedy's family. She must have been pissed when this was released. A thousand thanks to Lorette Masa, who raved about this film and found us a copy. Grey Gardens is now on Broadway as a musical. Look for a rerelease with additional material from the Maysles. 1976. Unrated. 90 minutes.
Sex in a Cold Climate
Sex in a Cold Climate is a sad documentary about the treatment of unwed mothers in Ireland at the institutions set up by the Catholic church. The Magdalene asylums were originally set up to reform prostitutes, but they later took in unwed mothers and women considered sexual deviants. Run by nuns, these were harsh places that rejected all sense of female sexuality. The young women were set to work washing church linens for no pay. Cut off from the outside world, these women were considered sinners and were actually prisoners dominated by nuns and priests. It's a shocking story of 20th century slavery under the guise of religious rehabilitation. Not a popular film in Ireland, but not shocking to anyone whose had a Catholic education. 2002. Unrated. 50 minutes.
Alvin can't see too well any more, and his hips don't work so good, either. He smokes too many Swisher Sweets cigars, and he probably doesn't have long to live. When his brother Lyle has a stroke, Alvin sets out on his lawn tractor to pay him a visit and to mend an old grudge. The only problem is Alvin lives in Iowa and Lyles in Wisconsin. David Lynch directed this epic journey for Walt Disney. That's an odd combination, and yet there is enough Lynch in this G rated movie to satisfy a Blue Velvet fan. This is far more than a 2 hour ad for John Deere products. Alvin recollects and dispenses wisdom as he slowly chugs north and touches most everyone he encounters. I should point out that this isn't actually a documentary, but it is based on a true story. 179 minutes. Rated G. 1999.
Crumb got lots of praise when it first came out, but we chose to ignore it. Crumb is excellent though, and all those nice things and top ten listings were right on the money. Robert Crumb is a reclusive comic book artist who was seminal in the underground comic world of the 1960/70s. Even if the name is unfamiliar, you will recognize his work, or at least his distinctive pen and ink style. Terry Zwigoff directed and David Lynch produced this brutally honest documentary about Crumb's twisted family and home life. You get a sense that Crumb's twisted artwork is really indicative of his world view. This is a very open and apparently accurate film that supports the connection between psychosis and genius. You may catch yourself rethinking this film for days afterward. 1994. Rated R. 119 minutes.
The jacket to this this film calls it a country western version of This Is Spinal Tap. Granted, it is a music industry pseudo-documentary, but that's were the similarity ends. Dill (Billy Burke) is a shit kicker school bus driver in central Texas who gets a shot doing radio ads in Nashville. He rockets to the top with Henry Winkler ( I swear I'm not making this up) as his manager. He sings great tunes like "Tube Top Boogie". According to the credits Sheryl Crowe wrote the music. Some of the lyrics are hysterical. Written and directed by Jordan Brady and released on the First Rites label. 1999. Rated PG. 91 minutes.
Living in Oblivion
This Tom Dicillo film holds a mirror up to the independent film business. Steve Buscemi does a great job as the bedraggled director whose cast dissolves around him. Filmed in B&W and color it probably is pretty close to the mark. 1995. Rated R. 90 minutes.
Man Bites Dog
Certain people will be offended by this French quasi documentary about an out of control murderer. I no longer recommend this movie to friends, and suggest you do the same. If you enjoy (?) Man Bites Dog, you're going to love Henry-Portrait of A Serial Killer.
Buena Vista Social Club
Director Wim Wenders teamed up with guitarist Ry Cooder to document the legendary and underappreciated musicians of Cuban popular music. It is a revival of past stars who have been neglected during the long years of Cuba's isolation. The great music is made even better when you sense the joy Wenders captures from these lifelong performers. 1999. Spanish w/subtitles. 100 minutes.
Waiting for Guffman
A serious spoof on the aspirations of a local theater group waiting to be discovered. This movie is ruthless in its reach for humor, and there's something that will insult all but the most politically incorrect. You'll recognize the whole cast. There's a good chance you will enjoy this. Directed by Christopher Guest, who also plays the lead as Corky the director. 1997. Rated R. 88 minutes.
You know it's a bad sign when you find three copies of the same obscure video in the used video rack. This is a documentary about Super-Masochistic-Bob-with-Cystic- Fibrosis. It won a lot of awards and we'd like to nominate it for the 2003 NOT FOR THE SQUEAMISH AWARD as it is way way too gross for the non S&M viewing public. A brief synopsis: Bob is dying and he convinced a couple of assholes to follow him around with a camera and film him nailing his penis to a 2 by 4. The End. 1998. 92 minutes.
This Is Spinal Tap
Rob Reiner directed this mock rockumentary about the declining luck of a British rock band. Christopher Guest is in this, and that certainly left its mark on his film style. It makes you wonder how the Stones hung together all these years. Look for Fran Drescher as a bit player. 1984. 85 minutes. Rated R.
An aged English rock band reunites against their better judgment. Essentially a This Is Spinal Tap copy, with music by Mick Jones of Foreigner and Chris Difford of Squeeze. Very funny performances by Stephen Rea, Billy Conolly, and Juliet Aubrey. Directed by Brian Gibson. 1999. Rated R. 95 minutes.
Best In Show
This time Christopher Guest turns his sarcastic sites on the dog
show world. Basically the same cast as Waiting for Guffman,
a yuppie couple, a redneck, a NY Gay couple and a childless midwest
husband and wife all descend with their pooches on a mock
Westminster dog show. We follow each of them as they prepare and
travel to the show and as they compete. As usual. Guest is both
accurate and unforgiving in his hilarious portrayal of this American
subculture. 2000. Rated PG13.
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