Thursday, January 14, 2010

The Doc is In

We seem to be on a documentary kick lately. I’ve written about a couple of the music-related ones recently here and here. This bunch are all slices of life, some with tasty toppings and some with whatever is available.

The Order of Myths (2008)
I really had no idea what this one would be about. Turns out it’s about Mobile Alabama and its Mardi Gras festivities and history. I am pretty ignorant about this topic, I didn’t realize that Mobile not only has a big Mardi Gras, but that they had it before New Orleans did. This film cannot focus on these events without saying a lot about the history of segregation in this country – especially the forms it still takes since it was officially banned. Tradition is often the opposite and the enemy of progress.

Grey Gardens (1975)
This was recommended to me by someone who knew I would like something that features truly eccentric people. The women in the movie are mother and daughter, both named Edith Bouvier Beale (closely related to Jackie Kennedy Onassis). They began as aristocrats, and after that lifestyle was no longer possible they kept hold of their stately home (Grey Gardens) but reclusive tendencies, total lack of housekeeping (as in being overrun not only with garbage, but with cats and raccoons), and a kind of Baby Jane delusional complex on the part of “little” Edie spun the home environment into something truly surreal. It made me really glad that I moved away from my mother right after high school (for my own sanity’s sake). I was also an only raised by an eccentric mother, and I had my own quirkiness too – I’m proud and happy about both of those things, but we were both infinitely better off without each other’s constant company. MrB, having been endowed with a much more typical family background, mostly reacted by going out and buying a new vacuum cleaner. I’m sure we are both more convinced than ever that feeding raccoons in the house is a horrible idea. Anyway, this is pretty fascinating. I really have no desire to see the dramatization of this story that was made for HBO. Here (and also on a followup film called “The Beales of Grey Gardens” and a separate work "Ghosts of Grey Gardens") you have the real thing.

49 Up (2005)
This is part 7 of a documentary that has taken 50 years to make, and presumably is still underway. It began in 1964 with a project to cover the entire lifespans of a group of children in the UK via extensive interviews conducted every 7 years. The first one was called "Seven Up" (well, duuuhh) and each subsequent one is named appropriately. As of 49 Up, they still has 12 participants, having only lost 2. It was captivating, and really more interesting than the premise sounds.


Debra She Who Seeks said...

I watched "49 Up" last year on our CBC News Channel (which often shows documentaries). I thought it was very interesting and it made me want to see all the ones that preceded it.

Dr. Monkey Von Monkerstein said...

I've seen a few of those 'Up' films and you're right, they are quite fascinating.