mockumentary

26-siberia

Last night, NBC debuted yet another new series with a documentary style structure. The network is no stranger to the format, but this show is apparently more confusing for viewers than, say, The Office and Parks and Recreation. The difference is that this show, Siberia, is not a comedy. It’s a fictional show that plays like a reality game show. Any blurbs calling it “Survivor meets Lost” are unnecessary praise because that is literally what is intended. The premise is a more anarchic take on a Survivor-type show, dropping contestants in the middle of the notorious Russian region, while the pilot is nearly a play-by-play of a crash-less version of the Lost pilot, complete with a male version of Shannon (he even sunbathes while everyone else works together as a team) and an unidentified creature in the woods, a la “The Smoke Monster.” By the time Siberia starts to get deadly, the audience should be fully aware that this is not a real reality show. That is if they aren’t already keen enough to see the impossible camerawork (common to other doc-style fiction series) or haven’t bothered looking up the program on IMDb or NBC’s website. But why would they go looking if they believed it to be just another nonfiction show? There’s not much that indicates otherwise in the opening credits (no writers are listed and the cast is listed by first name only) and while the network isn’t necessarily trying to dupe viewers, its marketing of the show […]

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Criterion Files

Tune into VH1 Classics on any given day, and this is something you’re likely to see: a rock video of a mid-80s hair band playing on a giant stage, complete with sleek cinematography, wide camera angles, and a stadium-sized audience packed to the brim. At first you might be confused, thinking that this is possibly some Whitesnake or Guns N’ Roses song that somehow escaped your memory. But then the music video ends and in the bottom left corner the band’s name comes up. You’ve never heard of them before, and you’ve definitely never heard this song before. Yet this video depicts monstrous popularity that suggests nothing less than massive cultural phenomenon. While it’s possible for a one-hit wonder to develop this degree of renown for a certain frame of time, it becomes something of a schizophrenic moment when you consider that this hit single both inaugurated the now-forgotten band’s moment of popularity and depicted it simultaneously. With so many hair bands, how is it possible that every single one of them sells out stadium-size crowds? The answer, of course, can only be one thing: an association with mass popularity is, for hair bands, only a reality for the privileged few, but for the rest it’s a fabrication that’s all part of the musical aesthetic – it’s what makes this subgenre of rock that’s reliant on spectacle so spectacular. It’s fitting, then, that one of the landmark mockumentaries of American filmmaking chose as its subject a genre that itself relies […]

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Why Watch? An internet pioneer finally gets his due. Steve Jobs stepped down as CEO of Apple yesterday. Big deal. This short film from Joe Nicolosi (famous for his Star Wars: Retold and the wonderful short film bumpers of SXSW) gives shining credit to a man who changed the way we use our computers and the way that we watch cat videos online. Done in a simple mockumentary format with some impressively seamless digital effects work, it’s funny and reveals a few startling facts about Keyboard Cat. Plus, Austin fans will recognize more than a few famous faces. What does it cost? Just 5 minutes of your time. Check out Kittywood Studios: Cat Videos Incorporated for yourself:

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Here’s the infamous “Cheese Rolling” trailer for This Is Spinal Tap. The picture quality isn’t ideal, but it may be the single most hilarious trailer of all time. Rob Reiner pitches sex, comedy, big nipples, stars, and begs the audience to let him break into film so he won’t have to go crawling back to television. It’s a trailer written in the saddest key with no footage from the movie itself – just the director giving us some information about how many awards he’s won and how the fine tradition of cheese rolling began. If you love Spinal Tap, but have never seen this trailer, you owe it to yourself to watch it three or four thousand times.

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Why Watch? Because you’re still obsessed with that episode of Saved By the Bell where Mr. Belding’s brother Rod promises to take everyone on that rafting trip. And that’s okay. This short is beyond charming. Four friends who think Rod Belding is a real person, track him down in order to find some clarity. The whole thing is sweet and funny and innocent – and the montage sequence midway through that recaps everything that was just seen is particularly hilarious. With cameos from Ed Blatchford (who played Rod in that fateful episode), Dennis Haskins (the beloved Mr. Belding), and a soaring use of The Goo Goo Dolls, this short film takes pop culture compulsion seriously while celebrating the tiniest of moments in TV history. What Will It Cost? Just 22 minutes of your time. Does it get better any better than that? Check out Saved By the Belding for yourself:

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Le Donk and Scor-zay-zee

If you’ve never heard of director Shane Meadows, I highly suggest rushing out and renting, if nothing else, Dead Man’s Shoes. His films often employ a healthy dose of humor, but I don’t believe anyone would characterize him as a comedy director; enter Le Donk and Scor-Zay-Zee.

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The Flying Scissors

Here at FSR, we’re not just about throwing the spotlight on major Hollywood releases. We also like to give a nod to the indie filmmaker when we have a chance.

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in-the-loop-review1

Armando Iannucci’s ‘In the Loop’ is a smart political satire with a terrific cast.

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published: 12.19.2014
A-
published: 12.18.2014
C-
published: 12.17.2014
B+


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