May 21, 2005

kiwi mock-umentary

I went on a little video geek spree this afternoon. I picked up my trusty Scarecrow Video Guide and tracked down a few rare flicks to watch while Sarah was at a bridal shower this evening.

I ended up renting two movies, both in the same vein. One is The History of White People in America, Part 1, which I have yet to watch. It was directed by Harry Shearer, from Spinal Tap and Simpsons voice fame, and stars Martin Mull and Fred Willard. Haven't watched that one yet, but it looks hilarious.

I just finished my other rental, Forgotten Silver. It was created by Peter Jackson and was released just before he started major production on the Lord of the Rings in the late 90s. It tells the story of Colin McKenzie, the first New Zealander filmmaker. According to the film, he was the first to ever make a film with sound, but it happened to all be in Chinese, so audiences walked out after the first few minutes. He also made a Biblical epic, ala D.W. Griffith, about the story of Salome. Upon its completion, he buried it since he was being chased by American mobsters and the Soviet government, both groups having fronted money for the production of the film. Jackson and friends spend the film tracking down the buried film and then edits it for release.

What is so brilliant about this film is that it actually feels like a dockumentary. One of my favorite genres is the Mock-mentary (Spinal Tap, Mighty Wind, Best In Show), but they always are so over the top that anyone who doesn't figure out that its fake is pretty dim. Silver succeeds in having a plausible plot, believable characters, and is assembled in the manner of any other dockumentary. The film premiered on New Zealand TV and was actually promoted as being true! The DVD contains an extra called "Behind the Bull", which talks about the public reaction to the fact that they had been led to think that New Zealand should be seen as such a huge film giant!

Well, I don't want to spoil it for you if you actually end up tracking down this gem. It's available at Scarecrow if you're in Seattle, but I can't be sure it'll be available anywhere else. If you get a chance rent it, and perhaps watch it with a friend who isn't "in" on the joke to see their reaction!

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