the essential documentaries

We made the video for U-Turn with the incredibly talented @sethbogartofficial It is a simple and goofy video where we drive around in a plywood car and dance in front of a green screen. I have no idea why this video would be deemed too “sensitive” by @youtube The other videos of ours that have been restricted? That Girl, which is essentially a tour documentary that includes footage of us performing and sitting backstage. And Alligator, a video where we dance around in snow suits with woolly hats on. I can only assume that the content has been flagged by users who are homophobic and don’t want unassuming straight people to be turned gay by seeing us dance. What a shame.

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 @khamalas​ posted saying “does parse also watch those bts clips or?” and I think the clear answer is yes. Because what good is having essentially a mini documentary about your ex ? ex best-friend? ex maybe if you don’t watch it.

So he watches them alone in his empty apartment with his cat and expects to be mad about everything he couldn’t have had but thats not what happens. 


  • He learns stuff about Jack through the videos that he didn’t know because they have both grown up and Kent hasn’t talked to him enough in recent years to know them. 
  • He learns that Jacks pre game rituals are no longer the same, that he smiles differently now and Kent almost doesn’t recognise him until he laughs and then its the exact same as the way he use to when they were together.
  • He watches the mini games they play and Jacks still a sore looser even after all these years.
  • They do a trivia quiz and Jack is only marginally better at pop culture than he was 6 years ago, but since when is Zimms so good at history. Kent swears Jack never paid more attention in history than he did in high school but maybe that was just another thing he missed.
  • They do a gift wrapping challenge for christmas and all Kent can think about is all the horribly wrapped gifts he got through juniors and how it turns out that Jack got lots of parts of his life together but not that part. 
  • He learns that Jack still tapes his stick the exact same way that they made up together in juniors, the same way Kent still does as well. 
  • Slowly but surely Kent fills in the gaps about what he didn’t know about Jack, that he was a history major, that he once flipped a table over a board game, and waged war on a rival sports teams house. That his best friend goes to law school, and that his proudest moment from collage was walking across the stage to receive his diploma.
  • Jacks exactly the same but entirely different and over time Kent comes to realise that this Jack isn’t the Jack he fell in love with when he was 16 and maybe its for the better but it still hurts to know that Jacks not his.

Eventually Kent realises that he’s not the boy Kent loved when he was young, but maybe Kent can let him go if he knows there’s no going back now

The new Amy Winehouse documentary, essentially: “Let’s blame her parents!” Presumably made by people who have never had to deal with a raging suicidal drug addict for a child. Hey, I loved Amy. I absolutely adored her music. But I can’t imagine what her mother and father went through having to deal with her. It’s shitty to blame them. She made her own choices, you know? Why rub salt into the wounds of grieving parents? How classless.

FYI, I went through something similar with my dad. Me (and my mum and my two sisters) tried to save him, but he simply didn’t want saving. He was crazy, in his own way. There was nothing we could have done. NOTHING.

So, yeah, Fuck this whole “the family could have done more” point. It offends me as a person. They were in an impossible situation. 

Writing this headcanon down for posterity: Tony Stark is a trekkie who gets into mock-serious arguments with Peter Quill, who is a die-hard Star Wars fan. Steve gets caught in the middle. Eventually he takes a third option and discovers he prefers Lord of the Rings. Bucky can’t understand why cowboys aren’t a thing any more. Gamora wants to know why Peter’s such a big fan of what is, essentially, an inaccurate documentary.


The life story of one of the most influential and controversial film directors in the history of Hollywood, John Milius. From his childhood aspirations to join the military to his formative years at the USC Film School, his legendary work on films such as “Apocalypse Now”, “Jaws”, “Conan The Barbarian”, “Dirty Harry” and “Red Dawn” to his ultimate dismissal from Hollywood due to his radical beliefs and controversial behavior. The film includes in depth interviews with Milius himself and others such as Steven Spielberg, George Lucas, Arnold Schwarzenegger, Francis Ford Coppola, Harrison Ford, Michael Mann, Robert Zemeckis, Oliver Stone, Bryan Singer, Charlie Sheen, Matthew Weiner and more.

More: John Milius


Steven Spielberg talks to Japanese TV in this little-seen profile from 1982. It’s an incredible piece of footage and highlights include behind the scenes footage from Twilight Zone: The Movie, a tour through Amblin’s offices, interviews with Leah Adler (Spielberg’s mother), Melissa Matheson and Kathleen Kennedy, Spielberg’s thoughts on TV (Cheers, St Elsewhere, Hill St Blues are good, soap operas not so much), Spielberg and John Williams chatting music, Ben Gardner’s head, John Milius and Spielberg eating pumpkin pie… –Paul Bullock, From Director Steven Spielberg

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The Beast Within: The Making of Alien (2003). This made-for-DVD documentary treats horror and science fiction film fans to a behind-the-scenes look at the making of Alien, the terrifying classic about a spaceship crew trapped with a hideous monster that’s hunting them one by one. Features interviews with director Ridley Scott and master designer H.R. Giger, as well as with star Sigourney Weaver and other members of the cast and crew, who share their experiences from working on the project and discuss the special efforts that went into bringing it all together.

  • June 1978, revised final script written by Walter Hill and David Giler, based on original script by Dan O’Bannon
  • Remembering the late, great Dan O’Bannon. This unassuming, multitalented filmmaker, who has died aged 63, was best known as the brain behind Alien. But he was so much more: O’ Bannon’s screenplay for the ALIEN, 1976
  • Cinefantastique v09 01
  • Personal shooting script of Ridley Scott from Alien

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John Cassavetes
December 9, 1929 – February 3, 1989

“There’s a particular feeling I get when I’m about to see one of your films – an anticipation. It doesn’t matter if I’ve seen the film before or not (by now I think I’ve seen them all at least several times) I still get that feeling. I’m expecting something I seem to crave, a kind of cinematic enlightenment. As a film fan or as a filmmaker (there isn’t really a clear dividing line for me anymore) I’m anticipating a blast of inspiration. I want formal enlightenment. I need the secret consequences of a jump-cut to be revealed to me. I want to know how the rawness of the camera angles or the grain of the film material figures into the emotional equation. I want to learn about acting from the performances, about atmosphere from the light and locations. I’m ready, fully prepared to absorb ‘truth at twenty-four-frames-per-second.’

But the thing is this: as soon as the film begins, introduces its world to me, I’m lost. The expectation of that particular enlightenment evaporates. It leaves me there in the dark, alone. Human beings now inhabit that world inside the screen. They also seem lost, alone. I watch them. I observe every detail of their movements, their expressions, their reactions. I listen carefully to what each one is saying, to the frayed edges of someone’s tone of voice, the concealed mischief in the rhythm of another’s speech. I’m no longer thinking about acting. I’m oblivious to ‘dialogue.’ I’ve forgotten the camera. The enlightenment I anticipated from you is being replaced by another. This one doesn’t invite analysis or dissection, only observation and intuition. Instead of insights into, say, the construction of a scene, I’m becoming enlightened by the sly nuances of human nature.

Your films are about love, about trust and mistrust, about isolation, joy, sadness, ecstasy and stupidity. They’re about restlessness, drunkenness, resilience and lust, about humor, stubbornness, miscommunication and fear. But mostly they’re about love and they take one to a far deeper place than any study of ‘narrative form.’ Yeah, you are a great filmmaker, one of my favorites. But what your films illuminate most poignantly is that celluloid is one thing and the beauty, strangeness and complexity of human experience is another.

John Cassavetes, my hat is off to you. I’m holding it over my heart.” –Jim Jarmusch, from ‘John Cassavetes: Lifeworks’ by Tom Charity


David Lynch shares stories and appreciation from his work with Harry Dean Stanton. He has been a favorite actor of Sam Peckinpah, John Milius, Lynch, and Monte Hellman, and is also close friends with Francis Ford Coppola.

“Harry Dean Stanton: Partly Fiction” is a mesmerizing, impressionistic portrait of the iconic actor comprised of intimate moments, film clips from some of his 250 films and his own heart-breaking renditions of American folk songs. Stunningly lensed in color and b/w by Seamus McGarvey, the film explores the actor’s enigmatic outlook on his life, his unexploited talents as a musician, and includes candid scenes with David Lynch, Wim Wenders

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, Sam Shepard, Kris Kristofferson and Debbie Harry. The fragile soul of an actor emerges from the poignant collage.

George Lucas in 1968, shooting his documentary “Filmmaker: A Diary by George Lucas,” filmed during the production of Francis Ford Coppola’s “The Rain People.”

Lucas was Coppola’s Padawan learner, and he often films Coppola from below, making him loom large in the frame. And he looks happy to be on a film set, rather than, as in 6-18-67, trying to get as far as possible from it. At one point Coppola describes his own deliberations about whether to take paycheck jobs: “The world is filled with guys who said ‘Well, I’m going to make the money and then I’m going to make the personal films.’ And somehow, they never get around to doing it.”

Fantastic footage of Francis Ford Coppola and George Lucas on set of The Rain People (and Dustin Hoffman!)

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Scene by Scene: Woody Allen (2000). BBC Interview with Woody Allen discussing his work in film.

The cool thing about the show is that they play some scenes from Allen’s catalogue and gets him to comment on them. Presenter Mark Cousins presents plenty of reservations. In particular he brings up interesting criticisms of Allen. Negative comments we’ve never heard before from Billy Wilder, Sam Shepard and Michael Caine. He even manages to give Allen the big question about how his private turmoil affected his films. It’s also amazing how much he remembers of making each film, like the very first day of filming Annie Hall. Of course, the show replays some of greatest scenes in Allen’s films. It’s a very open and frank discussion, and well worth watching.

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Minnesota Nice is a fascinating, 30-odd minute documentary about one of the finest, strangest and funniest films to come out of America of the last couple of decades, Fargo.

Previously on Cinephilia and Beyond:

  • Fargo original screenplay by Joel Coen and Ethan Coen
  • Joel and Ethan Coen discuss the writing and filming of Fargo, its precise characterizations, acting performances and the visual style that emphasizes the spiritual landscape of the bleak Midwestern setting

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The Complete Citizen Kane (1991, BBC). The most complete investigation in the origins and making of one of the most important films in cinema history. This excellent documentary was created as an Arena Special and includes interviews with Welles from BBC interviews in 1960 and 1982. It also includes an interview with Pauline Kael discussing her controversial “Raising Kane” article. The finest most insightful work ever done to date on Citizen Kane.

With thanks to Citizen Welles

All the essential documentaries on Orson Welles, including Orson Welles: The Paris Interview (1960), Filming ‘The Trial’ (1981), The Battle Over Citizen Kane (1996), Shadowing the Third Man (2004), Orson Welles: The One-Man Band (1995), With Orson Welles: Stories from a Life in Film (1990), Filming ‘Othello’ (1978), F for Fake (1973), Orson Welles with French film school students, Orson Welles “Its All True” Citizen Kane and RKO, and seven-minute video of a very young-looking Welles (he was 23 at the time) addressing an onslaught of press members on October 31, 1938, the day after The War of the Worlds broadcast.


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The complete collection of episodes from “Orson Welles’ Sketch Book”, including the hard to find final episode.

Orson Welles’ Sketch Book is a series of six short television commentaries by Orson Welles for the BBC in 1955. Written and directed by Welles, the 15-minute episodes present the filmmaker’s commentaries on a range of subjects. Welles frequently draws from his own experiences and often illustrates the episodes with his own sketches.


  • “The Early Days” — Welles discusses his early days in the theatre. (First broadcast 24 April 1955.)
  • “Critics” — Welles discusses his love-hate relationship with critics. (First broadcast 8 May 1955.)
  • “The Police” — Welles relates the story of Isaac Woodard, a decorated black World War II veteran who was blinded in a brutal 1946 beating by South Carolina police. Welles first told the story in July 1946 on his radio show, Orson Welles Commentaries (ABC), and made the case a focus of his weekly broadcasts throughout September 1946. Welles’s comments on his BBC-TV series foreshadow a speech made in Touch of Evil (1958): “I’m willing to admit that the policeman has a difficult job, a very hard job. But it’s the essence of our society that a policeman’s job should be hard. He’s there to protect the free citizen, not to chase criminals — that’s an incidental part of the job.” (First broadcast 22 May 1955.)
  • “Houdini/John Barrymore/Voodoo Story/The People I Missed” — Several anecdotes from Welles. (First broadcast 5 June 1955.)
  • “The War of the Worlds” — Welles recounts the story of the famous 1938 Mercury Theatre broadcast that was mistaken by many listeners for a real Martian invasion, and the mass panic caused. (First broadcast 19 June 1955.)
  • “Bullfighting” — Commentary includes the true story of Bonito the bull, a story written for the screen by Robert Flaherty that Welles filmed in 1942. It was to make up the first third of his unfinished film, It’s All True. (First broadcast 3 July 1955.)

With thanks to Citizen Welles