Movie Stream Cast 71: Documentary Now! and our Top 5 Mockumentaries

msc-documentary-now-bannerOn episode 071 of Movie Stream Cast, first-time guest Kevin Zade, from The Zade Storey podcast, joins Josh to discuss season one of the IFC faux-documentary series, Documentary Now! from Bill Hader, Fred Amisen and Executive Producer Seth Meyers, which is streaming for a subscription on Netflix. Kevin also talks Sam Rockwell movies and the two bring you their “Top 5 Mockumentaries” lists.

STREAMING NEXT: Teen Wolf (1985)

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37 thoughts on “Movie Stream Cast 71: Documentary Now! and our Top 5 Mockumentaries

  1. I caught all of the first season of Documentary Now! on Netflix. I was a bit concerned about whether or not I’d be able to appreciate the show without seeing the original sources beforehand. As it turns out, it’s a funny show whether you understand all of the references or not. While I enjoyed most about the show is that each episode represents a very different sort of documentary. So while it might be a series about parodies, each one feels like it’s unique. Some individual thoughts on each episode:

    Sandy Passage – I was very close to turning this off in the opening minutes due it not feeling like something I’d dig or understand. I’m glad I kept watching though because the laughs began and the twist near the end is naturally appealing for someone who enjoys the types of movies that I do. It’s a great introduction episode for anyone who is a listener to HMP.

    Kunuk Uncovered – It’s a very small thing, but I loved the grey color error on the left side of the screen during the episode. The creators of the show were careful to get the feel right for this series. This one was pretty over the top and saw a lot of twists and turns. In addition, it helps put you in the mindset where you remember that filming techniques only came about over time. It took a smart guy to come up with a clever idea that would change camera shots history.

    DRONEZ: The Hunt for El Chingon – The only episode I had to watch twice due to falling asleep the first time. I’ve only watched one Vice doc before, but I was able to quickly realize that this was a spoof on Vice. I’m glad I went back to watch it again though, even if it was still my least favorite episode. It’s a fairly repetitive episode.

    The Eye Doesn’t Lie – My favorite episode of the season. Not only did I laugh the most while watching it, but I even began watching A Thin Blue Line last night. Whether you get the references or not, all of the jokes are still funny.

    A Town, a Gangster, a Festival – Just an okay episode. My season least favorite of the season. There were a few laughs, but it didn’t stay with me like most of the episodes. The basic plot made for a fun joke at first, but then it was just more of the same.

    Gentle and Soft: The Story of the Blue Jean Committee – It’s an entertaining parody, but not one I felt needed to be two episodes. I would have been more interested in this being a single episode and then getting a seventh parody instead.

    If I had to rank them:

    6. DRONEZ: The Hunt for El Chingon
    5. A Town, a Gangster, a Festival
    4. Gentle and Soft: The Story of the Blue Jean Committee
    3. Kunuk Uncovered
    2. Sandy Passage
    1. The Eye Doesn’t Lie

  2. On this episode I mention that I thought The Last Exorcism was one of the best examples of documentary filmmaking in a faux-doc found footage horror movie. Ironically, on the latest episode of Horror Movie Podcast, I saw three other mock-docs that I thought were much better at pulling off a believable documentary look. If I’d seen them before we recorded this ep, they’d have made my lists somewhere. In order:

    3. Blair Witch (2016)
    2. They’re Watching (2016)
    1. The Triangle (2016)

    All three of them feature characters attempting to make a non-fiction film or television series and each does a better job than the next. The Triangle is the absolute most believable fax-documentary I’ve ever seen, at least since the Blair Witch Project, but has a much more modern documentary feel.

  3. Just to clarify something that Josh claimed at the end of the episode, Documentary Now season 2 is NOT currently on Netflix, but rather the second season recently begun airing on IFC.

    You can currently stream the first two episodes of season 2 for free on IFC’s website:

    http://www.ifc.com/free-episodes

    Since episode 3 isn’t set to air until Sept 28th, it’s very possible IFC will be adding each episode to stream on their website after the initial airdate.

  4. In response to the idea that The Eye Doesn’t Lie and Sandy Passage may not be entertaining for those who have not watched the source documentaries –

    Sandy Passage – It’s a completely bizarre episode and one that as I said back when I originally left my thoughts on the episodes, I nearly shut off in the opening minutes. However, it doesn’t take long to realize that this is just a bat shit crazy story and the viewer can remain watching just to see what other wild and outlandish stuff will come next. There’s a certain morbid curiosity tied to this episode.

    The Eye Doesn’t Lie – With all due respect to Kevin Zade, he be straight up trippin’ if he thought this was boring. The initial story is so interesting that I was glued to the episode, just wanting to get the full story. All of the comedy ended up working for me, both the over the top random stuff and the main two characters with their unique personalities. To some degree, it’s the most “Normal” episode, which to me should appeal to the greatest amount of potential viewers rather than the episodes that are more based on something far more specific.

    I have little doubt that anyone would get more out of these episodes if they watched the original source docs, but at the same time, watching documentaries isn’t going to appeal to everyone. Those who may not like docs may still like this series. Part of the fun of then going and watching the docs after the episodes is seeing how comical the source doc could be at points. There were far more unexpected laughs in A Thin Blue Line than I would have previously imagined.

    Even with seeing the first two episodes of season 2, the episode I would most recommend to anyone who hasn’t seen the series is The Eye Doesn’t Lie.

      • Sal said: “Even with seeing the first two episodes of season 2, the episode I would most recommend to anyone who hasn’t seen the series is The Eye Doesn’t Lie.”

        Wow, that’s really surprising to me. And I was a fan of that one. I think the most accessible and broadly funny was Kunuck.

  5. *****************SURVIVOR 33 EP 2 SPOILERS*****************
    I live-tweeted this episode, but I thought I’d leave some preliminary thoughts here too. I am so frustrated right now. I was already supremely bugged by Hannah this episode, but she is on my sh** list now.

    Okay, some thoughts on Episode 2:

    PAUL: Obviously I’m glad he didn’t die, but I was counting on that heart-attack for my fantasy picks. I was already dead in the water, but I didn’t think it could much worse. (to be continued)

    KEN: Okay, he totally won me over with his talk of being shy, with his choice to work with David and really form a bond of trust, and then by destroying the immunity challenge. I’m in on Ken for the time being, thought I’m still just cautiously optimistic.

    CHALLENGE: When Jeff said “Swim the idol over to me” … that was kind of crazy. I know there has been some weird idol thing before, but I don’t think I’ve ever seen that and I’m surprised that it doesn’t come up more often.

    So, this was a variation on one of my favorite challenges, but I far prefer it when they have to break the plate with the club to get the key. More exciting.

    And I can’t believe how scared and shaky David was. We’ve see nerds on the show before, but David actually is far less physically capable than the vast majority. I don’t remember even Cochran 1.0 being this unsure of himself. It was sad. I could see the bullies having their way with lil’ Davey.

    So, the challenge screwed my fantasy league picks even worse than before. I didn’t even pick a Gen-Xer option. But it couldn’t get any worse, right? (to be continued)

    PRE-TRIBAL SCRAMBLE
    So I tweeted some angry stuff during this portion of the show bc the gameplay was so dull and so clumsy. Michelle is annoying and bland and more annoying. At the time I tweeted ” OMG, these people are too young. These are not ballers. That was the weakest post-challenge scramble I’ve ever seen. If Mari goes home I’m going to be SO pissed.”

    ‘m 100% in on Zeke and Adam at this point. I don’t mind Jay. I really like Figgy now too. I was really upset that it was between Mari and Figgy bc they were the two most interesting women on the show, IMO.

    TRIBAL
    My tribal live-tweet:

    “Uuugh. I’m so out on Hannah right now.”

    ” Fu** Hannah”

    “I am so sad that it is between Mari and Figgy. Two of the most charismatic on their tribe.”

    “If Mari goes I’m sending Hannah a dead puppy.”

    And so I guess I am. And a few minutes later I remembered that Mari was my fantasy league winner pick. SO I have totally screwed myself there. Worst case scenario.

    I don’t know under what context Mari could could back, but I hope they can find a way. I feel robbed as an audience member. And now I’m stuck with sniveling idiots like Hannah. Boo! I’m so mad. Can you tell I’m mad?

    • **********SPOILERS***********

      I’m totally in agreement with you regarding both Paul and Ken, Josh. I dislike Paul who I view as an unfortunate crossbreed of latter day Rupert and Foley. Something about this super self-assured biker/mountain man looking guys kind of rubs me the wrong way. “I have to always be in control.” Sure tough guy, wouldn’t want to fracture your manly pride. Of course it’s awful to see Paul go through that ordeal but I can’t say I’d have been sad to see him go as a Medevac.

      And I was iffy about Ken initially but I’m totally won over. It’s nice to see a physical, handsome guy who doesn’t come bundled with the usual always-had-it-easy entitlement that the archetype normally delivers. I think one of my main problems with the dreamy/physical/bro type players is (and I’m obviously generalising here) that they tend to be lacking in depth and personality which I imagine is a result of getting by solely on good looks and bravado for most of their lives. So Ken is a breath of fresh air and won me over with his talk of being a shy kid with a speech impediment. His alliance with David was also pretty endearing and I also thought David showing him the idol was a big step-up from his crazy, foot-shooting paranoia of the previous episode. They’re now the guys I’m rooting for on Gen-X.

      I also agree that the pre-tribal scramble was some weak stuff. Michelle trying to convince the adolescent version of Buffalo Bill to switch votes to Mari was so half hearted.

      I think you’re being WAY too hard on Hannah though. Her bewildered flippancy is definitely going to mark her as an unreliable alliance member going forward but it seems as though you’re targeting all of your pain over Mari going home at Hannah when in reality she was basically just bamboozled into that move. She seemed genuinely confused and conflicted over the decision and probably just made the choice she felt would put her in good standing with the majority.

      I also don’t get the Figgy appreciation. She just seems like a generic preening “bikini babe” type to me. Not very interesting and super predictable when it came to falling into “Taylor the Dreamer”s arms. Barf.

      I’m still loving Zeke and Adam seems to have his head screwed on the right way. I was sorry to see Mari go but I am glad that this season might have a lot to offer in terms of unpredictability even though I still find some of the cast a bit lacking. Early days though.

      And I could see Mari being brought back in a pre-merge vs post-merge second chances season or something? Surely they’ll get to that conceit at some point.

    • ********************Survivor 33 episode 2 SPOILERS******************

      Well, I’m glad you finally came around on Ken. I liked him after episode 1, but now he might be my favorite remaining castaway. What an unlikely pairing with David who, incidentally, I warmed up to a bit this episode. I’m still not 100% on board with him, but I don’t hate him anymore and can see a path to liking him. His complete lack of physical capability, though, is very irksome for me.

      I’m not quite sure why you thought the gameplay was so bad. Michelle was able to swing three votes off of someone in her main alliance and onto the biggest threat on the other side. She did the work, going to each of the available swing votes – Michaela, Will and Hannah – individually with a strategy and argument that worked for each of them. And the whole time she was able to keep it quiet so the Mari-Zeke-Adam alliance didn’t see it coming. That was their downfall, actually, when Zeke told Jay how they were voting.

      Speaking of Jay, I like him much better now. He showed that he’s not as dumb as he originally seemed. He was obviously shrewd enough to distance himself from the Figgy-Taylor pair, at least in appearance to the rest of the tribe, and was able to successfully build relationships with the rest of the tribe. Otherwise, Zeke never would have gone to him with their voting strategy. So, job well done by both Jay and Michelle (with the pre-tribal scrambling).

      I wonder if the reason you both thought the pre-tribal scramble was dull is because it was Michelle who was doing it. That girl is cute and seems to be pretty smart and a good player but, unfortunately, she’s also very monotone and uncharismatic. So, she’s not great TV, but I feel like she could end up being a really strong player.

      With Hannah, my initial inclination was that she is just that nerdy girl who wants to fit in with the cool kids. However, the more and more I think about it, the more I wonder if she actually feels her tightest relationship in the game is with Michelle. They were shown talking a lot in the first episode, so maybe they made a close, personal connection. When Hannah was in the voting booth, she mumbled something about wanting to prove her trust. I originally thought she meant to prove her trust to Mari, Adam and Zeke, but now I’m thinking she meant to prove her trust to Michelle. Only time will tell.

      Poor Mari. I really thought she was lining herself up to be a real power player this season, and I could have seen her becoming one of my favorite castaways of all time. Despite her early exit here, I still think we’ll see her on another season in the near future. It wouldn’t be the first time Survivor brought back an early boot who the producers really liked and saw potential in (I’m looking at you, Francesca), and Jeff spoke very highly of her during the pre-season. Maybe that was a bait-and-switch, but my hunch is that they actually really liked her.

      So, of course I’m mad after episode 2. I completely agree with Josh when he said that he feels robbed as an audience member. I think Mari could have really helped to elevate this season moving forward. However, I’m excited about the unpredictability of this season early on, and I hope that continues.

    • Regarding the competing alliances on the Millenials tribe, I (we?) went into episode 2 assuming there was a clear divide between the four pretty people (Figgy, Michelle, Taylor and Jay) and the six misfits (Mari, Zeke, Adam, Hannah, Will and Michaela). In hindsight, though, it seems as though there was the tight four-person alliance, a tight three-person alliance with Mari, Zeke and Adam (maybe Hannah, too?)… and then there was Will and Michaela, who were just floating votes ripe for the taking.

      Will had an un-aired confessional that really speaks to this point.

      https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=DsRPWsHzwKE

      So, it seems as though Michelle really put the work into getting those votes, whereas Mari and her alliance did not. Really disappointing, but it seems as though this happened for a reason and wasn’t just happenstance.

    • Also, this is why I was considering not doing the fantasy leagues this season, because I had Mari as my winner pick in all leagues. After last night’s episode, I kept thinking about how my fantasy picks are blown up now, instead of reveling in how unpredictable this season has been already.

    • ** SPOILERS BELOW **

      Josh, my friend: Simmer down, Hot Sauce. You can replace Mari as your ultimate winner pick in both JSFL and The Tribe, and it won’t even ding you that much in The Tribe. If you guess well on the weekly questions in The Tribe and hit big on a couple of vote-outs, you could even get right back up to the top of the leaderboard and have a hefty payout down the line from your second-choice ultimate winner. The JSFL penalty for replacing your ultimate winner is a lot more damaging, but picking a new ultimate winner is still an option. The fantasy games are just games. Doing well or poorly is no real reflection on one’s knowledge of “Survivor” (or passion for it), particularly in a season with all first-time players.

      Actually, I like first-time player seasons precisely because they are unpredictable and surprising. Figgy surprised me, and I like that. She still doesn’t strike me as being crazy bright or strategic, but she realized she was in the line of fire and dodged a bullet. Good for her.

      Good for Michelle and Jay, really. Mostly good for Michelle, who did the footwork, and then broke out a nice combination of brass balls and just the right soft touch to flip Hannah AT TRIBAL COUNCIL. BENEATH JEFF PROBST’S VERY NOSE. Bravo, Michelle. Plenty of people have tried to flip a vote at TC in seasons past, but I can’t think of anyone right now who has actually managed to change someone’s vote on the spot with nothing more in hand than personal charisma (no idols in sight anywhere), let alone without Jeff noticing what was going on until the deal was practically sealed.

      I would love to know whether Michelle walked in and chose her seat deliberately knowing that Hannah’s vote was potentially in play. And she might have even moved herself and Hannah to the end of the row on purpose, knowing that she’d have a better shot if they were off to one side. It doesn’t bother me one lick that the whole thing wasn’t particularly elegant or blindingly sly. You show me something I haven’t seen before, and make it work, and I’m eager to see what you do next.

      (All of that is to say nothing of the fact that the real Gold Star strategy move was getting Michaela on board *before* Tribal Council, especially given Michaela’s general distaste for Figgy. Convincing Michaela *juuuuust* enough that she’d be next if Figgy got the hook was brilliant gamesmanship from Michelle and Jay.)

      I’m not even mad at Hannah. She stood her ground for as long as she could, and then was savvy enough to smell blood in the water and make the safe play. Many, many “Survivor” players go with numbers over sticking to their guns. We just don’t often see them making that decision on the spot.

      So I enjoyed the “Millennials” side of this episode immensely, and had the same general reaction as almost everyone else here to Ken. Good for Ken! (LOVED his awesome octopus encounter. Being a hunter-gatherer badass to any degree is a reliable route to getting me on your side.) And double good for David! Especially when idols are as much of a known commodity as they have become, it’s ALWAYS a strong accomplishment in my book for a player to make a little air space and then just go find the damn thing. And triple good for Ken-David bromance! I think the two of them, at least for the time being, have the strongest partnership in the game.

  6. We really need to stop calling this a “short-form” podcast and just embrace the fact that podcasts are more enjoyable when they’re longer. I’m not proposing three-hour episodes, or anything like that. On the other hand, however, I didn’t mind at all listening to Josh and Kevin chat for an hour, and as a listener I generally prefer podcasts to be at least 45 minutes long.

    My favorite Sam Rockwell performance has long been Guy Fleegman in “Galaxy Quest,” which I reviewed for the long-vanished Mr. Showbiz way back in the day. Sam was the concluding paragraph of my review: “Then there’s indie vet Sam Rockwell, stealing every scene he gets as Guy Fleegman, a panicky onetime ‘Quest’ extra (‘I got killed by a lava monster before the first commercial’) accidentally brought along for the ride. There’s a little Guy Fleegman in everyone who’s ever adored a sci-fi TV series — if you can relate to ‘the guy in the episode who dies to prove the situation is serious,’ then lay in a course for the nearest multiplex, Warp 9.” Funny how, even in 1999, Sammy was already “indie vet” Sam Rockwell.

    I agree that “Matchstick Men” is a fine Sam Rockwell showcase. More recently, I also enjoyed Lynn Shelton’s “Laggies” (2014), because while it doesn’t ask much out of Marvelous Mr. Rockwell, it’s still fun to see him play a romantic lead. (Along those same lines, I’m also curious about “Mr. Right.”)

    • Or go the other direction and commit to the short-form! I honestly don’t have time to edit a long-form podcast. It’s what keeps these episodes from coming out on time. I like my podcasts in the 3-hour range, but the whole gimmick of this podcast is “short reviews of streaming content” so I need to get serious about that on MSC. MPW is the place for the longer discussions.

  7. CURRENT SURVIVOR FANTASY LEAGUE STANDINGS

    Survivor Fans Podcast (JSFL)
    9 – IcarusArts
    8 – Bean
    8 – Cody
    8 – Dino
    7 – Sal Roma
    4 – JenniferP

    The Tribe (Office Pools)
    8 – IcarusArts
    5 – Dino-Machino
    4 – Soccer10
    0 – JeffProbstHairPeice
    0 – JeniferP
    0 – Sal Roma

  8. JUST FYI, for anyone who hasn’t made their fantasy picks yet, the Survivor Fans Podcast exit interviews are really good bc they ask the people to break down what’s going on with each of the players on their tribes and that is a lot of extra info to have at this juncture. So far, we’ve got a little intel on both tribes and Mari was especially good at discussing everyone on the Millennials tribe.

  9. Don’t forget to get your weekly picks in! I found this week to be particularly difficult with the (likely) impending tribe swap. Really just taking shots in the dark.

    But I’ve settled on my new winner pick, and I’m all in on Ken.

  10. Thanks for your coverage of Documentary Now. I was really looking forward to it. Loved the series quite a lot, and spent some time looking up some info on things I wasn’t familiar with. I’ll wait for Season II to stream on Netflix, but I’m a little excited for it. I WOULD go back and watch some of these again,,, but no time! no time!

  11. Excellent coverage of Documentary Now. My favorite episode was The Blue Jean Company. A perfect genre to send up, I also caught quite a few Beatles Anthology references in the episode. I would give the first season a 7.5. The second season airing now on IFC is even better – I would up it to 8.5! They did another music themed episode based on Talking Heads doc Stop Making Sense – brilliant!

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