2 items from 2016
Last year, Sundance pulled a sneaky trick when announcing the documentary competition lineup, withholding the name of the filmmaker behind “Holy Hell,” said to be an exposé told from within a real-life West Hollywood cult. The secrecy suggested that the programmers might have found this year’s equivalent of 1999 found-footage horror sensation “The Blair Witch Project,” when in fact, something far scarier had landed in their laps: the inside story of how nearly 150 people were drawn into and brainwashed by a master narcissist who’d convinced them of his shamanic powers.
As it turned out, the film was directed by Will Allen, who had been the group’s videographer (and resident propagandist) for nearly 22 years, making him uniquely poised to assemble the most damning portrait possible of his former mentor, a vaguely Ramon Novarro-esque failed actor named Michel, who addressed his disciples in a strange, impossible-to-place accent and convinced them to abandon their jobs, »
- Peter Debruge
How do you shave raspberries? What’s a Bakerloo bell jar? How do you make sulphagne? The mysteries of the universe are revealed in these hilarious spoof ‘educational modules’
Many of us will remember teachers clumsily battling with VHS players as they tried to put on videos of old and outdated science experiments. These would invariably feature close-ups of pencils pointing at circuitry, and be boringly narrated by expressionless men with sideburns. It’s these vintage Open University broadcasts that are targeted by Look Around You, a series of 10-minute curios that first aired on BBC2 14 years ago. They’re as hilarious and colourful a lampooning as The Day Today was of Newsnight.
Created by Robert Popper (who went on to make Friday Night Dinner) and Peter Serafinowicz (who had just provided the voice of Darth Maul in Star Wars), Look Around You was O-level science reshaped by anarchists. Its »
- George Bass
2 items from 2016
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