Five must-see documentaries about famous people

July 4, 2017

A writer, a football player, an actor, a fashion designer and the biggest icon of pop music inhabit these five must-see documentaries about famous. 

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Bukowski, Born into this by John Dullahan (2004)

John Dullahan finishes in 2003 what he had started 7 years ago, when he began to collect video footage about one of the greatest “dammed poets” in the world, Charles Bukowsky. Named after a celebrated phrase of one of his most famous poems in which he writes: “Born like this/ into this/ Into a country where the jails are full and the madhouses closed/ Into a place where the masses elevate fools into rich heores” through this film we get to know a visceral yet passionate man who dares to cry in front of the camera while reading a poem because he had recently broken up with a woman. Sean Penn, Tom Waits and Bono appear also in the documentary, which includes Barbet Schroeder’ film recordings of Bukowski’s quotidian moments in his apartment and the testimonies of Muto, a former colleague from the mail office where he used to work. Bukowski is sincere enough to tell us about his sad childhood, a time when his father mistreated him, something that he was able to canalize through his literature. “My father taught me much about literature, when you are beaten enough, you tend to start saying what you really want to say”


Nora Noh by Kim Sung-hee (2003)



When Vivienne Westwood, Sonia Rykiel and Coco Channel were the most famous women in the international fashion design, in South Korea a pioneering woman was changing the way the haute couture was conceived. Nora Noh presents us the portrait of who was not only the most important designer of her country and the Asian region but one of the most important collaborators to fashion industry worldwide. In Nora Noh, made by young Korean director Kim Sung-hee, we see how several of the most irreverent achievements in the world of fashion exist due to Noh's work. She set a precedent with the size standardization of ready-mades designs and faced the conservatism in Asian society with the revolutionary mini skirts.

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I'm Still Here by Casey Aflec (2010)



In this fake documentary leading actor Joaquin Phoenix claims to be tired of his career in movies and quits acting to dive into a risky and erratic career as a hip-hop singer. Directed by Casey Aflec, the fictional nature of the film remained always hidden until its release in the United States, where it caused controversy among critics and almost ruined Phoenix´s career because many in Hollywood did think that the ridiculous situations of a bearded and careless Phoenix - who also sucks singing hip hop- were true. Viewed from a phenomenological point of view, the film is a curious experiment on the act of representation, since Phoenix remained in character during the period the film was being made, even attending interviews like in The David Letterman Show and performing in real Hip Hop concerts.


Michael Jackson's This is It by Kenny Ortega (2010)



The video diaries of the rehearsals for the last series of concerts that Michael Jackson would give in London in 2009 became after his death - just three weeks before the first concert began- in the best posthumous tribute to whom became the most admired icon of pop music worldwide. The magic of seeing this film is to realize that we face the most authentic portrait that could be made to the eighth son of the Jackson family. Filmed almost entirely at the Staples Center and The Forum in Los Angeles, the documentary shows Jackson directing and performing the elaborate choreographies of his most successful songs on stage with the perfectionism and tireless energy with which he was characterized. We also see him giving instructions to his musicians in the recording studio and auditioning a group of dancers. The stage appears naked, without the paraphernalia and sensationalism that awaits for it on the opening night of the concerts, and so does our protagonist, an unobjectionable artist who seeks immortality in every step he takes.


Maradona by Kusturica (2008)



Based on a series of interviews that Serbian filmmaker Emir Kusturica makes to the Argentinean soccer player Diego Armando Maradona, this documentary transcends the normal biographical approach of a famous figure and created an intelligent and humorous essay on the spontaneous construction of a man whose talent leads him to fame and become a kind of messiah of his people. To portray what Maradona represents for the Argentines and for the world, Kusturica visits Argentina several times and films Maradona in different facets: the veteran world champion football player, a man that survived a delicate drug addiction crisis, a host of a TV show, a singer of Argentine popular music and even the political militant who accompanies Fidel Castro and Hugo Chávez to anti-imperialist rallies. In addition to filming the man, Kusturica portrays the entire idyllic, almost mythical system that Maradona has built in Argentina and other parts of the world.


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