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Being Michael Madsen (2007)
A treat for Madsen fans, and amusing for everyone else.
I was lucky enough to see the world premiere of this mockumentary at the Raindance Film Festival in London, with the titular Coolest Man on the Planet in attendance. A light satire on the paparazzi, entertainment industry and the self-righteousness of documentary film makers, this low-budget indie comedy is good for a few laughs.
Michael Madsen, playing himself, has been accused of killing an extra on one of his films by a slimeball paparazzo, Billy Dant (Jason Alan Smith). He sues Dant for slander, but when he loses, decides to teach him a lesson by sending a documentary film crew to stalk him and give him a taste of his own medicine. The plot reveals itself mostly through talking head interviews, and it takes a while for the film to warm up and for it to become clear what is going on. Once it gets going, though, it is quite funny and compelling.
Davis Mikaels, Kathy Searle and Doug Tompos are great as the film crew, each in the business for very different reasons, and all ringing true to life. The real draws, however, are the cameo talking heads by friends of Madsen, like David Carradine, Harry Dean Stanton, Daryl Hannah and his sister, Virginia Madsen, all making fun of themselves.
The film reminded me in places of a Christopher Guest one, and I certainly enjoyed it as much as For Your Consideration, which is on a similar subject (although also the least good of Guest's films). For something that only took ten days to shoot, the film makers have done an amazing job. Unfortunately, it perhaps still doesn't add up to enough for a cinema release. Being Michael Madsen should find its home on DVD or on something like HBO, where it will give fans of Mr. Madsen a treat, and everyone else a diverting hour and a half or so.
The Rock 'n' Roll Years (1985)
A great series detailing the news and hits of each year since the birth of rock 'n' roll.
This British series has an episode for each year since I believe 1954, overlaying news footage with some great music. Although the pace of the programme may seem a little slow now, the way it was put together was still brilliant. Some of the footage is really funny, some really moving, and I just love the music they use. The focus is obviously British events, but they cover some conflicts from around the world that I'd never heard much about before, not being alive at the time. Whilst it is amusingly clear that British society has changed a lot when you watch the 1950s and 1960s episodes (the police uniforms stand out particularly for me as seeming very staid when compared with todays, and some of the comments by teenagers about bands like the Beatles are priceless), all the footage of the wars and disasters shows that not much has changed. It's also clear that music was so much better then. With the plethora of nostalgic clip shows around at the moment, the quality of this really shines through. There's no talking head minor celebrities trying to be funny by belittling the crazes and music of their childhood, just well-researched archive material. This is a family favourite, for my family at least.