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July 9, 2010

The Movie Burrito: Volume 2 - Documandatory

Documentaries are a great way to take a look at a particular topic in depth and dig into every angle. The great thing about them is that sometimes they bring you a subject that you might not ever think about. I know we all see the Michael Moore flicks in the mainstream, and deservedly so, but there are so many that slide by unnoticed. Here are a few that I think everyone should pop in the DVD player.

King of Kong: A Fistful of Quarters

This is definitely on the top of my list for a reason. There has never been a film in my viewing history that made me root more for the hero and more against the villain than King of Kong. The tone is beautifully set with underdog Steve Wiebe, a potential major league pitcher who blew his arm out before his big chance, battling against Billy Mitchell, a hot sauce and barbecue king, for the title. Title of what? Highest all-time Donkey Kong score. From the history of the arcade championships to the most legendary arcade in competitive gaming, this film takes you on a journey of epic nerd proportions that paints Wiebe as a modern day Rocky Balboa.


A deep look into the rise and fall of America's greatest boxer takes us into Iron Mike's childhood, upbringing in the boxing world with his legendary trainer/pseudo-father figure Cus D'Amato and path to glory. The film plays like Tyson's autobiography as he narrates every bit of his life including his days in juvenile detention, marriage to Robin Givens and his infamous rape conviction. I have to say that I always considered that a set-up by his former manager Don King, and after watching this, I can say that even though Tyson was a savage in the ring, I can't ever believe him to be a rapist. He handled the telling of his divorce with class and even handled his disdain for Don King and Desiree Washington (the alleged victim) with little anger. He even takes blame for his downfall in boxing, admitting that he led himself into failure.

American Movie

Wisconsin is not known for its big budget Hollywood-style films. Mark Borchardt may be the only person we need to talk to in order to find out why. The hapless indie writer/director spent a few thousand dollars and a few thousand hours trying to complete his short film Coven (pronounced with a hard o) with the help of his drug-addled best friend Mike Schank and other friends and relatives. One disaster after another strikes, and Mark's frustration grows. The best scene in the movie involves his uncle's need for hundreds of takes to say three simple lines.


Remember the movie The Boondock Saints? Many people don't, but to those that have seen it, the film has an exciting feel that brought it to cult status. However, the film almost didn't happen thanks to the ego of bartender/guitarist turned writer/director Troy Duffy. When his screenplay was picked up by Miramax, Duffy lost control and went on a bridge burning spree like no other, even ostracizing his own brother and the other members in his band. Only minutes in you realize that the money and fame didn't create Duffy's ego, it just let it loose on the world. This film should serve as a warning to all future filmmakers.

When Stand Up Stood Out

A fascinating look at the Boston stand-up comedy scene in the 1980s that takes us to legendary venues with some of America's best comedians. Denis Leary, Lenny Clark, Mario Cantone, Colin Quinn, Kevin Meany and many others recount their days in Beantown during the comedy boom. The inside view of comedy is portrayed quite accurately as jealousy erupts after Steven Wright is plucked for the Tonight Show with Johnny Carson and Bobcat Goldthwait is invited to perform on Late Night with David Letterman, leaving the remaining comics to stew.


When Jerry Seinfeld ended the run of his successful sitcom, he turned back to his roots in stand-up comedy. After retiring all of his old material in an HBO special, Jerry had to start fresh. Watching his process is fascinating. He talks with comedian friends like Chris Rock and Bill Cosby about his struggles, and there's even an amazing moment seeing Jerry with stage fright before a big benefit show. Comedians will love this film and comedy fans will get a great look behind the curtain.


Imagine a slightly condescending Bill Maher talking to religious people all over the world. That would be a nicer way to approach them than him being himself. It's attitude versus attitude in many of the conversations in this film but on so many occasions Maher stops politicians and preachers dead in their tracks with biblical questions they don't have answers to. It's tough when each side thinks he or she is right and won't budge, but it still makes for a fun and funny watch that includes an interview with Bill's mom and sister in their childhood church.

Lord, Save Us from Your Followers

Filmmaker and Christian Dan Merchant travelled the country to take a look at the clash between religion and American culture. He looks at churches that do more harm than good and churches that serve the community. In a touching turn, Merchant takes an artist's idea and hold a confessional booth at San Francisco Pride in which he apologizes for the intolerance of the church. His basic message seems to be that not all Christians are douchebags and the ones who are need to knock it off.

This Film is Not Yet Rated

This is an interesting expose on the film ratings board known as the MPAA and their arbitrary ratings rules. Director Kirby Dick hires private investigators to tail and research the members of the board, who are all kept secret. We learn the process from former members and discover that our best interests are not always in the board members' minds.

Air Guitar Nation

Hundreds compete in small clubs across the country for a chance to compete in the world championships of air guitar in Finland. We follow American David Jung aka C-Diddy as he battles his way through against his new nemesis Dan Crane aka Bjorn Turoque in order to reach the top. This film is fun, compelling and will rock the hair off your balls.

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