I love renting movies. In fact, I am a proud member of Netflix (you know, the late-fee vaccine). Oh, and I know how hard it is to find a good picture these days, so here are a couple of my most recent favorites. If you are a documentary junkie like me, you just have to rent either "Mr. Death" or "Poem Songs."
"Mr. Death" is a film by Oscar-wining director Errol Morris. This fun little picture shows the rise and fall of one Mr. Fred A. Leucher Jr. This film follows Fred while he redesigns all of those wacky machines that the state uses to kill people.
Finding that most of the technology of death is "inhumane," Fred goes about first redesigning the electric chair, then the gallows, then the lethal injection machine and ultimately the gas chamber. It’s this last task that gets old Freddy boy into a bit of trouble. He winds up being called in to testify in the trial of Ernst Zundel, a holocaust denier on trial for publishing statements that he knew were false that could trigger racial intolerance in Canada.
Hired by Zundel, Fred travels to Auschwitz – on his honeymoon – to research the matter. Ultimately he concludes that gas chamber did not exist. The ensuing international flap destroys his marriage and career. The film is a wild and disturbing ride, and I highly suggest you rent it.
Not in the mood for such madness? Perhaps ‘Off the Charts: The Song-Poem Story" will be more to your liking. This documentary is fucking hilarious. The concept of song-poems is this: via advertisements in the backs of magazines, people who hope to produce a hit song send in their lyrics to be put to music, recorded and pressed to disc. What most of these people don’t realize is that an estimated 200,000 songs have been concocted by this mail-order method and not one has ever been a hit.
With that aside, the real entertainment of this picture comes through some of the lyrics that people send in the. Early on in the film you see a geeky misfit, Calgar Juan Singletary, riding his bicycle and demonstrating his nunchuck skill in another to one of his songs titled "Non-Violent Taekwondo Troopers." The lyrics go like this: "Within Queen City of Southern Tiers I am sitting on my Super Bicycle, ‘Angelaria’ and I’m dressed like Captain Bicycle. Angelaria, show me your self, come and live the spirits of Jesus Christ. Thank Jehovah, for Kung Fu Bicycles and Priscilla Presley."
Need I say more? Some other choice lyrics: "God in his infinite wisdom put Richard Nixon on this earth, to bring to us his heritage, one of Christ-like worth," and "It was three days before I saw them, all I could do was feel around and stink, I couldn’t get out in any crowd people said I smell too loud, now if anybody knows while I smell so please write me a letter ’cause I’d like to know."
Yeah, well, that shit is funny.