PBS American Masters: Mike Nicholls
Mike Nicholls, the ever-charming and supremely talented director of The Graduate and Carnal Knowledge, is beautifully portraited in this documentary directed by his long-time collaborator Elaine May. The PBS American Masters catalogue has been building since 1986 and, in its time, has featured some of the best documentaries produced since. Every time the chance appears to watch one of the many, many, many documentaries related to film, I highly suggest you do so.
The last film written by Network and Marty screenwriter Paddy Chayefsky, Altered States stars William Hurt, one of the best actors of the 80’s, and, for my money, is the most intelligent body horror film ever made. But even though the film has competent direction through-out, some excellent framing, editing, performances and, of course, stellar writing, nothing could satisfy Chayefsky who would take his name off it, instead being credited by his birth name “Sidney Aaron”.
From the man who brought you Conan The Barbarian, Dirty Harry, Dillinger and Apocalypse Now comes this really kind of underrated coming of age film about surfers during the 60’s. While his history with asthma stopped screenwriter John Milius from ever serving in the war he’d write his most famous film about, he did his fair share of surfing and Big Wednesday may be as close to an auto-biographical film we’ll ever get from the man.
The Thin Blue Line
Every crime documentary made since 1988 owes it all to Errol Morris’s The Thin Blue Line. It’s difficult to talk about this without getting into spoilers, but it’s an intensely fascinating telling of a man on death row who may or may not deserve to be there. Whether it’s your first Errol Morris doco, or one you’ve seen a dozen times, it’s never a bad time to watch it.
Starring Terrence Stamp as henchman turned informer awaiting his execution at the hands of hitmen John Hurt and Tim Roth, The Hit is a gangster road film directed by High Fidelity director Stephen Frears and a bone fide cult classic. As the three travel from Spain to Paris everything that could possibly go wrong, goes wrong, and like it reads on the poster: “Even bad men have bad days”.