Of late, I am enamoured with feature-length, biographical docs. Most recently, I watched the French-produced “Marilyn: The Last Sessions.” The same folks at Films D’Ici, also brought us the amazing animated auto-biographical “Waltz With Bashir.” I quote directly from CBC’s The Passionate Eye website:
“Marilyn: The Last Sessions, a revealing documentary about the Hollywood icon paints a rare portrait of Monroe, based on tapes made during psychoanalysis sessions in the months prior to her untimely death.”
I would certainly recommend this film to anyone interested in Monroe – I hope that it is available at your indie video store. More likely, you will come across another great artist’s super biog, “Gonzo: The Life and Work of Hunter S. Thompson.” Alex Gibney just about masters the documentary biography with this exhilerating and touching film.
Some of my other favourite biogs:
– “The Devil and Daniel Johnston,” directed by Jeff Feuerzeig, is a aching portrait of the tormented musician who suffers from bi-polar disorder.
– “Crumb,” directed by Terry Zwigoff, is an unsettling film about “outisder” comic book artist Robert Crumb.
– “Grizzly Man,” directed by Werner Herzog, is a cobble of Timothy Treadwell’s own footage of himself living (and dying) with the grizzly bears of Alaska.
All of these are great portrayals of unique characters marked by brilliant and inspirational yet tragicly flawed artistic careers. Each film breaks the formula of the documentary biography established by television series such as “Life and Times,” “Biography” and “Iconoclasts,” which are too often a litenaty of dates and facts and talking heads.