Louis Theroux picks his five favourite documentaries that everyone needs to see
Some great choices here from the documentary king. Get them done.
When it comes to film recommendations, every single film fan has a few solid picks but some opinions carry more weight than others. When it comes to the documentary genre, it's arguable that only David Attenborough is more beloved than Louis Theroux.
From UFOs to death row inmates, there isn't a subject in the world that seems too taboo, weighty, or heartbreaking for Theroux to examine.
With a new book that's set to be published - Gotta Get Theroux This - the broadcaster discussed some of the documentaries that really made an impression on him.
Here are the film documentaries that Theroux recommends the most.
1) The Thin Blue Line
Plot: A documentary which argues that Randall Harris was wrongly convicted of the murder of Dallas police officer Robert Wood by corrupt system of justice.
Metacritic rating: 79%
What Theroux said: "An amazing landmark feature. It's an extraordinary piece of work, a forensic and beautifully-shot series of interview with various protagonists. It has a strong social justice element and the way in which the truth is revealed, is extraordinary. It's a great example of how powerful the truth comes across when it isn't forced. You, the viewer, put the pieces together and arrive at the truth.
2) Dear Zachary: A Letter To His Son About His Father
Plot: Dear Zachary: A Letter to a Son About His Father is a uniquely intense and personal documentary about the murder of Kurt’s oldest friend and the unbelievable legal and emotional madness that ensued.
Metacritic rating: 82%
What Theroux said: "I'm reluctant to say too much about it. It's a heart-rending piece of work. No one I've ever recommended this too has failed to be profoundly moved by it. It's about bereavement, loss, family. It's just a wonderful film."
3) Exit Through the Gift Shop
Plot: The first film by renowned graffiti artist Banksy, the film tells the incredible true story of how an eccentric French shop keeper turned documentary maker attempted to locate and befriend Banksy, only to have the artist turn the camera back on its owner – with spectacular results.
Metacritic rating: 85%
What Theroux said: "It's not really about Banksy, it's about the nature of art and merchandising. I think it's a great example of a documentary in which one of the contributors to the film, sort of takes over and takes the story in a completely unexpected direction. For me, that's documentary nirvana. It manages to be light and funny in one way, but in others, it's a thoughtful piece of work."
4) The Act of Killing
Plot: Former Indonesian death squad leaders reenact their real-life mass-killings in various cinematic genres.
Metacritic rating: 90%
What Theroux said: "The amazing, brilliant, and revolutionary storytelling device that the director uses on this is that he gets to know the men responsible for these killings. They're viewed as national heroes, but there has never been a full account of the bloodshed. The director invites the main killers to take part in the film and reenact their crimes. You get a sense that one of the killers is starting to see his crimes in a different way. In a strange way, there's a very humanistic value at the heart of it.
5) The Jinx: The Life and Deaths of Robert Durst
Plot: The six-part documentary from Andrew Jarecki and Marc Smerling features interviews with New York City real estate heir Robert Durst, who was suspected (and acquitted in one case) of three murders.
Metacritic rating: 76%
What Theroux said: "It's got that feeling of the story being ongoing while it's being filmed. It sort of becomes a tango between the director and Robert Durst as they figure out the nature of their relationship. It explores the director's own increasing unease as they make the film together."
Here's a more in-depth preview from Louis Theroux.
Clip via Pan Macmillan