The Troll Hunter (2011); André Øvredal, director

So Troll Hunter is certainly one you’ve heard about, but if I’ve gotta twist a few more arms to get more people to see it, well, that’s fine with me.

One of the most creative of the recent found footage films, this one has got yet another small film crew following a guy around as he goes about his job. Only his job is patrolling the cold, scary North looking for trolls.

This film has a real fun spirit with terrific special effects (done on impressive low budget) and a wonderful dead-pan sense of humor. There’s allegedly a Chris Columbus-backed remake on the way, so best to see this now before it gets bleached of its originality.

Stereo (1969); David Cronenberg, director

Stereo is a non-synch sound, sixty minute film usually paired with Cronenberg’s stylistically similar (though shot in color) film Crimes of the Future. They’re both terrific, but Stereo is the one that blows my mind just a little bit more.

It is, ostensibly, a scientific research record (Tile 3B of a Canadian Academy of Erotic Enquiry Mosiac, to be precise) and has the detached, droning voice-over to prove it. Stereo is the type of film that DARES you to get bored and fall asleep, but if you hover just at the precipice and let logic fall by the wayside you’ll discover an atmospheric and altogether heavy trip into expanded states of consciousness, extra sensory perception and polymorphous sexuality that is just tongue-in-cheek enough to keep you going.

Hey – have a spare hour? You can watch it in its entirety, legally, here.

Dadetown (1995); Russ Hexter, director

You don’t know me too well, but I’m a pretty sharp guy. I rarely have to use a calculator to figure out the tip at a restaurant. So you should have seen just how surprised I was back in 1995 when I saw Dadetown, a documentary about a white collar tech company moving into a blue collar town that – SURPRISE! – turned out to be fake and only revealed itself about thirty seconds before the closing credits.

The film presents itself as a serious, post-Roger & Me look at economic issues taking a fly-on-the-wall look at local government and individual families. When it is discovered that everyone is faking it, the curtain is pulled back to reveal something of a greater truth.

I’d link you to a clip or something, but there’s virtually no record of this movie existing (that rinky-dink image is the biggest one I could find), and the director never did anything again. If anyone has a VHS of it laying around, I’d love to hear about it.

Medium Cool (1969); Haskell Wexler, director

We’ve talked about found footage, mock-documentaries, stuff that might be real and stuff we know is faked. Medium Cool was one of the first narrative films that had an elastic enough production to allow actual documentary material to weave itself into its story. Plus it did so with Frank Zappa on the soundtrack.

Luckily, Medium Cool is about a documentary cameraman, so this boundary-defying quest for higher truths doesn’t seem overly forced, even when we venture into the 1968 Chicago demonstrations. The film’s most heavy moment comes when a teargas canister is shot toward the camera and a crewman shouts “Look out, Haskell, it’s REAL!”

Woah. That is, like, totally far out.

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