On Sunday, October 27, the Hollywood Theatre will screen Burden of Dreams, director Les Blank’s 1982 documentary about Werner Herzog’s insane experiences filming Fitzcarraldo—a task that involved literally pulling a boat over a mountain. Enjoy the rest of Herzog-tober (what? it’s a thing) with some of Herzog’s documentaries—which are also some of the best documentaries ever made—and a few other movies. Find these movies on the Mercury’s shelf at Movie Madness (4320 SE Belmont, moviemadness.org) from Tues Oct 1-Thurs Oct 31!
Grizzly Man (dir. Herzog, 2005)—Probably Herzog’s most famous movie, Grizzly Man is a jarring, jaw-dropping portrait of Timothy Treadwell, who lived in the wilds of Alaska and treated grizzly bears like dogs. Treadwell’s story ends exactly how you’d expect, but Herzog’s film is insightful rather than exploitative.
My Best Fiend (dir. Herzog, 1999)—Friendships can get real fucked-up, and there might be no better example than the chaotic bond between Herzog and actor Klaus Kinski.
Encounters at the End of the World (dir. Herzog, 2007)—In Antarctica, Herzog finds sparse beauty, isolated scientists, and “deranged penguins.” “He’s heading toward certain death,” Herzog observes, as an adorable penguin toddles off toward certain death.
Cave of Forgotten Dreams (dir. Herzog, 2010)—Herzog’s astonishing exploration of Southern France’s Chauvet Cave reveals humankind’s oldest art—and “mutant albino crocodiles.”
Lo and Behold, Reveries of the Connected World (dir. Herzog, 2016)—Nobody does existential terror like Herzog, and there’s no better source of existential terror than the internet. In charting tech’s history and future, Herzog talks with everyone from Elon Musk to people who claim to be allergic to all electronic signals.
Werner Herzog Eats His Shoe (dir. Les Blank, 1980)—Herzog loses a bet with fellow filmmaker Errol Morris and is thus forced to eat a shoe. This film is 20 minutes long and perfect.
The Dark Knight (dir. Christopher Nolan, 2008)—When the A.V. Club asked Herzog who his favorite fictional villain was, he pointed to Heath Ledger’s Joker, after being reminded of the names of both the Joker (“There is one who is the clown”) and Heath Ledger (“What was his name, who died very young?”) “He’s a real quintessential villain,” Herzog said. “Nobody does it better, except maybe me as the villain in Jack Reacher.”
Jack Reacher (dir. Christopher McQuarrie, 2012)—In which Herzog plays a real quintessential villain. Nobody does it better.