We got a three month HBO free trial that I plan to milk the shit out of. Game of Thrones, live, in HD, free of buffering the past three Sundays has been glorious. I know I’m going to feel like a hollow shell of a person when I have to return to my normal piecemeal attempts to get HBO programming like everyone else.
I’ve been tackling the documentaries first because I figured it would be easier to find the series from alternate venues if need be (I’m full on strategizing my consumption of a three month cable trial, yeah.)
I started a documentary on drag racing in the rust belt that was seriously low budget and seriously hard to get into, I’m still interested, but it’s going to require a real mellow lazy Sunday to not get all fidgety during mundane conversations in auto plants filmed with a handicam. Then I went for something that sounded more salacious, a film about plastic surgery mishaps, but it turned out to be about near death experiences and the subjects ruminating on overvaluing beauty and the unique kind of fuckery that is getting fucked over a person of authority, not FFF implants and botox-made cat people. I’m real jaded when it comes to plastic surgery shows at this point. It’s been a long time fascination. Emotional scars just won’t cut it.
So I turned to There’s Something Wrong with Aunt Diane. Somehow, I forged an associatian with the title and camp gay subculture. I’m reading the synopsis, a woman drives the wrong way on a New Jersey freeway and kills 8 people, including 4 children, and thinking, I’m not sure what the gays would want with this. Also it was made in 2011, which seems way too recent to become a cult classic. (Side note, I have no recollection of this event happening. I might have been in college, and away from cable access, but it doesn’t even sound familiar.) Either way I’ve definitely heard positive things about the film, so I press on, I guess literally, I was like, whatever, I’ll click this button, seems as good as anything.
I get 20 minutes in and I’m like, you know what, something isn’t right, and it’s not just Aunt Diane. I don’t know what the gay community would see in this. Some of the women interviewed have great Jersey accents, but there is nothing particularly wonky about anyone involved in the aftermath of this horrific accident that is being presented with such nuance. I kept waiting for someone to go Full Jersey and make everything clear. Grey Gardens was some pretty dark subject matter, but it tends to get a free pass on exploitation based on the Edies’ batshit insanity. This was not Grey Gardens. This was restrained. This was bleak.
Epic side note: Have you seen Documentary Now!? It’s this IFC show with Fred Armisen and Bill Hader where they parody/recreate classic documentaries. It is legit hosted by Helen Mirren. It’s finally on Netflix, and I watched them aaallllllllllllll. Their Grey Gardens is great, but it’s The Thin Blue Line parody (The Eye Can’t Lie) that is a public service. It’s soooooo good, both as a parody and as fucking hilarious.
I finished There’s Something Wrong with Aunt Diane and I most definitely was fucking mistaken. The only thing I can think of is I confused There’s Somthing Wrong With Aunt Diane with What Ever Happened to Baby Jane? which is a pretty acute conflation. I have this vague recollection that one of the guys on The People’s Couch mentioned Aunt Diane in reference to some other crazy and/or alcoholic character which might have reinforced the gay connection. But yeah. Starting that film in anticipation of an Errol Morris-esque quirky small town portrait must be how those people felt that wanted to see a Fast and the Furious knock off and got Drive. I’d recommend it though, if you’re willing to stomach mourning and chaos and the infuriating lack of answers in life and question how if real, God is willing to take the lives of the innocent. It definitely incites emotion and provokes thought and for the most part, not cheaply. Though they threw in a crime scene photo of Aunt Diane’s mangled dead body, in the middle of a film that mostly consisted of interviews, and that I have some fucking qualms about. I get they could be attempting to engender the same feeling of shock and disbelief that the good Samaritans who found her felt, but I’m still questioning if it was really necessary.
Good lord, though. Whatever Happened to Baby Jane? Some portion of the universe has a sense of humor because I could not have gone into that with a more opposite impression of what would happen.