A very good compilation of some of Louis Theroux's work. Louis has an extremely disarming charm that allows him access into some quite surreal encounters during his observation and engagement with American subcultures and various self-publicists, aka British 'celebrities' the very term of which sends a shver down my spine. In 'Porn' Louis takes a look at the US porn industry, its participants and the mechanics of the industry. I remember the first time I watched it and it's still bizarre and fascinating notions such as 'gay for pay' the straight male actor who makes his living engaging in sex acts with other men, pretending he's gay on film as a way of making a fast buck and the stunt c**k who enters the fray to 'pop' on cue when the main male performer is unable to. Louis is a good sport and gets some nude pics of himself done to much hysteria to everyone he shows them to. Head for the Hills is the next one which features militias living out in the wilderness of Idaho. Asides from the slightly worrying aspect of them being small groups of heavily armed anti-government conspiracy theorists, they mostly came across as likeable and hospitable. The Aryan Nation far right ones are a different kettle of fish though and it was bizarre listening to one of them discussing his love of the old 70's sitcom 'Are you being served?' rationalising the contradiction of his homophobia by stating that he just ignores or tries to blank out the bits with Mr Humpries (John Inman) in. It was hilarious watching Louis trying to get him to say the tag line 'I'm free' John Inman style. Swingers follows people into that particular scene with Louis attending a swingers party with a borrowed date for the evening whilst expressing that what he hoped for the evening was to make it out alive. It was a good watch without any of the unpleasnat individuals that occasionally crop up in his road trip. Black Nationalism was also a good one and Louis obtained a fascinating insight into the various black nationalist strands including Al Sharpton who has prominently worked to progress the rights and standing of black Americans for a number of years. There were various factions who wanted geographical boundaries drawn to create an independent black nation within the mostly, Southern states of the US and its sad seeing the news stories of the day now with police shootings of black Americans how little has changed since these programmes were forst aired. Wrestling follows this and Louis is really put through his paces after a wrestling trainer takes great exception to his inference that, to a lesser or greater degree, the action is choreagraphed. It's one of the few times that you'll see Louis really out of his comfort zone and it felt quite mean just how much the trainer put him through the mill. Quite funny none the less though. South Africa is next and this one features mainly not very likeable individuals among the Afrikans, white settlers of mostly Dutch descent who also want geographical boundaries drawn. Louis also gets to meet the charmless Eugene Terreblanche if you remember him. Thai brides follows and is more laid back and an interesting watch. I can see the appeal on many levels, the Thai women who queue up to join the dating/marriage agency are stunning but what's not so pleasant is the attitude of some of the UK men looking to be matched with them. Old fashion so called values really dominate here. Anyway I would be really interested to see how the overnight marriage went between the English PTSD sufferer and the very pleasant and balanced older Thai lady went. Wish there had been a follow up programme to this. Gangsta Rap is the last one of this ilk and is my personal favourite. It's very funny and is jam packed with interesting and amusing individuals. The rap writing segment with the two rappers and Louis writing is hilarious as is his live delivery on the radio. Very charming and shows another side to the bad press that this industry receives. The rest of the discs are Louis' encounters with notorious individuals the first one being Jimmy Saville. Saville comes across as the creepy charmless egotist he always has. That is not a retrospective view, I was of that target age when Jim'll Fix It was on and i don't know what was showing on the other channel but I have never seen a solitary episode of it. he comes across as a prat in this also though Louis does his best. It was illuminating him being exposed as a liar in terms of the cabin on the celebrity cruise he was offered. watch and see. Chris Eubank ex boxer was better and it was really surprising to me how it seemed to show how much Eubank needed to feel liked. An excerpt was shown of him on Never mind the buzzcocks where he was torn apart and reacted genuinely hurt afterwards. I felt bad for him. Paul Daniels and Debbie McGee were next and came across fine up until Daniels appeared on Ready Steady Cook inan attempt to raise more finance for Debbie's ailing ballet production. He was sullen and a bit rude which was a bit of a shame. Good programme though. (Louis not Ready ...) Ann Widdecombe up next. She was ok but more guarded than most. Louis persisted with his questioning of her alleged virginity status but she put him and his producer firmly in their place. More Tories, the Hamiltons were next and Louis struck lucky being in the midst of filming when a sex scandal broke. Made a not very interesting programme a bit more interesting. Louis than met some Nazis, again back in the States which was chilling and quite scary during one encounter when Louis would'nt legitimise a question about whether he was Jewish by giving an answer. The two young girls who were being home schooled and sing songs at Nazi/skinhead rallies was quite disturbing and I did fear for their futures especially as it was a looming possibility that they would be entering mainstream education with other children the following year or so. Louis did his best with the mother but something has gone horribly wrong along the way somewhere. Louis at the brothel in Nevada was the last offering. It's another strong episode and Louis' natural inquisitive manner and likeability really aided his line of questioning and frank responses in this one. It was very funny also how one of the women, who evidently had developed a soft spot for him, called the shots on the filming and ended up making him comply to receiving a massage. a tragic history for her emerged though which was a salutatory reminder of things though. There are some extras also, excerpts of his early days filming TV Nation. It's a brilliant compilation and I look forward to revisiting his other works. There is a small booklet included which he writes an overview of this time and a guide to each of the programmes.
Black nationalism Head for the hills Gangsta rap* Porn* South Africa Swingers Thai Brides Wrestling*
When Louis met:
Jimmy* Paul & Debbie The Hamiltons* Chris Eubank Ann Widdecombe
Louis & the Nazis the Brothel
Louis's bits from TV Nation
*Previously available on The Best of Weird Weekends vol 1 & 2 dvds.
For anyone hard of hearing, English subtitles are included
When I first saw this for preorder I was overjoyed because I thought the collection would be complete. Alas it's missing a lot of great Louis Theroux episodes- some available on past dvds (Hypnosis, UFOs) but many unreleased (Infomercials, Off off broadway, Demolition derby, Louis & Michael Jackson...). Louis writes in the insert that he wanted to include "When Louis met Max Clifford" in the set but Simon Cowell refused to give legal permission. Fans like myself then, can only hope they release a 2nd volume in the near future and Simon finds his sense of humour and relents. Needless to say however that what is part of this collection is well worth the investment.
The back of the dvd box states that due to copyright there have been some edits made to some episodes but I can happily say that whatever edits were made aren't noticible overall. There do seem to be a couple of abrupt cuts in one or two episodes but I have no idea if that wasn't how they were originally broadcast.
Lazily the only extras in this collection are a very young looking Louis' reports from Michael Moore's old TV Nation show. At the very least they could have ported the extras from the previous Weird weekend dvds to this set. At most episode commentaries would have been a very welcome addition.
Regardless of all the could-have-beens if you're a Louis Theroux fan this is an essential purchase and I would also recommend getting his book/audiobook in which Louis revisits and follows up on many of the subjects featured in this collection.
This box set consists of some of louis's weird weekends tv series from the late 90's / mid noughties as well as one offs from the when Louis met series, and 2 films about neo nazis and the largest brothel in the USA in Vegas.
I never caught any of the weird weekends when they were shown on the BBC as they were on bbc2 on a Friday night of all times but many years later thanks to the great invention of DVD, and later the dave TV channel I was able to catch up on this gem of a series.
In weird weekends Louis goes to make a porn film in LA, visits a group of White separatists in Idaho, goes to a swingers party, meets a group of black nationalists in NYC as well as investigating Thai brides industry , trying gangsta rap, visiting south Africa, and having a go at wwf wrestling. He has his own style of interviewing the people to put them and the viewer at ease , which results in some hilarious results, all are great but the wrestling one is fantastic, as Louis asks some questions Which the trainer takes exception to,a guy called sarge,an ex army bloke who decides to put louis through his paces as punishment, a must see!
Also included is the when Louis met series of jimmy savile, chris eubank, Paul Daniels , Anne widdecombe, and the hamiltons. All this is on 4 discs, and is great value for money at it's low price, it's a must buy if you like documentaries .
Superb documentaries, as always, from Louis Theroux. He meets some of the extremes of society, mainly in America, and tries to understand them in an interesting and informative way. Although these are around 15 years old now, they are still interesting. You might want to give the ones a miss on discs 3 and 4 where he meets celebrities as Ann Widdecombe, Chris Eubank and the Hamiltons are not as interesting now as they were as I am sure their lives have moved on a lot since. RIP Paul Daniels. I didn't watch the Jimmy Saville one!
An excellent documentary film maker and interviewer tackles some odd, disturbing and wacky people.
Threoux seems highly interested in people with a more extreme psychology than your average kind, the outliers, the people who don't seem to quite fit with our modern world. Theroux often employees a little Faux-naïf and is often at his most effective when posing simple questions or leaving an awkward pause after somebody has something which sounds a bit off. Some people might argue there's a touch of cruelty in his style, letting the interviewee think he was their friend while in actual fact he's instead giving a little wink to the audience.
The documentary he made on the white supremacist movement in California is pretty baffling in it's subject matter. To see children raised from birth and indoctrinated into a hate cult is pretty upsetting stuff. The upside though was just how ineffective and isolated they came across, something the documentary can't resit having a little dig at.
The documentary made on the Hamiltons was pretty revealing and delves a little deeper into their family life than was possible with some of his other subjects.
The one on Ann Widdecombe is mildly amusing, also providing a slightly more personal insight into the trials and tribulations of UK politics and it's MPs. Widdecombe's persona in this documentary seems to be pretty close to the public one many will already be familiar with on TV.
The episode most people will now remember is on the subject of Sir Jimmy Savile, the elephant in the room so to speak. The programme begins with Theroux and his camera man meeting Savile at his home in Leeds. The first day or two don't go well, as Threoux states Savile doesn't seem to trust him while Threoux was finding him rather annoying, at one point Savile even seems to threaten legal action against the BBC. A recurring theme throughout will be Threoux receiving a sharp quick response to his question with Savile, then barking "next" as Threoux attempted to leave in his awkward pause, Threoux looked slightly troubled that his usual tactic was backfiring while Savile would start laughing and congratulating himself about how he'd dealt with the interviewer. This trend quickly becomes an obvious problem for Threoux. Savile knows how to fill in those awkward silent moments with his endless catchphrases and silly noises, covering up any cracks and also giving the impression he's not taking anything seriously.
Louis then switches tact becoming a little more submissive for a day in an attempt to win Savile's trust, with Savile firmly in control and now dictating the terms of the documentary he seems to become a little more relaxed. Theroux then joins him for various charity/media events. Savile who spent much of his life in front of the cameras is highly media conscious and knows how to turn on the charm when he needs to, it's clear he's treated like something of a local legend in Leeds and people from all walks of life seem genuinely excited and star struck when they meet him. Savile perhaps feeling buoyed by his victory and overconfident then slips up for a moment, with Louis out of the room and perhaps no longer aware that he's still being filmed he starts talking about his work as a dance hall manager in the 1950s and how he would have trouble makers beaten up and held downstairs. The transition is quite abrupt, from somebody who clearly wants to appear as a happy go lucky eccentric fundraiser to somebody rather different.
Despite some initial friction, over the course of the rest of the programme the two seem to warm to each other a little and the quality subsequently improves. Savile takes Louis to his flat in Scarborough and the two discuss his late mother and his playboy image. They then travel on to another of Savile's haunts to do some climbing. Savile hurts his foot, rather than quietly making an appointment with the doctor's he instead seems to have alerted the media about the situation who earnestly dispatch their photographers to the scene. Savile, leaving nothing to chance though also calls his own personal photographer along to make sure that the photos make the paper. Louis looks on throughout much of this, unable to make sense of the nonsensical story being run. The two spend a couple more nights making the documentary before filming is wrapped up. They seem to part on good terms and Theroux admits to having a new found respect for him.
I remember looking back the overall impression many people seem to have had after watching this was of a dinosaur, out of kilter with the modern world, complex, lonely and fixated on his dead mother. Having said this it's also hard to deny that Savile was very manipulative with this documentary and basically gave Theroux what he wanted to. I certainly don't agree that Savile was exposed here or anything like that.