Certain people seem to get the limelight without having to make any kind of sacrifices at all. They say and do what they want, unaffected by whether people love or hate them. But surely it can’t be that simple. Can it?
These SBS On Demand documentaries aim directly for the warty side of stars – whether they chose to take part or not, they can’t help but reveal something about what drives them. Take note: as inspiration or warning.
You’ve Been Trumped
If you’ve been curious about Donald Trump’s bullying behaviour on the presidential trail, this 2011 documentary about his construction of a golf course in Scotland will be instructive (it’s the one he was visiting when the Brexit vote happened). Watching You’ve Been Trumped, it’s easy to imagine how Donald would act in the Oval Office.
The Queen of Versailles
It’s always fascinating to see how the other half lives, and even more so when they’re (a) completely out of touch with the real world and (b) faced with some kind of global...financial...crisis. Wealthy couple David and Jackie Siegel are obsessed with building themselves a replica of the Palace of Versailles – but then their income takes a nosedive. How will they cope? Will they cope?
Nigerian singer Fela Kuti was a man unafraid to speak truth to power, nor to share controversial beliefs on the role of women in society. He spoke out against African dictatorships, advocated traditional African culture and pioneered Afrobeat as a musical genre. Arrested multiple times, he nevertheless continued to speak his mind. This doco captures the man’s uncompromising life.
You’ve got to have ego if you wanna be a rock star. This is the story of two promising indie bands – the Dandy Warhols and Brian Jonestown Massacre – that began as friends and soon became rivals. Watch their feud unfold across seven years of footage, chronicling the breakdown between frontmen Courtney Taylor-Taylor and Anton Newcombe in a wash of tantrums, broken instruments and on-stage brawling.
The Trials of Muhammad Ali
Never backwards in coming forwards, Muhammad Ali was a powerful, all-dominant and outspoken black man in an era when that was a dangerous thing to be. From his Islamic beliefs to his name change to his refusal to fight in the Vietnam War, this doco looks at the who the man was outside the ring, and what made him such a legend.
Bobby Fischer Against the World
Does chess bring forth obsession, or is obsession to chess brought? Bobby Fischer became the rarest of birds – a boardgaming celebrity – but beyond the table he evolved from a childhood prodigy to a conspiracy theorist, recluse and fugitive from US law. It’s a fascinating story, even if you don’t know what en passant means.
Gonzo: Hunter S Thompson
Fearlessness is something we prize in our journalists, and Hunter S Thompson took that commitment to the story a few steps further than most. Narrated by Johnny Depp (of course), Gonzo reveals an extraordinary life that may have occasionally been riddled with psychosis, but never involved backing down.
You don’t get a wonderfully messy and layered show like Community on mainstream TV without a powerful personality driving it with intensity generally only seen in Russian Roulette players. Harmontown is a 21-day tour with Dan Harmon, who is one of those comic geniuses that never compromises, but isn’t afraid to show his bad side.